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MEMENTO MORI

AN ICCFA MAGAZINE JANUARY 2021

YourBody
Your
is
Canvas Saving Your
Personal Picassos
for Generations

INSIDE:
Suicide: A Difficult Healing
Personalizing the End of Life
Artistic Tombstones of the Famous
LEAVING A LEGACY
Complete Memorial Solutions for Serving Families and Building Your Business

To learn more about the memorial products we offer,


visit coldspringusa.com/memorial and watch for our presentation
“The Power of Storytelling” at ICCFA DEAD Talks 2021
Do More. BETTER.
More Connections.
GET STARTED AT More Opportunities.
homesteaderslife.com/solutions.
More than Just Preneed.
CONTENTS
VOLUME 81 | NUMBER 1 JANUARY 2021

20 
Ink Springs Eternal: Saving Your
Personal Picasso for Future Generations
by Susan Cushing

24
Death by Suicide:

30
Sacred Moments
and a Funeral That Heals
by Glenda Stansbury
Remembering,
Honouring, and
Celebrating:
Personalizing the End-
of-Life Ceremony
by Stephanie Longmuir

34
Nail Your Social

38
Media Strategy in
2021: Seven Tips
for Keeping It
Prose for the Quietus of Life
Simple
One At Rest
by Welton Hong
by Author Unknown

2 MEMENTO MORI JANUARY 2021 www.iccfa.com


MEMENTO MORI
VOL. 81 | N0. 1 JANUARY 2021 DEPARTMENTS
ICCFA Officers
EDITOR’S MUSE ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 6
PRESIDENT Remembering 2020: Here’s Wishing for a Better 2021
Jay D. Dodds, CFSP by Tatia Gordon-Troy, Esq.
PRESIDENT-ELECT
Gary M. Freytag, CCFE WASHINGTON REPORT�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 10
Who at the FTC Will Rule on the Funeral Rule?
VICE PRESIDENT
by Poul Lemasters, Esq.
Shawna de la Cruz
VICE PRESIDENT PRESIDENT’S LETTER������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������12
Lee Longino Passion Is More than a Desire to Serve
by Jay D. Dodds, CFSP
VICE PRESIDENT
Mitch Rose, CCFE, CCrE THE MAKING OF A PROFESSION�����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������14
TREASURER Does a License Make You a Professional?
Chris Keller by Todd W. Van Beck, CFuE
SECRETARY TRIBUTES & MEMORIALIZATION ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������16
Robbie L. Pape Their Voices Carry Beyond the Grave: Tombstones of Famous Recording Artists
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR by Tatia L. Gordon-Troy, Esq.
Nadira Baddeliyanage
TRIBUTES & MEMORIALIZATION ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������18
GENERAL COUNSEL A COVID-Era Celebration of Life
Poul Lemasters, Esq. by Steve Walker
poul@iccfa.com
DID YOU KNOW������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 40
Magazine Staff Celebrities Who Died on New Year’s Day
EDITORIAL DIRECTOR ABOVE GROUND������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 42
Tatia L. Gordon-Troy, Esq. ‘Before I Die’ Festival Tackles Memorial Personalization
tatia@iccfa.com | 571.323.2983, ext. 1222 by Gail Rubin, CT
SUPPLIER RELATIONS MANAGER
CEMETERY IMPOSSIBLE ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������44
Rick Platter
rplatter@iccfa.com | 800.645.7700, ext. 1213
Is There Such a Thing as Excess Land?
by Daniel M. Isard, MSFS
COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER
Katherine Devins INDUSTRY UPDATE �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 46
kd@iccfa.com | 800.645.7700, ext. 1218
MEMBER NEWS���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 47
COMMUNICATIONS ASSISTANT
Jason Brown Everyone Deserves to be Warm; a New Coat Is One Small Way to Help �������������������� 47
jason@iccfa.com | 800.645.7700, ext. 1224 When Inebriation Is a Good Thing: The Lemasters Pandemic Mixology�������������������� 47
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND PUBLISHER First-of-Its-Kind Deathcare Genogram
Nadira Baddeliyanage Offers a Groundbreaking View of the Industry���������������������������������������������������������������� 48
nadira@iccfa.com | 800.645.7700, ext. 1225
ICCFA NEWS �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 56
SUBSCRIPTION COORDINATOR (HABLA ESPAÑOL)
Daniel Osorio Join Us in Las Vegas for the Annual Convention & Expo, May 12–15, 2021�������������� 56
danielo@iccfa.com | 800.645.7700, ext. 1215 Take 5 on Us! ICCFA & NGL Team Up on a New Video Series������������������������������������� 58
DESIGN & PRODUCTION Want Lady Gaga’s Songs Played During a Funeral?
BonoTom Studio, Inc. You’ll Need a License for That �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 58
info@bonotom.com | bonotom.com | 703-276-0612
Membership Benefit Spotlight: Life Line Screening ������������������������������������������������������ 59
Memento Mori (ISSN 1936-2099) is published by
the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral
Welcome New ICCFA Members ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 59
Association®, 107 Carpenter Drive, Suite 100, Sterling,
AD INDEX ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������60
VA 20164-4468; 703.391.8400; FAX 703.391.8416; www.
iccfa.com. Published 10 times per year, with combined EVENTS CALENDAR��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������60
issues in March-April and August-September. Periodicals
postage paid at Baltimore, MD, and other offices.
Copyright 2021 by the International Cemetery, Cremation
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POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Memento Mori,
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Life is short! Live it up! Try to
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help others! When you die, game
Individual written contributions, commentary and
advertisements appearing in Memento Mori do not necessarily over! Enjoy! Ninja...
reflect either the opinion or the endorsement of the — Vanilla Ice
International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association.

4 MEMENTO MORI JANUARY 2021 www.iccfa.com


W O N D E R I N G W H AT Y O U R
NEST EGG IS WORTH?

YOUR BUSINESS IS YOUR NEST EGG. BUT PEACE OF MIND COMES FROM
K N O W I N G W H AT T H AT N E S T E G G I S W O R T H .

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EDITOR’S MUSE

Remembering 2020:
Here’s Wishing for a Better 2021
by Tatia Gordon-Troy, Esq.

I
THINK WE CAN ALL SAY THAT 2020 WAS MORE THAN A LITTLE STRESSFUL . If you haven’t had the chance to read
Nothing went the way we’d originally planned. The word “Pivot” became a fixture in through the 2020 issues, here are some
our vocabulary and the act of “Pivoting” became the norm. Undoubtedly, some of of the articles that I found to be pleas-
us may have “Pivoted” faster and more strategically than others; unfortunately, for many, antly audacious, thought-provoking, and
“Pivoting” meant making some hard decisions regarding staffing, salaries, and assets in an enlightening:
attempt to cauterize the gaping wounds left in the pandemic’s aftermath.
January 2020: “Humans Acting
Those of us who had never experienced putting in place disaster contingency plans, Human: Practicing the Art of
working from home got a crash course in and accepting our own mortality while find- Conversation”
adapting our home spaces, while some of us ing ways to live our lives to the fullest. Leave it to Todd W. Van Beck, CFuE to
had to juggle our daily tasks with the needs Looking back, there still were many keep us all grounded in the age of tech-
of our children—for they were just as con- accomplishments, although paling in com- nology with thoughtful commentary and
fused if not more so than we were in having parison to some of the setbacks suffered. humorous anecdotes. Sometimes, we need
to “Pivot” quickly from an in-person learning But it is imperative that we glance back at to remind ourselves that a face-to-face con-
environment to a classroom on screen that 2020 to acknowledge that we faced a perni- versation or even a phone call goes much
wasn’t quite ready for prime time. Yet, some cious opponent, a relentless and insidious further than any text or social media direct
of us had to find ways to survive the isolation foe, one that took hold and refused to let messaging could ever do.
while others had to cope with the over- go; but for the strength and courage of our
crowding, as our ability to move freely about members, our staff, and our partners, we February 2020: “Healing Hearts
became restricted for the good of everyone. have come this far and will ultimately tri- and Communities”
As we kick off 2021, is it safe to say that umph over the consternation and trepida- Many Americans came away from 2019
the worst is behind us? Only time will tell. tion that embroiled us all. thinking it couldn’t get much worse. That
Through it all, I believe we have become a For Memento Mori, I am eager to see year, we had experienced numerous mass
little smarter, more considerate of oth- what 2021 will bring. Since our redesign killings with very little if anything being
ers, and much more flexible toward our debuted in March 2020, many newcomers done legislatively to curb the trend in some
personal and business goals. None of us have come forward to submit well-writ- way. No one would’ve guessed we’d be
should return to business as usual after this ten articles on topics covering all aspects exchanging one type of killer for another in
horrible time has passed; in fact, if we’ve of deathcare. It is great to experience a 2020. Nevertheless, 2019 was a heartbreak-
learned anything it is the importance of renewed interest in the publication and to ing year, but many of our members stepped
diversifying our efforts and our portfolios, continue to be a part of its evolution. up to provide free services to victims and

6 MEMENTO MORI JANUARY 2021 www.iccfa.com


their families. In this article, we highlighted a topic that because of its consequential and an overabundance of dead bodies. How
a few of our last responders. impact and heart-wrenching and emotional could we not learn from the past? We must
toll, families are more inclined to remain do better.
March/April 2020: “Recovery silent and act as if the event never hap-
of the Dead: The Titanic’s Final pened. Yet, studies show that sharing one’s July 2020: “Surveying the Industry:
Voyage” feelings leads to healing and acceptance. Mortuary Education’s Fight to Stay
Now, we’ve all heard the story of the “The Notwithstanding, Glenda Stansbury did Ahead of the Curve in the Midst of
Titanic” and we’ve seen the love story star- a tremendous job of presenting the topic a Pandemic”
ring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. through the eyes of a celebrant. This issue allowed ICCFA to reconnect with
I’ve even watched the film that documented the education aspect, the preparation that
its location at the bottom of the Atlantic June 2020: “Welcome to 1918: drives the success of deathcare. We were
Ocean. But never have I seen it through the Misinformation, Conspiracy able to devote all the features in the maga-
eyes of those who were called into service Theories, and Death Tolls Spiraling zine to a different aspect or viewpoint from
to recover and care for the dead. Todd W. Out of Control” those in the trenches of teaching during a
Van Beck, CFuE did a magnificent job of It’s like déjà vu all over again! Could Todd pandemic. Jack E. Lechner Jr. shared with
presenting the story through the eyes of the W. Van Beck, CFuE have described the us survey results while Joseph Finocchiaro
undertakers. This is a must read. 1918 flu pandemic any better? I think not. led us through a discussion on job readi-
A flu pandemic combined with the First ness. Marc A. Markell shared his thoughts
May 2020: “When a Child Dies: A World War meant that American casualties on preparing students for the future,
Celebrant’s Personal Journey and were being suffered on domestic soil as well Jennifer Mallmes talked about expanding
Its Sobering Lessons” as foreign soil. What this teaches us is that opportunities for students, and Tanya Sco-
This article brought to the forefront a topic we fail to learn from history. What existed tece advocated for stronger partnerships
that is still considered taboo within some then exists now: distorted viewpoints, between schools and deathcare businesses.
family circles: the death of a newborn. It’s misinformation, overwhelmed hospitals,

JANUARY 2021 MEMENTO MORI 7


EDITOR’S MUSE

Aug./Sept. 2020: “Navigating October 2020: “The Cremation many members under much of the relief
the Aftermath of 9/11: How First Dilemma: The Battle Between that was being offered by our government.
Responders Continue to Fall Victim Immediate Gratification & Instant
19 Years Later” Dissatisfaction” December 2020: “Bringing Pet
When this topic was brought to my atten- If there’s one thing we’ve learned to be this Cemeteries into the Modern Age:
tion, I knew it was something that needed year is patient. Yet, we highlighted the lack A Growing Need for a Growing
to be published. Not until the House Judi- of patience Americans have with everything Industry”
ciary subcommittee hearing with comedian from the pandemic to funeral choices. Last but not least, Scott McAfee provided
John Stewart (who was not being funny Poul Lemasters, Esq. showed deathcare the lowdown on the significance of servic-
that day) and accompanied by Luis Alvarez, professionals how vital it is to communi- ing pet owners. If you know any pet owners,
a retired New York bomb squad detective cate, communicate, communicate with their you’ll understand why. With more than 700
who worked at Ground Zero, did we come families; and he added how critical it is for pet cemeteries in the United States, alone,
to realize that our heroes of that infamous families to not jump to conclusions, to take this aspect of the deathcare industry is
day were left to fight for basic coverage the time to understand their options, and to worth your attention.
for their health and burial expenses. Luis take the time to grieve. Happy New Year!
died not long after providing his testimony.
Tatia L. Gordon-Troy, Esq., is
Bringing this to our members’ attention November 2020: “Why Are We the
ICCFA’s editorial director and
made sense because many of the families ‘Invisible’ Faces of COVID-19?”
managing editor of Memento
affected might be unaware of their qual- Our Aussie member Stephanie Longmuir
Mori.
ification for benefits under the victims’ shared with us her thoughts related to the
compensation fund. pandemic and feeling a little left out. She
wasn’t alone; in fact, ICCFA led the fight to
gain recognition and consideration for its

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8 MEMENTO MORI JANUARY 2021 www.iccfa.com


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WASHINGTON REPORT

Who at the FTC Will


Rule on the Funeral Rule?
by Poul Lemasters, Esq.

R
ECENTLY, ICCFA SUBMITTED COMMENTS TO THE FEDERAL TRADE Political Shuffling
COMMISSION (FTC) for its decennial review of the Funeral Rule. You may Currently, the FTC consists of three Repub-
remember that all comments were due by June 15, a slight delay due to the COVID- licans and two Democrats. What is truly
19 pandemic. The question most people have been asking is, “When will the FTC make a unique about the current commissioners is
determination on the Funeral Rule?” It is a fair question because when the FTC last reviewed that they were all appointed by President
the Funeral Rule in 1999, the FTC didn’t make a decision until 2008. At that time, the FTC Donald Trump! How did Trump appoint
decided to leave the Funeral Rule as is. all of the current commissioners? Prior to
Trump, the terms had expired and there
Appointing Commissioners It must be mentioned were no permanent appointments. At the
The FTC is an independent agency time, Maureen Ohlhausen was acting chair-
composed of five commissioners, each that if a commissioner man, but she stepped down when she was
appointed by the president. If you are think- not chosen to head the FTC. (Don’t worry,
ing a president could just easily change the
resigns, that spot can she was appointed a federal judge instead.)
makeup of the commission, don’t fret. There be filled by the sitting Under a new White House administra-
are some rules as to who can be appointed tion, under democratic control, does this
and what changes any sitting president can president. There is mean that the FTC, currently with three
make: some history that when Republicans, could end up with three Dem-
• First, the president cannot remove a ocrats? It is possible, but it can’t happen
commissioner for political party or a new chairperson is right away.
policy reasons. The only reason a com- The next term to expire is that of Rohit
missioner can be removed is because
designated, the previous Chopra. Most likely, people expect Chopra
of “inefficiency, neglect of duty, or chairperson sometimes to remain on the commission, and it is also
malfeasance in office.” This is all thanks possible (predicted by some) that Chopra
to the Federal Trade Commission Act.
resigns. could be appointed as the new chairman of
• Second, no more than three commis- the commission. This would make the chair
sioners can be members of the same question is probably, “Who will be at a Democrat-held position but would not
political party. Thank you again, FTC the FTC to make a determination on the change the 3–2 Republican majority.
Act. Funeral Rule?” Here are the current FTC It is worth noting that Chopra wrote
• Third, the president can appoint the commissioners: a statement regarding the request for
chairperson of the commission. • Joseph J. Simons (Chairman) comments on the Funeral Rule, just prior
• Fourth, the terms for all commission- Republican to comments. His words were in favor of
ers are staggered so that there is some 5/1/2018–9/25/2024 reopening the Funeral Rule; and included
consistency on the commission.
It is the commissioners who will decide
• Christine S. Wilson in his statement in regard to violators of the
Funeral Rule is, “The FTC also withholds
Republican
the fate of the Funeral Rule. The first 9/25/2018–9/25/2025 the names of these lawbreaking funeral
decision for the commissioners is whether homes from the public when announcing
the Rule should be reopened to allow any
• Noah Joshua Phillips the results of funeral home inspections, a
Republican
changes. In the past, the commission has privilege that no other industry under FTC
5/2/2018–9/25/2023
always left the Rule as is. If the commission- jurisdiction enjoys.”
ers decide to reopen the Rule, then the next • Rebecca Kelly Slaughter If, for some reason, President-Elect Joe
step would be a formal rulemaking process, Democrat Biden does not reappoint Chopra, or make
where the commissioners decide on what 5/2/2018–9/25/2022 Chopra the new chairman, this could leave
changes to allow. • Rohit Chopra the FTC absent one commissioner. In that
However, with a change of party Democrat scenario, it would be a 2–2 commission
leadership in the White House, the better 5/2/2018–9/25/2019 with almost all decisions being a tie, which

10 MEMENTO MORI JANUARY 2021 www.iccfa.com


U
TM

e-learning for today’s funeral professionals

historically halts proposed actions and


settlements. This is not a likely scenario; but
it is politics.
Most likely, a Biden administration will WilbertEDU,
not have the chance to replace a commis-
sioner until 2023 due to term expiration, where Funeral Professionals can learn and
when the first term for a Republican, Noah
Joshua Phillips, expires. At this time, Biden
earn continuing education units at no cost!
could nominate a Democrat to fill the posi-
tion. It must be mentioned that if a commis-
sioner resigns, that spot can be filled by the
sitting president. There is some history that
when a new chairperson is designated, the
previous chairperson sometimes resigns.
Just in 2017, under Trump, Democratic
Chairwoman Edith Ramirez resigned after
the Trump administration took charge.
What does this mean for the Funeral
Rule? It is still anyone’s guess. Remember
that two commissioners wrote statements
in favor of reopening the Funeral Rule
(both Democrats—Chopra and Slaughter),
and this was on top of almost 800 public
comments filed by consumers and various
associations, with most of the comments in
favor of a Funeral Rule update. Only time
will tell what’s next—the question is how
much time?

Poul Lemasters, Esq., poul@iccfa.


com, serves as ICCFA general
counsel and cremation programs
coordinator. He also serves on the
Government and Legal Affairs
Committee. Poul is an attorney
and a funeral director/embalmer
with degrees from the Cincinnati College of
Mortuary Science and the Northern Kentucky
For information on the wide variety of topics
University Chase College of Law. He is a licensed
funeral director/embalmer in Ohio and West
and to register for sessions, go to
Virginia and is admitted to practice law in Ohio,
Kentucky, and Virginia. As principal of Lemasters wilbert.com/wilbertedu
Consulting, a deathcare consulting company,
Poul Lemasters offers ICCFA members in good
standing a free one-hour consultation relating to
cremation; in addition, members are entitled to a
free GPL review to check for Funeral Rule
compliance

JANUARY 2021 MEMENTO MORI 11


PRESIDENT’S LETTER

Passion Is More than a Desire to Serve


by Jay D. Dodds, CFSP

P
ASSION FOR FUNERAL SERVICE has many components. As a general holidays, or even pandemics, a funeral pro-
term, funeral service means all the offerings given by funeral homes, cemeteries, fessional must truly have a passion to serve
crematories, and other related service businesses. Understanding the true value and be the foundation for healthful healing.
proposition of these offerings and using all the resources available to you to learn and grow
are driven by an internal passion and personal drive to serve people at the highest level. To The Ongoing Process of Learning
be certain, funeral service and the funeral profession is not just about the funeral ceremony. Having a passion for our business requires
Rather, it includes helping a family make the decision to pre-arrange, to comforting them in us to continue to learn and sharpen our
the weeks and months following a death, and everything in between. skills. There are many opportunities to learn
and gain knowledge to serve our families.
Our Value and Our Benefits funeral process, to the benefits of viewing As leaders in our profession, we should look
Our value proposition to our consumers and gathering in a community environment. for those “nuggets” of knowledge to build
is to help them work through their grief in Within these benefits, you can clearly our team’s toolboxes with the skills to better
as healthy a manner as possible—such a see how the painful and tough aspects accomplish this task.
simple statement for a highly complicated of losing a loved one can be processed The reason I use the term “nugget” is
part of life and love. Grief as a function of in a healthier manner when the funeral that over time, you pick up useful pieces of
life is just love with no place to go once a professional has a clear understanding of knowledge from events, seminars, conven-
death has occurred. The living are left with his or her role. Using the tools that are tions, online programs, articles, and other
broken, but not dissolved, relationships. gained through experience and a seeking of sources. Several years ago, I asked pre-need
Dr. John Canine in his book, Psychoso- knowledge, a funeral professional can walk sales trainer, speaker, and consultant Gary
cial Aspects of Death and Dying, character- a family through this time and create the O’Sullivan, CCFE, if he ever got tired of
ized the seven psychological benefits of a environment for them to heal. attending conferences and if they all seem
funeral. They range from “forcing” the loved Considering that death has no timeta- to bring forth the same ideas. His answer
ones to deal with the death by enduring the ble and is not considerate of family events, surprised me.
Gary said that his focus is not to try
to find the next great idea, but to try to
learn just one new thing and not expect an
epiphany at each event. That made a lot of
sense to me. With each event, you build
your knowledge base and collect valuable
nuggets that will deepen your ability to
serve. There is no one “silver bullet,” so be
open to continuous learning.

The Many Nuggets Gained


For context purposes, here are just a couple
of the many great nuggets I have picked
up over the last several years. The first
one pertains to permanent placement.
As I sat in a breakout session at a recent
ICCFA annual convention, I heard John
Bolton CCE, CCrE, CSE, CXE, and Jeff
Kidwiler, CCE, CSE, talk about the future
of the cemetery business and how ceme-
teries should all have a “cemetery within a
cemetery”—a separate cremation garden
within a cemetery that stands out and looks
completely different from the rest of the

12 MEMENTO MORI JANUARY 2021 www.iccfa.com


park. Instead of incorporating cremation is the key. I learned techniques from several advantage of the learning opportunities that
offerings by scattering them through your speakers that we now apply every day in our are offered by your association and collect
traditional gardens, separate the cremation company. And with the pandemic, we have those nuggets. One day, they will make up
gardens to highlight the offering so they do made the shift to using technology applica- your pot of knowledge gold.
not get “lost” in your other burial options. tions for some of our seminars, and they are
NUGGET. proving to be very effective. We have found Jay D. Dodds, CFSP, jdodds@
plcorp.com, is president of ICCFA
Another impactful idea came to me from it to be a great way to present and offer
(2019–20) and COO of Park Lawn
the DEAD Talks Sales Conference, when I permanent placement to the many who still
Corporation, with more than 35
walked away with two little words: “secure have loved ones temporarily placed in their years’ experience in the funeral
and forever.” These two words made my homes and not secure forever. NUGGET. and cemetery profession. Jay is a
conceptualization of permanent placement As a member of ICCFA, I have enjoyed licensed funeral director and
complete. What better comfort can we the educational, networking, and rela- embalmer in both Texas and New Mexico and is a
give to generations of families who hold tionship-building opportunities afforded certified cremation operator. Jay previously
cremated remains at home than to secure to me by this association. The quality of served as founder, owner, and president/COO of
them and keep them forever in the only programming is rivaled by none. Applica- the Signature Group. Prior to founding Signature,
real estate offering that is actually forever? tion of what I learn at the many events is he served as executive vice president and chief
NUGGET. what has shaped much of what I do daily. I operating officer of another U.S. publicly traded
company for 17 years. Jay currently serves as
In addition, I learned that the best way could write 20 pages on my experiences at
trustee for the Funeral Service Foundation and
to communicate this concept to a family is different events and what the nugget was
the ICCFA Educational Foundation, while also
in a seminar environment. Seminars have that came out of the event. serving as a board member of the Pierce
been around forever, so that wasn’t a new As a person who has a passion for this Mortuary Colleges.
idea; it’s the execution of the seminar that profession, I encourage everyone to take

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JANUARY 2021 MEMENTO MORI 13


THE MAKING of a PROFESSION PART 1 of 5

Does a License
Make You a Professional?
Part one of a five-part series on
what makes a funeral professional, professional
by Todd W. Van Beck, CFuE

M
ANY YEARS AGO , I worked in a funeral home out West. I was young, had just regulations governing the funeral indus-
graduated from Mortuary College, and was serving as a lowly apprentice. I was try. But was he unprofessional? I believe
at the bottom of the food chain, and no one cared about any thought I might in licensure; I believe firmly in the value,
have about any subject on earth. My right to freedom was singularly ignored; and if I had purpose, and benefit of formalized mortu-
complained, that complaint would have been ignored or ridiculed. Such was my lowly state ary education; and I believe in the concept
in life. of education for the simple sake of educa-
tion—in other words, all education is good.
This story is not about me, however. This He was excellent in the preparation However, if you firmly equate a license
story is about a man with whom I worked room. Nothing seemed too challenging as being the sole criterion to claim profes-
during the servitude period of my life. for him. He could rattle off the chemicals sional status, stop reading right now. If you
This gentleman was always impecca- from any chemical company, he excelled at feel this question is something for us to
ble in his dress. He was bilingual, spoke restorative art and cosmetics, and he never ponder, keep reading.
Spanish fluently. He was a deputy county cut corners when he was embalming a
coroner (my boss was the High Coroner). decedent—never! Lifting a Business …
I was rummaging through my files one day
and came across this article published more
than 100 years ago in a funeral profession-
Just a few years ago, … according to the Federal al’s journal called the Embalmer’s Monthly.
Wage and Hour law, a professional was defined as What appeared in the November 1915 issue
was verbatim account of an address that a
a “learned” person and funeral directors were not gentleman by the name of Bradford Leavitt
recognized as “learned” people. gave before the San Francisco Convention
of the National Funeral Directors Associa-
tion. Mr. Levitt titled his speech, “Lifting a
Business into a Profession.”
He was detailed in making funeral arrange- He also was very skilled in the pre- As I read this gentleman’s thoughts and
ments, he was detailed in conducting funer- sentation of funeral merchandise; and he opinions, I was struck by an awareness that
als, people loved him, and he was also kind, consistently exceeded the firms required our present-day funeral service seems to
sensitive, compassionate, caring, and highly casket averages. be grappling with determining once and
concerned about our family clients. I thought he was one of the most profes- for all the answer to a simple but very old
He had been on the staff of the funeral sional members in funeral service I had ever question: “Is funeral service a profession or
home for many years, having started right encountered. He loved his position. He was not?” Leavitt was trying to accomplish the
out of high school. He came from a terribly made for what he did; it was his mission in life. same task way back in 1915!
impoverished family, so the job in the But he was also illegal. I have read lots of information and I
funeral home for him was a life saver. He was not licensed. He had never gone have sat in lots of presentations where this
He went to church every Sunday; he had to Mortuary College. He had never taken question is the main topic. I have also heard
three functional children, and a lovely wife. the national board examination. He had strong opinions expressed on both sides of
In fact, he was so involved in the life of the never served an apprenticeship (I was doing this issue, and have even witnessed tempers
community that he had built up his own that job!). He never took the state law exam- flare and feelings being hurt in the attempt
following. Many families requested him and ination. Unfortunately, he was never going to answer it.
only him to serve them when they expe- to take any of these roads to licensure. However, because I trust the inherent
rienced a death. He never once received a There was no question this gentle- goodness of the average great American
complaint from a bereaved family—not once. man was illegal under the laws, rules, and funeral director, I will trust that you, the

14 MEMENTO MORI JANUARY 2021 www.iccfa.com


reader, will make the determination as by these important authorities that a funeral power, to be the final arbiter concerning the
to whether my thinking and conclusions director was indeed a professional, there license of both individuals and establish-
concerning an answer to this question are wasn’t too much. ments. But does that power establish the
flawed or not. I accept the risk. The closest piece of tangible information work of funeral service as a true profession?
I found was under the Federal Wage and I felt here had to be something more.
From the Government’s View Hour law, which says that a funeral director So my search continues. In the next
Do government bureaucracies view funeral can take an exemption as being a profes- installment of “The Making of a Profession,”
service as a true profession? How are we sional. But as most of us old timers know, I’ll tell you what my Great Aunt Tilly thinks
treated by agencies and authorities, like the this exemption was not always the case. Just of funeral directors.
state and federal government, funeral ser- a few years ago, funeral directors could not Todd W. Van Beck, CFuE, is
vice licensing agencies, accrediting agencies, claim this exemption because, according to one of the most sought-after
and civil servant bureaucrats, and the like? the Federal Wage and Hour law, a profes- speakers and educators in
What I discovered was that the rules and sional was defined as a “learned” person and funeral service. He serves as
regulations pertaining to funeral service funeral directors were not recognized as director of continuing
from state to state are all over the place, but I “learned” people. education for John A. Gupton
already knew that. There were lists after lists As we all know rules and regulations College in Nashville, and as
of egregious violations, which could result in change, they are affected by political power, dean of ICCFA University’s College of Funeral
the license vanishing; there were myriad pre- and they are at times so complicated. Home Management. In 2014, Todd received the
first-ever Lasting Impact Award from the ICCFA
need laws, cemetery laws, cremation laws, Government rules and regulations are fluid;
Educational Foundation. Todd has written
licensing laws, funeral procession laws—a they are unpredictable, so they could not be
numerous books, among them, Exploring the
veritable labyrinth of codes, statutes, rules, the final arbiter concerning the professional Heart of Funeral Service; Reverence for the Dead:
and regulations where “profession/profes- status of funeral service. These agencies cer- The Unavoidable Link; and The Genius of Frank E.
sional” was indeed used. But any solid claim tainly had the power, sometimes even police Campbell, all of which are on Amazon.

JANUARY 2021 MEMENTO MORI 15


TRIBUTES & MEMORIALIZATION

Their Voices Carry Beyond the Grave


Tombstones of Famous Recording Artists
by Tatia L. Gordon-Troy, Esq.

T
HEY WERE ICONS. LEGENDS IN THEIR OWN TIME. Some more famous in he was only 27 years old. His body now
death than in life. Many gone way too soon. Maybe it was the sudden fame, the fast resides in Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris,
pace, the expectations of fans; or maybe it was their own egos that robbed them along with many other famous celebrities
of their senior years. But every generation had its “gods” of music. And although many fell and other figures. Throughout the years
victim to their own fame, their families ensured their deaths would venerate their larger- since his death, many different tombstones
than-life existences. and memorial plaques have been placed to
recognize the fallen singer. Unfortunately,
the majority of them have been defaced.
Jimi Hendrix As one of the most visited attractions
Nov. 27, 1942–Sept. 18, 1970 in Paris, the grave site is not notable for its
James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix (born epitaph or elegance, but rather its graffiti
Johnny Allen Hendrix) was an American and other mischief. Morrison’s tombstone
rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter. His has been stolen, defaced, and destroyed
mainstream career lasted only four years, numerous times, so much so that now it is
but he is widely regarded as one of the most guarded by security.
influential guitarists in history and one of
the most celebrated musicians of the 20th Rick James
century. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Feb. 1, 1948–Aug. 6, 2004
describes him as “the greatest instrumen- James Ambrose Johnson Jr., better known
talist in the history of rock music.” Hendrix as Rick James, was a well-known American
started his career playing backup for such 101st Airborne Division. He served in the R&B/Pop singer and songwriter throughout
performers as Little Richard, B.B. King, Sam army until 1962 when he was honorably the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. James had a
Cooke, and the Isley Brothers. discharged after being injured during a prominent career for the majority of his life,
Born in Seattle, Hendrix began playing parachute jump. although he had many health issues that
guitar at age 15. In 1961, he enlisted in the Hendrix died in London from drug-re- caused his early death at the age of 56.
army and trained as a paratrooper in the lated complications. He is interred at James was in various bands before enter-
Greenwood Memorial Park in Renton, ing the U.S. Navy to avoid being drafted
WA. More than 20 years after his death, into the army. In 1964, James deserted to
Hendrix’s body was moved to a different Toronto, where he formed the rock band,
location in the park, complete with a stone the Mynah Birds, which eventually signed
pavilion and space for other family mem-
bers on the same plot.

Jim Morrison
Dec. 8, 1943–July 3, 1971
Best known as the lead singer for the rock
and roll band, “The Doors,” Jim Morrison
won the hearts of many music fans during
his lifetime. The singer was known to have a
strong alcohol dependency during his time
on the stage, but his death was actually a
bit of a mystery as no autopsy was officially
performed. It was stated that the cause of
death was heart failure.
Morrison was found in a bathtub in an
apartment in Paris at the time of his death;

16 MEMENTO MORI JANUARY 2021 www.iccfa.com


a record deal with Motown Records in It has been estimated that more than
1966. James’s career with the group halted 500 of Walker’s songs have been recorded
after military authorities discovered his and that her songs made the Top 40 charts
whereabouts and eventually convicted and (country or pop) more than 400 times. In
sentenced James to a one-year prison term September 1997, Walker was inducted into
for desertion. the Country Music Hall of Fame.
James passed away in 2004 from pulmo- Although not many are familiar with her
nary failure and cardiac failure, which were name, Walker’s memorial site is splendid.
brought on by his many health conditions, She is buried in the Mexia City Cemetery
including diabetes, a stroke, and a heart in Texas, where her memorial features a
attack. James also had a bevy of drugs in large pink granite guitar, along with a bench
his system but coroners concluded that the engraved with her name. Walker’s family Jackson is one of the best-selling music
levels of the drugs were not life threatening had the guitar statue custom-made for her artists of all time, with estimated sales
at the time of death. memorial in order to honor her legacy in of over 350 million records worldwide.
James is buried in the Forest Lawn the industry. “Thriller” is the best-selling album of all
Cemetery in Buffalo, NY. His tombstone time, with estimated sales of 66 million
is engraved with lyrics from an unreleased Michael Jackson copies worldwide. In addition, the remix
song of his: “I’ve had it all, I’ve done it all, Aug. 29, 1958–June 25, 2009 album, “Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory
I’ve seen it all. It’s all about love—God is Michael Joseph Jackson was an American in the Mix (1997),” is the best-selling remix
love.” singer, songwriter, and dancer. Dubbed the album of all time. Jackson had 13 Billboard
“King of Pop,” he is regarded as one of the Hot 100 number-one singles, more than any
Cindy Walker most significant cultural figures of the 20th other male artist in the Hot 100 era, and
July 20, 1918–March 23, 2006 century. Through stage and video perfor- was also the first artist to have a top-ten sin-
Best known for her work in the country mances, he popularized complicated dance gle in the Billboard Hot 100 in five different
music industry as a singer and songwriter, techniques, such as the moonwalk and the decades.
Cindy Walker had many chart-topping hits robot. His sound and style have influenced When you reach the level of fame that
that were performed by a variety of talented artists of various genres, and his contribu- you’re called the “King” of anything, pretty
musicians over the years of her career. tions to music, dance, and fashion, along sure you don’t even need your name or a
Walker lived a long life and passed away at with his publicized personal life, made him clever saying on your tombstone. That’s
the age of 87 in 2006, surrounded by her a global figure in popular culture for more exactly what happened following the
friends and family. It was reported that she than four decades. Jackson is the most sudden death of “King of Pop” Michael
had been quite ill for several weeks prior to awarded artist in the history of popular Jackson. His remains sit in an unmarked
her death in Mexia, TX. music. crypt at the famous Forest Lawn Cemetery
in California. Though filled with flowers
and other gifts from fans, the area is closed
off from visitors and protected by security
at all times.
Courtesy of TV Over Mind, www.
tvovermind.com/celebrity-tombstones/,
Ranker, www.ranker.com/list/best-
celebrity-­tombstones/wavy-gravey, and
Wikipedia. Photo credits can be found on
the websites.

Tatia L. Gordon-Troy, Esq., is


ICCFA’s editorial director and
managing editor of Memento
Mori.

JANUARY 2021 MEMENTO MORI 17


TRIBUTES & MEMORIALIZATION

A COVID-Era Celebration of Life


by Steve Walker

T
HE COVID-19 PANDEMIC has undoubtedly changed the funeral service business. voices (www.libera.org.uk). Lynda also
Whether the changes will be permanent remains to be seen, but funeral directors arranged, through the group’s London
know that those they serve have been affected in a way that makes the traditional management, for one of the young boys
process of visitation and funerals much more difficult. to introduce the slideshow via a special
video message just for the event’s attend-
One funeral service in Maryland created ees. The slideshow ended with the video
a special memorial just for friends and Other components of of Libera’s song, “Angel.” Libera’s Angel
family members who were unable to prop- video can be viewed at www.youtube.com/
erly say goodbye to their loved ones during the service involved a watch?v=_j13d5eFgQk&vl=el.
the spring and early summer lockdown. “We set up a stage with a huge video
Highview Funeral & Cremation Services
dove release and live screen and held the event outside, enforc-
in Fallston, northeast of Baltimore, held an musical performances, ing standard COVID-19 precautions,” says
outdoor event on October 17 to commem- Lynda. “Now that restrictions have been
orate the lives of those who had passed including a solo from a relaxed, we were able to invite many of the
during the March 1 through June 15 restric- family members who weren’t able to attend
tions at burial events. During this time, only young woman who had actual services.” Lynda had email addresses
10 funeral attendees per event were allowed for the families and used an online e-vite
in this part of the state, so quite often loved lost her grandfather. service to get the word out about the
ones were buried with few or no friends ceremony.
present, and even without all their family Other components of the service
members who wanted to attend. during the COVID -19 peak period; some involved a dove release and live musical
“Many had passed away in nursing of whom actually died from the coronavirus performances, including a solo from a
homes with no visitors for weeks, and some itself. young woman who had lost her grandfather.
actually had no service at all,” says Lynda “Music is one of the most important There also were words delivered by a local
Staylor, director of Family Services for aspects of a memorial service and I knew of councilman and a pastor.
Highview. Lynda coordinated the event. “I an English boys’ choir called Libera, whose “Response to the event has been tremen-
just felt like we should do something to give voices truly sound like those of angels,” dous,” says Linda. “We’ve received numer-
the families closure. It’s really not fair to Lynda adds. She had attended a Libera ous positive comments, plus many cards
have to bury a loved one without everyone concert in Pittsburgh and felt the music was and letters of thanks.”
in attendance who wants to be there.” perfect for the memorial service. High- Steve Walker is a freelance contributor to
Lynda wanted to create an event that view created a slideshow of all the loved Memento Mori. He is based in Dallas and is
attendees would cherish as a celebration ones whose services had been restricted, a father of two who enjoys writing about
of the lives of the people who had passed and set it to the sounds of Libera’s angelic everything from high-tech to the great outdoors.

18 MEMENTO MORI JANUARY 2021 www.iccfa.com


I
T IS A BILLION-DOLLAR BUSINESS—
AND GROWING. With more than
21,000 licensed tattoo parlors in
the United States alone, simple math
translates that number into hundreds of
thousands of tattoo artists with millions
of eager clients. About 14 percent of all
Americans have at least one tattoo. And
both the tattoo artist and the recipient
feel quite passionately about these

INK
works of art. Sadly, both understand
that their beautiful creations will not last
beyond the life of the human canvas.

SPRINGS
ETERNAL
Saving Your Personal
Picasso for Future
Generations
by Susan Cushing

20 MEMENTO MORI JANUARY 2021 www.iccfa.com


“You wouldn’t burn or bury a Picasso, would you?”
—Kyle Sherwood

“You’re getting a lot more


people concerned with
customization of things;
and we just believe this is
one more way to provide
something unique and
certainly quite personal.”
—Kyle Sherwood

JANUARY 2021 MEMENTO MORI 21


INK SPRINGS ETERNAL

Those with Skin in the Game


Kyle Sherwood explains how Save My Ink Forever came
about. “Well, let me preface this by explaining that because
of our background and experience in the funeral business,
anyone we know who has questions relating in any way to the
industry will come to us,” says Kyle. “A buddy approached us
and said that he would really love to have his tattoos displayed
in his clubhouse after he passes. Initially, we just kind of
laughed it off but he pressed on and was very sincere.”
Kyle’s buddy’s persistence paid off. “Gradually, I guess you
could say we warmed up to the idea,” Kyle continues. “I mean
I have several tattoos myself and I know how significant each
one is to me, so I really started giving the idea some serious
consideration.”
First, the father and son team looked into our goal to appreciate and allow these art
statistics as to how many people in the coun- pieces to live on. We’ve heard from a num-
try actually have tattoos. “We discovered that, ber of tattoo artists that it bothered them to
alone, is about 50 million,” says Kyle. “We then know their creations would only live as long
discussed how many different things people as the person, and this is the first time ever
are doing these days as far as cremation goes, that they are able to have their art live on for
turning ashes into diamonds or trees, what- multiple generations.”
ever. Why not preserve their tattoos?”
Not having their own lab per se, the next The Ultimate Goal: A Keepsake
step required obtaining actual human skin For many people, the option of preserving
on which they could “practice” or experiment their loved ones’ very personal and mean-
with different methods of preserving. Here ingful tattoos makes much more sense than
again, the Sherwoods demonstrated their cre- trying to figure out what to do with an urn
ativity in a way that is, at first blush, shocking full of cremated remains.
yet ingenious. “We had one woman whose son passed
“We offered free tummy-tucks,” Kyle away,” says Kyle, “and he had a tattoo that
explains. “Prior to the surgery, we would ask read, ‘Mommy’s little monster’ and she
them to get about five tattoos in the area wanted to keep that. In this instance, we
that was to be ‘tucked’ and then they would were even able to take a lock of his hair and
essentially donate the skin to us. That’s what incorporate that into the frame. It felt so
we used for our trial and error research. It good to know that we had created a truly
was roughly a two-year process figuring out unique memorial for her. She said, ‘You
exactly how to preserve these tattoos.” know I just can’t imagine the funeral home handing me back an urn
and saying, ‘this is your son.’ Now I feel like I really have him. I have
They Were Framed that piece of him that I can see every day.’ ”
“The next thing we had to figure out was how to present them,” says Stories, like tattoos, are as unique and interesting as the individu-
Kyle. “How can we do this in the most dignified manner possible? als. Most of these are somehow connected to family—either specific
One of our concerns was, we wanted to display it as a piece of art members of the family or special memories. One example the young
that you could have in your home. The obvious choice was to frame entrepreneur describes is a blue handprint that a terminally ill man
it just as you would any treasured piece of art.” had tattooed when his son was a newborn. Knowing time was short,
To that end, the Sherwoods have a professional framer on the gentleman and his wife met with Save My Ink Forever and made
hand. “She will pair each piece as esthetically pleasing as possible,” arrangements to have this very special tattoo preserved, framed, and
explains Kyle, “which ultimately means each piece is a unique and presented to the son upon his father’s passing.
very personal work of art.” Kyle recalls another situation involving sisters who had lost their
The results speak for themselves. Even those uneducated or father. “He had a tattoo of two intertwined hearts; each one bearing
unfamiliar with the depth of design and talent that goes into a mod- the name of the daughters,” he says. “Naturally, there was some
ern tattoo are impressed with these showpieces once mounted and discussion as to which of them should get the preserved tattoo.
framed. In fact, to the untrained eye, it’s difficult to even discern Happily, we were able to resolve this by having the hearts separated
what the actual “canvas” is derived from. so each girl received the portion with her name.”
“We feel that many tattoo artists don’t get the credit or acknowl- Kyle describes the two hearts as pieces of a puzzle. “What’s cool
edgment they deserve,” adds Kyle. “Just because their art is ink, skin is, each one stands on its own, but if you were to put them side-by-
doesn’t make it any less ‘art’ than paint and canvas. That became side, it’s like those broken heart necklaces that friends or relatives

22 MEMENTO MORI JANUARY 2021 www.iccfa.com


wear that fit together like two puzzle pieces. Needless to say, they Taking the Industry by Storm
were thrilled with this solution.” The process, which is quite detailed and meticulously executed, takes
about 3½ to four months from point of contact—through recovering
One-of-a-Kind Venture the art to processing to finally presenting a framed art piece.
As previously noted, there are millions of people in the United “If you’re going to do something, you want to do it right,” Kyle
States who have at least one tattoo and obviously thousands of says. “This is something that is very important to us. The funeral
locations where these can be created. However, there is only one industry is changing. You’re getting a lot more people concerned
company that can preserve that tattoo. with customization of things; and we just believe this is one more
Much more than a business venture, Save My Ink Forever seems way to provide something unique and certainly quite personal.”
to be an extension of Kyle’s desire to express himself as an artist. Kyle admits younger people within the industry are quicker to
One can’t help but feel the passion behind this endeavor. effect change or initiate out-of-the-box thinking. “It’s my gener-
“As a kid I wanted to be an artist, but it’s a tough way to make a ation that is kind of breaking the mold,” he says. “We are break-
living,” he says. “So, for me, my art form is embalming where you’re ing stereotypes of the traditional funeral and wanting all these
trying to make that person look as good as possible for the loved ones customizations.” With that, Kyle adds, “we are also breaking the
to view one last time. That’s how I’ve kind of satisfied my love of art.” negative stereotypes formerly associated with tattoos. Years ago,
Kyle says he finds solace and satisfaction in doing a job well it was perceived that if you had a tattoo you were either part of
done. “I love doing a lot of reconstruction work. Especially the a motorcycle gang, an inmate, or in the military. Today, people
more challenging examples where most embalmers would say, from literally all walks of life are getting tattoos; and I believe more
‘closed casket’; I enjoy taking those eight, 10, 12 hours to do my best people are appreciating the spectacular talent and skill that goes
for that family while scratching my artist itch.” into each one.”
Not surprisingly, the mission of Save My Ink Forever is fervently As the company and client list grows, Kyle acknowledges that he
supported by tattoo artists everywhere. According to Kyle, the and his father are blazing new trails in a new and exciting area of
response from funeral homes has been very positive. In fact, in just creating pieces of immortality for future generations.
the short time they’ve been in business, Mike and Kyle have devel- “We’re kind of writing the book on this,” he says with a grin.
oped some strong relationships with several family-owned funeral
homes who proudly display information about the company. Susan Cushing is a freelance writer for Memento Mori.
“We provide not only display materials but an informational

FIND
video and certainly one-on-one consultations with those funeral
homes who want to offer this service as an option,” says Kyle.
One California funeral director writes: “As a tattooed individual
as well as a licensed embalmer, I am very grateful for the program
you have put together. The instructional video was very educational EXACTLY WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR
FUNERAL HOMES • TRADE SERVICES • SUPPLIERS
and with the knowledge I already have, I feel comfortable for my
first tattoo recovery.”

Your Real Source. Anywhere. Anytime


www.nomispublications.com

JANUARY 2021 MEMENTO MORI 23


Death
Suicide
Sacred Moments and
a Funeral That Heals by
by Glenda Stansbury

“S
ALLY” AND “MIKE” were two people with broken hearts, both coming
out of difficult and toxic relationships. They had met, of course, online.
Sally had two daughters from her previous marriage; Mike was trying
to find his way back to a healthy and law-abiding life. The connection was
instant. Six years later, they were married with two children of their own
and successfully making their way together in the world.
After several devastating deaths in the family, the oppression of COVID-19, and the loss of
income and stability sent Mike down a dark path to depression. Sally did everything possible to
help him but had no idea how deep this hole was and the terrifying actions that it would
lead to.
Sally came home one day to find Mike molesting her 9-year-old daughter. She
immediately called the police and found one of his guns and held him while
waiting for them to arrive. Mike managed to wrestle the gun from her; then he
drove to his mother’s house. While his stepfather was trying to reason with
him, Mike shot himself in their front yard.
No, this is not an episode of “48 Hours.” This was the
situation leading up to a service that I was recently asked
to conduct. Celebrants are often called upon to conduct
services for these difficult and overwhelming situa-
tions. The funeral professionals who refer these fam-
ilies to us understand that we know how to handle
all the range of anger, guilt, grief, blame, shame,
and terror that accompanies such deaths.
This was the 10th suicide service I had been
honored to officiate in 2020. The trust and
faith that these funeral directors have in us to
take care of their families in the very best way
possible is so very important to every Celebrant.

24 MEMENTO MORI JANUARY 2021 www.iccfa.com


[A] mind that just cannot stop spinning,
a soul that agonizes over what was happening,
a spirit that cannot see beyond the clouds;
the dark demons that keep the sun from shining
on the promises of the future rather than
the regrets and worries of the past.

JANUARY 2021 MEMENTO MORI 25


ISTOCK / WILDPIXEL
DEATH BY SUICIDE

These are the


sacred moments
where we are
given the awesome
responsibility to
articulate what
their next steps in a
healthy grief journey
can look like.

The family had attended a church and was close to Sally’s family was angry that she would even consider
the pastor. But he was young and had never officiated at having a funeral for Mike. Her mother initially refused
a funeral before, much less one that was such a tinder- to attend, saying that the only picture she wanted to see
box. Obviously, the sheer raw emotions and all the com- was his mug shot.
plicating factors made this a challenge for all who served Sally knew that she needed to have this time, this
this sweet family. It was vital to have someone who had public gathering, this acknowledgment of his life as well
walked this path before with countless families to bring as his death to give her daughters—who had been so
guidance, calm, and understanding to the moment. traumatized and so fearful of speaking out—a chance
The pastor, however, was invited to share scripture and to heal surrounded by those who loved them. It is when
prayer and be a part of the service without having to we hide in the shadows from the reality that we allow
take on the responsibility of the entire service. lives to be further torn apart by secrets and shame.

Coming to Terms with the Truth A Funeral That Heals


The most important part of our job is the family meet- And so, we had the service. The divisions were clear, as
ing: to sit with family members, to help them remem- each family sat on either side of the chapel. The pain
ber some of the happier times and memories that will was obvious on the faces of Sally and the girls; they sat
sustain them, to allow them to voice all the feelings in numbing silence trying to make sense of it all.
that are welling up and screaming to be expressed. We We talked about Mike’s early life, his struggles, his
promise them that we will tell the truth with gracious finding love and meaning in their relationship, how much
honesty while honoring a life, because every life is he enjoyed being a dad, how much he loved his family.
worth remembering. The year 2018 was a most difficult valley of losses:
As I sat with Sally, she recounted how much she his grandmother, Sally’s father, a cousin who died of
loved Mike while still wrangling with the anger and suicide, his grandfather, and other deaths in his circle.
feelings of disappointment and devastation she felt It was overwhelming. The spark and joy, the drive and
about what she had learned. That was not Mike’s first determination seemed to fade from Mike’s beautiful
time, and her heart was broken that her girls had not eyes. It was just difficult to engage.
been able to share their truth with her. The home remodel held no interest. The business
After the family meeting, the funeral director spent became challenging and difficult. The joy of kids and
some time with the couple’s 5-year-old son, sharing a family brought no happiness. This was the beginning of
coloring book, bringing in the therapy dog, and giving a slide down the mountain. But no one knew quite yet
this little guy a chance to see his dad in a safe and pro- how very far the drop might be.
tected environment. He got to tell his daddy goodbye. Sometimes, those valleys do not have clear paths for
These situations are always rife with conflicting finding a way out. Mike was surrounded by a supportive
sides and reactions. Mike’s family was torn between and loving family who did everything possible to guide
unbelief, horror, and blame toward Sally for his death. his way back to himself. Sally knew that this big man

26 MEMENTO MORI JANUARY 2021 www.iccfa.com


who had held her heart in his hand for six at the time, the only path he could find to memories will last the rest of your lives.
years was struggling and she was at a loss as ease his pain, the only way he could escape You can only know that Mike, your hus-
to how to help him. This mountain was big, the stark consequences that faced him. He band, your son, your brother, your daddy,
too big, and no amount of intentions and was running on empty and could see no your grandson, your friend, is at peace and
promises and prayer could help him find way to find the energy to climb yet again. out of the darkness now. He is running free
the top. A life is not to be judged by the final and cheering for you as he watches over
The year 2019 brought more of the same page in the story. Instead, we must look at each of you, as you begin this long journey
struggles but also some moments of joy the entirety of a life lived to the max, a life of grief.
when Sally announced that she was pregnant of intentionality and purpose and love, a Now is not the time for speculation, for
again, another precious girl. But even that heart that burned so bright it just couldn’t judgment, for questions, for blame. Now is
amazing news did not reach Mike’s soul, did be sustained, and know that even though the time to open your arms wide and offer
not bring the happiness that could engage his the time was not near long enough, the blessings of understanding, of unwavering
heart. Sally was staying home with the kids,
Mike was struggling to find enough work; it
was a difficult time for the family.
Then 2020 became the ultimate valley.
When the pandemic paralyzed the coun-
try, the opportunities for employment and
supporting the family became even more
challenging. Sally found a job as a phlebot-
omist; Mike was attempting to create his
own grow business at the house.
However, the abyss of depression cre-
ated an obstacle that he could not climb
around—a mind that just cannot stop spin-
ning, a soul that agonizes over what was
happening, a spirit that cannot see beyond Lake View Cemetery
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JANUARY
ISTOCK / WILDPIXEL 2021 MEMENTO MORI 27
DEATH BY SUICIDE

support, of constant journeyers. The way that you celebrate Mike’s Why We Do What We Do
life is to take care of the ones he loved. They opened the casket for a final pass. The funeral directors had
done an amazing job of restoration, such a gift for a family who
How to Move on needs to say their last goodbyes.
Sally had given me permission to read from her Facebook posting, Finally, after all the friends and family had left the chapel,
so her voice was clearly heard in that room, full of people who Sally grabbed her girls, ages 14 and 9, and they stood by the
were struggling with how to understand, how to accept, how to casket. She hugged them fiercely and said, “This is not your fault.
move forward: This is not our fault. Don’t ever let anyone tell you any differently.
We are still a family and I will never ever leave you. We will get
I know that what Mike and I fell in love with was still in there
through this together.”
somewhere, but it’s so easy to let the devil cloud our judgment
The funeral directors and I stood there with tears in our eyes as
and let go of the real us. I know people are conflicted with how
we watched this mom, this heartbroken wife, this strong pillar of
I am handling things and that’s okay. You just can’t turn off love
determination give her daughters the gift of saying goodbye, the
even though we want to all the time. But I made my babies a
power of speaking the truth, the promise that they were not alone.
promise a long time ago, that no matter how hard it gets, how
And I thought to myself again, as I have countless times before,
much I cry, or how much I want to give up, I NEVER WILL.
this is why we do what we do. This is why celebrants spend hours
I will always be here for my children. I’ll push through, and I
preparing exactly the right service.
won’t give up … I can and I will do this.
This is why we so passionately believe that every family, no mat-
And Dear Lord, I pray to you to help heal my heart, all of
ter the situation or circumstance, should have a funeral that heals
ours. We will become stronger than ever I must believe this but
them. This is why we stand in that gap and advocate so strongly
for now it’s okay for us to hurt, love, hate whatever emotions
that every funeral home should do everything possible to help their
you have; and that’s okay because God still loves you, he loves
families have the service that they need.
all of us even through the deepest of sins. I just ask people to
This is why I say to funeral professionals all over the world—if
respect my decisions. You don’t have to like them but respect
you do not have a Celebrant, find one. If you are content with turn-
them, if not for me, for my children because they are what truly
ing over services to your Rolodex pastor because he does “a pretty
matters the most.
good job,” are you truly doing everything possible to provide the
very best service to your families?

Personalized MeMorialization An Awesome Responsibility


Mike’s service was one of four funerals I had prepared for that
same week. One was for a sweet 80-year-old lady who loved Bingo.
The second funeral was for a 74-year-old who was the life of the
party and outlived his cancer diagnosis by 18 months. The third
was for an 81-year-old who died in four months from ALS. Each of
those had their own special story and families who were grieving
their losses and aching to hear the story once again. Each one was
unique and each one was crafted and written from scratch.
But this one—Mike’s funeral—is what we are called for. It’s this
type of service that we know we can make such a difference in
people’s lives. These are the sacred moments where we are given
the awesome responsibility to articulate what their next steps in
a healthy grief journey can look like. These are the life-changing
experiences that confirm what each of us knew when we went into
this profession.

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28 MEMENTO MORI JANUARY 2021 www.iccfa.com


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Page 29
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Personalizing the End-of-Life Ceremony
by Stephanie Longmuir

A
S FUNERAL PROFESSIONALS, we are experts at
thinking on our feet; so when everything changed
in March last year, we did what we always do: We
adapted, we innovated, and we kept serving our families
despite the inherent risks of the pandemic. This year, we
will do the same even though the pandemic has reshaped
our profession and restrictions on gatherings and travel
have changed end-of-life ceremonies.

From my experience, families want infor- live streamed. With so little control over
mation on what they can do, in a COVID- many of the usual aspects of a funeral, fami-
safe environment. With a non-traditional lies now more than ever want creative input
funeral service, there are so many ways a life in the service.
can be remembered, honoured, and cele- As we move into 2021 and look at new
brated. Sometimes, a family will need to hear ways of remembering, honoring, and cele-
that. It’s almost like they need permission to brating a life, I wanted to share with you the
go against tradition. top 10 things that make a personalized and
Specifically, families want ideas on how unique end-of-life ceremony:
the service can be warm and inclusive and
how we can use technology to achieve this. 1. Technology
Every single funeral or memorial or inter- Not for a minute do I believe that technol-
ment or scattering service that I have led ogy should be at the top of this list, but live
during the pandemic has had some unique streaming funeral services enables families to
element; and almost all of them have been come together despite restrictions on travel

30 MEMENTO MORI JANUARY 2021 www.iccfa.com


A custom-painted coffin for a personalized sendoff.

Remembering, Honouring & Celebrating

Stephanie Longmuir leads a


service personalized with a
sheepdog Guard of Honour.

JANUARY
SHUTTERSTOCK / MEDICALSTOCKS 2021 MEMENTO MORI 31
REMEMBERING, HONOURING & CELEBRATING

and gatherings. Zoom meetings have been service sizes, there has been an increase
invaluable in organizing services and meet-
There is often someone in families offering a toast at the end of a
ing families in a safe way. I am also using very important who funeral service with a favorite drink—often
Zoom as a pre– and post-service meeting champagne for women and whisky for men.
room so people can chat with family, and can’t be there. Include A moment of silent reflection is currently
amongst each other, before and after the ser- them in the service with another favored ritual.
vice. Memorial sites have become even more
popular in connecting family and friends a pre-recorded video 7. Format
with shared stories, memories, and photos.
message. Be creative with the format of a service. Not
every service needs to have a beginning, mid-
2. Mourners dle, and an end. Some of the most moving
Pets and children are always welcome. so much, there have been some memorable services that I have led have involved family
With reduced numbers, it is important for pre-recorded songs that family members members standing around a casket sharing
everyone to feel special and welcomed, from all over the world have performed and their favorite stories and memories without
including those joining remotely. There is sent to be played during the service. the formality of too much structure. This
often someone very important who can’t does, however, require good research from
be there. Include them in the service with 5. Words the Celebrant, as they will often need to guide
a pre-recorded video message. Welcome Eulogies, tributes, letters, poems, readings, the conversation with some leading questions
absent mourners by name at the beginning prayers, and blessings—in many cases over to different family members or friends. A
of the service. the past 12 months, family members have formal eulogy does not have to be a part of
been unable to say final words in a hos- every service. Sometimes, families just want
3. Venue pital or aged-care environment and need to freestyle and keep things informal.
Outdoor and graveside services are increas- those words spoken at a funeral service. It
ing; however, funeral home chapels are often is important for everyone to feel included 8. Flow
the first choice as a familiar and safe place. and heard; and for a Celebrant, this means If the service is long and wordy, then break
And while it may not be a family’s ideal co-coordinating those wanting to speak on up eulogies and tributes with music and
venue, there are ways to make the space the day as well as collecting words and read- photos. Live performances work well at the
your own. Personalize the chapel by encour- ing them on behalf of family and friends or start of a service, as does candle lighting
aging family and friends to bring in mem- co-coordinating recorded tributes. and placing memorabilia.
orabilia, family treasures, art, and flowers
from the garden to customize the space. 6. Ritual 9. Tone
Candle lighting has become a way of repre- Throughout the pandemic, there was a defi-
4. Music senting absent family and friends. In those nite shift in the tone of many of the services
There is only one rule when it comes to welcoming words at the start of the service, that I led. With what was happening in the
music: If the deceased loved it, then it’s naming important family and friends and world and the trauma of losing someone to
appropriate. Play music that is relevant as lighting a candle on their behalf brings COVID-19 or during the lockdown, gone
the mourners are arriving. Setting up a play- them into the room. This has been partic- was much of the celebratory tone. Funerals
list of 10 favorite songs is a fitting way to set ularly popular for absent grandchildren. became a time of farewell with the hope of
the tone of the service rather than just play- Flowers also have been used to represent a larger and livelier celebration or memorial
ing some generic background chapel music. absent family and friends. when things become easier.
While live performances are not featured Over the past 12 months with decreased
10. Mood
Mood is often determined by environment.
As funeral professionals, it is up to us to
make sure people feel comfortable and safe
when they arrive at our venues. A friendly
smile, a warm welcome, and a personal
R E L A M PI N G acknowledgment go such a long way.
So let’s now take a look at what has been
LED light bulbs trending in Australian funeral services over
fo r C r y p t s & N i ch e s
the past 12 months:
D O I T YO U R S E L F
TOP 10 SONGS
s e p te ch n o l o g i e s .co m   1. “Time to Say Goodbye” — Andrea
1 8 7 7 5 1 5 - 4 67 2 Bocelli and Sarah Brightman
  2. “My Way” — Frank Sinatra

32 MEMENTO MORI JANUARY 2021 www.iccfa.com


  2. Henry Van Dyke — “Hours fly…”
  3. S
 ir Winston Churchill — “Let us be
contented…”
  4. Kahlil Gibran — “When you are
sorrowful…”
  5. Mark Twain — “Warm summer sun…”
  6. Rumi — “Knock and he will open the
door…”
  7. JK Rowling — “Love as powerful as your
mother’s…”
  8. Robert Louis Stevenson — “Under the
wide and starry sky…”
  9. JRR Tolkien — “Still round the corner…”
10. Lennon/McCartney — “There are
places I’ll remember…”

TOP 10 RITUALS
  1. Candle lighting
  2. Placement of memorabilia
  3. Guard of honour
  3. “Unforgettable” — Nat King Cole   4. Coffin painting and decorating
  4. “Supermarket Flowers” — Ed Sheeran Mood is often determined   5. Dove release
  5. “You Raise Me Up” — Josh Groban   6. Butterfly release
  6. “Let It Be” — The Beatles
by environment. As   7. Balloon release (there are environmental
  7. “The Way We Were” — Barbra Streisand funeral professionals, it implications)
  8. “Over the Rainbow” — Judy Garland   8. Smoking Ceremony — at Indigenous
  9. “The Prayer” — Celine Dion is up to us to make sure Australian Funerals
10. “Hallelujah” — KD Lang people feel comfortable   9. A toast
10. Surfing Paddle Out Ceremony (Yes, I
TOP 10 POEMS and safe when they arrive am Australian!)
  1. “She’s Gone” — David Harkins
at our venues. Stephanie Longmuir is an end-of-life Celebrant,
  2. “ Remember Me” — Margaret Mead
podcaster, and consultant. She has been serving
  3. “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good
the families of Melbourne and Sydney, Australia,
Night” — Dylan Thomas   8. Bodhisattva Prayer for Humanity
since 2009, creating unique and meaningful
  4. “Crossing the Bar” — Alfred Lord   9. P
 rayer for the Twenty First Century — services. Determined to better prepare and
Tennyson John Marsden inform families, in 2015, Stephanie founded www.
  5. “Afterglow” — Helen Lowrie Marshall 10. Deep Peace — Gaelic Blessing myendnotes.com, Australia’s first digital funeral
  6. “Epitaph on my own Friend” — Robert planning service; in 2017, she launched a podcast
Burns MOST QUOTED series, “Dying to Tell.” Stephanie is a skilled writer
  7. “If I Should Go” — Joyce Grenfell   1. Ralph Waldo Emerson — “To laugh and speaker and has been invited by ICCFA, NFDA,
  8. “The Road Not Taken” — Robert Frost often…” and AFDA to present at their annual conferences.
  9. “Peace, My Heart from The Gardener”
— Rabindranath Tagore
10. “Do Not Stand At My Grave and Weep”
— Mary Elizabeth Frye

TOP 10 READINGS/PRAYERS/
BLESSINGS
  1. Psalm 23 — The Lord is my Shepherd
  2. The Lord’s Prayer
  3. “The Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi
  4. Death Is Nothing at All — Canon Henry
Scott-Holland
  5. Ecclesiastes 3
  6. God Knows — Minnie Louise Haskins
 7. Bennacht — John O’Donohue

JANUARY 2021 MEMENTO MORI 33


34 MEMENTO MORI JANUARY 2021 www.iccfa.com
by Welton Hong

I
T SEEMS AS THOUGH EVERYONE
is on social media these days. Of course,
Generation Zers enjoy a life that’s hardly
separable from their devices. But Facebook,
Instagram, and other social networks aren’t
limited to the very young. More than 75
percent of Gen Xers are active
social media users, and about
90 percent of Millennials can
say the same. But even among
Baby Boomers, social media adoption has
become pervasive: More than half use social
media (usually Facebook) on a regular basis.
What this means is that a significant portion of the deathcare audi-
ence is spending time on social media—an average of two to
three hours per day. Users who access the internet via mobile
devices (which account for more internet users than desktop
devices) spend 50 percent of their time on social media.
Wake-up call: If your firm isn’t investing in social media,
you’re missing out on a great opportunity to engage with
potential clientele.

What to Do Next
Funeral homes, cemeteries, and cremation firms that aren’t already post-
ing on social media might be avoiding these platforms because they’re not
sure what to post.
But it’s not as hard as you think! Below are seven ideas for easy posts
that burial and cremation service providers can publish to connect with
potential clientele.

1. Share your website content


One tip I always give clients is to never waste marketing efforts. Always
repurpose what you’ve done across various channels.
For example, if you write a blog post, pull a few quotes from it and turn
them into social media updates. Share them with links back to the blog
post. You can post plain text or use a software program, such as Canva, to
turn the quote into a sharable image.
New landing pages, download offers, and even updates to your image
gallery are all potential fodder for social media posts.

2. Create a poll
Asking questions is a great way to add content to your social page while
increasing engagement with the audience. In general, people love to
know their opinion matters, so they’re more likely to interact with a post
asking for it.
You can ask an open-ended question to be answered in the comments.
But most social platforms offer poll options, so you can ask people to vote.

JANUARY
ISTOCK / GOCMEN 2021 MEMENTO MORI 35
NAIL YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY

Using those quotes, you can create eye-catching


Peruse your Google reviews images with your brand colors and some of the text
of the review. Share these testimonials on your social
for positive statements, or pages in moderation, doling them out a bit at a time.
capture content from emails It’s important to keep it balanced—about 80 percent
of your content should be helpful, educational, or
sent by previously served entertaining, while 20 percent can be directly related to
families that demonstrate services you provide.

your professionalism and 6. Repost or link to content


compassion or the quality of from someone else
Speaking of balance, your social profile shouldn’t be
your services. all about your firm. Share content from others within
the community or industry (albeit not from your direct
competitors, obviously).
Questions can range from the obvious (cremation This helps you put the social in social media and
vs. burial preferences or whether someone is consider- adds to the culture and community of your brand. It
ing pre-planning) to the creative (color preferences for also helps build authenticity and trust, because when
caskets or the best flower to send as a memorial). you share content from other reputable organizations,
On top of increased social engagement, you get you humanize your firm.
some mini-market research done. A funeral home in a single city, for example, might
share links about city events or the passing of an
3. Honor someone you served important local figure. A national organization might
With permission from the family, share a notable story share relevant tips from tangential industries, historical
or link to the obituary for someone your deathcare firm links related to its niche, or thoughts on the deaths of
has served. When handled with compassion and tact, major world figures.
these types of posts serve a few purposes:
• First, they help a family honor the legacy of a 7. Share original pictures and video
loved one. Pictures of your staff in action or participating in local
• Second, they position your firm as one who cares events, video walkthroughs of your funeral home, or
about the people being served. meaningful video messages from a funeral home direc-
• Third, they offer an opportunity for existing tor can be powerful content for social media.
customers to share your posts and potentially Original images and videos make it obvious there
recommend you to others. are people behind the business. They also take some
of the mystery out of the deathcare process, which can
4. Post tips for pre-planning help at-need families and individuals looking to pre-
or families in need plan feel comfortable reaching out to you.
Educational content can be extremely powerful on
social media because people save or share it with oth- Don’t Lose Sight of Your Goal
ers. Both of those behaviors indicate to the social algo- One thing to keep in mind as you’re creating and
rithms that your content is valuable, which increases scheduling social media content is that the end goal is
the likelihood of your posts being shown to others. always conversions.
Create short posts with specific tips for pre-planning Yes, engagement numbers, such as likes and shares,
(how much you can save, what documents you need, can be important. They demonstrate that your content
who can pre-plan) or families in need (what to do first, is connecting. But it’s easy to fall into a trap of chasing
options for memorials, when you need a death certifi- likes and shares, and those don’t always correlate to
cate). For best results, share these tips via infographics, conversions.
images, or even short video clips. Deathcare businesses aren’t likely to be viral social
brands, and going viral probably won’t drive your
5. Repurpose reviews and testimonials business goals anyway. Instead, concentrate on being
Remember my tip for reusing content you create? You present, consistent, and helpful in a way that creates
can also reuse content created by your clientele. authority and trust.
Peruse your Google reviews for positive statements,
or capture content from emails sent by previously Welton Hong is the founder of Ring Ring Marketing, which
helps deathcare businesses market themselves online, and the
served families that demonstrate your professionalism
author of Making Your Phone Ring for Funeral Homes.
and compassion or the quality of your services.

36 MEMENTO MORI JANUARY 2021 www.iccfa.com


Thank you to our 2021

sponsors!

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Biondan North America, Inc. Johnson Consulting Group
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Development
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Davey Tree Ring Ring Marketing
Forest Lawn Memorial- Service Corporation
Parks & Mortuaries International
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The Woodlawn Cemetery
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Mortuary
One at Rest
Think of me as one at rest,

Prose for
For me you should not weep,
I have no pain, no troubled thoughts,
For I am just asleep.

the
Quietus
The living thinking me that was,
Is now forever still.
And life goes on without me

Life
As time forever will.

of If your heart is heavy now


Because I’ve gone away,
Dwell not long upon it, friend,
For none of us can stay.
Those of you who liked me
I sincerely thank you all,
And those of you who loved me
I thank you most of all.
The answer to life’s riddle
In life I never knew,
I go with hope that now I will,
And even so will you.
Oh, foolish, foolish me that was,
I who was so small,
To have wondered, even worried,
At the mystery of it all.
And in my fleeting lifespan
As time went rushing by,
I found some time to hesitate,
To laugh, to love, to cry.
Matters it now if time began,
If time will ever cease?
I was here, I used it all,
And now I am at peace.
— Author unknown

SHUTTERSTOCK / EAKACHAI LEESIN

38 MEMENTO MORI JANUARY 2021 www.iccfa.com


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ABOVE GROUND

‘Before I Die’ Festival


Tackles Memorial Personalization
by Gail Rubin, CT

H
OW CAN FUNERAL DIRECTORS HELP FAMILIES hold meaningful, wrote this down ahead of time. The family
memorable memorial services, especially with the restrictions of a global only planned to do it once, but that’s all the
pandemic? Two speakers at the fourth annual Before I Die New Mexico Virtual more reason to do something little, because
Festival provided insights. you don’t know where it’s going to take you.”

Kyle Tevlin, founder of I Want a Fun Tips for Building an Engaging


Funeral, spoke about “Raising the Bar on While sadness is Memorial
Our Funeral Traditions.” She showed a So, what do you do to be an engaged creator
cartoon featuring two homo sapiens making unavoidable, these of a good goodbye? Kyle recommends these
cave paintings. The father had drawn a stick seven tips to raise the bar on our funeral
figure animal and the son had produced a
activities should bring traditions:
1. Brainstorm an objective for what you
deer illustration. The father says, “No Og,
joy. It’s a way of thanking
no! That’s not how we’ve always done it.” will do to honor a person. Find a theme,
“This is my analogy for funerals,” Kyle the person for being in a vision related to the essence of that
explained. “We have this picture of what person. An objective makes it easier for
we think is great and we have no idea that your life, warming your people to contribute, participate, and
there was something so much better, more generate a wonderful memory.
elegant, and beautiful. We’ve never seen it, heart, and providing an 2. Make your person’s personality shine,
we don’t even know it exists.” keyed to a hobby, passion, trait, or quirk
Kyle suggested making a memorial ser- uplifting feeling. everyone will recognize. It can be fun or
vice a project that can help make the world solemn, anything that is fitting.
a better place, take on a life of its own, 3. Decide the scope of the tribute, from
and preserve the story of a loved one. She an event for immediate family to a
shared the inspiring example of Aaron global affair on the internet. Bigger isn’t
Collins. necessarily better, but step outside your
Aaron Collins died on July 7, 2012, at comfort zone a bit for a greater reward.
the age of 30. He left a note requesting 4. “Roll Up Your Sleeves” means DIY as
that his family go out to eat and leave much as possible, enlisting the tal-
an “awesome tip,” suggesting $500 for ents, contributions, creative ideas, and
a pizza. The experience was recorded resources within your circle. Involvement
and uploaded to YouTube by Aaron’s is where the bonding happens.
brother, Seth. Generous people all over 5. Enjoy the process. While sadness is
the world donated to reproduce “Aar- unavoidable, these activities should bring
on’s Last Wish” again and again. More joy. It’s a way of thanking the person for
than $60,000 was raised, and Seth gave being in your life, warming your heart,
$500 tips to more than 100 waiters and and providing an uplifting feeling.
waitresses. As a result, Aaron’s life story 6. Perfection is not required. Do what you
continues to live in the hearts of the can in whatever way you can, generating
people who were recipients of Aaron’s personal engagement and emotional
dying wish. connections.
“From sadness and tragedy, now his 7. There’s no time limit. Whatever the
family gets to talk about that loss with joy, action or event, it does not need to be
a smile; and Aaron becomes a superhero done immediately. It can easily be held
who makes people happy,” said Kyle. “This Kyle Tevlin of I Want a Fun Funeral uses a caveman
comic to describe the industry’s slow move toward
on an anniversary, birthday, or other
all only happened because Aaron Collins innovation. meaningful date.

42 MEMENTO MORI JANUARY 2021 www.iccfa.com


Kyle Tevlin and
Gail Rubin swap
stories during
Kyle’s virtual
presentation.

Whatever is done in honor of a loved Service.” Her grandmother died in 2020 due shows and videos, rehearsals, and a service
one, make it an event. Give it a name. to COVID-19. Her family worked within template.
Almost any activity can be made into a the pandemic restrictions to hold a wonder- You can watch Mandy Benoualid’s
contest, which is practically guaranteed to ful online gathering. presentation and Kyle Tevlin’s talk at www.
be fun and memorable. Mandy shared her family’s experience BeforeIDieNM.com. To obtain their tips in
along with practical, how-to tips on con- PDF format, send a note to Gail@AGood-
Virtual Memorial Services necting virtually at a time of mourning. She Goodbye.com.
Mandy Benoualid, president of Keeper, also offers a step-by-step guide that covers event Other Festival event videos of interest at
presented during the Before I Die Festival planning, roles, communications, choosing the website include the panel discussions,
with “How to Hold a Virtual Memorial a video conferencing tool, creating slide “Where the Bodies are Buried,” all about
new trends in cemetery use and community
outreach; “Millennial Morticians with ABQ
Brews,” with young funeral professionals pro-
viding their insights on the state of the indus-
try; and “Funeral Directors’ Experiences in
COVID Hot Spots,” with thoughts on how
the pandemic is changing the industry.

Gail Rubin, certified thanatologist


and The Doyenne of Death®, is a
pioneering death educator. She
uses humor, funny film clips, and
outside-the-box activities to teach
about planning ahead for
end-of-life. She coordinates the
Before I Die New Mexico Festival, which won first
place in ICCFA’s 2018 KIP Award for Best Event.
She’s also the author of three books on end-of-
Gail Rubin and Mandy Benoualid of Keeper Memorials discuss ways to personalize the virtual life issues and a certified funeral celebrant. Her
memorial. website is www.AGoodGoodbye.com.

JANUARY 2021 MEMENTO MORI 43


CEMETERY IMPOSSIBLE

Is There Such a Thing as Excess Land?


by Daniel M. Isard, MSFS

Dan, I own a 45-acre cemetery that has dispositions. Again, this tells me you proba- non-productive asset. When one-seventh of
about 10 acres sold. We sell about 100 bly have between 350 and 700 years. this undeveloped area is all that is needed
graves a year. We are interning about 10 There was a time in most city/county over the next 50 years, what can you do
urns a year. We have no above-ground regulations that to create a cemetery you to better use the land and bring in more
crypts or niches as that takes a substan- needed X acres. Many state laws require 40 income? In my opinion, you have three
tial investment. At this rate, it could take acres. Those laws were enacted to guarantee options:
350 years to use up all this land. Can I a 100-year inventory. This theory of ceme- • Option 1. Use the land in an undevel-
take some of it out of the cemetery trust tery planning hailed from the 19th century. oped use.
and sell it off? We used to assume 1,000 graves in an • Option 2. Use the land in a developed
Tom in Small Town, Minnesota acre. This assumption is general, as good use.
planning of roads and lack of natural • Option 3. Sell the land.
Dear Small Town Tom, impediments could result in up to 1,300
First, your math is wrong. You have much graves per acre. Of course, this is just Option 1
more than 350 years of inventory! I am graves. We didn’t have commercial crema- Use the land in an undeveloped use. An
assuming you are multiplying the 35 acres tions in this country until the late 1870s. undeveloped use would be a way you can
of undeveloped land by 1,000 graves an acre Tom, rather than thinking about how to temporarily use the land without a major
(35,000 potential graves) and then dividing take land out of a cemetery, look at redraft- investment in an infrastructure. Often, the
that by a consumption of 100 graves a year. ing your master plan. I have written in this land was raw land before the cemetery was
The mathematical result is about 350 years. column frequently about redrafting your constructed. Use the land for farming, agri-
This is a case of the math being right but the master plan to incorporate a plan to market culture, ranching, or some other method.
logic being wrong. to cremation families. There are many fam- The investment you need to make for an
undeveloped use is nominal. In fact, you
might not even need to make the invest-
Cemeteries are quiet and low on traffic most of ment. In a ranching or agricultural use, you
might lease the ground to a farmer/rancher
the time. They make no noise at night. Even if the and that person would make the investment
cemetery has a crematory, there is no odor. This is for you.

unlike your housing neighbors who seem to barbeque Option 2


the worst smelling parts of a cow. Use the land in a developed use. A devel-
oped use would have you make more of an
investment, but as I computed above, this
investment would support the enhanced
Tom, we are seeing the percentage of ilies who are looking for options for their use for at least 50 years (or more). Just as
people choosing cremation increasing loved one’s urns. The cremation consumers there are degrees to land development,
throughout the United States. Minnesota is are calculated into three markets (1) At approach your thoughts the same way.
no exception to this consumer trend. Logic need; (2) Pre-need; and most importantly A Level 1 Development could be
tells me, with a static population, within 25 (3) Post-need. This last group is the largest. bringing in a road and utilities. A Level 2
years, your 100 interments will probably The Post-need group is people who are Development could be roads, utilities, and a
drop to 50. Therefore, you might have as in possession of a loved one’s cremated structure. Level 3 Development could do all
many as 700 years of inventory. If your pop- remains but have not decided what to do the above and build a business as well.
ulation is increasing, it is probably increas- with them. By my estimation, in any market What kind of structures or businesses
ing in younger ages, so the annual quantity at any time, the Post-need market is 300 could you put on this land? I have seen
of deaths within your service area might percent greater than the At-need market. people build golf driving ranges, self-stor-
not change for a while but when it does, Tom, whether you have 350 years or age warehouses, auto sales lots, or even
cremation might account for 75 percent of more is immaterial. What you have is a commercial and industrial sites. Back in the

44 MEMENTO MORI JANUARY 2021 www.iccfa.com


day of drive-in movie theatres, that was a yard”) mindset pervades a community on both sides. The decommissioning of the
possible use of the land. The most remark- before you try and build a funeral home cemetery is also going to take time. A trial
able site I have seen was in Scottsdale, AZ, or cemetery, you have no idea how NIM- could take a year to a year and a half. The
where the cemetery owners brought in BY’ish it is when you try and take land out side that loses may have one more shots on
roads and utilities and used it for a mobile of the cemetery to sell off for some other appeal. Add another year and a half.
home park. Manufactured housing where development! Certainly, the best-use argument for the
the consumer owns the living quarters but My experience is, it is tough to take land future of cemeteries is not going away. Just
not the land might be a perfect option. out of a cemetery for alternate use because as we see thousand-year-old cemeteries in
Remember, this is a site development plan people like having a cemetery as a neighbor. our travels, your cemetery will live on until
for 50 years or more. The only limit could Cemeteries are quiet and low on traffic there is a condemnation of sorts reclaiming
be anything that might contaminate the most of the time. They make no noise at the land for alternative use. Use the prop-
ground with an environmental impact. night. Even if the cemetery has a crematory, erty wisely. Be a good steward of the site.
If a cemetery sells for a multiple of its there is no odor. This is unlike your housing Hopefully, you intend to be interred there,
EBITDA, so does real estate. Except that neighbors who seem to barbeque the worst so the decision you are making affects your
a cemetery might be valued (in an aver- smelling parts of a cow. family’s heritage.
age case) at four to six times EBITDA, an Of course, your neighbors also realize
income producing building with a good- with older cemeteries, their quarter-acre Dan Isard, MSFS, is president of
The Foresight Companies LLC, a
credit tenant would sell for 12 to 15 times home is worth a modest amount; but
Phoenix-based business and
net income. computing the value that the land has for
management consulting firm
When deciding which of the above the cemetery makes their property have a specializing in mergers and
two uses (developed versus undeveloped), higher alternative use. In a well-managed acquisitions, valuations,
decide where on the property site you want cemetery, that quarter-acre of land has a accounting, financing HR services
to use. You can even use developed on one future value of $5 million or more so you and family surveys. He is the author of several
part of the remaining land and undeveloped are fostering a superior economic alterna- books and hundreds of published articles in
on the other. Obviously, if you expand your tive value for that modest homesite. industry magazines, including “The Director’s
cemetery in five-acre blocks, you have some Taking the land out of the consecrated Finance 101” column. He can be reached at
areas that might not be used for 100 years cemetery may involve a court fight. That 800.426.0165 or danisard@
or more! Most of what you see around you, means there is going to be some expense theforesightcompanies.com.
including buildings, roads, and utility lines
won’t exist for that long. If a baseball sta-
dium has a 25– to 30-year life expectancy GREVER
GREVER &
& WARD
WARD
(forgive me, The Gods of Fenway), then
your developed idea probably won’t last for CEMETERY PLANNING
100 years.
Other ideas to develop the land are add-
ing a funeral home, reception center, flower
shop, or monument dealer to the site. These
symbiotic businesses can promote more
interments and more income per interment.
You have created a campus. Of course, this
is a major business investment, but it is one
that should be considered either outright or
via a funeral home tenant.

Option 3
Sell the land. This is an article by itself, but
it should be written by two lawyers. I say
“two lawyers” as there is going to be one for
the cemetery and one for the community
that surrounds the cemetery site. If the
NIMBY (an acronym for “not in my back

JANUARY 2021 MEMENTO MORI 45


INDUSTRY UPDATE

AUTHOR, AUTHOR! ON THE MOVE


The Legacy Planning &
Conversation Guide: A
Workbook for End-of-Life
Planning, written by Chris
Bentley and released on
Amazon in April 2020, is Thacker Caskets has
the ideal playbook to help announced the retirement
singles and couples get their affairs in order of the Chief Financial
before they die. “Preparing for end-of-life is Officer and Vice President
the greatest gift you can give your loved ones Audrey Thacker. Audrey’s
after you’re gone. It is a heroic act of selfless career with Thacker
love,” says Bentley. “Who expected COVID-19 Caskets has truly been
to descend upon us this year and take lives remarkable, as she began her involvement
early? How many were prepared for the with the company in 1959 when she and Carl
unexpected loss of a spouse?” Bentley C. Thacker, founder of Old Dominion Casket
continues. “It turns out we’re just not very Company (later renamed Thacker Caskets),
good at having these conversations. Who were married. Audrey was no stranger to the
wants to talk about death? But not doing so mind when this workbook is completed,” says industry as she met Carl through her work at
transfers the burden to loved ones.” The Bentley. “Dying is okay if you are prepared.” Casket Shells, Inc. Audrey immediately began
Legacy Guide is a thorough and compassion- Chris Bentley is a partner in a full-service working with Carl and became an integral part
ate framework that guides couples through advisory and wealth management practice in of Thacker Caskets. In 1981, Carl C. Thacker
the discussions they would prefer to never Edina, MN. Chris has worked with hundreds of passed away and Audrey suddenly found
have. There are things to know, things to do, clients to help them build wealth but also herself at the helm of Thacker Caskets with
and things to discuss before you die. This prepare them for leaving a legacy and dying her son, Carl “CJ” Thacker, who just graduated
guide is even more important for singles; the with dignity. In 2018, Chris founded Wings for high school. There was no doubt that Audrey
information provided in this book will help Widows, a public charity that provides would want to continue building Thacker
those entrusted to manage your affairs do so financial coaching and grief counseling to new Caskets. “It was the only thing I had ever
with clarity and confidence, ensuring your widows. He currently serves as Executive done, and it never really crossed my mind to
final wishes are met. “There’s real peace of Director. pursue anything different. We both wanted to
carry on Carl’s legacy,” says Audrey. At the
time, being the only female in an industry
dominated by men was not an easy feat.
However, Audrey did not let that deter her and
she was able to prosper with her son by her
side. Once called the Matriarch of the Industry
by American Funeral Director magazine,
Audrey’s impact has been astronomical, and
she truly has epitomized the definition of
leadership over the years. Today, Thacker
Caskets is the third-largest funeral supply
company in the country and the largest
family-owned funeral supply company.
Thacker Caskets owes its very existence to
Audrey and her strong determination in the
face of extremely difficult conditions. Audrey’s
retirement is bittersweet for Thacker,
delighted for her to enjoy her retirement, yet
saddened to lose the expertise, knowledge,
and wisdom that she brought to the office
every day.

46 MEMENTO MORI JANUARY 2021 www.iccfa.com


MEMBER NEWS

Everyone Deserves to be Warm;


a New Coat Is One Small Way to Help
In 2009, ICCFA General Counsel Poul Lemas-
ters and his children decided to make a simple
choice. That year, as part of their Christmas,
they bought a handful of new coats and
donated them. The thought was simple: Give a
little instead of just receiving. The process was
even easier: Just buy a few new coats. It was
meant to be a single act to help show Poul’s In 2011, the family was able to purchase
kids the good things people can do. 126 coats to donate. This year, 454 newly
The next year something happened. purchased coats have been donated. Poul’s
Poul’s kids asked if they were donating coats Annual Coat Drive asks for monetary dona-
again. “Of course we are!” Poul responded. tions not coats because Poul and his children
But then they asked if they could do more. “Of believe that all kids deserve more than a warm normally costs around $30, so they partner
course – we can always do more!” was Poul’s coat, thy deserve a new, warm coat. The coats with Operation Warm for their coats so they
response. are delivered to schools in Ohio, Kentucky, get them at about half that cost! This means
Each year, Poul and his family vow to give and Virginia, as well as St. Vincent de Paul in even a small donation can go a long way. 
a little more than the year before. So far, they Cincinnati. Donations are accepted all year round.
have succeeded; and their success is because But so much more can be done with even Visit www.coatdrive.org/donate to donate to
of people willing to donate to the cause. more donations. Understand that a new coat our cause and help even more kids in need.

When Inebriation Is a Good Thing:


The Lemasters Pandemic Mixology
WHEN THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC HIT and businesses and
communities closed, Poul Lemasters took it upon himself to start drinking. Not
only did he decide to make a different cocktail every night (62 nights in a row),
he also shared his cocktails in a series of videos. The cocktails and the stories
behind them are now in print. The book is called The
Blue Monkey Quarantina Quarantine Cocktail Show.
Proceeds from the sale of the book go to help
buy coats for kids in need as part of Poul’s
annual Lemasters Coat Drive.
Learn how to make classics like an
Old-Fashioned, Martini, Margarita, Pina
Colada, or Long Island Iced Tea, and even
some new drinks you may have wanted to
try but were just too afraid to ask about, like
the Singapore Sling, Cuba Libre, Mai Tai, or a
Rum Runner!
There are more than 60 beautiful cocktails in this
book ready for you to make, enjoy, and even share. Find this book, along with
other Blue Monkey Quarantina merchandise, at www.coatdrive.org/bmq.

JANUARY 2021 MEMENTO MORI 47


MEMBER NEWS

First-of-Its-Kind Deathcare Genogram Offers a


Groundbreaking View of the Industry
AMID A WATERSHED YEAR for the Among the initial findings were a number
industry, funeral home owners now have access of valuable insights about the state of the
to groundbreaking research showing never-be- industry in 2020:
fore-seen insight into the greatest risks and
challenges facing the deathcare business. The COVID-19 Factor
Deathcare technology company Passare Immediate COVID impact was surprisingly
and marketing consultancy McKee Wallwork minimal: Perhaps most surprisingly, initial data
+ Co. (MW+C) have released the preliminary show that COVID-19 may not have had the
findings of their Death Care Genogram proj- immediate negative impact on the industry
ect, a unique research project that overlays that many had originally feared; 70 percent into question the usefulness of case volume,
cutting-edge qualitative diagnostic research of firms studied reported an increase in total which has long been used by funeral homes as
with comprehensive quantitative financial revenue from Q1 to Q2 this year. a metric of month-to-month success.
data. The result is an invaluable map of trends, “The Genogram’s results have already
risk factors, and overall health of businesses Location, Location, Location yielded so much insight and challenged
related to end-of-life products and services. Region matters … a lot: A funeral home’s traditional industry assumptions,” said Josh
location, more than almost any other variable, McQueen, vice president at Passare. “We exist
seems to play the biggest role in its overall to serve the funeral homes who, in turn, serve
health and revenue. Funeral homes located grieving families. This data gives us more tools
in the Midwest generally report much lower and better clarity as to how we can do so.”
revenue growth and much poorer overall Eric Layer, partner at MW+C, agreed.
company health than their colleagues in the “Funeral service is a well-established and very
Northeast and South. traditional business,” said Layer. “That yields
a lot of benefits—truth, stability, service—but
Revenue Downturns it’s important, every now and then, to pick
Nearly half of Midwestern firms studied your head up and look around to make sure
reported a decrease in revenue—more than that those old assumptions have held true.
twice as many as in other regions. Midwestern The Genogram is a way of doing that—and it’s
firms also were much more likely to describe already showing that perhaps we take more
themselves as operating within a saturated for granted than we can afford to.”
or commoditized market (where competition MW+C and Passare plan to reach out to
is most intense and innovation most lacking), those firms who participated in the study to
as opposed to a healthy, mature market with confirm their findings and further develop
plenty of opportunity for growth. insights. In the meantime, the analytics teams
Revenue is strongly linked to self-percep- are combing through millions of data entries
tion: Interestingly, the self-reported health of to paint an insightful portrait of the indus-
the company correlates strongly with total try—including data that rocks longstanding
revenue. This may indicate that short-term industry assumptions.
success has a masking effect on more insidi- The title of the study comes from a medi-
ous underlying factors. Or, it may indicate that cal term for a diagram of family and medical
healthier firms simply make more money. history, showing hereditary patterns, risk
factors, and predispositions to disease. MW+C
Increase in Cases applies the concept to business by plotting a
Cases don’t equal success: Early analysis shows complete “family tree” picture of an entire cat-
little correlation between case count and over- egory and then identifying comparison points,
all health or revenue of funeral homes. Some trends, and inconsistencies by analyzing spe-
firms saw significant declines in case count cific businesses relative to their cohort.
while revenue grew; and other firms with case The full report was released in November
growth saw revenue decline. This finding calls 2020.

48 MEMENTO MORI JANUARY 2021 www.iccfa.com


company. Bob joined Foundation Partners in quality has grown noticeably to serve a
ON THE MOVE 2012 and was named CEO in 2016. Under his myriad of independent agencies, funeral
leadership, the company has grown from 250 homes, and agents. He has also provided
team members serving 5,000 families in 38 wonderful assistance to our leadership team
locations to 1,200 team members serving and field sales force. We are grateful for his
nearly 65,000 families in 150 funeral homes service to UFL and for his many career
and cemeteries in 20 states. accomplishments.”

The Order of the Golden PARTNERSHIPS


The Pennsylvania Funeral Directors Associ- Rule has announced National Guardian
ation (PFDA) welcomes Bruce Parthemore Wendy King as its new Life Insurance
as the 2020–21 president-elect and Michael executive director and Company (NGL)
Hacker as the secretary-treasurer. Bruce CEO. Wendy comes to has announced a
is a licensed funeral director and certified OGR with 21 years of new collaborative
preplanning consultant. He attended West nonprofit experience. Most project with the
Virginia University and the Pittsburgh Institute recently, she served 14 years with the ICCFA called Take 5. Cameron Black, vice
of Mortuary Science and holds a Pennsylvania American Heart Association, including eight president of Sales and Business Development
insurance license in life, annuities, accident, years as executive director for the Indianapolis at NGL, and Poul Lemasters, Esq., ICCFA
and health. Mike earned a degree in Business market. During her tenure, Wendy built a general counsel, share their take on topics
Administration from the Pennsylvania College network of external relationships and led a that are top-of-mind for individuals in the
of Technology and graduated from the Pitts- diverse board of directors to establish market deathcare profession. They created five
burgh Institute of Mortuary Science. Orga- strategies and metrics to achieve annual easy-to-fit into your schedule video chats.
nized in 1881, PFDA is one of the largest state impact and revenue goals. The search for a Each video varies in topic and length with
funeral director associations in the nation. new chief executive began after OGR made discussions lasting around five to 10 minutes.
the strategic decision to move to the Cameron said, “This year, the way we
UPD Urns has announced association management model and hired communicate and engage with each other has
that Jason Ryan Engler, a Raybourn Group International to assume evolved dramatically. Being in an industry that
well-known cremation day-to-day management of the association. is so personal and emotional, we’ve had to
thought leader in the RGI Vice President of Association Strategies pivot how we interact with families and our
deathcare space, has Mark McSweeney, CAE, served as OGR’s industry peers in order to create meaningful
joined UPD as director of interim executive director and CEO since that connections. Our Take 5 collaboration with
Customer Experience. This switch took effect November 4, 2019. ICCFA provides an opportunity for Poul and
new role will bring Jason face to face with me to discuss some of the industry trends we
funeral professionals nationwide as he ensures are seeing. NGL is excited to partner with
premier customer satisfaction to current and ICCFA because it’s a well-known leader in the
future UPD customers. He will also work to industry for providing exceptional education
ensure that UPD carries a competitive product and support to cemetery, funeral, and
assortment that meets the needs of funeral cremation professionals throughout the
professionals and their client families. A Following a long and world.” A new video is released every other
licensed funeral director in Texas and prominent career in funeral Monday to help motivate and inspire viewers
Arkansas, Jason brings almost a quarter-cen- service, Christopher as they start the week.
tury of experience in funeral and cremation Kuhnen, vice president of
service to his role at UPD. Marketing with Unity
Financial Life Insurance
Foundation Partners Company (UFL) in
Group has announced that Cincinnati is retiring. Chris has managed the
Bob Bukala, chief company’s marketing and sales programs, and Passare, Inc. has announced a brand new
executive officer, will retire worked closely with the executive leadership integration with Keeper Memorials, a digital
effective December 31, team, for eight years. “Chris is an undisputable memorialization solution for funeral homes
2020. Bob will remain vice leader in the funeral pre-planning industry and their families. With Keeper, users can
chairman of the company’s with his drive and passion for innovation, create online memorial pages to share photos
board of directors, while Kent Robertson, education, and excellence,” said Jay C. Hardy, and memories, live stream services or upload
named president of Foundation Partners UFL CEO and president. “With his tactical videos, and create event pages for in-person
Group in September, will continue to lead the direction and leadership, UFL’s business or virtual services. “This partnership is another

JANUARY 2021 MEMENTO MORI 49


MEMBER NEWS

successful integration between Passare’s of Bass-Mollett Publishers. “Working directly lences, and fundraisers are scattered across
public API and a third-party website that we with the team at Thumbies will allow us to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and GoFundMe,
know our customers will find helpful,” said provide another important service to our part- all overshadowed by ads and branded
Josh McQueen, vice president of Product at ners, the directors who are helping families in content. Remembrance had no home,” said
Passare. “Sharing memories, images, and vid- their time of need, as they begin the healing Fischer. Besides the benefits the platform
eos during the grieving process is a great way process.” provides, Obit allows funeral directors to
to keep the memory of a loved one alive, so create free profiles and business pages to
we’re proud to work with the Keeper team to ACQUISITIONS expand their online presence. On Obit, funeral
make tasks easier for our shared customers.” homes can collect direct donations to fund
This integration means Passare users can send funeral costs, participate in competitively
obituary information, memorial and service priced revenue share through flower sales, and
details, and images from Passare.com to broadcast memorial services and eulogies live
Keeper.com with the click of a button. Contact and on-demand through Obit’s mobile app,
your Passare support team at 800-692-5111 Park Lawn Corporation has acquired J.F. Obit Live.
or email support@passare.com to learn more Floyd Mortuary, Crematory and Cemeteries.
about the integration with Keeper.com. For Park Lawn’s agreement consists of four funer-
more information about Passare’s cloud-based al homes (three onsites), nine cemeteries, and
collaboration software with built-in business one crematorium to strengthen Park Lawn’s Quest Contracting, LLC., has commenced
management tools, request a demo. operational footprint in South Carolina. Park work on Weed-Corley-Fish at Parkcrest
Lawn also announces its acquisition of the Funeral Home for SCI Shared Resources,
outstanding stock of W.R. Floyd Corp. and LLC. The project is a remodel of an existing
Floyd Properties, Inc. mercantile & office building into a funeral
home with retail tenant lease space located in
NEW PROJECTS Austin. The existing building footprint is 27,196
Thumbies® Inc., creator of one-of-a-kind Obit emerges as the sq. ft. and proposed construction includes a
jewelry and keepsakes worn or carried in modern obituary new porte-cochere, new clerestory roofs, a
memory of a loved one, has announced a new platform serving both small addition of 91 sq. ft., and modified/new
affiliation with industry-leader Bass-Mollett the funeral home window/door openings. In addition to the
Publishers. This strategic alliance will allow industry and families in mourning. Obit shell work, the majority of the interior space
Bass-Mollett’s team of independent represen- founder Brant Fischer has firsthand experi- will be renovated, bringing a modern look.
tatives to offer the Thumbies line of jewelry ence with the funeral industry and was Quest will be working closely with N-Vizion
in their portfolio of products, supporting the determined to create a better way for Design, a design studio also based in Austin.
needs of their funeral partners nationwide. remembering loved ones. “I lost a close friend
“Our goal is to be a complete resource for about 10 years ago and realized we do a poor
funeral directors,” said John Flowers, CEO job remembering people. Memories, condo-

50 MEMENTO MORI JANUARY 2021 www.iccfa.com


Volume 20 is a perfect overview of Bogati’s
NEW PRODUCTS offerings for families to peruse. Print versions
New Memorials of the new catalogs are available by calling
Direct has an- 941.751.3382 or requesting online at www.
nounced a new bogatiurns.com/catalog. An online version of
personalized item the catalog is also available there by clicking
for men—a sterling on the cover image.
silver tie clip. This
new product comes
in two unique
configurations: a single bar tie clip (51 mm Bogati Urn Company has announced two
long x 6 mm wide) or the same bar with new and greatly expanded product catalogs
mounted round disc (12 mm diameter). Either for urns and cremation jewelry. Volume 19,
configuration can be personalized on the front released in 2018, featured both urns and
with a choice of fingerprint, handprint, cremation jewelry. By contrast, Volume 20
footprint, handwriting, text, or a combination showcases Bogati’s most popular urn designs,
of these. The back of the bar may be including wooden oak tower urns from
personalized with up to 30 characters of text Vietnam with wood appliques; lightweight
only due to a country of origin stamp. Crafted resin urns with a high-gloss finish in purple,
from .925 sterling silver, this tie clip is a great blue, or red inlaid with various designs; and
new memorial option for the business several new photo urns that customers can
professionals of the family. To inquire about personalize with their own photo or choose
the new tie clip or any of New Memorials from our selection of photographs, poetry, Starmark, a leading provider of innovative
Direct’s products, please contact them via or original artwork created by Bogati artists. funeral products, has announced the in-
telephone at 1.877.995.8767 or visit www. Along with just a sampling of pet-related urns troduction of its Artisan Series Cremation
NewMemorialsDirect.com. and cremation jewelry on the last three pages, Container line. This line of containers offers

<RXU2QH6RXUFHIRU&HPHWHU\)XQHUDO+RPHDQG%XULDO9DXOW
(TXLSPHQW0DQXIDFWXULQJWKH+LJKHVW4XDOLW\3URGXFWV6LQFH

ƒVDOHV#KROODQGVXSSO\LQFFRPRUYLVLWZZZKROODQGVXSSO\LQFFRP
JANUARY 2021 MEMENTO MORI 51
MEMBER NEWS

high eye-appeal at price points that reso- Guide is the solution. It isn’t just another online
nate with cremation families, resulting in preneed planning form - it’s an online planning
more body-present service upgrades. The AND funding tool. Our funeral home custom-
new Artisan Series Cremation Container ers can use this tool to reach families who
Line offers funeral homes, and their families, would otherwise turn to competitors for an on-
container choices that are very affordable; line planning option.” The Arrangement Guide
generate an increase in body present events; is one of the very few online preplanning tools
and are environmentally responsible, strong, that allows users to pay for a funeral online
and lightweight. Starmark’s Artisan Series Funeral Directors Life Insurance Company has and in advance, locking in business for the fu-
Cremation Containers are currently available announced a revolutionary pre-need eCom- neral home. Plus, if someone starts to plan but
through nationwide Starmark Distributors or merce tool, Arrangement Guide, in partnership doesn’t finish the contract, a sales agent with
may be ordered directly from the Starmark with Passare. The Arrangement Guide is an on- the funeral home can follow up with the user
factory. To learn more about Starmark and the line planning and funding tool where a family by scheduling a meeting or reaching out about
new Artisan Series Cremation Container Line, can fully plan ahead and pay online for funeral their interest in planning ahead.
please visit www.starmarkcp.com or contact or memorial prearrangements, from start to
Starmark at 888.366.7335. finish. Offering a blended, digital-meets-per-
sonal experience, Arrangement Guide drives
the value of a funeral while also providing
preneed leads to the funeral homes that use
it. “Many of our funeral home customers are
competing with online, low cost cremation Homesteaders Life Company has announced
providers that market aggressively in their the launch of Homesteaders Solutions, a
communities,” said Kris Seale, president and comprehensive system of marketing and
CEO of Funeral Directors Life. “Arrangement operational support designed to help funeral

52 MEMENTO MORI JANUARY 2021 www.iccfa.com


professionals connect with consumers and
enhance their long-lasting brand strength.
The integrated services amplify the core
Homesteaders value offering, supported by
best-in-class solutions from eFuneral and The
Our family serving yours for over 30 years.
Domani Group. “We developed Homestead-
ers Solutions to address some of the biggest 888-239-0351 | www.funeralcall.com
challenges in funeral service–engagement
with consumers, effective aftercare, pre-
need appointment setting, lead generation,
and more–while seamlessly integrating with
funeral homes in a way that enhances the
experience,” said Steve Shaffer, Homestead-
ers chairman, president, and CEO. Home-
steaders Solutions offers everything from lead
generation and text-based family follow-up
to appointment setting and remote pre-need
sales, all centered on a robust customer
relationship management (CRM) system. The
best-in-class solutions build on the success
of eFuneral’s online funeral sales engine and
Domani’s pre-need call center and award-win-
ning text-based aftercare program. To learn
more about Homesteaders Solutions, visit
www.homesteaderslife.com/solutions.

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JANUARY 2021 MEMENTO MORI 53
MEMBER NEWS

Messenger, a leading provider in


stationery, funeral service, and EVENTS
personalization solutions, has added
Wrapped Canvases to their exclusive
line of Signature Service personaliza-
tion products. With Signature Service,
funeral professionals order premium
personalized products through the Messengerstationery.com website.
These products are designed by Messenger’s team of highly skilled
graphic designers and printed on-demand. Wrapped canvases are Glendale, CA’s Forest Lawn Cemetery held its 61st annual Veterans
available in three convenient s­ izes: 16"w × 16"h, 16"w × 20"h, 24"w × Day Celebration November 11, 2020, and hosted the event virtually,
18"h and feature a thick 1.5" gallery wrap for displaying. These canvases bringing the patriotic pageantry of this beloved event directly into peo-
are made from high quality materials for rich, vibrant color replication ple’s homes. Streaming via Facebook Live, on this event honored mem-
and built to be lightweight and durable. Each canvas includes hardware bers of the U.S. military with a flyover, patriotic music, a rifle salute, an
to allow families to display at home after the service. For more invocation, a color guard, a wreath laying, and more. For more than
information about the Wrapped Canvas and Signature Service, please a century, Forest Lawn has been an integral part of Southern Califor-
call Messenger at 1.800.827.5151. nia. Since its founding, Forest Lawn has committed itself to providing
outstanding service and beautiful environments for family outings,
CHARITABLE DONATIONS remembering loved ones, and commemorating holidays. Forest Lawn’s
Unity Financial Life Insurance locations in the Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside counties serve all
Company, Cincinnati, is once again faiths and cultures, and offer a wide range of celebrations and special
out front in promoting its United events with competitively priced cremation and traditional funeral
Way of Greater Cincinnati fundrais- services throughout Southern California.
ing campaign. The national pre-need
leader raised over $21,847 in
pledges,EAS
which
WILDwas a 1.44 percent
Marketing increase
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54 MEMENTO MORI JANUARY 2021 www.iccfa.com


Sharing
LegacieS

Join us for the 2021 ICCFA


Annual Convention & Exposition
on May 12–15, 2021, at the
Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino
in Las Vegas, Nevada!
Learn more at
iccfaconvention.com
NEWS

Join Us in Las Vegas for the ICCFA Annual


Convention & Expo, May 12–15, 2021
Here’s an Impressive Keynote Speaker Line-up to Whet Your Appetites

WITH THE CANCELLATION of so many Next to the stage will be award-winning how other professionals have built this work
events in 2020, many of us want a do-over, a journalist, public speaker and author Celeste into their community relationships to increase
chance to go back in time and alleviate that Headlee, who will contend that listening is the trust and familiarity with clients. By connecting
nagging sense of missing out. Well, ICCFA is true power that separates those of us who can to people where they live, work, and pray, we
here to help! Our 2020 keynote speakers are gain a competitive advantage in whatever it is can reach newer and larger audiences to help
lined up for 2021. That’s right, no more FOMO we are trying to achieve. Celeste will focus on ensure their wishes are heard and respected.
for you! the science-based fundamentals of com- Our final keynote session will be led
munication and include thought-provoking by Bruce Tulgan, founder and CEO of the
Thursday, May 13, 2021 topics like the smarter you are, the worse you management research and training firm
Dr. Alan Wolfelt with the Center for Loss & are at communicating. She will also share 10 RainmakerThinking. Bruce will talk about
Life Transition will explore the reality that practical lessons designed to inspire self-con- how collaboration is a requirement in today’s
more and more people are questioning the fidence and introduce strategies for enhancing interconnected, highly interdependent
value of funerals and the need for permanent personal and professional relationships by workplace and how many of us find ourselves
memorialization. When people don’t under- simply becoming better at having conver- overcommitted and unable to deliver. He will
stand the WHY, they are at risk for confusing sations. At a time when lack of meaningful define what real influence looks like in today’s
efficiency with effectiveness. Dr. Wolfelt will dialogue abounds and conversations are often workplace and discuss how to improve col-
focus on the WHY. He will remind us that our minimized to a few words in a text, Celeste laboration by aligning communication up and
ability to sensitively convey the value of this will shed a much-needed light on the lost and down the chain of command. By embracing his
important decision is directly related to our essential art of conversation. “when to say no” and “how to say yes” frame-
fundamental belief in its importance. This work, we will understand how to build the
inspirational, information-rich presentation Friday, May 14, 2021 skills that will improve our working relation-
will encourage you to use a model of informa- On Friday, you will hear from The Conversa- ships and establish ourselves as indispensable.
tion, education, and honoring of choices. In tion Project (TCP), a national initiative that Please join us as we take some of the
doing so, we will not only be looking out for has engaged millions of people regarding best parts of 2020 that we missed out
the families we serve, we will be fostering the their wishes for care at the end of life. TCP will on and bring them to the Mandalay Bay
long-term well-being of our community and share free resources we can use personally Resort & Casino, May 12–15, 2021. Visit
of society. and professionally, as well as case examples of www.iccfaconvention.com.
107  Carpenter  Drive,  Suite  100  
Sterling,  VA  20164  
1.800.645.7700    
 703.391.8400  
Fax:  703.391.8416  
www.iccfa.com  
 
 

Our Pr om ise t o Yo u
When we had to cancel the 2020 ICCFA Annual Convention & Expo in San Antonio as
a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, very few of us could have predicted how dramatically
every aspect of our lives would change. But change is something we have all had to embrace
and, in this spirit, the ICCFA has been hard at work serving you with timely COVID-19
resources, legislative updates and more robust digital learning opportunities.
Since March, ICCFA leadership and staff have heard your questions and concerns.
Perhaps the most common has been, “What plans do you have for next year’s Convention &
Expo?”
Originally, our 2021 Convention & Expo was planned to be held in March, however,
there were many concerns that we would not be able to hold a safe and robust event at that
time. Fortunately, the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino has been very accommodating and was
willing to work with us to find new dates. As such, the new official dates for the 2021 ICCFA
Annual Convention & Expo are May 12–15.
In order to host a successful in-person event, the ICCFA will be following all COVID
safety protocols to ensure the wellbeing of our attendees, exhibitors, and staff. We are
planning to have all the excellent exhibit hall, educational sessions, and networking events
that you have come to expect from our event, and we hope to share what we have planned
soon.
We recognize that many of you may not feel comfortable traveling and attending a
large indoor event, so we are planning to offer aspects of the 2021 ICCFA Annual Convention
& Expo online as well. This virtual event will take place two weeks following the in-person
convention, allowing us to extend and expand the reach of the convention to an even wider
audience.
In the coming weeks and months, you can expect updates from the ICCFA about the
Annual Convention & Expo in the interest of complete transparency. Our sincerest hope is that
we can safely bring everyone together again and provide an informative and robust event. If
restrictions prohibit us from gathering in person, the digital event we have planned will offer
opportunities to engage with exhibitors, interact with other attendees, attend educational
sessions, and create productive and fun networking opportunities. This is our promise to you.
In closing, the support the ICCFA community has shown to the Association during this
time has been nothing short of extraordinary. Speaking on behalf of the entire ICCFA
leadership and staff, you have our deepest gratitude. We will continue to serve you to the
absolute best of our abilities in 2021 and beyond.
Sincerely,

Jay Dodds
ICCFA President
NEWS

Want Lady Gaga’s


Songs Played
During a Funeral?
You’ll Need a
License for That
Take 5 on Us! Get Your Music & Webcast
ICCFA & NGL Team Up Licenses Conveniently
Through ICCFA—at a
on a New Video Series Discount
The ICCFA and National Guardian Life Insurance Company (NGL) are proud to
announce a new collaborative project, Take 5! Cameron Black, vice president of
Sales and Business Development at NGL, and Poul Lemasters Esq., ICCFA General
Counsel, sit down together (digitally, not literally!) to discuss topics relevant to the
deathcare profession. In our first video, check out Cameron and Poul’s thoughts on
the following: “How has the pandemic propelled the profession to re-think the
sales process especially the typical in-person meetings & interactions?” Use the
video below as an opportunity to take 5* from your busy schedule to look on the
bright side of things.
Current music licensing is required for any U.S.
*Take 5 may not actually take 5 minutes. Your experience will vary. funeral home, cemetery, crematory, or related
July:Layout 1 6/10/20 8:16 AM Page 1
funeral service business that plays live or
recorded performances of copyrighted music.
ICCFA offers music licensing with ASCAP, BMI,
and SESAC at the discounted rate of $289 per
location if purchased by January 31 and $300
per property after January 31. There are no
additional fees or membership requirements.
TM
ICCFA’s music license rate is a direct pass-
through of the combined annual fees from
Keep
sake Pendants ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. Failure to obtain
a music license can result in fines of up to
The opportunity to choose a $30,000 for each song infringed.
Keepsake Pendant In addition to music licenses, webcasting
presents itself only once. licenses are available for $50 per URL/web-
site address if purchased by January 31 and
The comfort
$51 after January 31. A webcasting license
a Keepsake Pendant offers,
is an additional music license that allows a
lasts a lifetime.
Known for quality materials business to stream a funeral service—includ-
and craftsmanship, ing the songs played during the service—on
Madelyn Co. Keepsake Pendants its website without violating copyright laws.
are hand-made using jewelry-grade metals. You must purchase a music license before you
call about monthly specials or visit our website purchase a webcasting license. For more infor-
mation and to purchase licensing, visit www.
800-788-0807 Fax 608-752-3683 www.madelynpedants.com e-mail orders@madelynco.com
iccfa.com/legal/music.

58 MEMENTO MORI JANUARY 2021 www.iccfa.com


I CC FA M E M B E R S H I P B E N E F I T S P OT L I G H T

Life Line Screening


Four health screenings for only $135
For the New Year, take preven- ings, followed by a review of
tive action toward your health! your results with a board-cer-
Life Line Screening provides tified physician. Call today at
services that are designed 1.866.672.8151 to find a screen-
for early detection of poten- ing location near you. Mention
tial health problems leading that you are an ICCFA member
to stroke, aortic aneurysms, to receive the discount.
arterial disease, and osteoporosis. For the low • Atrial Fibrillation (monitors for an irregular To learn more about other ICCFA mem-
price of $135, ICCFA members can receive the heartbeat) bership benefits and services, visit www.
following four screenings: • Peripheral Arterial Disease (looks for con- iccfa.com/benefits. To access membership
• Carotid Artery (identifies plaque in the stricted blood flow in the feet and legs) benefits and services, visit http://users.
carotid arteries) Life Line Screening has a staff of healthcare icfa.com, log in with your username and
• Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (scans for professionals who use the latest technology to password, and click on Member Discount
bleeding in the abdomen) provide hospital-quality preventive screen- Programs.

EXCLUSIVE FROM BOGATI

Welcome New
ICCFA Members!
• BANIKS Inc.
Athens, NY
• Best Friends Pet Crematorium
Jackson, MS
• Forest Park Funeral Home
Shreveport, LA
• Jacobs Funeral Partners, Inc.
Iron Mountain, MI
• Lasting Touch Memorials
Olympia, WA
• Tranquil Lilly Crematorium Powdercoated
Westminster, MD Adult Alloy Urns
Smaller Sizes Available
For more information about ICCFA
and membership, visit www.iccfa.com/
membership and download an application
form. Or call 1.800.645.7700 to speak to a
(941) 751-3382
membership associate. www.BogatiUrns.com

JANUARY 2021 MEMENTO MORI 59


UPCOMING EVENTS

February 8–11, 2021 March 2021 May 12–15, 2021


“Creating Meaningful Funeral Johnson Consulting Group Summit ICCFA Annual Convention & Expo
Ceremonies” Four-Day Workshop 2021 Las Vegas, NV
Facilitated by educator Dr. Alan Wolfelt Stay tuned for more information and Stay tuned for more information.
Scottsdale, AZ early-bird registration.
For more information and to register, call
970.226.6050 or visit www.centerforloss.
com.

ADVERTISER INDEX

American Cemetery/Mortuary Consultants Inc. (ACMC)������������ 53 In Lieu of Flowers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12


American Funeral & Cemetery Trust Services (AFCTS). . . . . . . . . 50 Inman Shipping Worldwide. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
Answering Service for Directors (ASD) �������������������������������������������� 39 International Memorialization Supplier Association (IMSA)������� C3
Aquamation �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 60 Johnson Consulting���������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 5
Bogati Urn Company ���������������������������������������������������������������������������� 59 Kryprotek ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 41
C&J Financial, LLC�������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 29 Lamcraft . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
Coldspring. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C2 Madelyn Co.�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 58
Columbarium by Design, LLC ������������������������������������������������������������ 27 Merendino Cemetery Care �������������������������������������������������������������������� 9
Continental Computer Corp. �������������������������������������������������������������� 19 National Mortuary Shipping (NMS) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
Custom Air Trays. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Nomis Publications Inc.������������������������������������������������������������������������ 23
Ensure-A-Seal������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 54 Obermayer ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 48
Flowers for Cemeteries�������������������������������������������������������������������������� 39 Premier Columbaria������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 60
Funeral Call Answering Service ���������������������������������������������������������� 53 SEP TECHNOLOGIES INC���������������������������������������������������������������� 32
funeralOne��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� C4 Strassacker Bronze America, LLC������������������������������������������������������ 28
Global Bronze�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 3 Supply Link—Multiview������������������������������������������������������������������������ 46
Grever & Ward Inc.�������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 45 THE SYSTEM ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 41
Heritage Flower Company. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 U.S. Metalcraft���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 15
Holland Supply Inc.�������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 51 webCemeteries. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Homesteaders Life Company ���������������������������������������������������������������� 1 The Wilbert Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
IncredibleBank���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 13 Withum, Smith & Brown, PC�������������������������������������������������������������� 39

60 MEMENTO MORI JANUARY 2021 www.iccfa.com


Who Supplies
the Suppliers?
For funeral and cemetery suppliers, business
has never been more isolating. Often ideas
are done in a vacuum. What you know is only
what you know, which limits how far you can
go. IMSA membership can change that. We’ve
brought together some of the top industry
experts to offer our members free one-on-
one advice on marketing, business planning,
legal issues and more. We also bring to
our members insightful business-boosting
webinars, meaningful industry resources and
networking with other IMSA members. All this
for just $175 a year. We’re the only association
serving all funeral and cemetery suppliers.
Because what’s good for the suppliers is
good for the providers and that’s good for the
families. IMSA. Supplying opportunity.

www.IMSA-Online.com

IMSA members now get free consultation with Dan Katz & Rolf Gutknecht of LA ads, Jake Johnson
of Johnson Consulting, Ryan Thogmartin of Disrupt Media and Poul Lemasters of Lemasters Consulting.