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Death Care Industry Overview, Trends, News, Companies, Products And Services

Death Care Industry News, Outlook, Overview, Trends, Companies, Jobs, Research, Products and ServicesDeath Care Industry Overview

Listed below is an overview of the death care industry in the United States along with news, companies, trends, statistics, jobs, industry forecasts, research, memorial products and funeral services.

Description of the Death Industry

The death industry, also called the death care industry, generates $20 billion dollars a year in revenues in the United States. The terms death industry or death care industry describes companies such as Rome Monument based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Rome Monument is just one of thousands of companies in the United States that manufacture products and provide services related to dying, burial and the end oflife for humans- and pets too.

This industry includes monument manufacturers and dealers such as Rome Monument. Other types of businesses in this industry include funeral homes such as Dignity Memorial, which is the consumer-facing brand name for SCI which is the largest funeral company in the United States. Service Corporation International (SCI) is a major supplier of deathcare products and services including funeral, cremation, and cemetery services. There are over 22,000 funeral homes in business in the United States.

Crematoriums and crematories are categorized as death industry businesses as are coffing manufacturers, cemeteries and memorial parks. Even pet cemeteries are included in this industry.

Recent News

ICCFA Crematory Operator Certification Event On October 30, 2018
Posted on October 15, 2018
This operator course, being held at the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science in Cincinnati, Ohio includes two hours of laws and rules relevant to Ohio and specific to crematory operation. Click here to register online.  In 1996, the AACS took a new name, the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association ICCFA. The Association of American Cemetery Superintendents or AACS was an American organization formed in 1887 to share interests and to improve the fields of cemetery design, groundskeeping, and horticulture.  One of the three oldest societies devoted to conserving landscape and cemetery gardening, and rural art in the United States, the Association of American Cemetery Superintendents still exists today as the ICCFA.  In 2018, the ICCFA is made up of more than 9,100 funeral homes, crematories, cemeteries, cemetery monument and memorial designers and related companies worldwide.

New Products and Tools For Final Expense Planning
Posted on October 15, 2018 
Financial expense insurance, also know as burial insurance, covers medical bills, funeral costs, cremation expenses, cemetery fees, cemetery monument invoices and other fees that arise at the time an individual passes away. This financial product provides money for surviving family members to cover the bills associated with a death in the family. Both funerals and cemetery monuments can cost in thousands of dollars. The State Farm Life Insurance Company sells final expense insurance. The Nationwide Life Insurance Company sells funeral insurance for burial and final expenses. Companies such as State Farm and Nationwide offer these types of financial products to provide paid benefits randing from ranging from $400 to $50,000.  In some situations, the estate of the deceased may need settling, which results in additional fees that need to be paid to a probate lawyer. Unforeseen costs make a funeral insurance policy a valued final gift from the departed. Funeralwise.com, a Chicago-based funeral information service, offers a professional funeral planning tool to members of the Final Expense Planning Specialist Association (FEPSA).  A feature of the web app is an interactive planning tool used by financial advisors that calculates estimated costs based on industry cost benchmarking data. The FEPSA is a non-profit organization that grants a final expense planning professional designation – FEPS®.  By using a secure portal, FEPSA members walk their their customers through all facets of final expense and funeral planning. The Funeralwise web site provides information on funeral planning, funeral customs, funeral etiquette and grieving. The site even helps people cope with the death of a pet.

New Standalone Mausoleums Barred Statewide
Written by Andrea VanValkenburg for the Press-Republican, Published on October 3, 2018
PLATTSBURGH — In response to what lawmakers called "appalling" conditions at abandoned local mausoleums, a new law now bans construction of such standalone facilities across the state.  Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) and Assemblyman Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay) pushed for the legislation after witnessing the emotional and financial toll that resulted when the Whispering Maples Memorial Gardens mausoleums were allowed to deteriorate and go bust in the towns of Plattsburgh and Ellenburg.  “The condition of these mausoleums was appalling,” Little said in a press release. She took an active role in touring the neglected facilities, seeking funding for their rehabilitation and spearheading the campaign for change in Albany.  “It was a disgrace for those interred and heartbreaking for the families of loved ones," she said. "A tremendous amount of progress has been made to rehabilitate both facilities, costing taxpayers more than $2 million.  "It had to be done and was obviously the right thing to do given the circumstance. But we need to make sure this never happens again.”

STUNNED BY BURDEN
 
Under state law, operating and maintenance costs for the two facilities were passed to local municipalities in 2015 after the two mausoleums, along with a crematory in Ellenburg, were declared abandoned by the state due to disrepair and inadequate revenues and funds to cover future obligations.  The state ordered the towns of Plattsburgh and Ellenburg to assume responsibility for the facilities within their borders.  Leaders in both towns were stunned by the unexpected burden, as they were handed the financial challenge of extensive repairs.  The mausoleum on Tom Miller Road in Plattsburgh, with a total 1,488 spaces, and the one in Ellenburg, with 1,259 spaces, both needed new roofs and considerable work inside.  The state justified declaring the facilities abandoned because:
  • The Whispering Maples Board of Directors failed to set aside adequate funds to cover the costs of pre-need (before death) sales of crypt markers and pre-need sales of rights of interment, with liabilities listed at $140,800 and $190,000, respectively, for a total of $330,800.
  • Financial assets as of June 1, 2015, totaling $296,974, were not adequate to cover pre-need liabilities, and the Permanent Maintenance Fund was also underfunded.
  • As well, the state said at the time, Whispering Maples had failed to repay loans it was allowed to make from the fund and hadn't made regular bank deposits, with a resulting liability of more than $200,000.
ABANDONED DUTIES
 
In late 2015, Town of Queensbury Cemetery Superintendent Connie Goedert became the court-appointed receiver in charge of the Whispering Maples facilities. The towns successfully sought to delay responsibility until the mausoleums were brought up to code, as the situation had developed while the state was in charge of oversight.  With strong encouragement from Sen. Little, the state provided $2 million for repairs and renovations and $300,000 for perpetual-care costs.  “The owners of Whispering Maples Memorial Gardens failed families and members of our community when they made the conscious decision to abandon their duties," Jones said in the release.  "The legislation signed into law (this week) is crucial to ensuring that this does not cost taxpayers money in the future and that the memory of our loved ones will be respected and upheld.”  Little and Jones said the new law will protect taxpayers and municipalities, as well as better ensure that those who have died will not have to endure a similar indignity, nor their loved ones the distress felt by families over the Whispering Maples situation.  “The resting places of our loved ones should always remain well maintained and cared for,” Jones said.
 
'MORAL THING TO DO'
 
While mausoleums have proven successful as cemeteries as part of larger financial plans and as an additional burial option, standalone mausoleums have proven unsuccessful when constructed as a sole cemetery entity, lawmakers said.  Plattsburgh Town Supervisor Michael Cashman applauded the collaborative local and state efforts to "right the wrongs of the past."  At the mausoleum on Tom Miller Road, "the majority of the work has been completed," he said Tuesday.  Both Cashman and Ellenburg Town Supervisor Jason Dezan advocated for change in Albany, sharing their experiences of how abandoned mausoleums can potentially devastate municipalities and loved ones alike.  And, he said, "the general response was we have to stop this from happening again.  "Those structures represent loved ones — grandparents, parents, children and veterans — of our community," he said, adding that fixing the mausoleums' deterioration "was the moral and ethical thing to do."  Cashman applauded Little and Jones's efforts in banning future standalone sites "to protect future communities from this happening to them."  Dezan didn't immediately return a call requesting comment. The law went into effect upon the signature of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 
 
Editor Suzanne Moore contributed to this report.

Famous Mausoleums
Posted on October 3, 2018
Wikipedia says that a mausoleum is an external free-standing building constructed as a monument enclosing the interment space or burial chamber of a deceased person or people. A monument without the interment is a cenotaph. A mausoleum may be considered a type of tomb, or the tomb may be considered to be within the mausoleum. Some of the most famous mausoleums in the world include the Mausoleum of Augustus, Grant's Tomb, Lincoln's Tomb, Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral, Tomb of Cyrus, Hamilton Mausoleum, Palmer Chapel Mausoleum and the Lenin Mausoleum. If you want to see inside large mausoleums built for famous Americans, watch this video. Other famous mausoleums located around the globe include the Anıtkabir, Humayun's Tomb, National Pantheon of Venezuela, Qianling Mausoleum, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Castel Sant'Angelo, Tomb of Jahangir and Mausoleum of Genghis Khan.  They are some of the most elegant pieces of architecture on the planet.  The term “mausoleum” comes from the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the grave of the King Mausolus, who was a prominent Persian ruler during the 4th century BC. Other notable and famous mausoleums include the  Mausoleum of Mohammed V, Mausoleum of Hadrian, Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, Artigas Mausoleum, Imam Husayn Shrine, Royal Mausoleum of Mauretania, Mausoleum of Diocletian, Holy Cross Mausoleum, Bourguiba Mausoleum, Mausoleum of the Shirvanshahs, Shah-i-Zinda, Great Pyramid of Giza, Terracotta Army and the Taj Mahal. Rome Monument of Pittsburgh is one of the leading mausoleum designers in North America. The company produced a video that showcases large fancy mausoleums styles designed and built as monuments for the entombment of famous Americans.  You can view pictures of the free-standing stone buildings and look inside these famous family mausoleums. You can even find out how these famous tombs and interment spaces were designed and constructed, how much it cost to build these historic mausoleums, and what it costs to build a beautiful private family mausoleum in 2018.  Rome Monument, headquartered in Pittsburgh, is a mausoleum designer, construction company, contractor and builder with over 80 years of experience as a design/builder of private family mausoleums. The company builds single, 2 person, and family/estate mausoleums for 3 or more interments for both traditional and cremation burials. Mausoleums are free-standing cemetery buildings that contain the grave, tomb or burial chamber of the deceased. A large mausoleum can also incorporate other elements, such as a chapel or a niche for cremated remains.  Our mausoleums can be adorned with beautiful custom designs, etchings, engravings, bas reliefs, statues, 3D carvings, and symbols and imagery that convey the specific nationality or religion of the deceased.

See Inside Large Mausoleums Built for Famous Americans
Published on October 1st, 2018
This video, produced by Rome Monument, showcases large fancy mausoleums designed and built as monuments for the entombment of famous Americans.  View pictures of the free-standing stone buildings and look inside these famous family mausoleums. Find out how these famous tombs and interment spaces were designed and constructed, how much it cost to build these historic mausoleums, and what it costs to build a beautiful private family mausoleum in 2018. The video features the Lincoln Tomb, Grant's Tomb, William McKinley Tomb, the Royal Mausoleum of Hawaii, Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun and the Lillian Russell Moore Mausoleum.  Rome Monument, headquartered in Pittsburgh, is a mausoleum designer, construction company, contractor and builder with over 80 years of experience as a design/builder of private family mausoleums. Click here if you want to see what a mausoleum interior looks like.  Included in the video is aerial video footage showcasing large mausoleums built by Rome Monument for notable, but not famous, Americans and their families. 

State Regulation of the Death Care Industry Varies and Officials Have Mixed Views on Need for Further Federal Involvement
Published on December 15, 2011 by the U.S. Government Accountability Office
Excerpt: The extent to which the federal and state governments regulate the death care industry funeral homes, cemeteries, crematories, pre-need funeral plans, and third party sales of funeral goods varies, as does the extent to which regulation has changed since GAO last reported on the regulation of the death care industry in 2003. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) continues to annually conduct undercover shopping at various funeral homes to test compliance with the Funeral Rule. Of the over 2,400 funeral homes that the FTC shopped since 1996, the FTC reported an overall compliance rate of about 85 percent. With respect to state regulation, consistent with GAOs findings in 2003, the way in which states regulate the industry varies across industry segments and states. Also, the extent to which state regulators reported that they had specific rules or regulations for each industry segment in both 2003 and 2011 varied. Most consistent across states in both years was reporting that there were specific rules or regulations for funeral homes (94 and 95 percent in 2003 and 2011, respectively). In contrast, 77 percent of state regulators of cemeteries reported that their states had specific rules or regulations for cemeteries in 2003, and 88 percent reported this in 2011. Certain state regulators also reported that their states made various statutory or regulatory changes since 2003, primarily to clarify legislation or regulation or to enhance consumer protections, and that they believe these changes strengthened their regulatory program to varying degrees. State regulators reported that these changes came about for a variety of reasons, including accounts of desecration of human remains or proposals from state agencies and industry groups. More >

New Life in the Death Care Industry
Written by Mark Cussen, Published by Dividend.com on July 22, 2015, Updated by Sam Bourgi on April 11, 2018
Posted on September 28, 2018
Excerpt: Death is big business. The U.S. death care industry alone is said to produce well over $20 billion in economic activity annually. This figure is expected to rise substantially as more Americans enter old age.  In the United States, the total death rate per 1,000 is 8.44, with the number of deaths topping 2.7 million annually. Multiply that by the cost of a funeral (which can range between $8,000 to $10,000) and suddenly you’re talking big business. In fact, funerals are among the most expensive purchases consumers will ever make—(luckily, you won’t be fretting the bill).  With those kinds of numbers, opportunities for investment abound with a few relatively large companies, most of which are publicly traded and control most of the businesses that sell caskets and granite for memorials. This article will look at industry trends, some of the biggest companies in the space and the dividend potential. More >

Dealing With Death in Long-Term Care
Published By U.S News & World Report, September 4, 2018, Written By Kaiser Health News, Contributor
Posted on September 28, 2018
Excerpt: Some facilities are looking to break the silence surrounding death in nursing homes and assisted living centers. Death and its companion, grief, have a profound presence in long-term-care facilities.  Other best practices include offering support to grieving residents and relatives of the deceased, recognizing residents' bereavement needs in care plans, and having a protocol to prepare bodies for final viewing.

Social Platform Is Announcing Deaths Through Funeral Home Partnerships
Posted on September 28, 2018
Death announcements created with Everdays app, which launched on September 20, 2018,  assist family members manage and communicate the news of a loved one's passing. It also helps other users stay update about deaths within their social circle. Everdays is promoting a dashboard that funeral homes use to create and send obituary infor to their customers via a text message or email. About 1,000 funeral homes use the web based system. The new mobile app takes the process a step further.  Everday is used to send funeral messages, funeral invitations and to preplan for a funeral. The clever app guides people through the process of sending funeral messages or funeral invitations.

VA to Let Vets Pre-Select Cemetery Burials Before Death
Published By Military.com
Written By Amy Bushatz

Excerpt: A rule change at the Veterans Affairs Department will allow veterans to apply for burial in national cemeteries before their death, rather than requiring family members to apply on their behalf after it.  Veteran burial benefits previously were approved at the "time of need." For families, that meant waiting until after the veteran died to apply for the benefits via fax or email by sending in a copy of the veteran's DD-214 or separation documents and then following up by phone.  The rule change instead allows veterans to be approved for burial in a VA national cemetery "pre-need," or before death, through a form submitted by fax, email or mail. The form can be filled out by the veteran or by someone else on his or her behalf.  More than four million people are buried in VA cemeteries. More >

How To Personalize A Cemetery Monument or Headstone
Written By Rome Monument
Posted Here On September 24, 2018

Personalize a monument, gravestone, grave marker or cemetery memorial with your loved one’s favorite Bible verse, stanza of poetry, song lyric, catch-phrase or life’s motto. If you and your family are having a difficult time deciding what epitaph or wording to have inscribed on your loved one's memorial, please read the examples below for ideas. Listed here are commonly used epitpahs which you can see on the actual memorials and monuments if you peruse our "Design Gallery."  Military headstone inscriptions frequently include abbreviations that denote the branch of service, war service and awards. The ranks included the Air Force, Army, Army Air Corps, Army Air Forces, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Merchant Marines and Navy. Click here for a list of the most commonly inscribed abbreviations placed on Government-furnished headstones and markers.  If you are at a loss for words and would prefer to have some assistance, feel free to call the main Rome Monument office in Rochester, PA at 724-770-0100 and ask for Vince Dioguardi or Chris Morgan. Either of these compassionate gentleman will be happy to help you with this emotional process.

View Pictures Of Headstone Endearment Phrases, Verses, Sayings and Epitaphs For Cemetery Monuments 

Overlooked Orleans: Choosing A Headstone Was Serious Business
Written by Matt Ballard
Published by The Daily News (Batavia, NY) on August 27, 2018
Posted Here on September 5, 2018

ALBION — the final tour of Mt. Albion Cemetery this summer was Aug. 26, travelling a path across the western end of the cemetery. Over the last several weekends, I found myself intrigued by the visual representations of social and cultural changes throughout the cemetery.
 
The earliest sections of the cemetery are characterized by a lack of uniformity, whether one looks at the varying size of lots, the random distribution of lot numbers, or the diverse styles of monuments. As one travels into the “newer” sections of the cemetery, lots are set out in uniform size, orientation, and cemetery monuments appear more similar to one another.
 
While preparing for these tours, I stumbled across excerpts from a Sears, Roebuck & Company catalog for marble cemetery monuments. An individual could purchase a headstone of modest size at a cost of $7 to $8, plus additional rates for lettering and shipping. A later catalog distributed in 1906 provided prospective customers with samples of granite monuments, a relatively new business venture for the company.
 
One particular example from the catalog is reminiscent of some larger stones found within Mt. Albion. The “Art Renaissance” model is similar in style to that of the Alfred Skinner monument, although the ornamentation is far simpler with the catalog model. Customers could choose from several different sizes, running anywhere from $100 (or $2,768 with inflation) for a 4 foot 10 inch tall monument weighing 1,800 pounds to $312.30 (or $8,638.00 with inflation) for a 9 foot 2 inch tall monument weighing 11,680 pounds.
 
Production for a monument of this size required 12 weeks from quarry to cemetery, which included cutting the stone, lettering the face, and shipping by railroad. Typical lettering costs for granite ran anywhere from 12 to 72 cents per letter and customers could select typeface ranging in size from one inch to six inches in height. For raised lettering, prices ran anywhere from 45 cents to $2.78 per letter ranging in size from one inch to 8 inches. Old English, German, Gothic, and ornamental lettering would cost customers nearly double the price of traditional fonts, so an individual could easily spend more than the cost of the stone itself when adding text depending upon the length of names, dates, and epitaphs.
 
Although standardized mail-order monuments were an option, many people preferred individualized monuments that displayed the artistic talents of local monument dealers.
 
A particular memorial, standing upon lot 879 and paid for by Elizur Kirke Hart, is perhaps one of the most stunning and ostentatious monuments in the entire cemetery. Designed by Charles Diem of Albion in 1879, the large granite monument cost Hart roughly $7,900. Although the total amount spent on the memorial would run upwards of $236,000 today taking inflation into account, the artisanship and labor required to replicate such a beautiful piece of art would likely require double that amount at minimum. The monument stands upon an 8-square-foot base of granite with an eight-foot tall statue of “Hope” resting on top.
 
The statue stands as a symbol of the virtue of hope — the desire and expectation of receiving something. In relation to cemetery symbolism, this often reflects hope for eternal happiness and divine union. Hope is one of seven Heavenly Virtues including Faith, Hope, Charity, Fortitude, Justice, Temperance, and Prudence; Faith, Hope, and Charity (or Love) are considered the three Theological Virtues.
 
Held in her left hand is an anchor, a traditional Christian representation of hope as it often represented safety. In the Catholic tradition, the anchor is symbolic of the execution of St. Clement of Rome by Emperor Trajan, who was tied to an anchor and thrown into the sea.
 
In this depiction, Hope is dressed in a stola, the female counterpart to the Roman toga, with her right hand over her breast as a representation of faith. In other depictions, her index finger points to the sky as a representation of the path to heaven.
 
A similar, smaller statue stands upon the gravesite of David Jones and James Whitney near the Soldiers & Sailors Monument. On that particular example, the large anchor rests at Hope’s feet with a chain attached.
 
Charles Diem was also responsible for a number of other strikingly beautiful monuments throughout the cemetery including the marble tablets found within the Soldiers & Sailors Monument, the large bald eagle draping a mourning cloth over the monument of Col. Robert H. Graham (just west of the tower), and the stunning marble baldacchino that stands on the Sanford E. Church lot. Of course, Sears, Roebuck & Company could not replicate the beauty and complexity of these monuments.
 

I Remember You. Do You Remember Me? What Headstones Say and Mean: About Designs, Symbols & Epitaphs
Produced by Rome Monument
Posted Here on 09/05/18

This video takes you on a virtual flythrough tour of an historic cemetery with its wide and wonderful diversity of cemetery monuments, headstones, gravestones, and statues. You’ll discover that a headstone can say so much more about the deceased than just the name, birth date and death date. 
 
What should a headstone say? It should say how much one loved in life and how much one was, and still is, loved by family. It can convey one's accomplishments, the hobbies and pastimes they participated in, the sacrifices they made for their country, the faith they shared, and so much more. A monument says whatever you want it to say, and it speaks through its personalized design elements. 
 
What goes into a cemetery monument design? You can personalize any cemetery monument with artwork, etchings, engravings, symbols, emblems, and photographs that convey one’s passions, faith, or accomplishments – even the shape of a monument can be an expression of love and remembrance. Beautiful words make a headstone appear more beautiful and give it more meaning. Add personal inscriptions, epitaphs, bible verses, quotes, and headstone sayings that express one’s love, hope, and prayers for a spouse (“An Angel Shining in Heaven”), wife (“Gardening in Heaven”), husband (“Those who knew him could not help but love him”), father (“The Influence of a Father Upon His Children Lives Through Generations Forever”), mother (“Your Smile, Love And Heart Will Be Missed Forever”), parents (“Together Forever”), or other family member (“Sweet Dreams Little Angel”). A qualified cemetery monument maker can help you decide on a design for your monument and craft a work of art that exceeds your expectations and touches the hearts of all who view it.       
 
How would you like to be remembered? How would you like to remember a loved one? Watch this video to see how Rome Monument can help you make your cemetery monument a beautiful expression of what you want to remember and what you want to be remembered for…forever. 
 

 
Published by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics | Division of Occupational Employment Statistics
Posted Here on 08/21/18
May 2017 National Industry-Specific Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates. These national industry-specific occupational employment and wage estimates are calculated with data collected from employers of all sizes, in metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas in every state and the District of Columbia, in NAICS 812200 - Death Care Services. More >
 

Despite Decades-Old Law, Funeral Prices Are Still Unclear
Published by National Public Radio on 02/08/17
Posted Here on 08/21/18
Excerpt: A federal regulation called the Funeral Rule is supposed to protect consumers who have lost loved ones. Among other things, it requires funeral businesses to provide potential customers with clear price information.  But an NPR investigation found that the rule goes only so far in protecting consumers, and that its promise of transparency often goes unfulfilled.  As recently as the 1960s, the association barred members from advertising prices. It agreed to end the ban in 1968, only after being sued by the U.S. Department of Justice.  That culture of secrecy persists in what's now known as the death care industry. A kind of strategic ambiguity about prices is part of the business model.  "The consumer stands firmly in 1951, because that seems to be the technological level and the transparency level that the majority of American funeral homes are stuck at," says Joshua Slocum, executive director of the death care watchdog Funeral Consumers Alliance. More >

Academic Articles | The Funeral and Cemetery Law Blog
Tanya Marsh is the creator and primary author of The Funeral and Cemetery Law Blog
Posted Here on 08/21/18

 

Published by PR Newswire on 02/28/18
News Provided by Wake Forest University School of Law
Posted Here on 08/21/18
Excerpt: "We are in the midst of a death care revolution, and most people don't even know it," says Wake Forest University School of Law Professor Tanya Marsh, who organized the "Disrupting the Death Care Paradigm: Challenges to the Regulation of the Funeral Industry and the American Way of Death" symposium. "This Journal issue is a must-have for anyone who wants to understand the challenges facing the funeral industry today. I hope that it will spark long-overdue discussions between policymakers, industry leaders and reformers."  Marsh is the author of "The Law of Human Remains" (2015) and co-author of "Cemetery Law: The Common Law of Burying Grounds in the United States" (2015). At Wake Forest School of Law, Marsh created and teaches the only law school course in funeral and cemetery law. She is the creator and primary author of The Funeral and Cemetery Law Blog (www.deathcarestudies.com). More >
 

Half In US Choose Cremation As Views On Death Change
Published by CNN on August 9, 2017
Written By Susan Scutti
Posted Here on 08/21/18
Excerpt: Does faith matter?  Cremation is the prevailing practice in places where the custom is ancient and most of the population adheres to Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism or Jainism. Many Americans of Japanese descent, for example, routinely opt for cremation just as they might in Japan, where cremation is nearly universal.  Other nations with high cremation rates -- 80% or higher -- include Taiwan, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Sweden, South Korea, the Czech Republic and Thailand.  Although nonreligious Americans are more likely than others to consider cremation, the proportion of Americans who feel that religion is an important part of a funeral has decreased from just under half in 2012 to slightly less than 40% in 2016, according to the report.  While more than three-quarters of Americans identify themselves as faithful to one religion or another, fewer than 40% of Americans feel religion is an important part of a funeral.  The breakdown of religion in the United States includes 22.8% who are unaffiliated, describing themselves as atheists, agnostics or "nothing in particular," according to a Pew Research Center study. Following non-Christian faiths are 5.9% of Americans, who include Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus. The largest group is Christian: 70.6% of Americans. Of these, nearly 21% are Catholics, their large number influencing the shift toward cremation.  The reason? In 1963, after centuries of insisting on full-body burials, the Vatican lifted the ban on cremation. More >

Ashes To Ashes - Cremations Become A Popular Choice In Southwest Michigan, U.S.
Published by The Herald-Palladium on 02/11/18
Written by Tony Wittkowski
Posted Here on 08/21/18
Excerpt: Nearly everyone in the 20th century who died in the United States was buried in a casket.  Only 4 percent were cremated 50 years ago, at a time when the practice was considered unorthodox. Today, the country cremates half of its deceased.  Cremation rates vary widely across the world with some countries like Japan and Thailand having a rate higher than 95 percent, while other countries like Italy, Ireland and Poland are at or lower than 10 percent. Factors for such a disparity among countries include culture and religion, as the cremation rate in Muslim and Roman Catholic countries is much lower due to religious sanctions on cremation. Certain religions such as Islam oppose cremation, while Hindu and Buddhism encourage cremation – which may explain why Japan, whose culture practices Buddhism and Shinto, has a nearly 100 percent cremation rate.  Judaism has historically taken a strong stance against cremation, though Reform Judaism has begun to accept the practice more. More >

On Yizkor, realizing that if ‘life is with people,’ in Judaism, death is too
Published on May 17, 2018 on the Arizona Jewish Post.
Written by Gila Silverman, a research associate at The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, Brandeis University, and a visiting scholar at the Arizona Center for Judaic Studies.
Posted Here on August, 21, 2018
Jewish mourning is guided by two principles — kavod hamet and nichum aveilim — honoring the dead and comforting the mourners. Neither of these can be done alone. Like so much of Jewish life, we need other people to respond Jewishly to death. A well-known book describing life in the shtetls is called “Life is with People.” And from a Jewish perspective, death is also with people.  Mourning is by definition a lonely experience, as we try to adjust to a life without someone who was important to us. But Judaism ensures that we are not alone throughout this process. From the moment of death, actually from the moments preceding death, through the funeral, and the shiva, through the month or year of saying kaddish, and to the ongoing rememberings of yahrzeit and Yizkor, if we mourn as Jews, we don’t do so alone. In fact, we can’t do so alone. More >

The Death Care Industry: A Review of Regulatory and Consumer Issues
An Article in The Journal of Consumer Affairs Vol. 41, No. 1 (Summer 2007), pp. 150-173, published by Wiley, a global provider of content.
Posted on 08/21/18
Abstract: Although virtually every person in the United States will purchase or consume a funeral-related product or service, relatively little is understood about the processes a consumer undertakes in making these expensive decisions in stressful circumstances. Regulation of the industry has been contentious from the outset, and there have been numerous questions as to regulatory effectiveness. This article outlines and discusses issues related to the death care industry with particular attention to consumer interests. 

Planned Mausoleum Will Provide Catholic Options For Cremation And Full Burials
Published by The Rhode Island Catholic on May 10, 2018
Posted Here on August 13, 2018

CRANSTON — Site preparation is underway on a new place for the faithful to express their reverence for departed loved ones with the groundbreaking for a new mausoleum at St. Ann Cemetery on the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, Tuesday, May 1.  Though the cemetery already has six mausolea, five are at capacity. The sixth is a holding crypt for about 100 remains waiting to be interred in the new structure, which Office of Catholic Cemeteries Director Anthony Carpinello said has a wait list of about 150 people.  The new 22,000-square-foot mausoleum complex, to be built by McClesky Mausoleums on a design by Cemetery Design Associates (CDA), will accommodate 720 exterior and interior niches for urns containing cremains as well as 2,086 crypt entombments. Most urn niches will be fronted with marble and a name plate, but some will have a glass front.  The holding crypt will become permanent crypt space after the new mausoleum is complete, said McClesky’s Vice President of Production Kim Tadlock.  The choice of date for the groundbreaking was no coincidence, said Bishop Thomas J. Tobin.  “The work we’re beginning today should enliven our faith and make us grateful,” Tobin said, noting that the mausoleum will be a place where the deceased faithful will rest while awaiting resurrection at Christ’s return.  “All of our labor, when done for the glory of God and in service to our brothers and sisters, can have immense value and meaning,” the bishop continued. The groundbreaking was only the first step in an endeavor dedicated “to the glory of God and the welfare of our brothers and sisters who will be buried here,” he said.  The feast day was also appropriate as St. Joseph is the patron of a happy death, Bishop Tobin added. The foster father of Christ was then invoked for the safety of all who would labor on the construction site.  The bishop joined in the groundbreaking with Carpinello, diocesan Chief Financial Officer Michael Sabatino, Vicar of Planning and Finance Msgr. Raymond Bastia, CDA President Larry Jones, McCleskey Mausoleums President Bob DeBeltrand and Cemetery Advisory Board Chairman Father William Ledoux.  Construction is expected to begin in June or July and take two years to complete, Tadlock said. A preliminary base cost estimate is $10 million, according to Mark Tucker of CDA.  The mausoleum’s design was inspired by the architecture of the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul in Providence.  “From the moment we saw the plan, we knew it was the design,” said Carpinello. “It reinforces the bond and relationship between Catholic Cemeteries and the diocese.”  The resemblance to the cathedral is especially seen in the 50-foot-high towers flanking the mausoleum’s entrance, Tucker said.  Construction will take place in two phases. Phase One will include the main building with chapel, and Phase Two will add a rear wing with more crypt space.  The 30-by-60-foot chapel will be able to accommodate up to 200 people, and will also provide spaces for burials. Stained glass windows throughout the building will incorporate windows from churches around the diocese that have been closed. Marble will be used throughout the interior and granite will line the exterior crypts and urn niches, Tucker said.  “This is really a first-class building,” he observed. “It will serve as a throwback to what churches used to look like.”  In the present time, while scattering ashes might be a popular method of disposing of cremated human remains (or “cremains”), the Catholic faith prohibits the practice. Church teaching also forbids distributing cremains among loved ones, incorporating them into jewelry, ceramics or paintings, or even keeping them respectfully at home.  Yet many faithful are unaware of the specifically Catholic way of cremation – and of the reasons behind it. In an effort to help spread the word about the proper way to care for the remains of the dead, the diocesan Catholic Cemetery Office will soon embark on the “Coming Home” outreach and education campaign.  “It’s not people’s fault that they don’t know,” said Carpinello. “We’re trying to reinforce the Order of Christian Funerals so families understand, you didn’t do anything wrong. Just bring mom and dad home. We want you to bring your loved ones back to Catholic cemeteries.”  The Catholic Church began allowing cremation in 1963, with the instruction “Piam et Constantem.” The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith restated and clarified that document in the August, 2016 instruction “Ad Resurgendum cum Christo: Regarding the Burial of the Deceased and the Conservation of the Ashes in the Case of Cremation.”  Informed by Catholic teaching on the dignity of the human person and the resurrection of the body, the Order of Christian Funerals stipulates that cremains must be contained in an urn, which must be deposited in a consecrated space such as an in-ground grave or a columbarium.  “It’s about reverence for the sacredness of the human body,” Carpinello said.
 

Islamic Influences In The Death Care Industry
08/13/18
Forest Home Cemetery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin decided to offer green burial to stay viable in the death care industry. More cemeteries are going green. The cemetery, which was established in 1850 by the founders of Milwaukee. Nestled within the 167-year-old Forest Home Cemetery is Prairie Rest, a cemetery reserved for natural burials. Forest Home Cemetery's green burial site is a traditional Muslim-style interment.  A natural burial is an environmentally-friendly approach to burial. In the United States, a bio-degradable burial container is used, such as seagrass, willow, bamboo, or pine wood, with biodegradable shrouds. In a green burial the body is not embalmed with a traditional formaldehyde-based solution. Instead, a non-toxic solution is used. Also, the body must be buried in a container that is 100 percent biodegradable.  Also, no toxic chemicals or vaults are used so that burials will have minimal impact to the prairie.

Nearly every religion has specific and meaningful traditions and customs around death.  Funerals in Islam (called Janazah in Arabic) follow fairly specific rites, though they are subject to regional interpretation and variation in custom.  While Green Burial is a new phenomenon in the United States, Muslims consider this a “natural” method, that matches the guidelines of Islamic law, practiced for over 1400 years. As Green Burial becomes more available, more Muslims will look to locations like Forest Home Cemetery for burial that fulfills all aspects of Islamic law. Muslims believe that cremation should be forbidden. Cremation is also prohibited by Jewish law. Cremation is acceptable in Buddhism.  The only time that cremation is acceptable in the Islamic faith is when there are breakouts or epidemics of disease and infection or if there is not enough room for burial, as is the case in much of India.  Historically, the Catholic Church has not supported cremation. However, these days it is acceptable for a Catholic to be cremated.  Forest Home has seen an increased interest in people of the Muslim faith to be buried at the traditional cemetery areas and in the Green Burial section. Being a non-denominational cemetery, it accepts all religions and faiths, and by offering green burial it opens a natural option for all those choosing the location to be their final resting place.  Traditionally, Muslim funeral traditions prohibit the erection of a large monument on the grave or elaborate grave decorations.  The Muslim Cemetery of South Florida, the only fully Muslim cemetery in South Florida, is dedicated entirely to Muslim burials.

How To Establish A Career And Make A Living By Working In The Death Care Industry
08/10/18
You don't need to be fascinated by mortality to consider a career in the death care industry. The death care industry is more than dealing with dead bodies and families in grief. Working as a mortician is not the only career available in the death care industry. Helping families care for their dead or helping families memorialize their loved ones is an option. If dead bodies make you sick and you don't think you would like putting makeup on dead bodies, you probably should not enroll at the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science. If you are artistic, you can take a cemetery memorial design course through the Monument Builders of North America and become a certified memorialist. You can design a new style of casket and then start a manufacturing company. Or you can sell handcrafted cremation urns, jewelry and keepsakes online. 

If you are in the early stages of considering the death and funeral profession, you have a number of options for jobs. You can become a funeral director (mortician/undertaker), certified preplanning consultant (CPC) or embalmer. A new type of civic profession is a 'Funeral Celebrant' which is somebody that officiates a non-religious funeral, and works with families to create a proper ceremony for the deceased. If you want technical job, you can study to become a crematorium operator or technician. If you are a natural born salesman, you can sell headstones for cemeteries or monument retailers by working as a sales representative or sales consultant. If you like watching crime scene investigation television shows, you may think that the job of a coroner or forensic pathologist sounds interesting. If you like being outdoors, you can get a maintenance job in a cemetery. If you find social work appealing, you can become a grief support counselor or bereavement counselor. If you are good at handling stress and anguish, you can make a good living working at a hospice facility. If you like working with your hands and and are strong, you can apply for a stone mason/memorial mason/monumental mason position, monument builder postion, or monument delivery and installation position.

There are a wide variety of positions open to individuals that want to make a living by working in the death care industry

Even With The Rise In Cremation Rates, There Is Still A Lot Of Money To Be Made In the Death Care Industry
08/08/18
Even as cremation rates skyrocket, at the expense of traditional burials, services related to death still produce substantial revenue and profits for funeral homes, cemeteries, and memorial makers.  The death care industry has been disrupted by rising cremation rates and changing attitudes among young people about funeral practices and environmental impacts.  Although people who work in the funeral industry, for generations, assumed that the death care industry was safe from the whims of supply and demand because “people are never gonna stop dying”, the death care industry needs to revise its traditional outlook and evolve to keep pace with current economic realities, in particular, the rise in cremation rates. The average cost of a funeral is $7,323, according to The National Funeral Directors Association.

People that are not end-of-life providers often think that working in the industry is depressing. However, many cheerful people provide memorial services, provide internment services and create memorial art. Because customer service is an essential part of deathcare, a friendly disposition on the part of funeral home employees, cemetery administrators and monument designers often results in contradictions of industry stereotypes. While many deathcare practitioners, memorial artists and cemeterians who work in the death care industry do so because they work in a family business, others do it because they can make some good money providing funeral services, operating cemeteries, building private family mausoleums, selling caskets or custom designing headstones.   

Cremation is now America's final disposition of choice. Many cemeteries, funeral business and monument builders are being challenged by the rise in cremation rates and need to adapt to stay viable. Many of these firms in this historically fragmented marketplace are small, locally owned, family-owned independent companies.  The rate of cremation surpassed that of burials in 2015, according to a report by the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA).  The NFDA also projects that in 2018, more than half of consumers will choose cremation, and by 2030, over 70 percent of consumers will opt for cremation. Monument makers such as Rome Monument, based in Pittsburgh, PA, are now selling cremation monuments, cremation memorials and cremation headstones to take advantage of the market opportunities dictated by the rise in cremation rates. Companies such as Rome Inspirations are selling cremation keepsakes, cremation jewelry and cremation urns. 

To offset the decline in revenue from traditional funeral services, funeral homes are now offering more products and services. Some even partner with monument makers to sell flat bronze and upright granite grave markers. Rome Monument is a wholesale granite monument supplier that sells memorial products and provides value added services to monument dealers, cemetery management organizations and funeral homes. In 2016, the annual revenue of the U.S. funeral industry amounted to about $14.2 billion; this being generated from 15,818 funeral homes, approximately 7,000 crematoriums and cemeteries and over 4,000 industry suppliers.  Hillenbrand Inc., a global diversified company, sells more than 800,000 of the 1.8 million caskets sold in the United States each year through its Batesville Casket Company.

Financial companies and banks, with regulatory and compliance expertise, provide fiduciary services, investment management and recordkeeping services to members of the death care industry. Companies such as ClearPoint (formerly Forethought Federal Savings Bank), specialize in funeral and cemetery trusts, and other services that meet the requirements of funeral and cemetery professionals across the United States.

Financial opportunities in the death care industry remain available even though the industry is undergoing a significant transformation. Mergers and consolidations continue. Large chains are buying and managing locally owned funeral homes and cemeteries.  Websites such as Legacy.com lead the online death marketplace, providing obituaries, digital memorials, floral arrangements and selling ads. Even Walmart is taking a share of the death care industry away from funeral homes and related companies by selling low-priced caskets online.  Carriage Services has adapted to changes in the death care industry by providing prefunded funeral and burial services.  This allows people to plan ahead by purchasing interment rights, grave sites, mausoleums, and crypts in advance.  A significant portion of revenue for 1-800-Flowers.com comes from the funeral business.  

Rock of Ages, a provider of granite used for memorials and mausoleums, operates quarries and manufacturing facilities.  The company’s revenue comes from selling raw granite and the manufacturing and selling of its final memorial products to independent retailers. To take advantage of death care industry trends, monument retailers such as Milano Monuments, based in Cleveland, are now selling inspirational and religious gifts. Changes in the death care industry are taking a toll on monument makers. According to Lisa Troost, president of the Peter Troost Monument Company, there used to be 100 monument makers in Chicago, now there are five. The company operates 26 locations in four states.  In February, 2018 Matthews International Corporation announced that the Company has acquired Star Granite & Bronze, based in Elberton, Georgia, for $41.2 million.  Amazon.com has also played a role in the changing economical landscape of the death care industry. It sells caskets, embalming tables and pet urns online. StoneMor Partners L.P., a major player in the death care industry, provides a broad scope of products and services through the ownership, development, and operation of cemeteries and funeral homes in multiple states. Customers are able to plan and pre-purchase their burial plot, casket or urn, vault, mausoleum space, and other details connected to a burial.  Some financial analysts think that Stonemor has a lot of upside.

Companies such as Service Corporation International (SCI), the largest provider of deathcare products, funeral, cremation and cemetery services in North America, continue to profit from funeral and cemetery services, even with the rise in cremation rates.  On May 29, 2013, SCI, America’s largest provider of funeral, cremation and cemetery services, acquired the second largest, Stewart Enterprises. The company stock has a market cap of $7.2 billion. Not bad for a company in the death care industry. 

An Overview Of The Death Care Industry
Written by William Cronon and Published at williamcronon.net
Posted Here on August 6, 2018
The business of running funeral homes and cemeteries is just that, a business. While some cemeteries like Forest Hill are publicly owned, funeral homes are nearly all private businesses. The American “death care industry,” as it is commonly called, produced nearly 12 billion dollars in economic activity in 2007, and that number is expected to climb to nearly 25 billion dollars by 2020.  These numbers include the costs of caskets and headstones, the wages of the cemetery laborers who dig the graves and maintain the grounds, the salaries of funeral directors, and equipment such as crematoria or embalming fluid.

 
THE DEATH CARE INDUSTRY BY THE NUMBERS
Funerals are expensive. Today, the average funeral costs over $8,000 but often exceed $10,000. By comparison, funeral costs averaged $708 in 1960, which in today’s dollars would be about $5,600. Opting for cremation can lower a funeral cost to around $3,500, which is one reason why cremations are becoming more popular. For more information about concerns related to the costs of funerals and the ethics of the death care industry click here.
 
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that around 130,000 people work in the death care industry in the United States. It takes more than just funeral directors, the people who oversee the process of preparing a body for burial and the funeral service, to make the industry run. Landscapers, monument makers, bereavement counselors, accountants, florists, hearse drivers, janitors, advertisers, security guards, and more all contribute to the functioning of the death care industry. While most of these workers will be employed by privately owned companies, some will be public employees. For example, if the cause of death is uncertain, a coroner employed by the city or the county may investigate. If a person will be buried at Forest Hill cemetery, the backhoe operator who digs the grave will be a city employee. Click here to learn more about a body’s journey to its final resting place at Forest Hill.
 
The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not keep aggregate data on the Wisconsin death care industry, but some numbers are available for individual occupations. As of 2013, the Wisconsin economy supported 790 morticians, undertakers, and funeral directors. Around 60 people in the state held jobs as funeral service managers, people who work as the business directors of funeral homes. One can make a good living as a funeral service manager. The mean wage is around $80,000 and the highest paid managers in the state earn close to $140,000. Another 500 people make their living as funeral attendants. They carry the caskets, arrange flowers, organize receptions, and do other support work that makes funerals and burials possible.
 
FUNERAL HOMES: A FAMILY AFFAIR
While many industries are busy consolidating ownership into fewer and fewer hands, most businesses in the death care industry continue to be family-owned or small businesses. Over 85 percent of the roughly 20,000 funeral homes in the country are privately owned. Many death care employees, however, belong to an aging demographic. Funeral home directors tend to be over 55 and many in the industry feel anxious about recruiting enough younger people to replace these directors when they retire. One factor discouraging new recruits may be that funeral directors work long and irregular hours because they must respond to calls at all hours of the day. Statistics about cemetery ownership are harder to come by. There are more than 120,000 cemeteries in the United States and while some are privately owned, many are owned by municipalities, religious institutions, families, or non-profit organizations.
 
So who runs the fifteen percent of the industry not controlled by small businesses? Service Corporation International (SCI), a publicly traded company based in Houston, Texas controls nearly all of the fifteen percent of the funeral home industry not held by small companies or families.9 They own more than 1600 funeral homes and nearly 500 cemeteries across the country.10 SCI owns five cemeteries here in Wisconsin, including Memorial Park Cemetery in Brookfield, one of the state’s largest. SCI does not own any funeral homes in Wisconsin because of a Wisconsin law, discussed below, banning a single owner from operating both a cemetery and a funeral home.
 
While a wave of consolidation ran through the death care industry in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, it has not turned out to be as profitable as corporations like SCI had hoped. The Economist reported that SCI’s strategy had been to “grow by acquisition and cut costs through consolidation.” During the rush to buy up independent funeral homes SCI and others appear to have both overpaid for the businesses they purchased and overestimated the amount of savings they could generate. This resulted in SCI taking on too much debt, a problem that the Great Recession compounded. However, they have recently resumed acquiring many funeral homes and cemeteries across the country. While their reach is limited here in Madison, in communities like West Palm Beach, Florida, SCI owns more than 60 percent of the area’s funeral homes.
 
One reason for the staying power of small businesses in the death care industry is their geographic specificity. Cress Funeral and Cremation Services, for example, maintains eight locations in Wisconsin and three of their facilities are located here in Madison. You may notice the Cress facility on Speedway Avenue across the street from Forest Hill cemetery. Bill Clark, a funeral director at Cress, reports that families tend to look for a funeral home in their neighborhood, which is one reason why many smaller funeral service businesses remain. Madison supports at least twelve different funeral homes scattered around the city. Consolidating multiple funeral homes into a central location may push away potential customers.
 
Cress has built their business by acquiring other family-owned funeral homes in the area. They purchased the Speedway location from the Frautschi family in 1977. The Frautschis had run a funeral home business in Madison since 1869. Six other Cress locations were also purchased from family-owned funeral home businesses. Clark said that across their eight locations, their company handles about 1300 deaths each year. This is significantly higher than the 113 deaths per year that the average funeral home manages. Owning eight funeral homes allows a local company like Cress to emulate some of the strategies that corporations like SCI employ. For example, while Cress maintains several facilities in Madison, all the preparation of bodies and cremations happen at one location.
 
CHOOSING BETWEEN CEMETERIES AND FUNERAL HOMES: THE WISCONSIN CO-OWNERSHIP LAW
Geographic specificity raises the question, why not offer funeral home services at cemeteries? Many states take that approach, but Wisconsin prohibits the practice. Since the 1930’s, Wisconsin law has banned a single company from owning both funeral homes and cemeteries. Nine states have similar laws, though Wisconsin’s is one of the strictest.
 
The law has been a subject of contention between funeral directors and cemetery owners. Cemetery owners claim that they need to have access to increased revenue streams due to increasing financial stress. Many cemeteries are funded through an endowment and returns on investments pay a substantial portion of their operating costs. Each time the stock market drops sharply, as in 2008, the financial health of cemetery endowments is put at risk. Furthermore, with cremation now more popular than burial, fewer people are purchasing space in cemeteries and those who do often buy smaller plots.
 
Funeral directors, however, support the law, claiming cemeteries that also run funeral homes would have an unfair advantage. They give two main reasons. First, cemeteries tend to pay reduced property tax rates. Second, while cemeteries often have space to accommodate funeral home facilities, it would be much more difficult for a funeral home operator to buy a large chunk of land inside city limits to enter the cemetery market. At least in the short term, abolishing the co-ownership law would benefit cemetery owners more than funeral home operators.
 
Since the 1980’s, cemetery owners have repeatedly pushed to have the co-ownership law overturned. Legislation to overturn the law has been introduced in the Wisconsin statehouse at least four times. It has failed to pass each time. In the fall of 2014, the owners of Highland Memorial Park cemetery in New Berlin, Wisconsin filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality on the cross-ownership ban. Their lawsuit claims that the law unduly restricts their right to earn a living guaranteed by the due-process and equal-protection clauses of the Wisconsin Constitution. As of this writing, the lawsuit has not been resolved.
 
CREMATION TRENDS
In Wisconsin, more people now choose to be cremated than buried. The National Funeral Directors Association estimates that in 2015 about 54 percent of Wisconsinites who die will be cremated. Around 38 percent will have their bodies buried in a casket. Others will choose to be entombed in a mausoleum, to donate their body to science, or to be buried at sea. Wisconsinites may be disappointed to know that burial in the great lakes is not an option as burial at sea is only legal in international waters. Nationally, more and more people are choosing cremation. In 2000, only about 26 percent of bodies were cremated. Now, over 45 percent choose to be cremated and it is estimated that by 2030 over 70 percent of Americans will choose to be cremated when they die.
 
Economics, demographics, and shifting religious attitudes all seem to be driving the trend towards increasing cremation. First, cremation can be far less expensive. While a traditional funeral and burial often surpasses $10,000, cremation can be done for less than a third of that amount. Even more significant than economic pressures are demographic changes. First, American families move around much more than they used to. Therefore, fewer families now purchase a family plot in a cemetery like Forest Hill where they expect to be buried together. Cremating a body allows a family to schedule a memorial service when everyone can come together. Embalming, on the other hand, can only keep a body presentable for a week or two. Also, in the 1990’s the Catholic Church began allowing cremated remains at Catholic funerals, which has led to increased cremation rates among Catholics. Overall, fewer Americans now participate in organized religion, and this seems to be producing less demand for traditional funerals and burials. Cremation allows families to craft their own services and scatter ashes where they choose. Some claim that we are running out of cemetery space, but that appears to be less of a concern here in Madison. Forest Hill still has burial and cremation plots as well as mausoleum space available.
 

Funeral Services Stock Outlook: Shift in Trend Dims Prospects
Published By Zacks Investment Research on August 1, 2018
Posted Here on August 6, 2018
Companies operating in the funeral services industry prepare the deceased bodies for burial or cremation and organize memorial services. As death is inevitable, demand for this industry’s services never exhaust. In fact, players in the industry generate significant revenues from the entire funeral process that entails high costs associated with embalming, caskets, vehicles, funeral staff and equipment among others.  Markedly, the U.S. funeral services industry generates more than $16 billion in annual revenues, with $8,000 being the average cost per burial. However, the industry has turned quite competitive of late, owing to consumers’ rising inclination toward cremations over traditional burials. Further, use of alternative channels, such as e-commerce, to buy funeral related products has increased competition.  Increased demand for cremation has been weighing on revenue per client of the funeral services industry, which is expected to witness a slowdown over the 2018-2023 period. Cremations cost significantly less than traditional funerals, with the average cremation service cost being roughly $2,500. Though a rise in mortality rates and the aging baby boomer population is likely to work in favor of the industry, increasing preference for cremation is expected to hinder growth.  More >

Posted on August 6, 2018
Frequently updated information about death, dying, funerals, hospice and the deathcare industry.  Published by a group of death care enthusiasts who enjoy following the death care industry. Their focus is on current news, past traditions and new trends in this field.  This site appeals to individuals who want to learn more about how to prepare for death, the legalities involved with long-term care and after-death documents and more about funeral options. Their experiences includes counseling, history, genealogy, reporting, journalism and business – and a few deaths in families and among loved ones. Categories include cemeteries, death and dying, death care news, funeral arrangements, hospice, and wills and estate planning.
 
Written By Micah Solomon and Published by Forbes on May 26, 2017
Posted Here on August 6, 2018
If I asked you to name an industry that has a particular focus on customer service, you might say “hospitality,” or “retail,” or even “financial services." I don't know that you'd think to mention deathcare (sometimes styled "death care"), the self-chosen name of the funeral home-burial-cremation-memorials industry. Yet no industry is called on more to address the emotional needs of customers in times of stress than this one. While some of my own work with the death care industry as a customer service consultant and consumer trends expert has been on innovation in the deathcare customer experience (methods for serving today’s far-flung bereaved customers by using connectivity, videoconferencing, and recording technologies to allow them to take part in memorial/celebration of life service) most of the work I do in this industry and that matters the most, in my opinion, is simply aimed at improving the customer experience, which, of course, is for the living.  Certainly, the image of the funeral industry has taken its lumps over the years, in books such as Jessica Mitford’s The American Way of Death. Yet in my experience consulting with the deathcare industry on customer service, I have yet to encounter (or, at least, to be aware of encountering) the type of charlatans whom Mitford exposes in her book. Although there are bound to be exceptions in an industry this size (there are more than 20,000 funeral homes and more than 100,00 cemeteries in the U.S. alone, and the annual economic activity in this sector has been estimated to be north of $20 billion), the rule here seems to be that the professionals who populate this industry wouldn’t be here if they weren’t devoted to caring for people in their time of need.  (And some, even, are true philosophers of bereavement, notably Thomas Lynch, an undertaker and poet whose The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade deservedly won the American Book Award.)  More >
 

Millennials Impact On The Death Care Industry
Written by by Wayne Heaton, CPA and Published by WithumSmith+Brown
Posted Here on August 6, 2018
Millennials can be defined as a “generation marked by an increased use and familiarity with communications, media, and digital technologies. In most parts of the world, their upbringing was marked by an increase in a liberal approach to politics and economics.” No industry is exempt from their influences, including the death care industry.  Millennials impact will change the way business is conducted in the funeral home and cemetery industries. As one of the largest generations in history is about to become the prime spending source, it is important to be cognizant of their ideas and beliefs and be prepared to adapt as necessary to meet their needs. Millennials have been raised in a period of unprecedented technology growth and are considered the most marketed generation of all time. As such, their spending habits and beliefs have been impacted in ways that no generation has before. This will impact the way business needs to be conducted in the death care industry. As providers of death care services, you need to consider the following when working with this generation of consumers;

  • Your marketing approach will need to include both traditional and nontraditional services that can provide a unique memorial experience. A non-traditional venue (even a home funeral) as opposed to a funeral home may be a desirable option. It’s all about the “experience.”
  • Take advantage of available technology. Funeral services can be live streamed on the web to allow those unable to attend due to distance or work requirements to pay their last respects;
  • Update the look of your funeral home. No one looks forward to visiting the traditional funeral home.  It needs to be a welcoming place for those attending. Why not allow the family to personalize the space for their service?
  • Do you have a Facebook and Twitter account? Millennials will expect you to have one.
  • Update your website to make information easy to find. “Experience” pricing and “product” pricing should be detailed and available.  This generation has grown up with online purchasing and remember, even Costco sells caskets.  Some millennials may even want to make a casket themselves for their departed relative;
  • Millennials are not as religious as previous generations. As such, they are more open to cremation than even the baby boomers. Cremation is friendlier to the environment than the traditional burial.  It also allows for the creation of creative and personal monuments to the deceased.  THINK GREEN!  They certainly do.
Millennials are more than just consumers of your services. By the year 2030, only 13 years away, the prediction is that millennials will comprise up to 75% of the workforce in the death care industry. Current owners of funeral homes and cemeteries need to invest in and make millennials an integral part of their service teams. Not only are they able to multi-task to accomplish more job responsibilities in shorter periods of time, they also possess a unique perspective on media and advertising that you will find beneficial when discussing your future advertising.  As Goldman Sachs says “One of the largest generations in history is about to move into its prime spending years. Millennials are poised to reshape the economy; their unique experiences will change the ways we buy and sell, forcing companies to examine how they do business for decades to come.”  

Gone Fishin' – But Not Forgotten
Written By By Molly Mitchell and Published by the Arkansas Times on July 26, 2018
Published Here on August 6, 2018
Glory Boats are caskets for outdoorsmen.  In arguably the most Arkansas spin possible on the creative culture of disruption, a new Little Rock start-up makes caskets shaped like fishing boats for die-hard outdoorsmen and women who want to sail into eternal glory on their most beloved earthly vessel.  Modeled after classic aluminum jon boats, Glory Boats (also the name of the start-up) are made from steel, will fit in standard burial vaults and are lined with a choice of three different camo patterns. Woodland camo is the most popular. Marsh grass camo is meant to appeal to duck hunters, and a hot-pink number is meant to appeal to the ladies (though, while a few women have opted to be buried in a Glory Boat, none so far have gone for the pink).  At $2,800 per casket, Glory Boats fall about in the middle of the going rate for caskets in Arkansas.  More >

Posted Here on August 6, 2018
Founded in 1887 as the Association of American Cemetery Superintendents, the organization was created by a group of 18 cemeterians whose goal was to improve the appearance and operations of their properties. Throughout its first century of operation, the association grew in size and mission and underwent several name changes, but it remained a national cemetery-only organization. In 1996, the association became the International Cemetery and Funeral Association, expanding its membership to include funeral homes and other related businesses and extending its reach beyond U.S. borders. In 2007, “Cremation” was added to the name to more accurately reflect the operations and goals of its membership.  The International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association is the only international trade association representing all segments of the cemetery, funeral service, cremation and memorialization profession.  Today, the ICCFA is composed of more than 9,100 cemeteries, funeral homes, crematories, memorial designers and related businesses worldwide. It serves and supports these members through a host of benefits designed to increase their management proficiency and improve their businesses–from regular updates on government and legal issues, to educational meetings, to a variety of services and products tailored to meet their needs.  The ICCFA promotes consumer choices, pre-arrangement and open competition and has created more than two dozen model guidelines advocating state legislation on a variety of consumer-related issues. The association also assists consumers more directly through information resources, as well as through a complaint mediation service.
 
Posted Here on August 6, 2018
William Stalter is the founder of Stalter Legal Services and the Preneed Resource Company. Bill focuses his law practice on preneed and death care compliance, serving banks, funeral homes, crematories, and cemeteries. He has written multiple published articles.
 
Written by Boyd Huppert and Published by KARE on July 8th, 2018
Posted Here on August 6, 2018
HIBBING, Minn. – Mark Coen builds pine caskets in a century-old Hibbing church, with a goal of making funerals more affordable for his customers. When Mark Coen left the priesthood, he couldn’t have known how closely his future would mirror his past.  Today, Coen works in a church, lives in a parsonage, and ministers to the dying.  “Kind of fitting,” the former Catholic priest said. Coen builds pine caskets in a century-old Hibbing church, with a goal of making funerals more affordable for his customers.  “I didn't go away from being a man of faith or serving the Lord, I just decided I better take a little different way,” Coen said. Coen’s one-man company, Simple Pine Box, sells caskets he builds by hand for $650.  His father’s funeral convinced Coen of the need, after his family was charged $1,000 just to rent a casket prior to cremation.  “If you buy a casket from a funeral home, it would be hard to find one for less than $2,000,” Coen said. “I wanted to make something affordable.”  More >
 

Body Of Dead Teen, Honored With ‘Extreme Embalming,’ Is Posed With Video Games, Sunglasses, And Snacks
Written by Elise Solé And Posted on Yahoo Lifestyle on July 9, 2018
Posted Here on August 6, 2018
A family whose teenage son died honored his memory in an unusual wake: His corpse was positioned in a chair facing a television screen, a video game controller in hand and his favorite snacks next to him. Renard Matthews, 18, of New Orleans, La., was robbed and shot to death on the evening of June 25 while walking his dog. Matthews, whom a neighbor described as “a nice young man,” loved football and basketball; his favorite athlete was Celtics guard Kyrie Irving, his mother, Temeka, told a local news station, WGNO. On Sunday, his wake presented a faithful reflection of his low-key lifestyle. The family had Matthews embalmed and placed in a stance that was typical for him. He was seated in a chair, wearing an Irving jersey and sunglasses, with a PlayStation controller in his hand, facing a television playing the Celtics. He was flanked by Doritos and soda. The unique custom has been called “extreme embalming,” reports ABC News, and honors the deceased in personalized ways. It’s particularly popular in Puerto Rico, where a handful of creative services have won attention.   More >

Cremation Rates On The Rise, Forcing Cemeteries And Funeral Homes To Adapt
Written by By Lindsey Fafoglia and Published by WREX on July 30, 2018
Posted Here on August 6, 2018
ROCKFORD (WREX) - More people are choosing cremation over burials, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. The rate of cremation is over 50 percent for 2018, and is expected to increase to 80 percent by 2035. One cemetery manager said she notices the trend here in Rockford. "I've been here for two years, and in the last year itself I have seen an increase in cremation rates," Kirsten Spurlock from Scandinavian Cemetery said. "We do a lot more cremation burials than we do anything else these days."  Spurlock said in the past, the cemetery would have around 15 burials a month, and now they do about 15 cremation burials a month and only 5 full burials.  "The roles have completely reversed," she said.  She said a lot of younger people are just sending cremations to the cemetery and surpass having a service, while older generations still want a full burial and full funeral service.  Cemeteries have done mostly burials for the past few centuries, so this drastic change in preference has forced burial grounds to adapt. "We've created places in the cemetery, our cemetery specifically, for cremation burial only, and we are creating more spaces as we speak," Spurlock said.  Kristan McNames, the funeral director at Grace Funeral and Cremation Services said she believes the drastic increase in cremations is due to financial situations, and preference of the aging population, among other reasons. "People sometimes choose cremation because they are transient, they don't know if they are going to spend the rest of their career or lives here in Rockford, and they still want to have their loved one's remains in their possession," McNames said. Cremation also allows families to have delayed services, as well as save thousands of dollars on casket, vault and other burial expenses, McNames said.  Both funeral homes and cemeteries are starting to adapt to the new trends, which is something they haven't had to do in centuries. "They typically have just had full burials for the past, we've been around since 1872 I think, and it has been straight full burials until now," Spurlock said. 

Pictures of African American Mausoleums in Historic Cemeteries in Jacksonville, Florida
08/06/18
Pictured here are African-American mausoleums in Jacksonville, Florida. See pictures of the exterior and the interior of the Art Deco styled Lewis Mausoleum which was designed by architect Leeroy Sheftall and constructed in 1939 for the family of Abraham Lincoln Lewis. The Lewis Mausoleum, a private family mausoleum, is located in Memorial Cemetery which was established in 1909. See a picture of the Ervin Mausoleum which was constructed in 1934-35 for the family of Louis Dargan Ervin. This mausoleum was constructed following the death of his wife, Elzena G. Ervin. Louis Ervin died in 1964 and is interred in the Ervin Mausoleum as well. See a picture of the Art Moderne-inspired Craddock Mausoleum which was built in the late 1930s to mid 1940s by James “Charlie Edd” Craddock. See a picture of the Langley Mausoleum, which is an Art Modern/Art Deco structure constructed between the mid-1930s and mid-1940s. It was built for the family of William Edward Langley.  Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry on Monday unveiled his budget.  It includes a multiyear program that involves about $10.9 million over four years for restoration of Pinehurst Cemetery, Memorial Cemetery, Sunset Cemetery, Old City Cemetery, Hillside Cemetery and Mt. Olive Cemetery.

Costly Clinton Twp. Crypt Spurs $10M Lawsuit
Written by Robert Snell and Published By The Detroit News Published On July 27, 2017
Posted Here On August 6, 2018
Clinton Township — A man wants $10 million from a local cemetery he says tried to force him to build a $900,000 mausoleum and then threatened to remove valuable decorations, including a life-size Mother Teresa statue, according to a federal court lawsuit.  West Bloomfield Township lawyer Joseph Dedvukaj says Clinton Township-based Resurrection Cemetery tried to force him into building the pricey mausoleum last year.  The mausoleum, as initially designed, would have spanned 24 burial plots and cost so much money it would have been more expensive than all but four homes on the market in Clinton Township.  Dedvukaj wants an order declaring that the cemetery staff’s threats to remove the bronze Mother Teresa statue and a granite sculpture of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ violate constitutional protections guaranteeing freedom of religion and expression.  The lawsuit details the dark side of the luxury mausoleum trend popular among wealthy baby boomers, a trend coinciding with a revived real-estate market in Metro Detroit, where homes for the living are setting record prices.  The initial design called for an $858,000 mausoleum featuring a statue of Mother Teresa. The finished mausoleum is considerably different. The Dedvukaj “family estate” mausoleum is comparatively modest and lacking some of the more novel amenities featured in luxury tombs nationwide, including electricity, transparent domes and man caves. “For people of significant means, that purchase is not unusual,” said Ron Browning, founder and chief executive of Forever Legacy, a Texas-based mausoleum builder. “For those people, the idea of having an eternal building where yourself, significant other and family can rest seems fairly common.”  The Dedvukaj legal fight dates to fall 2014.  Dedvukaj is Albanian and Roman Catholic and wanted to build a private family mausoleum before his parents died. The Mother Teresa and granite sculptures were an essential design element and would help protect the Roman Catholic rights and privileges of the dead and grieving relatives, Dedvukaj wrote in the court filing.  He contacted Resurrection Cemetery, a nearly 300-acre graveyard that is the final resting place of the late Congressman Harold Ryan and actor Frank Nastasi, who voiced the dog “White Fang” on the TV show “Lunch with Soupy.”  Cemetery officials told Dedvukaj “in the private family estate section there is no limit to what you can do,” according to the lawsuit.   Cemetery officials had their mausoleum vendor design a tomb that included the Mother Teresa sculpture, a patio and towering columns, the lawsuit alleges. Cemetery staff said he could add the granite sculpture of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ and showed him a vendor’s brochure, Dedvukaj alleges.  The mausoleum price tag: $858,366.  The price “shocked” Dedvukaj, according to the lawsuit.  He told cemetery staff that an outside vendor could build a less expensive mausoleum.  The cemetery staff insisted on using Resurrection’s own vendor for the tomb, citing the company’s “perpetual guarantee,” according to the lawsuit.  Dedvukaj eventually agreed to use the cemetery’s vendor to build the mausoleum.  Dedvukaj bought 24 spots, enough space to fit a crypt built for four.  He asked cemetery officials for assurance that he could add the bronze Mother Teresa sculpture and granite sculpture of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ, according to the lawsuit.  The staff insisted sculptures and statues were allowed “as long as the merchandise was not offensive to the Catholic faith,” Dedvukaj alleges.  Before finalizing the purchase, Dedvukaj “expressed concerns about the prices for the merchandise and protested the fact that (Resurrection Cemetery’s) vendors had to be used since other non-Resurrection vendors were substantially less,” according to the lawsuit.  Despite his concerns, Dedvukaj signed the paperwork, saying he was “vulnerable” and had “serious concerns that his father could pass away at any moment.”  Dedvukaj did not build the mausoleum as originally designed, instead settling on a dramatically downsized tomb. It is unclear how much he spent on the mausoleum.  Dedvukaj did not respond to messages seeking comment.  Last year, the patio and foundation were installed. Dedvukaj hired an outside company to build the statue and sculpture.  A cemetery official told Dedvukaj he needed to pay 15 percent of the value of the decorations, according to the lawsuit. Dedvukaj protested, saying the fee was illegal.  He sued Mt. Elliott Cemetery Association, which includes Resurrection Cemetery, on June 20 in federal court.  The cemetery association wants the lawsuit dismissed, saying most of the complaint is based on state law claims, not federal law.  “Notably, the complaint does not allege that (Dedvukaj) was never informed of this fee requirement before he purchased the land,” the association’s lawyer Gregory Meihn wrote in a response to the lawsuit. “Despite the length of the complaint and numerous claims, (Dedvukaj) has not provided a sufficient factual basis to show plausibility for any of his claims.”  Generally speaking, cemeteries charge a 15 percent fee for perpetual maintenance, said Bert Edquist, former president of the Michigan Cemetery Association.  It is not unusual for tension to exist between cemetery officials and relatives who want to personalize gravesites, Edquist said.  “Everybody wants something unique and, sometimes, it doesn’t fit with the cemetery,” he said.  Edquist, who runs a cemetery in Niles, in the southwest corner of Michigan, draws the line at gravesites customized with curse words, though he wouldn’t specify which ones.  “Most of them,” he said, “I wouldn’t repeat in front of people.”  The only private mausoleums for sale at Edquist’s cemetery are small and less expensive than the one Dedvukaj built.  “They’re only in the $30,000 range,” he said.  “Buyers think ‘I can do whatever I want,’ ” Edquist added, “but the cemetery still owns the property.”

Wife's Bronze Grave Marker Matches Husband's Veterans (VA) Headstone
08/02/18
The flat bronze veterans style grave marker, pictured here, memorializes the wife of a Navy Veteran, Betty M. Fleeger (May 20, 1933 - June 22, 2014). It is an exact replica of the type furnished by the United States Department of Veterans (VA) affairs to her husband, Charles D. Fleeger (March 6, 1930 - January 3, 2001). The inscription on Betty's VA style headstone includes her name, birth date, death date and five words endearment, "Beloved Wife, Mother and Grandmother". A cross was also cast into Betty's bronze plaque. Her husband, and beloved companion, served in the United States Navy during the Korean War. Betty's grave marker was designed and manufactured by Rome Monument to match her husband VA headstone. Charles Fleeger's VA headstone design includes his name, birth date, death date, a cross and his military designation, "PI 2 US NAVY KOREA".  Betty was laid to rest, next to her husband at the St. Peter's Reformed Church Cemetery in Zelienople. The flat bronze grave marker is 24 inches long, 12 inches wide and has a 3/4 inch rise. The weight is about 18 pounds. Anchor bolts, nuts and washers are used to attach the bronze plaque to a 28" x 16" concrete base. Wives and family members of veterans order flat bronze grave markers from Rome Monument that match the free headstones for veterans. Rome Monument sells, designs, manufactures and installs copies of Government-furnished headstones and bronze niche markers that honor wives, spouses and companions of U.S. military veterans.  Rome Monument also designs and manufactures custom U.S. military headstones and memorials for veteransClick here to download VA Form 40-1330, Claim For Standard Government Headstone or Marker.  As a side note, the VA also furnishes bronze medallions, upon request, to be affixed to an existing, privately purchased headstone or marker to signify the deceased status as a Veteran. This device is furnished in lieu of a traditional Government headstone or marker for Veterans who served on or after Apr. 6, 1917, and whose grave in a private cemetery is marked with a privately purchased headstone or marker.  For more information on ordering a bronze or granite grave marker that matches the design of veterans grave marker or U.S. Military headstone for a veteran, spouse or dependent, click here.

Companion Monument For Veteran And Wife Features Two Bronze Plaques Mounted On Granite
08/01/18
Pictured here are two bronze memorials mounted on one piece of granite. This type of arrangement is often called a "companion monument" because a husband and wife are both memorialized on the same piece of granite. The bronze grave marker on the left was furnished by The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to the family of Paul R. Harmon (1925-2016). Mr. Harmon, who lived to be 90 years old resided in Economy, Pennsylvania. Paul, a U.S. military veteran, was a member of Our Lady of Peace Parish. Rome Monument manufactured and installed the replica of Mr. Harmon's bronze veterans grave marker, shown on the right in the image above. The bronze plaque on the right pays tribute to Paul's wife, Patricia A. Harmon. Rome Monument specializes in replicating VA headstones, bronze veterans grave markers and U.S. military memorials and monuments. The bronze companion flat headstone memorial was installed on a Mahogany granite surround. This companion headstone was designed for a veteran and spouse. The epitaph etched on the companion flat headstone, reads “Loving Husband & Father” and “Loving Wife & Mother”. This bronze companion flat grave marker is installed at Sylvania Hills Memorial Park in Rochester, Pennsylvania.  For more information on ordering a bronze or granite grave marker that matches the design of veterans grave marker or U.S. Military headstone for a veteran, spouse or dependent, click here.

Placing Flags Next To Military Headstones And Veterans Memorials
08/01/18
Wives of U.S. veterans frequently order matching bronze VA headstones from Rome Monument because they want their grave marker to match their husband's military headstone. Typically,  wives, family members, American Legion members, cemetery maintenance workers, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, church members or volunteers will place small U.S. flags in the ground next to veterans grave markers on the 4th of July and Memorial Day to honor and show appreciation for veterans and the United States of America. In some cases, medallions ensure that veterans’ graves are identified so that flags can be placed beside the tombstone. Rome Monument specializes in war memorials, Armed Forces and military memorials for public spaces such as city parks and government building properties. These memorials commemorate the achievements of an important local public figure or group of people who served our country faithfully in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, or Coast Guard. They may also commemorate an important military event that has special meaning to the community. 

Medallions Ensure That Veterans’ Graves Are Identified
08/01/18
The federal government has long provided free grave markers for honorably discharged veterans, including flat stone markers, upright stone markers like you’d see at Arlington National Cemetery, or bronze plaques in two sizes. But not every veteran or veteran’s family chooses these options.“What we’ve found is that there are so many veterans [who have] bought their own markers,” Fernald said. “There are all different reasons for that.” For example, many people like to have their markers purchased and in place before they die. Some may be matching stones with a family plot or may not care for the designs of the government stones. But when volunteers come around on Memorial Day to plant flags on veterans’ graves, those without markers identifying them as veterans get missed.  “I know probably half of veterans we meet with families already have their own stones,” he said. “Every Memorial Day, we always get a complaint: ‘Why didn’t they know that my husband was a veteran?’ If it’s not a veteran stone, they wouldn’t know that. This is one way to signify that.”  Now, families of deceased veterans can request the DVA’s new bronze medallions instead of stones, which can be easily affixed to existing headstones and ensure veterans in private cemeteries are properly identified. The medallions are available in three sizes: 1.5 inches, 3 inches, and 5 inches. The medallions come as a kit with all mounting hardware and instructions. Using the included epoxy, anyone can easily affix the medallion to the headstone. If you’d prefer to use the included screws, the DVA recommends hiring a stone mason or monument company, as it requires drilling into the stone with specialized drill bits.  Families can request the medallions through their funeral directors, who can help them file the right forms, but there are two requirements. First, the veteran must have died on or after Nov. 1, 1990. Second, the family must have a copy of the veteran’s discharge paperwork. For military veterans, this is a DD Form 214 (Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty); for National Guard veterans, this is an NGB Form 22 (Report of Separation). Whether stone markers or medallions, Fernald said the government has always provided top-notch materials. “Since I’ve been a funeral director… they’ve never cut back on the quality of these things,” he said.  Brookings-Smith Funeral Director Chris Bowers has a unique view from both angles. He grew up in a funeral-home family before joining the Army in 1970. He worked in personnel and logistics, some in field artillery, and served with combat engineer unit. Most of his duty was stateside, but he went to Germany once and to Canada several times. He retired in 2000, a Chief Warrant Officer 5. Then he joined Brookings-Smith.  “I was getting ready to retire, wondering what I was going to do, this is something I knew how to do,” he said. “So I went to school, got my license.”  His military service has always been strong in his mind, however. A few years ago, when he heard about the funeral directors working at Dover Air Force Base who hadn’t had time off due to the heavy workload as bodies of service men and women came back from Iraq and Afghanistan, he took a week off to go down and volunteer his time as a civilian funeral director.  “I knew that they were having people come in just so that people who worked there full time could take vacation time,” he said. “So I went down over the Fourth of July one year, worked for a week. It was a quite an experience.” Bowers really appreciates the medallion project.  “I think it’s great — to honor the veterans so that those that have purchased their stones by themselves because they wanted something specific can identify them as being a veteran,” he said.  “It just makes it so they can put that flag there [on Memorial Day],” said Fernald, “to give them the dignity and respect they deserve.”

Watch Rome Monument Build A Private Family Mausoleum On YouTube
07/31/18
In this video, Rome Monument takes you through the steps on how a mausoleum is designed and built. It follows the construction of a Greek Neoclassical-style mausoleum for the Pappan family of Pennsylvania that was installed in Beaver Cemetery, Beaver Pennsylvania in 2015. Rome Monument is a mausoleum construction company, mausoleum contractor and mausoleum builder with over 80 years of experience as a design/builder of private family mausoleums for cemeteries and memorial parks.

 

Bronze ‘Star:’ Phoenix Man Thanks Veterans By Restoring Their Bronze Grave Markers
07/30/18
On Veterans Day this weekend there will be the usual parades and speeches, as well as the freebies and discounts for veterans as a way to say “Thanks for your service.” But a Phoenix man who never served in the military himself found a unique way to say thanks to those vets who are no longer with us.  “I have a sanding paper attached to a holder, and what I’m doing is sanding left to right on this,” said Tom Pawlak as he repeated the motion, left to right.  “And then I brush on the wax.”  After about a minute, he declared, “OK, we’re done. That’s it.”  And just like that, he turned a headstone from dreary gray, to a deep, gleaming brown with shiny bronze lettering.  “William Slocum,” he read. “He was in Vietnam — bronze star, purple heart. He was born 1947, to 1967 ... Just over 20 years old.”  In the grave next to William lies a Harold Jennings. But you have to strain to read his name, because his headstone isn’t sanded and waxed yet. It looks like concrete — not bronze.  “It’s not supposed to look like that,” Tom explained. “That’s from having hard water sprinkled on it. If you had a black car and you sprayed it with water twice a day for … fifty years on that one, it would be coated with gray.  We’re in Greenwood Memory Lawn, a huge cemetery in Phoenix. In this section, small American flags stand at attention behind each headstone. But no one is tasked with maintaining the markers. So over time they just … fade.  “Over 100 degrees for a lot of days, and it eats up the clear coat on it.”  Then Tom came along.  “I was watching this TV program, and dignitaries were out here. You know, all lined up in a canopy and they’re giving their talks. And they pan down to the marker, and it looked terrible. I go, ‘I can’t let it sit.'”  That marker would be the first he restored in Phoenix since moving here from Chicago.  “Private 1st Class Oscar P. Austin,” Tom read from the shiny bronze marker. “Jan. 15, 1948. He passed on Feb. 23, 1969. He was a poor black kid from Phoenix. Went to Phoenix Union High School. He was just an average guy. He joined the Marines and went to Vietnam and he saved a bunch of guys. And months later, another fire fight. Marines don’t leave people behind, so he was dragging the second guy back, and somebody was ready to shoot the guy that he had. A grenade exploded, he was pretty torn up, and he jumped in front and took the bullet.”  Tom didn’t know Oscar’s story before kneeling down to clean the marker. But he was curious when he saw something after sanding the letters. “Medal of honor and purple heart, like, who is this guy, Oscar Austin?” There have only been 3,517 medal of honor recipients in U.S. military history. So, Tom hopped online to do a little digging. It turns out, Oscar has a Navy destroyer named after him, too.  “USS Oscar Austin. So I just sent a message, I restored the marker, would you like a picture of it?” Tom said. “The commander calls me back. Thanked me over and over for doing it.”  Then that commander started restoring markers, too, starting with his father’s. Tom had his first volunteer for this mission he calls “Restore Bronze”. This was a few years ago. Now Tom says he spends his time helping thousands of volunteers across the country get involved, and restoring not just headstones but other veteran memorials and monuments.  “At the state Capitol I’ve done every name of every soldier that died on the USS Arizona when it was sunk in Pearl Harbor. And when I saw the Iwo Jima one that was all green, I said I’ll donate the wax for that. And I said I’ll come out and wax it, and I found out each statue was 30 feet tall. I said, woah, you’ve got cranes for that!”  By Veterans Day 2018 the goal is to restore the grave markers for every soldier killed in action during the Vietnam war. It’s more than 55,000 soldiers. Then he wants to work on everyone from the Korean conflict; thousands and thousands of people he’s never met and stories he hasn’t heard of.  “I’ve only met about 5 people of markers that I did,” Tom said. “But they’re all memorable - every one of them.”  This weekend, Pawlak will be here at Greenwood — learning some new names.

Order A Replica Of A VA Headstone or Military Headstone
07/31/18
Rome Monument custom designs and manufactures matching bronze U.S. military veterans grave markers. These "replica" memorials are normally ordered by veteran's spouses or family members.  These bronze markers are designed to match, or be similar to, an existing veteran's grave marker in a cemetery.

Local Business Replaces Veteran’s Headstone For Free After Damage From Vandals
07/31/18
News Report Aired by WPXI on September 11, 2015, Amy Marcinkiewicz of WPXI Did the Story
ROCHESTER, Pa. - Months after a veteran’s headstone was badly damaged by vandals, a local company in Beaver County has come forward with a new headstone and is replacing it free of charge.  Channel 11 news first told the story when the headstone was damaged on Memorial Day.  Minutes after hearing the story, Rome Monument called and said it would replace the headstone, worth $5,000, for free.  The work to replace the monument began early Friday.  “It makes me feel good that our company can help. We felt so bad for the lady,” said Bill Morgan, of Rome Monument.  Carol Cable, who was the long-term girlfriend of war veteran Tom Smeltzer, expressed her gratitude for the act of kindness.  “I’m just so grateful to them for doing this for us. We would’ve never been able to fix it,” Cable said.

Veteran Has Helped Clean Thousands Of Military Headstones In Honor Of Memorial Day
07/31/18
Jordan Houghton and others from the American Legion Post 206 in Seattle have spent their free time cleaning the headstones of veterans at the Evergreen Washelli Cemetery.  Houghton, who's worked hours trying to scrub the decades' worth of dirt and grime from the headstones, said every person buried in the cemetery "has a story" and he's picked up little pieces of each veteran's life. The American Legion Post 206 plans to keep at the cleaning effort until every last one is no longer defiled.

07/31/18
The simple white marble stones that mark the graves of the country’s fallen soldiers have changed little over the decades. But the business of producing tens of thousands a year has become a high-tech, high-pressure proposition.  That’s because the government requires its three official makers of military headstones to finish and ship them within 10 days of their being ordered.  “It’s a pretty serious challenge,” says Jeff Martell, whose factory employs computers, automation and diamond-edged power saws to keep up with the government’s demand for cemeteries in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest. Martell’s Granite Industries of Vermont Inc., nestled in Barre, has been producing stones for military cemeteries for nearly two decades. It averages about 22,000 markers a year.  Nowadays, orders come from the Department of Veterans Affairs electronically. Designs are laid out by a computer that fashions mock-ups of headstones and prints them as stencils on adhesive-backed rubber sheets.  A 10-foot, diamond-edged saw slices through 35-ton blocks of Danby marble - named for the town south of Barre where the stone is quarried — cutting them into four-inch thick slabs. Smaller saws trim the slabs to regulation headstone size: 42 inches high, 13 inches wide. Another machine rounds the top of each stone.  Rubber stencils - Workers affix the rubber stencil to the headstone, which rolls along a conveyor to the sandblasting booth. Letters are etched by a worker who sweeps the sandblasting nozzle back and forth across the marble before spray paints the surface black to enhance readability. The stone is then polished before being boxed for shipping. About half a dozen of the plant’s 56 workers play roles in fashioning each stone. Together, they can produce 10 in an hour. The VA pays $120 per headstone. In all, the government pays Granite Industries about $3.3 million a year to produce military grave markers.  Business is steady, with more than 1,000 World War II veterans dying each day along with the constant trickle of casualties from Iraq and Afghanistan.  There are also plenty of orders to replace markers that have worn with time — as far back as the Civil War.  Last year, Martell witnessed a first: His company replaced headstones for 29 members of a German U-boat crew killed during World War II off the Atlantic coast and buried in Hampton, Va. “When you see them in German,” he said of the names and ranks of the seamen etched on the markers, “they kind of pop up and make an impression.”

Finding Space In New York City’s Cemeteries
07/30/18
It’s time to rethink what we want New York’s cemeteries to be in the 21st century.  Cemeteries have long served as urban escapes for New Yorkers, both living and dead. By the 19th century, the churchyards in Manhattan were overcrowded, and outbreaks of yellow fever and cholera raised anxiety about the health impacts of these festering burial grounds. In 1822, 52 casks of quicklime were reportedly dumped in Trinity Churchyard at Wall Street and Broadway to combat the offensive smell, while the fear of grave robbing for medical dissection—which sparked the 1788 Doctor’s Riot—fueled the desire for more secure and peaceful places to mourn. City planners looked to the glacial ridge of Brooklyn and the farmland of the Bronx, imagining cemeteries that would celebrate the cycles of nature while honoring the end of life.  Just as the rural cemeteries of the 19th century radically reevaluated American approaches to death, it’s time to rethink what we want New York’s cemeteries to be in the 21st century. Hart Island, sequestered as it is and with limited accessibility, may not be a candidate for public programming, but it could be more integrated into the city with improved access, which would also alleviate the stigma of being interred in its isolated grounds.  Cemeteries can be active parts of the city, even while they honor the dead. They remind us to value our own time as well. And the best way for them to survive as places of memorialization and nature is to make them meaningful to the people who are alive now.

More Cemeteries Are Going Green
07/30/18
People enjoy meadows, wildlife and forest trails in life. Why not have them in death? Green burials are gaining in popularity across the country and Rochester is part of the movement. Four of the eight Green Burial Council-certified cemeteries in New York state are in the Rochester area.  “I definitely think that it’s trending at this time,” said Matt Reeves, owner of Reeves and Baskerville Funeral Homes in Wilmington, Illinois, and a spokesman for the National Funeral Directors Association. “Right now especially with the millennials, the millennials are that eco-conscious group that's upcoming.”  Actually, preparing a body for green burial isn't a new trend at all. The principles have been around for centuries, it just wasn't called green burial. For example, a traditional Jewish burial would be considered "green," said Josh Miller, the fifth-generation owner of Miller Funeral and Cremation in Henrietta.  A green burial doesn't use embalming chemicals that contain formaldehyde, and caskets need to be biodegradable and built without using any metals. Pine caskets, wicker baskets, cardboard and shrouds can be green, but everything needs to decompose. Green burials are eco-friendly with minimal impact on the Earth, according to the Green Burial Council, and there are different levels of green practices. “I never wanted to be embalmed and I didn't like the fact that a lot of the caskets are made out of precious hardwood from the rain forest and travel thousands of miles just to be buried in the ground,” said Jennifer Johnson, a co-founder and the burial coordinator at Greensprings Natural Cemetery Preserve. Greenspring Natural Cemetery Preserve, located south of Ithaca, opened in 2006 and was the first place of its kind in the state. Greenspring is as simple as can be for green burials and is a nature preserve for wildlife. The site has 130 acres, mostly meadows and woods — the site is surrounded by 8,000 acres of protected forests.  “The idea is to get the body back to the Earth because that's how nature handles everything. You go into the woods, and if an animal dies in the woods it goes right back to the Earth. It's such an important part of the recycling that happens because we are part of the food chain," Johnson said. Industry experts say the future of cemeteries could look a lot more inviting to visitors as many will be designed to look more like parks and appear to be less depressing while preserving wildlife.  White Haven Memorial Park looks like a park in many ways. It has a 1.6-mile trail through the woods — fitting as it’s in Perinton, which bills itself as Trail Town USA. The cemetery is developed to be comforting and uplifting rather than dark and gloomy, said Andrea Vittum, president of White Haven. White Haven became the first cemetery to be certified by Audubon International in its commitment to the environment 20 years ago. The nonprofit supports environmental education and responsible land, water and wildlife management. It has certified members across 34 countries. White Haven is a hybrid cemetery that offers traditional lawn burials with vaults marked by a flush plaque, mausoleum or their specialties, a rock garden, a nature trail for cremated remains or green burial in a wildflower meadow.  “Initially I was planning on being cremated, but some friends of mine told me that it takes a lot of energy to combust the body," said Cathy Feldman of Penfield. "And because I’m all about conserving energy and the importance of the whole green movement, I thought that was the last thing I wanted to do when I pass." Feldman was getting her will in order for whenever her time comes. She didn't want to be a burden on her family and started to align arrangements this summer, she said. Feldman called White Haven and felt its options were compatible with her personal beliefs, she said.  Caring about the environment fits with White Haven's beliefs, too. About 15 years ago, with a need for new spaces, Vittum said the staff assessed, “We could either chop down the trees and mow the meadow or find a way to use them for burials."  They introduced green burial, the rock lawn and the nature trail. “We're not a traditional cemetery in most any way you can think of,” Vittum said. “It is quite unique and we think unique in a good way.” For instance, cemetery staff has helped nest bluebirds. Bluebirds nearly went extinct but the staff at White Haven, with the help of Audubon International, has rescued and hatched baby bluebirds and the population is now increasing. When Feldman dies, she will have a green burial and be placed in the wildflower meadow where the bluebirds nest each spring.  “(It) really gave me a sense of peace and that in my departure I wasn't going to do anything to hurt the environment, as well as help my family,” she said.  Feldman is passionate about the environment and comes from a Jewish tradition.  “It just seems so right,” she said of her final choice.  Using a new funeral practice also doesn't mean a person has to compromise tradition or faith. A change in the Catholic Church's guidelines led the Daleys of Perinton to select cremation and have their urns buried in the nature trail at White Haven — an earthy option, while not green.  “The church used to say you're not supposed to cremate but now it’s OK,” Mary Ann Daley said.  In 1963 the Catholic Church permitted cremation under certain conditions. In 2016, it clarified that cremated remains shouldn't be scattered or divided up, or sit on a mantel; they need to be buried all in one place.  After visiting, White Haven clicked with the Daleys. Their children like nature and the venue is peaceful. Plus, Mary Ann won't be far from where her parents are laid to rest in another section, she explained.  “I like trees, it was a nice shady spot and the stream just looked like someplace in the Adirondacks, practically,” Mary Ann's husband, Joseph Daley, said. The Daleys picked four spots on the nature trail.  Holy Sepulchre Cemetery on Lake Avenue was the first Catholic cemetery to be green burial-certified, said Lynn Sullivan, the CEO of Holy Sepulchre Cemetery and Ascension Garden. Rochester tends to be a sustainability-conscious place, Sullivan said. In 2013 Holy Sepulchre began to explore having green burials. It later added the option at Ascension Garden in Henrietta, too.  Changes in the industry are not just about what's in the ground, but what's on it, too. "I was the person that drove as fast past cemeteries as possible, holding my breath," Sullivan said. Now she's working to make sure it's a place people want to go to, a place that feels pleasant. "For many people the first and only time they come to a cemetery is the day they bury a loved one." With the butterfly garden, eco-friendly options and tradition, "I don't think you would find it to be scary," she said.  Change takes time. Josh Miller has seen more interest in green funeral practices compared to when he started in the funeral business in 2001, but he hasn't seen a big jump at his funeral home. “My industry is really slow to change,” Miller said. “Because people hopefully don't make funeral arrangements frequently, the pace of change and the dispersion of information and ideas does not move quickly. ... Green burial may increase more, it probably will, but it’s a slow turn.” A big difference for a funeral director using a green after death practice is preparing the body for viewing. Without embalming the body, the natural decomposing process will begin faster. Miller said the bodies have to be kept cool if there is a waiting period before any ceremony or burial, and makeup doesn't work well on cooler bodies.  Embalming bodies for burial became prevalent in the United States around the time of the Civil War. The process is used to slow down the natural processes and put some color back into the body. Embalming makes easier to have the person look as best as possible, he said. The appearance of a green practice may be harder for some to recognize. There is a personal and cultural comfort level that determines what mourners are willing to see. For people who choose to be wrapped in a shroud, like a sheet, and tethered on a board — it could be more graphic than a casket, he explained. As the body is carried it will move in the shroud. The silhouette of the body will be visible as it is carried from the hearse to the grave.  “That visual sometimes for folks at this point in the industry is more than what they’re ready to handle," he said. Is cremation green?  While cremation isn’t considered green, it can have green elements, such as using a biodegradable urn.  “Cremation uses far fewer resources than almost any other disposition option, but it certainly has an environmental impact,” according to the Green Burial Council’s website.  Cremation has vastly grown in popularity in the United States. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the rate of cremation is projected to increase by 30 percent in the next 18 years. In 2018, the cremation rate is projected at 53.3 percent and has outpaced the rate of burials for three years. By 2035 cremation may reach 80 percent due to “changing consumer preference, weakening religious prohibitions and environmental concerns,” the statement said.  Baskerville said there is another way to cremate that uses 95 percent less energy. The process uses water instead of a flame to essentially dissolve the body. The process is called alkaline hydrolysis.  New York does not currently allow flameless cremation or alkaline hydrolysis, according to Randy McCullough, the deputy executive director for the New York State Funeral Directors Association. 

2018 NFDA International Convention & Expo - October 14-17 - Salt Lake City, UT
07/30/18
The NFDA International Convention is still the place to find the most continuing education offerings, the latest in funeral service products and services and the best networking opportunities around!  The National Funeral Directors Association is the worldwide source of expertise and professional resources for all facets of funeral service. Through education, information and advocacy, NFDA is dedicated to supporting members in their mission to provide families with meaningful end-of-life services at the highest levels of excellence and integrity.

Embalming Chemicals Market – Pierce Chemicals, Frigid Fluid, European Embalming, ESCO, Trinity Fluids
07/30/18
“Embalming Chemicals Market By Type ( Formaldehyde, Phenol, Ethanol, Mixtures ), By Application ( University medical centers, Anatomical institutes, Pathological institutes, Hospitals, Funeral homes), Estimation & Forecast, 2017 – 2022″ In 2016, the funeral homes segment generated the highest revenue share in the global embalming chemical market. Among major regions, North America was the highest revenue generating market, holding nearly half of the market share, in 2016.  “Formaldehyde is the most common chemical used for embalming. Embalming carried out with individual chemicals or a mixture of chemicals, formaldehyde is an integral part of the process. However, the harmful effects of formaldehyde has prompted manufactures of embalming fluid to manufacture formaldehyde free- fluids. The sales of formaldehyde free fluids is witnessing an upward trend, even though their efficiency is low as compared to formaldehyde products.”  Funeral homes account for a major portion of the global market share, owing to the rising funeral trends. In North America, almost every family prefers to have a grand funeral in a well-organized manner without any kind of mismanagement, including embalmment of the deceased. Funeral homes heavily rely on the formaldehyde based embalming fluids, along with embalming powders, concealers, cavity gels, makeover products and much more. In terms of consumption, funeral homes account for more than half of the global consumption value.  Adoption of green funeral is anticipated to hamper the market growth of embalming chemicals. The highly encouraged trend of green funerals and rising awareness regarding the harmful effects of embalming chemicals might impede the usage of embalming fluids in the funeral homes. The belief that harmful embalming chemical such as formaldehyde seeps into the soil where the embalmed body has been buried. This leads to the deterioration of the environment. This has prompted people to opt for green funerals.  North America is a mature market, gaining stability in its growth during the upcoming years. North America held nearly 50% market share, in terms of revenue, of the global market. The region is anticipated to maintain its dominance throughout the forecast period. Embalming holds a central place in American burial practices for numerous reasons. There are more than 15,000 funeral homes, and approximately 115,000 cemeteries in the U.S., of which a major per cent of funeral homes offer embalming services. Every year, a high amount of embalming fluid is used, which is equivalent to fill eight Olympic- size pools. KEY FINDINGS OF GLOBAL EMBALMING CHEMICAL MARKET, 2012-2022- According to the IFSA and japan government data, in 2016, an approx. of 37,593 families in Japan chose to embalm their loved ones. Hospitals are expected to grow with an impressive CAGR of 2.2% during the forecast period 2017-2022.  As per few Irish embalmers, almost 50 percent of Irish embalmers have started using alternatives to formaldehyde, with no difficulties. North America led the global embalming chemical market in 2016, in terms of revenue, by holding nearly half of the total share. Some key market players are Champion, Dodge, Pierce Chemicals, Frigid Fluid, European Embalming, ESCO, Trinity Fluids, Green Tech Enterprise, and Shanghai Yezeal Biotechnology Company.

Natural Burials Are Rising, And That's Good For The Planet
07/30/18
Natural burials offer a greener alternative to traditional cemeteries, but Big Funeral is fighting back. Even in death, Americans just can't stop themselves from destroying the planet, according to new research.  Right now there are around 22,500 active cemeteries in the United States. These sanitized spaces, with bunches of flowers lain among neat rows of gravestones on manicured lawns, are so closely associated with the American idea of mourning that it's difficult to imagine an alternative.  Yet the practice is deeply unsustainable. Every year, in laying their dead to rest, Americans bury approximately 73,000 kilometers of hardwood boards, 58,500 tons of steel, 1.5 million tons of concrete, and 3.1 million liters of formaldehyde. A typical four-hectare cemetery contains enough wood to construct 40 homes and sufficient volumes of embalming fluid to fill a backyard swimming pool. As the Baby Boomers start to die, these environmental impacts are only going to grow.  "People hate to think about it. They think, 'I'm going to be embalmed, put in a vault, and have a nice, dry, quiet existence for my body,' but that's a total farce," says Chris Coutts, an associate professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at Florida State University. "The bodies quickly start to rot, and those fluids, if they're in the body, find a way out of the vault and into the soil, and they can create a plume. It's a concern if it migrates into water tables. The whole point of embalming fluid is that it doesn't degrade, so it's going to be around a long time."  Coutts is the lead author of a new paper examining the benefits of a greener alternative to the traditional rituals of death: natural burial. While higher-density family vaults can reduce your environmental footprint compared to an individual burial, it's still a high-impact way of shuffling off your mortal coil. Even cremation, which has doubled in popularity since 2000, leaves an environmental smudge on the Earth, thanks to its high energy consumption and the ensuing air pollution.  Increasingly, Coutts et al. have found, people are rejecting the lawn-park cemetery model, and instead choosing to commit their bodies to a wilder resting place. In most cases, this means eschewing traditional American funerary rites altogether and burying the body without chemicals in a biodegradable casket or a simple shroud. At its best, natural burial allows your death to leave almost no physical damage on the natural world, while helping to protect and conserve threatened landscapes for those still living.  One example is the 142-hectare Glendale Memorial Nature Preserve in Florida, a family farm located in an area full of endangered native longleaf pine and wiregrass. The plan for the cemetery called for 80 percent of the land to be restored and conserved as natural habitat, with around 28 hectares set aside for natural burials. Add-on items include coffins constructed from old bookshelves, while the conserved habitat is also available for recreational activities including hiking and camping. Telling ghost stories remains optional.  John and Bill Wilkerson, the brothers who run the business, say that the income they've generated from the burials has allowed them to resist the financial pressure to sell the land to developers—a proposition that was adamantly opposed by their late parents. The lawn-park cemetery in America might feel like an inescapable ritual, but the idea is relatively recent, arising in the 19th century, as urban elites grew increasingly affluent. Rural cemeteries like Mount Auburn in Boston or Laurel Hill in Philadelphia were not only useful for memorializing the supposed importance of the deceased bourgeoisie, but also for providing their surviving relatives a pleasant getaway from increasingly crowded cities.  The practice of embalming grew popular around the time of the American Civil War, Coutts adds. "They needed to preserve and ship the bodies back to wherever they were going to be buried, and embalming became prevalent. It's the common expected practice, but it's really just people going through the motions: It's what we've always done, it's what we continue to do, but that's changing," he says.  This resource-intensive method of burial is far from universal across the globe. Muslim communities practice natural burial as a "basic religious obligation," according to Coutts and his fellow authors, while in countries such as Australia, grave sites can be reused for new inhabitants after a certain amount of time has elapsed. In the Peruvian Amazon, before the arrival of Christian missionaries, bodies were lain among the buttress roots of large trees. Some Tibetans practice sky burials, placing the corpse on a mountain and allowing it to decompose gradually.  The first natural burial site in the U.S. was established in 1998 in South Carolina. There are now 162 natural-burial providers in the U.S., of which 99 are hybrid cemeteries, offering both natural and traditional burial. A further 54 offer exclusively natural burial, while nine are active conservation burial sites.  Yet America's lucrative death-care industry is fighting back, determined to protect a billion-dollar market by perpetuating the idea that a resource-intensive funeral is the only guarantor of lasting peace. Indeed, hybrid burial sites are mostly a way for the sector to cash in on the growing popularity of natural burial, a form of greenwashing that offers little in the way of concrete benefits, says Joe Sehee, who founded the Green Burial Council, which certifies natural burial sites, in 2005.  "There were people who just didn't like the idea [of natural burial]," Sehee says, "people within the industry, particularly people who liked the merchandise-based model of death care: chemical, casket, and vault companies."  Perhaps more sinister than this greenwashing are the attempts by the funeral industry to lobby for new regulations that will protect its economic position. There are very few federal laws around the handling of the dead, with states and local governments generally left in control. Around half of U.S. states regulate the amount of time that a body can remain un-embalmed, yet no states require a body to be buried in a coffin. Only a handful of states forbid bodies being buried outside of established cemeteries.  This loose legal framework bodes well for natural burial, and badly for Big Funeral. Correspondingly, the mainstream funeral industry has lobbied state governments to pass legislation protecting its share of the market, such as mandating embalming, only permitting burial in established cemeteries, and requiring the involvement of a licensed funeral director to perform tasks that could ordinarily have been performed by the next-of-kin. Restricting citizens' freedom to access natural burial is bad for the environment, and could deter those who might have chosen this wilder option because it was cheaper than a traditional plot.  Coutts himself, after years of studying the benefits of a natural burial, sounds almost excited by the contribution he will be able to make to conservation from beyond the grave. "I've often just dreamed about walking out into the desert with a bottle of water and just sitting under a tree and waiting for it to come," he says. "But that would be a luxury and it's probably not feasible. I have it in my will that I want my body to be buried naturally in a conservation burial ground."

2018 Monument Builders of North America Design Award Winners
07/30/18
The winners of the 2018 MBNA Design Awards along with the award winning monuments can be viewed here. The winners are listed below.

Rome Monument Now Specializing in Military Headstones, VA Headstones and Bronze Veterans Grave Markers
07/30/18
Due to an underserved market for military headstones and bronze veterans grave markers, the management team at Rome Monument decided in 2018 to focus a portion of the firm's marketing and production resources to selling military grave markers and replicas of VA headstones. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Cemetery Association, memorial headstones and markers, for individuals or groups, are furnished for eligible deceased active duty service members and Veterans whose remains are not recovered or identified, are buried at sea, donated to science or whose cremated remains have been scattered. For a variety of reasons, veterans and their families are now ordering customized U.S. Military headstones and memorials from Rome Monument because they can not get what they want from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Directors of local VA offices are now referring families to Rome Monument in an effort to be of assistance to families that want a replica of a military headstone or a VA headstone. Spouses or other family members related to a veteran can now order a matching bronze military veterans grave marker by calling the company at 724-770-0100 and talking with Vince Dioguardi or Chris Morgan.  Rome Monument designs and manufacturers bronze grave markers for veterans of who served in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army.  Relatives of veterans can order a bronze U.S. Army military headstone for a veteran or spouse from Rome Monument to match the design of the headstones and grave markers provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Rome Monument customizes military headstone inscriptions for veterans and their spouses. Rome Monument provides many options for military headtone designs. Rome Monument also cleans military headstones on behalf of cemeteries and families. If you want to know how to get a military headstone, call Rome Monument at 724-770-0100 and ask for Vince Dioguardi or Chris Morgan, or the download VA Form 40-1330 (Claim for Standard Government Headstone or Marker). Either Vince Dioguardi or Chris Morgan can provide information related to military headstone abbreviations or military headstone quotes. Rome Monument specializes in designing and manufacturing flat bronze grave markers and bronze veterans grave markers.  To order a bronze veterans niche grave marker to match the bronze niche markers provided by the type provided by The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), call Rome Monument at 724-770-0100 and ask for Vince Dioguardi or Chris Morgan.  Bronze niche markers are available from Rome Monument or The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) .

Bronze Niche Markers
Bronze niche markers are used to mark cremation niches or columbaria used for inurnment of cremated remains. If the bronze niche marker will be placed in a private (not a national cemetery, state Veteran's cemetery, or military post/base cemetery), the style chosen must be permitted by the cemetery administrators. The veterans bronze niche grave marker pictured here is 8.625" x 5.625". Rome Monument can customize any religious symbol, emblem of belief or inscription on a military or VA headstone. The VA offers 66 religious symbols for tombstones.  To order a bronze veterans niche grave marker to match the bronze niche markers provided by the type provided by The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), call Rome Monument at 724-770-0100. 

Headstones For a Veteran's Grave
The VA will provide a government headstone or marker for a veteran’s grave.  Rome Monument also provides replicas of government headstones and grave markers for veterans and their spouses, although the cemetery monuments are not provided for free. The VA will inscribe free of charge the name of the deceased, the years of birth and death, the highest rank held and the branch of service. The VA will ship the headstone or marker anywhere in the world. Rome Monument can also ship bronze veterans grave markers anywhere in the world. There cannot be any headstone or marker already on the grave. Setting it in place is the responsibility of the family. When burial is in a national cemetery, the grave marker provided by the VA is provided and set in place by the government. Rome Monument collaborates with families to provide headstones for veterans that never received a proper cemetery memorial. Although Rome Monument was not involved, a Civil War veteran was given a headstone over 100 years after death. Rome Monument also repairs VA headstones and military headstones, in some cases free of charge.

Law Enforcement Monuments and Memorials
Many U.S. veterans move onto a career in law enforcement after they serve in the military. Rome Monument also designs and manufactures monuments and memorials that honor people who serve in law enforcement. Rome Monument built the Penn Hills Fallen Officers Monument. Rome Monument specializes in designing and manufacturing veterans grave markers, veterans headstones and veterans memorials.  

Engraving of Death Dates On Veterans Headstones and Military Grave Markers
Gravestones remain incomplete for a number of reasons. The surviving spouse named on a pre-engraved headstone gets re-married and is buried with the new partner. The person moves away, family feuds, indifference and insufficient funds are also factors.  Vince Dioguardi, co-owner of Rome Monument, based in Rochester, Pa., says that it typically, costs about $150 to add the last two digits to an incomplete death year on a granite military headstone or granite veterans grave marker that has already been installed in a cemetery.  Rome Monument provides on-site cemetery monument and memorial lettering and engraving services to families of veterans.

U.S. Military Headstones and Memorials for Veterans
Rome Monument specializes in designing and manufacturing grave markers and monuments that designate the resting place of a military veteran who served in the United States Armed Forces. These can complement or take the place of a government-issued headstone. They can be flat or upright memorials, statues, benches, or even mausoleums that incorporate Navy, Army, Marine, Coast Guard, or Air Force design elements to enhance the beauty and personalize the message on the headstone. Inscribed with beautiful etchings or engravings, they can be for any number of graves and come in a variety of styles and shapes. They often feature symbols and imagery that convey the specific nationality or religion of the deceased. You can select from a wide variety of granite colors for both traditional and cremation memorials in different price ranges. Rome Monument is truly proud to be able to honor the men and women who served our country so courageously!

Upright Granite Monuments for Veterans
Although most veterans grave markers and replica VA headstones manufactured by Rome Monument are flat bronze plaques mounted on granite surrounds, the company also designs custom upright granite monuments to memorialize men and women who served in the United States military. Rome Monument also designs granite memorial monuments for veterans who served in the Vietnam War. Pictured here is an upright military themed monument that Rome built for the Haskins family of Pittsburgh to memorialize Larry F. Haskins. Mr. Haskins served with the US Marines from 1967 to 1971. He served a tour of duty in Vietnam with the 1st Marine Division I Corps, where he received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. Pictured here is an upright granite monument that honors a veteran of the United States Air Force. This veterans grave marker was designed with an etching of an American flag for Samuel C. Carothers by Rome Monument. Etched below the flag at the top and above his name is "CMSGT USAF" which stands for Chief Master Sergeant United States Air Force. He served in the Vietnam War and the Persian Gulf War. Samuel was born on February 19, 1938 and passed away on Thursday, April 6, 2006. He was laid to rest in Holy Redeemer Cemetery in Ellwood City, PA.  Rome Monument also designs headstones that incorporate Marine Corps emblems in the design. Click here to see an example of an upright double (companion) monument with an etched Marine Corps emblem.

Rome Monument Designs and Constructs Private Family Mausoleum Using Greek Neoclassical Architecture
07/25/18
Pictured here is a private family mausoleum designed by Rome Monument in a Greek Neoclassical style for the Pappan family. The neoclassical architectural style was used to symbolize the family's Greek heritage. This proud Greek family is from Beaver County, Pennsylvania. At the time of construction, all the family members that were planning on being interred in the mausoleum were still alive. The Pappan family took advantage of Rome Monument's Pre-Arranged Cemetery Monument Plan. As opposed to at-need monument planning, which cannot guarantee that the wishes of the deceased are expressed accurately, pre-need planning allowed the Pappan family to pre-design, pre-plan and pre-pay for a truly high quality monument prior to their passing and according to their wishes. The mausoleum was built using American Gray and blue pearl granite. The main portion of the mausoleum was constructed with American Gray granite. The blue pearl granite door was sculpted with crosses to symbolize the Pappan family's Christian faith. The two memorial benches in front were made from blue pearl granite.  The mausoleum design incorporates classical architecture by using fluted turned ionic columns as one element. The family name carved above the entrance features polished hand tooled raised letters. The mausoleum rests on a triple base course of granite. The roof stone is accented with decorative molding. Rome Monument took about one month, on-site in the cemetery, to complete the construction. The complete mausoleum required 4 large truckloads of granite. Many of the components were prefabricated in the production facility before being assembled on-site. Rome Monument is a mausoleum construction company, mausoleum contractor and mausoleum builder with over 80 years of experience as a design/builder of private family mausoleums for cemeteries and memorial parks.  Our mausoleum construction standards are rigorous and meticulous. Watch a video to learn how to purchase a private family mausoleum.
 

07/24/18
A New Brunswick university student researching environmentally conscious funerals says she hopes her research will help ease the discomfort some people feel when talking about death.  Hanna Longard, a fifth-year student at Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B., is visiting cemeteries in eastern Canada and consulting with community members, funeral directors and other people within the so-called “death-care” industry in an effort to figure out how people can give back to the Earth even after death.  It may seem like a morbid way to spend a summer vacation, but Longard said it’s important for people to know they have options when it comes to how they’re buried, aside from conventional Western practices, which often involve packaging and tidying up the body in ways that release toxic chemicals into the ground.  She noted that cremation, sometimes viewed as an eco-friendly alternative, is hardly better.  “People typically believe cremation can be environmentally friendly because you’re not taking up space in a cemetery plot on land,” she said. “But because of the emissions and toxins released, you actually are taking up space, but in the atmosphere instead.”  She said people can make their burials greener by refraining from embalming, forgoing concrete or metal vaults and using only compostable materials, like a pine box or a linen shroud.  Longard said it’s also important to be aware of where the burial materials are coming from: if you order a pine box that was made across the country, the energy it takes to transport it to your final resting place could cancel out any environmental benefits.  As part of her research, Longard visited Duffin-Meadows Cemetery in Pickering, Ont., which she said is a great example of a green cemetery: it offers compostable caskets and communal monuments instead of individual grave markers.  She also went to Sunrise Park Inter-Faith Cemetery in Halifax, N.S., and said that while the facility isn’t strictly green, it does offer green burial options and is considering how to expand them.  Longard said the reasons for pursuing green death care are different for everyone.  “There’s many different motivators for green death care, and some people are motivated exclusively by the statistics of the environmental impact of the conventional practices,” she said. “But for a lot of people, it does seem to have a more of a spiritual connection in that they are interested in a re-integration with the Earth, and that they feel that their body is part of the Earth.”  Originally from Nova Scotia, Longard grew up in an environmentally-conscious household and said that she’s always had an interest in giving back to the earth.  Yves Berthiaume, a funeral director in Hawkesbury, Ont. and the president of the Funeral Service Association of Canada, said most funeral homes have options for those interested in having an environmentally friendly funeral — the issue is that people don’t ask for them.  “We’ve been in business for 125 years here in Hawkesbury, and we’ve never had a request for a green funeral,” Berthiaume said. “The demand isn’t there.”  He said he’s confident the industry will be able to adapt if green funeral practices become more commonplace, but for now, he said his funeral home doesn’t advertise their green funeral options because of the lack of demand.  “There is a cost for the funeral home to get ready to be able to serve the family with a green funeral,” he said, explaining that some homes carry more eco-friendly embalming fluids and other green products that may be more expensive.  “So if the demand is not there for the funeral home, then it’s hard for them to have everything ready.”  Berthiaume said the stigma surrounding topics like funerals and death is likely contributing to the lack of public knowledge about environmentally friendly death-care practices.  But Erik Lees, a past president of the Green Burial Society of Canada, said it’s up to funeral directors to be more proactive in educating their clients on green funerals.  “No one’s going to ask for it if they don’t know it’s available, or if it’s not promoted or explained by the funeral home,” he said.  “The consumer needs to be educated, but the service providers also need to be educated.”  Lees also said there seems to be a rising interest in the subject, and the society has received an influx of questions about green death-care practices over the past year or so.  As for Longard, she said the goal of her research project is to get more people comfortable with talking about death. While there are many ways to make a burial more eco-friendly, she said people can take it in baby steps, saying that there’s “no one formula.”  She added that even if your local funeral home doesn’t advertise it, they likely have options that people can explore.  “At this point, you need to know what to ask for,” she said.
 

St. John/St. Joseph Cemetery To Break Ground On $500K Mausoleum And Gazebo Project
07/24/18
The Saint Joseph of Arimathea mausoleum will be built at the St. John/St. Joseph Cemetery in Hammond, Indiana. The mausoleum — featuring a gray granite base with red granite crypt and niche fronts — will be built on a 10-acre plot of land.  The mausoleum will feature 80 companion crypts, 111 single crypts and 240 niches, sized for either singles or companion cremation urns, along with family name engravings.

Nanuet: Family Says Decomposing Body Fluid May Have Leaked From Mausoleum
07/24/18
Raymond Accolla and his older brother Sebastian claim that bodily fluid is leaking from a casket in their private family mausoleum. The 12-foot-by-22-foot granite mausoleum, built in 1999, is located in St. Anthony's Cemetery in Nanuet, New York. "Famiglia Accolla" is carved above the walk-in mausoleum entrance. The mausoleum can hold 12 caskets. The brother's are upset with the cemetery administrators because they feel that the money they paid for 'perpetual care' was not used to address their concerns about decomposing body fluid leaking from the caskets. St. Anthony's pastor, the Rev. Joseph J. Deponai, stated in an email, "cemetery mausoleums, their construction, and their maintenance, are the responsibility of the family, not the cemetery."  A mausoleum is a free-standing cemetery building that contains the grave, tomb or burial chamber of the deceased. To learn more about body decomposition, read 'Nine Things About Human Decomposition'. Cemeteries have been sued after remains have been found 'dripping' out of a casket before. Click here to learn about exploding caskets.

Mausoleum Design Plans
07/19/18
Rome Monument drafts mausoleum design plans using CAD software and present these drawings and renderings to clients for approval before beginning construction.  Click here to see a preliminary family mausoleum construction design plan made using a CAD program.  The mausoleum construction drawings produced by Rome Monument submitted to clients include precise dimensioned architectural plans, structural plans, electrical plans and mechanical specifications. Click here to view pictures of mausoleums designed and built by Rome Monument. Rome Monument designs and constructs one crypt mausoleums, two crypt mausoleums and family mausoleums.  Rome Monument uses a CAD program to create blueprints, sketches, scaled renderings and drawings for every mausoleum we construct. The details in these files give clients the ability to refine and approve every aspect of the mausoleum construction project. The Rome Monument mausoleum designers, Vince Dioguardi and Chris Morgan provide expert consulting services to clients so that they understand the mausoleum blueprints and essential mausoleum design concepts. Advice is provided regarding the customer's cemetery and plot selection. The mausoleum design plans are also used to provide additional information related to the costs of mausoleum construction. Rome Monument also designs columbarium and estate memorials. For elaborate multiple crypt mausoleum construction projects, Rome Monument provides precise detailed and dimensioned structural, mechanical, electrical and architectural plans to the customer for analysis, discussion and approval. 

Life Without An End Date: Notes From A Cemetery Sleuth
07/02/18
As for burial markers with incomplete death years, the Association for Gravestone Studies says they are fairly common. The Greenfield, Mass.-based group explores cemetery markers for historical and artistic perspectives.  Vince Dioguardi, co-owner of Rome Monument, based in Rochester, Pa., is a little more skeptical.  “Does it happen? Absolutely,” he said. “I don’t know that I’d agree that it’s all that common.”  The issue got extra attention 17 years ago, as pre-engraved headstones with death years beginning in 19 henceforth needed to start with 20. Mr. Dioguardi said he’s seen his share of terrible looking “patch and cut” jobs, even a few cases of duct tape and markers. One AGS member in Vermont said she found a marker with the death date, “1999 + 2.”  Typically, it costs about $150 to add the last two digits to an incomplete death year, Mr. Dioguardi said, including finishing the earlier work of another monument company.  Gravestones remain incomplete for a number of reasons. The surviving spouse named on a pre-engraved headstone gets re-married and is buried with the new partner. The person moves away, as Florence did. Family feuds, indifference and insufficient funds are also factors.

Penn Hills Fallen Officers Monument To Be Relocated To New Municipal Building Site
07/02/18
Penn Hills council has decided to move its monument honoring the municipality’s fallen police officers to the site of a new municipal building that will be located on Duff Road.  Council’s decision on Feb. 5 came after an emotional discussion of whether the monument would be moved to the new $12.3 million municipal building — on the site of the former Penn Hebron Elementary School — or would be situated at the site of the current municipal building on Frankstown Road after it is torn down.  Fallen police officers’ family members were among those to make their views known.  The new municipal building, which will house police and EMS and include a firefighter training area, is scheduled to be completed this summer.  Erected in 1973, the monument is dedicated to the memories of Penn Hills police Sgt. William Schrott and Officer Bartley Connolly, who were killed in the line of duty on March 25, 1972. After Officer Michael Crawshaw was killed while on duty on Dec. 6, 2009, the memorial was expanded in 2010 and includes an engraved granite marker in his honor.  Before council made its decision, Mayor Sara Kuhn outlined a plan that would keep the monument at its present location as part of a memorial town center with a pavilion and walking path.  “This monument is to remind us that some of those who protect and serve, are killed needlessly,” the mayor said. “The location was not an oversight. When it was determined that the frontage of the new building had to be reduced, we realized that the site is no longer acceptable for the monument’s relocation.”  Because of the sloping terrain, the location of the new building was changed. Therefore, there were fewer options for the monument’s location.  “There is no leaving the fallen officers behind. The plan is to make a memorial park to remind everyone of their sacrifice,” Mrs. Kuhn said.  The mayor’s proposal elicited no support among council meeting attendees, which was full of the fallen officers’ family members, co-workers and friends.  Representatives of the families of Sgt. Schrott and Officers Connolly and Crawshaw said they believe the monument must be relocated to the site of the new police headquarters.  “I cannot understand why no one reached out to the families, that they didn’t consider our wishes. This has opened a deep wound,” said Joanne Alexander, the daughter of Sgt. Schrott. “You may think it has been many years, but the pain does not lessen. The only acceptable solution is to move the monument. We feel that by leaving the monument at the present building, it will be forgotten.  “We want it to be where present-day officers will not forget their fallen brothers. We feel there is a suitable location at the new building.”  As Ms. Alexander showed Mrs. Kuhn a map of the new site, Penn Hills police Officer John Debasi gave council another perspective.  “Some officers tonight were presented with certificates, but these men [Schrott, Connolly and Crawshaw] and their families made the ultimate sacrifice.”  John Diogardi, representing Rome Monument, offered to do the relocation for free. “You’ve got a beautiful story. You’ve got our support,” he told council.

More Than 100 Headstones Discovered In Staten Island Basement
07/02/18
More than 100 old limestone headstones are rotting in the basement of a building on the waterfront campus of Snug Harbor Cultural Center, lifted decades ago from a cemetery containing the remains of 7,000 old salts who died between 1833 and 1975 when the complex housed retired sailors.  The tombstones were removed to protect them from vandals, but now no one knows where the dead are buried.  Bruce Weir of Ohio is spearheading a drive to honor the mariners with an obelisk and a solemn service each year around Memorial Day. He is one of the descendants working with the SUNY Maritime College Library to research the lives of the mariners consigned to oblivion.

07/02/18
Rome Monuments is a cemetery headstone and gravestone retail company based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Mission Restore
07/02/18
Mission Restore Bronze is a volunteer organization started in 2014 by Tom Pawlak, who has privately restored military markers for more than 30 years. He created Mission Restore to teach others how to care for veterans’ grave markers and to honor those who have given their lives in service to our nation.

A Dying Industry? Memorial Makers Want to Avoid That
07/02/18
The granite industry in one Georgia town has long carved markers for cemetery burials. But as cremation rates reach an all-time high, how will this sector cope?  Don Calhoun, president of the Funeral and Memorial Information Council and past president of the Monument Builders of North America, estimates that by 2025, the memorialization industry's revenue will atrophy by 17 percent. 

StoneMor Appoints Joe Redling Chief Executive OfficerConflicts Committee to Evaluate Transition to C-Corporation
07/02/18
TREVOSE, Pa., June 29, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- StoneMor Partners L.P. (NYSE:STON) (“StoneMor,” the “Partnership”), a leading owner and operator of cemeteries and funeral homes, today announced the appointment of Joseph M. Redling as President and Chief Executive Officer of StoneMor GP LLC, its general partner (“StoneMor GP”), to be effective following the filing of the Partnership’s Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2017.  Mr. Redling will also join the StoneMor GP Board of Directors on that date.  He will replace Interim CEO Leo Pound, who will remain on the StoneMor GP Board of Directors and is expected to rejoin the Audit Committee effective October 1, 2018.  StoneMor is the only publicly traded death care company structured as a partnership. StoneMor’s cemetery products and services, which are sold on both a pre-need (before death) and at-need (at death) basis, include: burial lots, lawn and mausoleum crypts, burial vaults, caskets, memorials, and all services which provide for the installation of this merchandise. For additional information about StoneMor Partners L.P., please visit StoneMor’s website, and the investors section, at http://www.stonemor.com.

The Fight for the Right to Be Cremated by Water
07/02/18
"Aquamation," a greener form of body disposal, is gaining acceptance in America. But some powerful groups are fighting to stop it.  The process also uses about 300 gallons of water per body, or three times as much as the average person uses in a day. And while replacing cremation with aquamation would have some climate benefits, they wouldn’t be as huge as, say, getting rid of coal-fired power plants—which is perhaps why there are no large environmental advocacy campaigns to change the death care industry.  Processes like aquamation require an acceptance of becoming part of it.  If more people respect the planet in death, it bodes well for how they’ll treat it while they’re still alive.

Cemeteries Dot The Landscape Of ENC
07/02/18
It’s a fact, nobody is getting out of this life alive.  What’s controlable is where and how remains will be laid to rest.  Burial space has closed at three of the the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs-run National Cemeteries in North Carolina though Coastal Carolina State Veterans Cemetery in Jacksonville has space available.  In Eastern North Carolina, the landscape is dotted with grave sites from a small burial plot on the edge of a farm to large scale, commercial enterprises where thousands of people are buried or housed in mausoleums.  Large scale commercial operations such as Onslow Memorial Park outside Jacksonville on U.S. 258 and Seaside Memorial Park in Swansboro have combined more than 11,000 grave sites filled with room for expansion. Opened in 1952, Onslow Memorial Park is an oasis off a busy highway with gravesites covered with flowers and a second mausoleum in the works.  Some in the industry feel the rising cost to embalm and bury a person in a casket is moving people to cheaper alternatives.

Video: How To Purchase a Private Family Mausoleum with Design Pictures, Plans and Costs


This video shows you examples of custom designed private family and estate mausoleums for sale by Rome Monument. It also explains how you can order or purchase a completely customized private family mausoleum from a Rome Monument Showroom in Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, or from your home anywhere in the United States. Once designed and constructed, the mausoleum is delivered, assembled and installed in the cemetery of your choice.  You can order, buy, purchase and commission a Private Family Mausoleum with any number of crypts in different styles, shapes, sizes, and price ranges. 
 

06/15/18
This video shows you how a spouse or family member can order an exact duplicate of a U.S. military veteran’s government-issued bronze grave marker, but with the spouse’s or family member’s inscription information. If you plan to be buried alongside the veteran in a private cemetery, the government will not make these markers for you. Fortunately, Rome Monument specializes in creating copies of these bronze veteran’s grave markers and even Veteran’s Offices refer people to Rome. You can order from home anywhere in the United States or from a Rome Monument showroom in Pittsburgh or Western Pennsylvania.

Mausoleum Construction Company
06/06/18
Rome Monument is a mausoleum construction company, mausoleum contractor and mausoleum builder with over 80 years of experience as a design/builder of private family mausoleums for cemeteries and memorial parks.  Our mausoleum construction standards are rigorous and meticulous.

Monument Company Offers Free Repair To Beaver Co. Cemetery In Need
February 26, 2018
When a large headstone got knocked over, Grove Cemetery in New Brighton, PA didn’t have the people, equipment or money to fix it and needed some help.  The memorial for a man named Yee — a highly regarded doctor buried in Beaver County’s Grove Cemetery in 1979 — was found knocked over.  Rome Monument fixed Dr. Yee’s monument in Grove Cemetery for free.

Matthews International Announces Acquisition of Star Granite & Bronze
02/13/18
Matthews International Corporation announced that the Company has acquired Star Granite & Bronze, based in Elberton, Georgia, for $41.2 million, subject to a working capital adjustment and potential contingent consideration adjustment based on future performance. Star, a family-owned business, is a well-respected manufacturer and distributor of granite and other memorialization products to cemeteries and other customers across the United States. In the year ended December 31, 2017, Star’s revenues were approximately $31.3 million and the company has approximately 200 employees.

02/13/19
SCI is the dominant player in the Deathcare industry, which one way or another has a demographic tailwind behind it.  With a recent history of rewarding shareholders and outperforming the SP 500 on a 1, 3, 5 and 10 year time frame as well as a clear path towards revenue growth the stock appears poised to continue the out-performance.  With room for consolidation and addressable market expansion this company could very likely reach a 20+B market cap by 2030. If the company acquires its' way to 30-40% market share (not unheard of in many industries) with a larger overall market that projection may not be that far off.
 

Stanford's AI Predicts Death for Better End-of-Life Care
02/13/18
Deep learning AI is helping screen for ill patients who could benefit from having end-of-life conversations earlier. Using artificial intelligence to predict when patients may die sounds like an episode from the dystopian science fiction TV series “Black Mirror.” But Stanford University researchers see this use of AI as a benign opportunity to help prompt physicians and patients to have necessary end-of-life conversations earlier.  For more information, read "Improving Palliative Care with Deep Learning".

02/13/18
Monument dealers, funeral homes, cemeteries and memorial parks often manipulate consumers in order to sell headstones, memorials and tombstones.  Often the first thing somebody does when they are making burial arrangements in advance of a person dying, is to inquire about purchasing a cemetery plot. This may be the first time a business will offer to sell a monument to the consumer. Without knowing much about the process of buying a pre-need headstone, a consumer can be easily manipulated or coerced into buying a grave marker from a cemetery representative. Funeral homes also try to sell monuments to consumers who are in their business office to make arrangements for a funeral for a relative that has just died. Funeral homes also take advantage of unsuspecting customers who don't know the first thing about ordering a gravestone. Monument dealers also use some underhanded techniques to influence customers to order monuments that are overpriced. The article on Funerals.org explains some of the dirty tricks used by companies in the death care industry.
 
02/13/18
Death Care Services Market Global Report 2018 from The Business Research Company provides the strategists, marketers and senior management with the critical information they need to assess the global death care services market.
 
02/13/18
Basic services can cost thousands of dollars more at one funeral home compared with another. And most arrangements are made quickly when a family member dies. It means high-dollar decisions are made under the duress of grief, the press of time and usually with no experience.  Two consumer groups have called for an update to the rule. They want the Federal Trade Commission to require funeral homes to post their general price lists online.  A survey of Kansas City area funeral home prices in 2016 found that a standard funeral’s price ranged from $3,700 to $9,455 in the metropolitan area’s seven central counties. The cost covered embalming, body preparation, visitation, a service and a graveside service. Those prices did not not include the casket, grave liner or burial costs.  Direct cremation — the least costly alternative — ranged from $675 to $3,035, based on the survey by the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Greater Kansas City.
 
02/13/18
When you look at the studies of why people decide to commit assisted suicide or be euthanized, a consistent pattern emerges. It is very rarely about pain that can’t be controlled–despite the euthanasia movement’s fear-mongering about that being the reason to legalize euthanasia. Rather, it involves deep existential fears–primarily (but not exclusively) of losing dignity, meaning a profound worry that we are less worth loving when impaired than we were when healthy. And imagine what kind of an abandoning society we will establish if we allow fears of losing dignity or being a burden to become substantially grounded in reality and accepted as the norm to justify support for suicide.
 

Taking The Silver Cloud Granite Operation To A New Level
02/12/18
Since 2003, Italian stone producer Nikolaus Bagnara S.p.A. has owned the Silver Cloud granite quarry in Lithonia, GA. The site sits approximately 20 miles outside of Atlanta, and is operated by Nikolaus Bagnara’s U.S. subsidiary, Broad River Quarries, LLC.  Silver Cloud granite has been around for years.  It is a staple in the monument industry and the local markets around the Atlanta metro area.  Since purchasing the quarry in 2003, Broad River Quarries has taken Silver Cloud to the world.  Eagle Granite Company, established in 1961 uses Silver Cloud (Grey Cloud) granite to manufacture monuments. Eagle Granite Company is located in Elberton, GA.

02/12/18
The Tribute Companies is a firm located in Wisconsin that offers products and services to funeral homes and cemeteries. They provide news about the cemetery, cremation and funeral profession.
 
02/12/18
A three-month investigation by MONEY found that retail consumers face misleading sales tactices from funeral homes. Funeral homes are dealing with revenue pressures due to  growth in less expensive cremations.  Frequently, funeral shoppers have to deal with aggressive or misleading sales tactics from funeral and death care product providers. Some firms in the $17 billion death-care industry purposely take advantage of emotional customers. This sales tactic has been around for generations. The 1963 bestseller “The American Way of Death,” written by Jessica Mitford exposed misleading sales practices in the cemetery and funeral industry. Finally, in 1984, the Funeral Rule was passed. The FTC enforces the regulations.
 
02/12/18
A tussle over headstones in New Jersey may end up before the Supreme Court. In 2013 the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey sought to sell headstones and mausoleums directly to parishioners shopping for a plot at one of its 11 cemeteries. This was convenient for mourners and provided a handy income for the church. The problem, the archdiocese would soon learn, is that this was someone else’s turf.  Within months of the archdiocese’s first headstone sales, the Monument Builders Association of New Jersey, a trade group, sued the church, alleging foul play. The association lost its battle in court—the church was not doing anything illegal—so took its case to New Jersey’s legislature. The lobbying paid off: in March Governor Chris Christie signed into law a ban on religious cemeteries operating funeral homes or selling memorials or mausoleums. The law, which takes effect next year, applies to any religious cemetery, but it was crafted to curb the Newark archdiocese’s sudden burst of funerary entrepreneurialism.  “They are going to put us out of business,” says John Burns, president of the Monument Builders Association
 
Cemetery Monument and Memorial Industry News
02/0418
Read about Rome Monument and the memorial industry in the local news and watch videos from television stories related to our community involvement.
 

MBNews: The Official Monthly Publication of the Monument Builders of North America
02/04/18
The MBNews’ mail-out circulation is about 1,000 copies. Companies that subscribe the the publication are MBNA members. Members are primarily owners of monument retailing companies such as Rome Monument.  Readers of the publication get information about memorial art, innovations and trends in the monument industry, cemetery memorial designs, monument financing programs, stone cutting and carving tools and machines and ways to improve their day-to-day business operations.

This trade show is a great way to connect with providers of funeral, cemetery, memorial and cremation product and services throughout the United States.
 
Funeral Planning and Consumer Rights
02/04/18
Funeral service planning and consumer rights are concepts that families should carefully consider together to avoid costly funeral-related mistakes and unscrupulous providers. Multiple factors make the funeral industry unique from the customer's perspective.  Rome Monument has a funeral planning guide and checklist for families.
 
Overview of the Changing Deathcare Industry
02/04/18
The death care industry in changing. Consumers are now buying monuments, funeral services, burial plots and caskets before a death occurs. These types of purchases are described as preneed purchases. More and more families are ordering cemetery monuments well in advance of the passing of family members.
 
02/04/18
This industry is a good investment option for investors that are looking for a stable and conservative investment. Because death is not going away, companies such as Rome Monument have both new and reocurring customers. This industry is in it's mature phase and it is not a growth industry. Sales and the product mix have a major impact on the bottom line, however, there are other factors in play.  Companies that want to grow can not count on an increasing market base. Instead, they need to expand by taking market share away from their competitors, increasing their prices for funeral products and services, acquiring other companies and lowering their costs. 
 
02/04/18
Once seen as recession-proof, the funeral industry is in a death spiral—except for owners willing to adapt to a new generation of the dead. The death-care industry is going through major shifts nationwide as customs evolve. Families are more spread out, so multiday wakes are less common. Cremation, which costs half what traditional services do, is becoming more popular. Consolidation by large conglomerates—Service Corp. International operates 36 funeral homes in the five boroughs—has further pressured independent operators.
 
02/04/18
Companies are starting to cater to the pet loss market. Rome Monument sells memorials and headstones for pet cemeteries and cremation urns for pets.  When a family loses a pet who is a beloved member of their family, they want to do something special to honor their furry (or scaly, or feathered) friend.
 
02/04/18
The top three occupations are morticians, undertakers and funeral directors; Grounds maintenance workers; and Embalmers and funeral attendants. On average, full-time employees work 43.8 hours per week and have an average annual salary of $48,450. Part-time employees in the same industry work 19.2 hours and earn an average annual salary of $16,173.
 
02/04/18
The cemetery services industry includes firms that operate sites or structures reserved for the interment of human or animal remains. The industry also includes companies that offer cremation services. This industry does not include funeral homes, nor does it include funeral homes that operate cemeteries. Industry products include interment services, sale of graves/plots/spaces, cemetery maintenance services, sales of funeral goods, cremation services and preburial services.
 
Rome Monument Begins Marketing and Promoting Their Wholesale Granite Monument Manufacturing and Monument Installation Services Nationally
02/01/18
Rome Monument is a wholesale granite monument supplier that sells memorial products and services to monument dealers, cemetery management organizations and funeral homes. We wholesale granite headstones to retail businesses all across the United States.  Rome Monument is an experienced monument retailer and a granite memorial wholesaler. We sell large quantities of granite headstones to other monument dealers, cemeteries and funeral homes located throughout the United States.
 
Funeral Industry Financial Data and Economics
02/04/18
The U.S. funeral market produces $20.7 billion in revenue per year. There are about 2.4 million funerals each year in the United States. An average funeral costs between $8,000.00 and $10,000.00. There are about 57 million Americans over the age of 60. In 2012, SCI grossed over 2.4 billion in revenue. Service Corporation International employees over 21,000 people.
 
02/04/18
According to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), in 2015, the rate cremation surpassed that of burial. Consumers choose cremation because of costs, environmental concerns and fewer religious restrictions.  Consumers are now becoming aware that they can purchase monuments and headstones for family members that have been cremated.
 
02/04/18
Bills before the legislature would stop religious organizations that operate or own cemeteries from selling or manufacturing cemetery memorials, funeral vaults and mausoleums
 
02/04/18
The death industry is a tale of two economies. A relatively few large companies, most of them publicly traded, control most of the businesses that sells caskets and granite for memorials. The rest of the death industry is made up of many modest businesses.
 
Rome Monument Now Focusing on Erie and Northwestern PA
February 1, 2018
In 2018, Rome Monument began focusing on designing custom monuments and headstones for families that live in the city of Erie and other towns in Northwestern Pennsylvania. Rome Monuments installs monuments, mausoleums, grave markers and headstons in cemeteries and memorial parks following counties in Northwestern, PA including the ones listed below.

Customer Service In Deathcare: How The Funeral Home Industry Cares For The Living
May 26th, 2017
There are more than 20,000 funeral homes and more than 100,00 cemeteries in the U.S. alone, and the annual economic activity in this sector has been estimated to be north of $20 billion.