In response to my post, Tim Responds to “A Monumental ‘Undertaking’?”, Michelle Carter writes:

Clearly, many people- myself included- are uncomfortable with the Lynch family making arrangements from behind a desk. However, if you ignore that one aspect, what is the difference between the old and new, or small town and big city funerals?

Is it simply a matter of how personal they are? I can see each person’s point so far, but I don’t think traditional, personal, meaningful, and valuable funerals have to be mutually exclusive of each other.

No, Michelle, they don’t have to be mutually exclusive.  In fact, part of my comments were a warning to folks doing traditional funerals to find ways to stop the rush toward fast, cheap and dirty funerals by figuring out what people “really” want and giving it to them while they still see value in traditional funerals.

I think it’s too late for many parts of the country, including Central Florida, where I live.  Other areas are starting to see the rush toward direct cremation, since most folks don’t know that cremation can include viewing and services with the body present.

In fact, I should have made it more clear that Mr. Lynch speaks quite eloquently about the necessity of having the body present at any type of service that commemorates the deceased.  He asks whether a christening would work without the baby or a wedding without the betrothed.

So I guess my issue about “old-fashioned” funeral service is that it doesn’t anticipate the needs of today’s consumer.  And why do I think that?

Because I’ve talked with a lot of “old-fashioned” directors who are afraid – almost shaking-in-their-boots afraid – of the changing face of the industry.  They ask how they can keep their community from embracing cremation, because it means lower margins for them. 

Seldom do they ask WHY cremation equals lower margins.  If they did, I’d answer that the public knows cremation as “take grandma away and bring back an urn with her dust in it” and nothing else.

I should have pointed out that Mr. Lynch talks about cremation and how he directs his clients to view the disposition by fire. 

But do Mr. Lynch’s constituents predominantly choose burial because he’s so eloquent about the necessity for a body at the service, or because the community hasn’t yet begun “the change”?

It’s an interesting question and one I can’t answer with the information I have at my disposal.  I can say, however, that a funeral professional in Florida (2005 cremation rate:  48%) sees a different world than a funeral professional in Michigan (37%) or New York (24%).

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