What is a “Simple Cremation” and why is it advertised so often?
Just like most days when I leave the office I drive through Kennesaw Mountain Park to enjoy the wonderful sights and reflect on my day. Most of my days end well with a feeling of accomplishment…. other days…. well, its a little bit harder! When your profession is in family services some days can be a little more difficult than others but I love to educate families and watch them leave our doors with a sense of relief, knowing they have the knowledge to make the best decisions. I have noticed so many families coming in confused and with a poor misconception of what we do here at Mayes Ward-Dobbins… I always wondered where these thoughts come from. As I finally got home today and entered the door the first thing I saw is a flyer for a Simple Cremation laying on my counter. You think that you dislike seeing these mailers….. try being a funeral directors and receiving them!
This did cause me to think as I read through the mailer (what can I say… curiosity got me!) and it all started to come together. It has become very common to see so many different mailers, newspaper ads, magazine ads, commercials, etc… all about funeral homes and cremation services… all the time. Most of these ads all have the same information… “Simple Cremations”, “Cheap Cremations”, $1000 Cremations” and so on. It is almost like the funeral industry has turned into a fast food franchise and we are promoting extra value meals to our customers. I must say that this is sickening to me but today we are going to dig into the mailer I received, keeping the senders name safe…. even though it was mailed to me, and see if we can’t figure out what all this advertising is about. I will attach pictures of the mailer in this blog.
The very first word in this mailer is “Trust”. When you are in sales you know the most important thing you can do to make a sale to a potential client is to gain their trust, that word was used 4 times just on the front side. The first paragraph really focuses on the reader while it makes you recall choices in your life that you had to make and questions if you are ready to make decisions about the final disposition of your body. The last sentence is true…. most people don’t know all the facts and that is why education is so important, its just hard not to cloud your mind with all the “sales” ads you see.
The second paragraph speaks about “Traditional Funerals” are very expensive, it must be very important because its in bold words! This part has some truth. However or whichever way you define “Traditional” could add more cost to your funeral in the end… it all depends on how much flare and what you want to have happen at your service.
The last two paragraphs really run together and this is what peaked my interest as I was reading this, (now with my two kids hanging from my legs!) I believe that this is where the confusion sets in for people.
“As the nations largest provider of cremation services we pride ourselves in offering a simple, low cost alternative to the high cost of funerals.”
“Cremation services are usually far less complicated than other funeral alternatives, as well as being significantly less expensive.”
“With ******** there are no complicated decisions or difficult choices.”
Really?!!? Are you seeing a trend here? Let’s discuss the problem with the first two statements while I calm down after reading the third statement. Reading through these statements you will see a comparison, mainly on costs, between a “Funeral” and a “Cremation”. With the first two statements we are comparing apples to oranges and this is where most people become confused. Cremation speaks of the final disposition of the human body, not the replacement of the funeral service. Because of these statements I hear families say all the time “We just want a cremation not a funeral” not knowing there is a difference. Many families are amazed that we are able to hold services for a loved one even when they choose cremation and its because of misleading advertising. So for costs comparison sake lets take both and break them down. Cremation Services, known as a Memorial Service, are in fact less expensive then traditional funeral services…. and its because the disposition (in this case the cremation) happens before the service. In a burial sense you can take the same order with a cremation service and bury the body before you have the service. This handles the disposition first and has the service come second just like a memorial service…. drastically removing the extra charges you would incur from a traditional service, keeping the cost almost the same as a memorial service. Just like if you were to choose a cremation with no service you can choose a burial with no service for basically the same costs. The additional fees would come from the cemetery of your choosing, an urn burial is about half of a casket burial, but it really depends on the cemetery you choose. Of course with cremation you can choose to take the urn home or to scatter… you can’t really do this with a casket! On the other side we have many families who choose to have a “Traditional Cremation Service” which includes everything you would expect in a traditional funeral service (embalming, casket, viewings, church or chapel services, pall bearers, etc….) but instead of going to the cemetery for burial we take the casket to our crematory, which in turn brings the cost up to about the same as a traditional funeral service. So as you can see this type of advertising is hard for the normal consumer to make the best educated decision, cost really all depends on the order of the disposition. We have an earlier blog post that talks about this more in detail, you can click here to read that.
The third statement really irks me and our team at the funeral home. It makes it seem that if you choose cremation you will not have any complicated decisions or hard choices. This is absolutely absurd! The funeral service does involve some choices, but with guidance from a good funeral director then it will never become complicated…. the difficult times will happen no matter what because loosing a loved one is never easy and it will be life changing, having a “cremation” will not stop that process. With all of this misleading advertising in costs and services we are becoming a society that sees a funeral home as a disposal service rather than a place to honor a life. This is a black eye on our industry as a whole and hopefully the consumer can see through these “tactics”.
This side of the mailer promotes action with signing up for a “membership” and a list of a few services involved in a direct cremation. Again, membership programs make our industry look like you need to become a “rewards member” to receive the best in offerings… almost like Kroger, Staples, CVS, etc… giving us the appearance of another franchise chain. I do however agree with pre arranging your wishes to help lift the burden from your surviving family. The difference here is this is something that we do at no costs and this mailer promotes prepaying funeral expenses. You do not have to pay for this service, pre paying a funeral service will alleviate another factor but it is not a requirement and should never be pushed onto a family. We have an earlier blog post on pre paying funeral expenses here.
We at Mayes Ward-Dobbins Funeral Home do believe in price transparency and we will make sure that our client families know all the available options before jumping into a decision. We understand that “Traditional Funerals” are not for everyone and we can custom fit a service to meet your every need… even if you choose a direct cremation or direct burial. We will never be a funeral home provider that offers a “disposal service” because we know that every life matters and no matter which type of service you choose it will be carried out in the most dignified manner possible within a budget of your choosing. I can almost assure you that if a company is promoting unheard of pricing… read the fine print or be ready when you walk into their door, things will change.
If you have read this far then you already have made a conscious choice to educate yourself… please continue this education and visit or call your local funeral home to discuss these options and make a decision that you can tell your family so when the time comes… there is no question about it!