Over in Lufkin, Texas, a new funeral home has opened. What’s different about it? It offers one of those familiar back-to-the-past initiatives which mark progress in funeral service: it’s owner is making his clients aware that they can have the funeral at home – if they want.
“It used to be that before there were funeral homes, the funerals were held at home,” said Philip Snead, CEO and Funeral Director of Snead Linton Funeral Home. “We’re just going back to the way that people used to do business. We do in-home visitations too, and we’re always mindful of health issues.”
I like it. So much better to hold a funeral on familiar ground than up at t’crem. So much better to hold a funeral on your own terms, in your own way. Best of all, it gives families so much more to do (decorating the venue, bringing the food…), and makes it so much easier for them to run the show, stand up and speak, do away with professional strangers. You don’t have to have the funeral at home, of course. There are community centres, hotels, cricket pavilions…
So forbidding is a crematorium, so alien, so marginalised, so exclusive of everything but death and deathmongers and the grieving bereaved, it is little wonder that people outsource the terrifying ordeal of running the show to someone they’ve briefed.
Says Mr Snead: “Since we’ve been offering the at-home services, people have responded favorably. The older generation grew up seeing their grandparents brought back to the home instead of being taken to a funeral home.”
How many UK funeral directors explore alternative venues with their clients, I wonder?
We will know, as a society, that we are getting funerals right when every crematorium ‘chapel’ in the country stands roofless, derelict and hooted at by owls. Of one thing we may be certain: there’s nowt so crap as a crem.