Death, sadness, heartache, tears, are often the first words that come to mind when one hears the word funeral. The picture that begins developing in your mind might look something like this...a poorly lit funeral parlor, organ music in the background, a couple of funeral directors pointing you to an outdated chapel. You see a portrait of the deceased provided by the funeral home (that's nice), and step into a room of silent people. The only sounds you hear are the sighs and sniffles coming from the family room. You join the silence, as if any sound other than the sounds of sorrow would be found offensive. The preacher takes the pulpit and reads an obituary that sounds just like the other obituaries you read in the paper that morning. You listen intently however, because that's going to be the last you hear about the deceased, as the minister delivers the same sermon he delivered for the last 10 funerals you've heard him officiate.
What if I told you that funerals don't have to be like that? I'm convinced that a funeral should be a fusion of tears and laughter. We can blend the sorrow of the loss with the joy of the memories. And it's possible to not only recognize the death that has occurred, but also celebrate the life that was lived.
What if I told you that you could leave our funeral home having experienced a literal, tangible, museum of your loved one's life? Our funeral home is a stage, and we'd be honored to help you produce the story of your loved one's life, to be played out in front of everyone who walks through the doors. Was dad a musician? Let's have live music. Did mom love the beach? Then let's bring the sand she loved to dig her toes in, right into the funeral home. Did grandpa spend hours tinkering in his workshop? Then let's set up his workshop here. Did grandma spend her time in the kitchen, making her famous cobbler? Then let's set up her kitchen and pass out her recipe to all of your guests.
Why have a funeral? Because you can't heal without one. Because your heart and mind need to process the fact that your life will never be the same. Because your loved one deserves a service. It doesn't matter if there's 20 people there or 2000 in attendance, your loved one deserves an opportunity to have their story told, their death acknowledged, and their life celebrated.
From the heart of the manager...
The time between a death and a funeral can vary depending on several factors. Have you chosen cremation or burial? Do you have family coming into town? When is your minister available? Is the cemetery available? The answers to these types of questions play a role in determining when you can have your service.
We live in a society that wants instant results. We have more time saving devices than ever, yet we never have time. I want my popcorn in 2 1/2 minutes. I want my car washed in 5 minutes without lifting a finger. When I lived in California, one of my favorite fast food restaurants was Jack in the Box. I remember how angry I would get sitting in the drive thru as I waited for 7 minutes because they wouldn’t make it until I ordered it. 7 minutes in a drive thru!?!?! Absurd…ya, I know.
Unfortunately, this mentality has migrated from menial everyday tasks to things that are really important. People don’t have time for family dinner anymore. We don’t have time for our kids. We don’t have time for our God. We don’t have time for our parents. And apparently, we don’t have time for funerals. This was never more apparent to me then a time I walked into a house at 2 a.m. after a death had occurred. The wife of the deceased told me she’d “swing by” at 8 a.m. to pick up his cremains.
Where do these kinds of expectations come from?
First of all, people are uniformed. We are talking about the disposition of a human body. There are legal documents to be filled out, information to be gathered, agencies to be notified, and contracts to be signed. Cremation does not take place immediately. As a matter of fact, there are 3 things that have to take place in the state of Arkansas before we can proceed with cremation.
There is a 24 hour waiting period that must be fulfilled
A temporary death certificate must be signed by a certifier. (ie. Dr., Hospice Nurse, Coroner.)
We must have a Cremation Authorization Form signed by the legal next of kin.
Secondly, people feel like WE need them to rush. It almost feels like they think they are doing me a favor by getting things done quickly. Let me make something clear. Your loved one, in my care, is NOT an inconvenience. This is why I am here; to take proper care of the deceased, and more importantly, to take care of the living who were affected by the passing. That means I’m ready and willing to wait as long as we need to, in order to celebrate this life properly. We are not going to charge you by the day like so many other funeral homes do…we are dedicated to doing this right, for YOU.
Thirdly, people think the quicker they get this done, the better. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard phrases like, “I just need to get this over with” or “we need to get this behind us.”
What is the rush? Seriously. What in the world is the rush? We are talking about honoring a life here. Someone you love, someone you saw every day…is gone. The person you leaned on, the person you opened your heart to, the person who knew all of your secrets…they are gone. I realize we don’t have time for anything these days, but I contend that the death of your husband, your mother, your child, warrants a period where we stop, slow down, and take our time to process this monumental event and honor a life that was well lived.
As a pastor, I offer you this advice. SLOW DOWN. As a son who has lost a father, I offer you this advice. SLOW DOWN. And as a funeral director who oversees the aftercare of almost 600 deaths a year, I offer you this advice. SLOW DOWN.
At our funeral home, there’s no reason to rush. I cringe when we rush through a service at the request of a family and several days later, we are fielding phone calls from people who would have loved to attend the service, but had no idea the death occurred. Let’s slow down. Let’s do things right. Let’s celebrate life in ways you’ve never dreamed of.
You’re loved one is worth it. Their life made an impact on the world. Give me time to announce their service. Give me time to help you honor them. Give yourself time to process what has happened here. I’ve seen MANY families regret moving so quickly. But I can honestly say I have NEVER seen a family regret taking their time.
From the heart of the manager...
CARUTH-HALE FUNERAL HOME
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