May 2007

Candace Craw-Goldman is our latest Guest Blogger.  Her blog, In Repose, supports folks experiencing or reminicing about the death of a loved one or friend. 


Besides running her ranch and raising two teenagers, Candace (photograph above by Jennifer Wensel) runs, an online memorial site with some fascinating features.  Check it out.

 In this post, Candace discusses “Tomatoes to Die For.”: 

My friends John and Jo Dwyer are farmers at Angel Valley Organic Farm. They grow the most amazing tasty organic vegetables. Their pinnacle, their superstar veggie, the elite of the elite of the vegetables they grow are absolutely their organic heirloom tomatoes.

I will never forget the first time I tasted one.  The most beautifully ripe Purple Prudence heirloom tomato. It was warm, room temperature and freshly harvested. It was so rich, so ripe, so amazingly fragrant and so red/purple it was almost black to my eyes.  I sliced a few and added fresh basil, extra virgin Italian olive oil, a splash of some good balsamic vinegar, and some very fresh mozzarella. A bit of salt and freshly ground pepper rounded out the meal and I grabbed my fork.

After one bite I closed my eyes and held my breath. Heaven! It was as if I had never really tasted a tomato before in my entire life. I promptly made myself another salad and ate until I was stuffed full. It was really one of the finest sensory experiences of my entire life. REALLY! I remember it so vividly.


Those tomatoes were, to turn a phrase, to DIE for.

As promised on the blog yesterday, I will tell you now a bit now about an option the eco-friendly human has when considering their end-of-life choices especially if cremation is the preferred choice. One can now contact a company called Floramorial and have themselves turned into honest to goodness plant food.

“Cremation ash can now be used to grow trees and flowers. Floramorial soil was created to convert cremation ash into a planting medium to grow a decorative plant, bush or tree as a living memorial. Cremation ash is an inert, granular material like stone or sand that can now be transformed into plant food thanks to recent developments in horticultural science.This is an exciting new answer to the question, “What should I do with the ashes?

Well, what about TOMATOES?  Can the plant food feed the most beloved of all of the plants of summer? <Smirk>. I bet it could but it might leave, um, a bad taste in one’s mouth. I guess that is why the word “decorative” was used in the description. I already know the answer to the question.

I know John and Jo operate by very strict organic standards and I highly doubt that Floramorial’s product, would be accepted in their farm’s program.

But I remain curious anyway. If, just if, my family planted one of those fabulous Purple Prudence Heirloom Tomato plants in the backyard, and fed them Candace’s Floramorial Ashes plant food, what heavenly fruits would result?

As an admitted “foodie” I can think of few finer ways to go!


Killed in battle in Iraq, Marine Corporal Brett Lundstrom was honored by his people, the Lakota (a Native American Indian Tribe) with the traditional burial customs.

His body was placed in the tent overnight so that he could communicate with the spirits of ancestors who died before him.  The Lakota believe that these spirits will guide him to the spirit world.

Read more about Cpl. Lundstrom and see fascinating pictures of the funeral at Heyoka Magazine.

Golden Gate Funeral Home has four locations in Texas.

Browsing their website and watching their commercial, I had an immediate notion of who they are and the type of services they sell.


They don’t sell their long history in the community (even though they have one).  They don’t sell the amazing variety of services they offer (although they probably could do a specialized service, if asked).  They don’t even push their convenience to local churches, cemeteries or highways. 

They sell their prices and their vehicle fleet.  (Their fleet is awesome – Hummer, Mercedes, Chrysler 300, etc.)

And they put their prices right on their website.  Separated into 13 different funeral packages, their offerings range in price from $795 for a graveside service in a cloth-covered casket to $30,000 for the Diamond package.

Do they provide immediate burial or direct cremation?  Possibly, but those are not options listed on their website.  They use the web as a marketing tool.  It helps them weed out the visitors that just “aren’t their clients.”

These people have figured it out.  Which may be why they just opened their fourth facility.

We all know the picture.  It’s called “American Gothic.”  Painted by Grant Wood, famed Iowa artist.

But did you know that he created the iconic artwork in a funeral home?

The Turner Mortuary bought the Douglas mansion in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and opened in 1924.  The owner, David Turner, was a friend and patron of the artist.  He immediately made the hayloft in the carraige house available to Wood rent-free.  In exchange, the artist helped redecorate the home and renovate it to accommodate funeral services.

Wood converted the loft into a studio and living space.

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

The artist lived and worked in the space for 10 years, until he moved to Iowa City in 1934.  He painted “American Gothic” in the space in 1930.

Turner, the funeral director, would remain the artist’s friend and patron for life.  When Wood died of liver cancer in February 1942, the Turner Mortuary handled his services.

Added the to the National Register in 1984, the space was donated to the museum by the current owners (Cedar Memorial Funeral Homes) in 2002.  Today, the studio is operated as a gallery by the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art.

Seth Godin has once again proven why I call him a marketing guru.

In response to a question about new business success (while he was out selling his new book, “The Dip”) he responded:

“If you accomplish that, will you be seen by your audience as the best in the world, or will you be seen as doing your best?”

He explains that doing your best is the kind of thing that gets noticed by your soccer coach and commended with a “nice try, kiddo.” 

Being the best makes the world take notice. 

The secret, he shares, is to make the “world” (translation: the  marketplace) small enough that you can be the best in your field.

To make this fit into my “world,” it means that doing your best to be just like any other funeral home is not enough.  Being the best Catholic funeral home or the best military funeral home or the best traditional cremation funeral home is where we’re headed.

You can’t be all things to all people.  And while it might be difficult to admit that there are clients you cannot serve as well as another funeral home can, there is a positive side:  there are some clients you CAN serve better than the competition, and you should be stiving hard to make sure the marketplace knows it.

Why are price-focused funeral homes usually so successful so soon after opening?  Because they push their strength:  their price. 

If your specialty is unique services or the world’s most moving rosary, tell the community.

If you don’t tell and show your community that you’re the best _________ funeral home, they’ll substitute words like “expensive,” “old” or “inconvenient.”

I sometimes forget that a few of our readers are not funeral professionals and don’t know all the lingo.

 I also forget that new funeral industry readers may not be familiar with the beautiful quilted cot covers that we make.

So here’s a recap:

Cot covers are placed on the mortuary cot and used to cover the remains of a deceased when the body is removed from a hospital, nursing facility or private home.  A single cover is used over and over again for many years.

For years, industry standard has been a cover made from acrylic fake fur, like the one pictured below (note the funeral home name embroidered on the side, like advertising).

 Others use a fabric called Cordura, which is a nylon made by DuPont.


Body bag on stretcher (Associated Press)Coroners often make their own removals, which means  a plain cover that identifies the coroner.  Or maybe just a body bag or sheet which shows ALL the contours of the body.

Until recently, the cover fabric was exposed to body fluids and other contaminants because a lining had not been developed.  The industry answered this problem by creating vinyl linings that protected the top fabric, but made it even more difficult to clean the cover because vinyl tears easily and cannot be machine dried.

Final Embrace was started with a simple mission:  Provide beautiful covers that offer better protection and more features.

Our covers are lined with FluidBlocker, a revolutionary new lining that is 100% waterproof, but can also withstand the rigors of extreme weather and regular machine washing and drying.  It simply will not melt.

The FluidBlocker lining is made from rugged materials developed for outdoor sports equipment.  Unlike vinyl, which can melt, break in cold weather and makes lots of noise when the cover is folded or unfolded, our FluidBlocker lining is smooth and quiet.

Our covers are made from beautifuls quilts and elegant, georgeous tapestry fabrics.  They are the very best covers you can buy.  And because they’re filled with a soft quilt batting, they mask the contours of the body.

The best part has been the way families react when they see their loved one covered by one of our quilts.  Many will reach out their hand and stroke the fabric.  Others make effusive comments to the removal personnel.  Still others comment about the cover during the next day’s arrangement conference. 

 Joan S. went so far as to FORCE her funeral home to give her our number.  This was what she said to us:

My mother’s wish was to have her body donated to science.  As an only child, I felt a full funeral service would only complicate the wish she expressed, so I knew that the last time I would see my mother would be when she was taken from the nursing home.  I clung to the Hospice nurse, afraid of seeing my mother leave in a ugly plastic bag or draped in some kind of ‘shroud’.  But when the gurney turned the corner, the most peaceful feeling overtook me.  You had no way of knowing that my mother had been a quilter for 55 years, until RA robbed her of the use of her hands.  The beautiful green quilt that covered her looked so much nicer than what I’d expected that I couldn’t help but feel relief.  The funeral home probably chose the cover because it was attractive, which it was, but you have no idea what a beautiful last moment it has given me.  I know that the quilt covering you create is new to your industry (as the funeral home told me),   but please use my name and let funeral directors know that this is an item that every funeral home should use.  Thank you again for making such a beautiful cover!

Our covers are awesome.  We can say that because we’ve worked really, really, really hard to give funeral directors what they want.

That means we offer three different models to meet the varied needs of funeral directors. 

That means we offer 30-day billing or immediate credit card payment. 

That means we answer the phone 24 hours a day. 

That means that when other manufacturers charge more money for a cheap vinyl liner, we only offer a better, more expensive (to us) lining that will make your cover last a lot longer.

Our product is just good.  And that’s why we’ve tripled sales during each of our first three years.

For that, we can only thank our great clients.

You can see all our great covers at or call us at 321-287-0628 for a free catalog.

As your clients get larger, your equipment and the products you offer will need to grow.

From oversized caskets and heavier retort usage to reinforced stretchers and bigger vaults, funeral directors across the U.S. are dealing with obesity in new, previously undiscussed ways.

At Final Embrace, we’ve seen a greater call for quilted cot covers to fit the new oversized cots from Ferno and Junkin.  While one of our standard covers is generously sized to cover remains and the sides of a cot on a “normal” removal, larger folks require larger coverings.  If you’re interested, we can make any of our covers to fit a larger cot for a small fee.  Just ask!

Ferno-Washington has responded by creating the 24-Maxx, a 77″x25.5″ cot that can handle up to 1000 pounds.

Now, they’ve shrunk the cot to 77″x22.75″ to make the 24 MiniMAXX.  It still handles 1000 pounds, but can fit two-abreast in a removal vehicle.

How are you dealing with the “growing” population?

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