Death and Taxes;
Dancing in America
Death Care Consultant
The Final Arrangements
News Journal, March 7, 2005
As someone once said there are
only two things in life you can count on “death and taxes”. Americans got
the tax dance steps down but no one bothers to learn the death steps until the
music has already begun to play and they are thrust out on the dance floor
without a clue as to even the beat of the tune being played.
Many Funeral Directors are
hesitant to take up their rightful place as important experts on one of the most
significant events any human ever experiences, a death in the family. Few
others, save doctors and clergy, are called upon at such important life changing
events in the course of human existence, as are the funeral director. Yet
industry reserve continues to keep these professionals reluctant to assert their
rightful authority when it comes to telling Americans they need to see them not
just when a death occurs but long before that.
Companies like The Final
Arrangements Network have taken up the gauntlet and begun to associate funeral
homes with cities and cemeteries both for people dealing with an immediate need
and on a pre-need and informational basis.
“We could see that the
consumer isn’t familiar with who to turn to when they have a death. They ask
us and we are not the experts. The Funeral Director or Cemetery Manager is.”
Offered Lori Campbell, Corporate Communications Director for The Final
Arrangements Network. “It was for that reason that our new Internet portal,
The Cemetery Registry, now carries links from the Registry’s Cemetery and City
listings to local funeral homes, if any have asked to be listed.” Campbell
“The problem we see for
funeral homes is that more and more people who are responsible for funeral
arrangements are either very naïve about what to do or are having to do this
long distance and haven’t a clue who to turn to in the city they have to make
the funeral arrangements in. We expect over the course of the coming months we
will even be able to link people directly to a funeral home’s website if they
have and more and more funeral homes are developing them.” Campbell offered.
According to Campbell, the
Final Arrangements Network is so committed to this funeral home linking system
for its visitors they, FAN, will even help or completely develop a web page for
a funeral home if they don’t have one and house it at their sites. Costs are
minimal compared to those incurred when a funeral home has to set up their own
site or use a web design or funeral home hosting service now.
“Our interest is not gouging
funeral homes with high creative or hosting costs, nor getting into the web
hosting business. We are only interested in making The Final Arrangements
Network and The Cemetery Registry the most visited portals on the Internet for
death care and estate planning information. If we do that right everybody wins
and we think we will create a value that will justify the small fees we do
charge.” Stated Campbell.
What The Final Arrangements
Network and The Cemetery Registry seem to be trying to accomplish is to raise
the presence of mind of death care in the US. With the death rate expected to
increase from its current 2.4 plus million to over 3.5 million over the next
decade that educational goal is daunting indeed.
“If the public can so
enthusiastically be concerned about taxes and more and more realize they need to
turn to an expert, how much more should they be willing to learn about the other
major event in their lives, death and where to go for that specialized
expertise.” Ward added.
Americans think nothing of
spending hundreds if not thousands for a tax return that may or may not give
them a few hundred or thousand dollars back. They pack storefront tax
“expert” offices across the country and are willing to write checks to these
experts for whatever it takes to get that return.
They buy software packages
hawked on TV as godsends of found money, some even believing the software is
actually creating the money out of whole clothe. They tell all their friends how
much they made on their return by being so smart as to buy that software or see
that “expert” in his or her cubicle at what last month was a vacant hole in
an obscure strip shop location right next to the local Laundromat.
These same so-called smart
people will sit dumbfounded and thoroughly confused when they get the call that
Uncle Joe just died. Unlike taxes, they have no idea where to turn or who to
call. They never thought that whatever that tax refund was is nothing compared
to what Uncle Joe’s final arrangements may cost. Yet they have given no
comparable effort to such an occurrence happening to their family.
“It is almost inconceivable
the number of Americans who have no clue what would have to be done and who to
turn to when a death occurs. All most know is that there are these places called
funeral homes with these people called funeral directors, you are supposed to
call.” Stated Campbell.
As Readers Digest said in its
treatise on the subject in its book “Consumer Adviser” published way back in
1989, “Few consumers would ordinarily admit to spending $5,000 or more on
something that they knew little or nothing about. Yet everyday thousands of
Americans do just that when a family member dies. On short notice, with their
judgment often clouded by grief or guilt, they turn to the nearest funeral
director to tell them what to do.”
Since that publication the
price has risen to over $6,000 on average and yet nobody has paid attention. You
don’t hear TV or Cable news talking about it, yet it will affect the real
lives of more Americans this year than Martha Stewart or Michael Jackson will
ever significantly affect them, no matter how long these so called dramas take
to finally fade from the screen.
There is something Americans
can and should do about this lack of knowledge concerning what needs to be done
when someone dies. It is simple and doesn’t cost a dime, unlike that “tax
expert” at the tax store will. Every American who has responsibility for a
family of any size and especially those who are now or in the future expect to
have some responsibly for their parents well being needs to have a sit down with
a licensed funeral director.
They need to learn what is
involved, not if but when someone in their family dies. What will it cost? How
is it started? What information needs to be gathered? Which types of services
are available? How would the funeral home work with that family? Are there
things they can do now that will make such a catastrophic occurrence somewhat
“We just want to be the
conduit through which the dialogue between funeral director and family begins.
If we can make that connection and help make the anxiety, fear and confusion a
little less stressful for our clients, we will be satisfied we did our part. We
hope the funeral industry will see the merit of our effort and help make more
information available to us so we can give it to the consumer.” Concluded
Details on Information and Advice in the article please visit one of the
Arrangements Network at: http://www.finalarrangementsnetwork.com
The Cemetery Registry at:
Ward, Essexville, Michigan, USA
The Cemetery Registry @ Mail
RW Ward is Founder
and Managing Director of The New Concept Consultants Organization which conducts
Death Care, Senior and Mature Adult consumer market trend research and
consulting from its offices in Essexville, Michigan, USA. The author writes and
studies marketing and consumer trends in the death care industry as well as the
Senior and Mature Adult markets and around the world. His industry experience
includes some of the world's largest death care providers.
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Mr Ward's Email:
The Cemetery Registry @ Mail
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