A family in Washington State had a doubly disturbing shock at the funeral of a man recently, when they found out that not only was the wrong body in his casket, dressed in his clothes and with a photo of the man’s wife tucked inside, but he’d been cremated as well — and he was terrified of being cremated. [More]
While we might not be aware of where our mortal remains reside after we’re gone, one young man’s mother is upset that a funeral home confined his ashes to a plastic Walmart shopping bag. She discovered the bag job a year after he passed away, and calls it a “disrespectful” move on the part of funeral home. [More]
In 1984, the Federal Trade Commission enacted the Funeral Rule, a set of consumer protection guidelines for U.S. funeral home operators covering everything from pricing transparency to casket-handling fees. And every year, FTC investigators go undercover to spot-check the funeral home industry to see if folks are abiding by the rules. According to the latest report, a significant number of them are not. [More]
Back in 2008, Service Corporation International, the nation’s largest funeral-service company, made a bid to acquire the second-largest company, Stewart Enterprises Inc. The smaller company rebuffed its suitor, but reconsidered after an offer this year. The two companies will now form one large mega-death-services-corporation just as baby boomers are about to consider planning–and more importantly, pre-paying for–their funerals. [More]
When a California woman went to unpack the urn containing her late brother’s ashes, she found it had been damaged in shipping and the ashes spilled onto her floor. The crematorium that sent the urn blames UPS, which points the finger right back at the crematorium, saying it violated UPS policy by shipping human remains. [More]
When you hand over the body of a loved one to a funeral parlor, you trust that the workers won’t scour the remains for valuables to make a quick buck. But things apparently didn’t work out that way in a Denver-area funeral home, where a freelance embalmer was indicted for swiping gold teeth from remains and pawning them. [More]
Remarkably, no one at ClearChannel Advertising seems to have realized that it might be a bad idea to post a giant ad for a zombie-themed television program on the exterior wall of a funeral parlor. That’s precisely what happened in the town of Consett in England. The advert for post-apocalyptic drama The Walking Dead has now been taken down, and the company responsible has apologized, but how on earth did this happen in the first place? [More]
Superficially, weddings and funerals have a lot in common: everyone’s dressed up, families get together, some people are crying, and the guests of honor ride off in fancy vehicle to an uncertain future. Funeral homes, though, are large and beautiful spaces that provide a cheaper alternative site for wedding receptions and/or ceremonies. [More]
The Ohio state board that licenses funeral homes has shut down a business in the town of Findlay while it investigates a list of allegations against the funeral director who owns the business. It’s a long list, too, including being naked or half-clothed during business hours, putting on the jacket of a deceased man in front of the man’s family, threatening employees, and being drunk. [More]
Apparently the Chambers Funeral Home & Crematorium in Riverdale, Maryland had more bodies for its crematorium than it could handle, so it stored them in the garage–stacked in piles, with fluids leaking out. A state investigator discovered the stash during an inspection, although to be fair he was warned by an employee, “Don’t get upset about all the bodies in there.” [More]
Thanks to the Federal Trade Commission, consumers have certain rights when it comes to funerals. Consumers have the right to purchase only the products or services they need, to use the services of a funeral home while declining embalming, to see written price lists before they begin to make decisions, and the right to purchase a casket or urn elsewhere. An undercover FTC investigation, however, discovered that in 30% of the funeral homes they visited, at least one part of the Funeral Rule of 1984 was violated. [More]
According to a lawsuit filed in New Mexico State District Court in Albuquerque, a woman’s brain was returned to her family in a bag of personal effects. [More]
Walmart now provides for their customers from cradle to grave. Quite literally—since you can not only purchase cribs there, you can now order caskets and funerary urns from the mega-retailer’s Web site.
It’s all well and good to let your father help out around the family funeral home, but if he doesn’t have an embalming license—and is maybe too handy with an electric saw—keep him away from the important duties. A South Carolina funeral home just had its license revoked because four years ago the owner’s father sawed the legs off a 6′ 7″ body to make it fit in the casket. The owner didn’t tell the family at the time, and they only found out about it recently when an ex-employee told them. (See below for links to cool funk music—yes, it’s related to this post!)
The National Funeral Home in Falls Church, Virginia stores unrefrigerated corpses, including some bound for Arlington National Cemetery, in hallways and garages for months on end, according to embalmer-turned-whistleblower Steven Napper. The Funeral Home’s owner, Texas-based Service Corporation International, told Napper that they were unwilling to pay for refrigeration, which would prevent corpses from leaking and growing mold.
Someone wrote to us this week that a person in his family is terminally ill, and that he was told “that the cost of the casket, funeral, viewing, and burial would possibly exceed 12,000 dollars.” He thinks that’s an “exorbitant amount of money,” and so do we. There is no reason to pay that much money for a kick-ass funeral that people will be talking about for years to come. You don’t need to be a cheapskate to manage this, either—you just need to be aware of your rights and know what traps to watch out for. Here’s our list of what to do the next time you have to plan a funeral.
The former owner of a funeral home in Princeton, British Columbia, has been charged with fraud for handing out random urns of ashes to his customers. The funeral home had been shut down in 2005 for operating without a license, but since it’s rather difficult to spot the “wrong” ashes by sight, the problem wasn’t discovered until another funeral home began to sort through the leftover inventory and found over 50 urns that had been labeled unclaimed.