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Funeral homes expanding their reach to search of new customers

Allen Worrell
Editor

1 years 1 months 11 days 11 hours ago |165 Views | | | Email | Print

Funeral homes are usually somber places where families and friends say their last goodbyes to loved ones. Tears are shed, and touching, and, oft-times, funny stories are told by those gathered to bid adieu. However, in today’s economy, that’s just not enough. Even though it’s a fact we’re all going to die someday … well, okay, maybe not Keith Richards … some funeral homes are looking for moolah. That’s why funeral homes across the country are spicing things up, getting hip and making things groovy.


One of the funeral homes looking to expand its services is the Robinson Funeral Home in South Carolina, which is adding a Starbucks. The coffee shop will be open not only to customers, but also to the general public. Now, a coffee shop, even an over-priced one, seems like a good fit for a funeral home, since employees often work late hours, and mourners can sometimes use a stiff drink of coffee. Of course, a simple coffee shop might serve a better purpose, since funerals are already expensive enough without a $10 cup of coffee thrown into the mix. Most people would settle for the swill from Cheap Charlie’s Cup of Joe. Heck, I’d settle for a drink out of the spigot.


Personally, I think a bar might be more fitting. Coffee could be served, sure, but it would be nice for people who need a little more help with their grieving to be able to order up a stiff (yes, I did it again) drink. Whether it’s Little Sandy, who dearly misses her wonderful Grandmama Beatrice; or Little Bobby, who needs to forget the time Uncle Larry suggested they play scuba diver; or, maybe, Little Fester who feels like he just can’t live without his beloved Granddad Orvil; or Little Beasley, who can’t forget how Grandma Flo used to drink whiskey straight from the bottle, then prance around, disrobing to “Lady Marmalade” before trying to assault him with a toothless kiss.


Another funeral home that not only wants to be a part of everyone’s death, and their life, as well, is the Devanny-Condron Funeral Home in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. In order to make sure people never forget about death they host a murder mystery show. It makes sense, if you think about it; they’re never without someone to play the dead person. Since there’s probably a couple of people who are trying to figure out to kill rich Aunt Bixby without getting caught; they can see what not to do.


However, the funeral home does not stop there; it hosts an annual chili cook-off and an art walk. The chili cook-off not only supplies some tasty food, but could very well lead to some business, either by over-eating or by fumes, especially if “Rooster” Edwards partakes. I don’t guess the art walk is all that strenuous, but who knows, if you get them moving, they may fall.


In addition, the funeral home takes monthly birthday cakes to the Pittsfield Senior Center, therein, supplying the infirm, especially those with diabetes, just the push they need to become guests of the funeral home. I’ve got to admit, this one makes sense. They’re seniors, which means times a-passing, so making a good impression can’t hurt.


But my biggest query is how can funeral homes be struggling? Have people all of a sudden begun dumping Uncle Desmond into a drainage ditch or hiding Aunt Mango in an empty refrigerator box on trash pickup day? I mean, people die all the time and somebody has to do something with the remains, even if it is feed them to the feral cats that hang around the supermarket. With the average cost of a funeral being $7,000-$10,000 in the U.S.,you wonder what is in that embalming fluid.


Now, you can call me deprived, you can call me poverty stricken, you can me Ray, but how many people spend that much money in one fell swoop on anything, other than a car or a van down by the river. I know there are millionaire Mormons out there who will spend that much on their magic underpants, but most people will never spend that much on a vacation, a wedding, a bar mitzvah (just covering all bases here), or magic underpants. Dying, in fact, is one of the largest expenses you’ll have, and you don’t even get to enjoy it.


That’s the reason I don’t understand why some funeral homes are diversifying into all sorts of sidelines. I don’t want the guy who’s going to get me ready for my last formal playing the crazy twin brother in a murder mystery. If he’s too convincing, I would be worried about my deceased privates showing up on a web site someday. I don’t need my funeral home cooking up chili. I’ve seen enough horror films to question the key ingredient. “Solient Green,” anyone?


I just can’t see blowing that much money on someone’s death, unless the person doing the dying wants to spend every bit of cash he has, so as to make Biff Jr. work for a living. As for me, my expenses will be minimal. My long list is picked out - one hymn, a tradional folk song, and several selections from Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones -and I have chosen my form of disposal. My dead body will be placed on a funeral pyre on a raft. The pyre will be set afire and pushed out onto a body of water … hopefully, a lake, but a swimming pool might have to do … at night, and my loved ones and other interested parties can watch me dissolve into the air and water. Damn, that’s poetic.


The Mistress of the Manor, however, has questioned if this is feasible, considering how much lumber it might take to build the funeral pyre and what the cost of gasoline might be when I exit this mortal coil. Although she has said she will try adhere to my final wishes, I can tell by the gleam in her eye that the empty refrigerator box is looking better to her all the time.

Reach at or (276) 728-7311.

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