funeral

For Fans of Final Resting Places

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Who doesn’t love a good cemetery? Cemeteries offer nature, sculpture, and history rolled into one. Realizing that every person resting in a cemetery has a one-of-a-kind life story is an awe-inspiring thought. I always want to know more about how people lived their lives.

An entertaining way to learn about who’s behind some of those markers is to watch a series of YouTube vlogs entitled “Hollywood Graveyard.”  Its host, Arthur Dark, does an admirable job of noting the beauty of cemeteries as he presents facts about their notable inhabitants. Most of the graves he visits are those of famous people many adults will recognize: Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Rivers, and so on. Others are celebrities from years gone by whose fame faded long ago. Ironically, it’s the people I’ve never heard of who often have the most interesting stories.

For instance, I’d never heard the name Ub Iwerks even though I was quite familiar with his contributions to the entertainment industry.  Mr. Iwerks was Walt Disney’s right-hand man for many years. In addition to contributing to the creation of dozens of beloved animated characters, he is also credited with illustrating Mickey Mouse as we know and love him today.

Then there’s the even lesser-known Tamara De Treaux, an actress who stood 2’7” tall. Her diminutive stature kept her from being a leading lady but it didn’t stop her from becoming part of movie history. She was the person inside the costume of “E.T.”

Even familiar people can have unfamiliar backgrounds. Baby Boomers may remember Julie London and Bobby Troup as the married couple who starred in the 1970s television series “Emergency.”  Prior to their stint as television stars, Julie recorded over 20 albums of pop and jazz standards which are now mainstays on online music sites and top radio stations. Her husband had a no less impressive career as a jazz composer and musician, writing the standards “(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66” and “Girl Talk.”  

While cemeteries are historically the most common site for final resting places, today we have other options. Online tribute sites can tell a detailed story about a person’s life through photographs, videos, stories, and mementos. QR codes linked to memorial websites can be attached to urns. Social media platforms offer conversion of people’s profiles into memorial sites.

Still, a physical location, whether it be an earth burial, urn or scattering garden, suggests a permanent connection. There’s something sad about having nowhere to go to pay tribute to people like former Beatle George Harrison, actor Christopher Reeves and John F. Kennedy, Jr. whose cremated remains were scattered in places unknown or inaccessible.

We don’t have to be famous to have input about how—and where–we’ll be remembered. Many helpful tools are available through the Have the Talk of a Lifetime program that make it easy and even fun to give this information to others. After all, sharing stories with young people, passing along cherished recipes or noting accomplishments that made us proud may be the most enduring way to keep memories of us alive.


By Mark Allen, CEO & Executive Director
This post was originally written for the Have the Talk of a Lifetime blog.

Funeral Directors Aren’t So Scary

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6.20.18 Funeral Directors Aren't Scary Blog - M. AllenThis post was first shared on Have the Talk of a Lifetime’s blog on May 4.

When I was in elementary school, I discovered that one of my classmates was the child of a funeral home owner. I pitied this attractive, popular girl for having a parent that my 8-year old brain imagined to be a beady-eyed, sallow-skinned man who lurked around a cobwebbed funeral home on dark and stormy nights. One day she invited me to a birthday party at her home. I accepted despite dreading the thought of meeting her creepy father. To my surprise, on the day of her party, a man resembling Will Ferrell, not Bela Lugosi, greeted me at the door. He was funny, charming and warm. This was a funeral director? I couldn’t believe that all those Hollywood movies got it so wrong. 
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Attitudes About Funeral Service: The Public vs. Funeral Directors, Part III–Cost of Funerals

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May, 2018 Posts - FD Vs. Public, Part 3

Most people don’t like paying for things they don’t want to buy. And most people don’t want to even think about their funerals let alone pay for one. That puzzles funeral directors. They know the great lengths they go to when putting details together for smooth-running ceremonies. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the average funeral cost $7,360 in 2016. Compare that to an average price of $25,449 for a new car, $35,329 for a wedding and $352,500 for a new home, and funerals start looking like bargain. But not to John Q. Public as demonstrated in the following exchange:

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Attitudes About Funeral Service: The Public vs. Funeral Directors, Part II–Cremation

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May, 2018 Posts - FD Vs. Public, Part 2The percentage of Americans who were cremated reached an all-time high of 50 percent in 2016. Cremation opened the doors for people to hold funeral ceremonies in places that were meaningful to them and gave them more time to consider options. There’s just one problem, and it drives funeral directors crazy: the guest of honor is often conspicuously absent from his or her own funeral. With no body present, people have to imagine to whom they’re paying tribute.

A conversation between a member of the public and funeral director about cremation might go something like this:  Read the rest of this entry »

Attitudes about Funeral Service: The Public Vs. Funeral Directors, Part I – Funerals and Visitations

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May, 2018 Posts - FD Vs. Public, Part 1

When talking about funeral service, one sometimes wonders if the public and members of the funeral profession are from the same planet. Never before have opinions varied so much regarding what families want from memorialization and what funeral professionals think they should experience. To demonstrate the often-wide gap between these two groups’ perspectives, we constructed imaginary conversations between a fictional Johnny Q. Public and an equally fictional Mr. Funeral Director based on articles, research studies, interviews and personal experiences. The first of three blogs examines attitudes about funerals and visitations. Read the rest of this entry »

The 5 Most Popular Funeral Service Articles of 2017

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1.9.2018 5 Popular Articles. Allen

Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard once wrote, “Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forwards.” That’s a poetic way of saying that we can learn from the past, especially as the world continues to rapidly change. OGR’s weekly e-newsletter, Independent Insider, reported on events, issues, and trends of interest to funeral professionals. Here are the five most popular articles of 2017. Read the rest of this entry »

Is Your Funeral Home Missing Out by Not Offering Tribute Videos?

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8.9.17 Tribute Videos (1)

“I wish we made a video presentation using photos, but the funeral home didn’t offer this service.”  ~ This comment was taken directly from a survey received through OGR’s consumer feedback program, The Family Contact Program. 

Family Contact participants often receive comments that help them improve their business offerings and practices. Through the blog series “Exploring Solutions with Family Contact,” members get better insight into services that might benefit their funeral homes. Read the rest of this entry »