By Scott W. Bradley, President
Amongst other research, Boston University Associate Professor
Stephen Prothero writes in his book, Purified by Fire: A History of
Cremation in America (2001) that American culture has come to embrace cremation for its simple and economical purpose. And the antagonist to this simple process is the extravagant, traditional and expensive funeral/burial. What is inextricably attached to the traditional funeral is the funeral arrangement process whereby one meets with a funeral director who will likely try to sell services and products that the consumer doesn’t need at a time when the consumer is vulnerable and bewildered. Although I don’t believe this is true in the majority of cases, popular culture likes to vilify the funeral director as untrustworthy, especially when it comes to cremation, cremation services and cremation products such as cremation caskets and cremation urns.
To that end we have decided to give consumers what they want by offering only the simplest cremation services and avoiding over-complicating the process by omitting services and/or products that are not directly needed for the cremation. I heard a presentation recently that 60% of all consumers believe a funeral director is not needed or necessary to make cremation arrangements. So that is the experience we created with SimpleCremationNJ.com. Although by NJ law a funeral director is supervising the whole transaction and transferring the decedent to the crematory, the consumer can choose when to engage the funeral director via phone, fax or email. By doing so we give consumers exactly what they are looking for – a simple and low cost solution for a cremation that doesn’t come with any “hard sell.”
What we have found though is that once the cremation arrangement has been completed people want help organizing a fitting tribute, commonly known as a memorial service. This becomes the second part of the cremation arrangement process. At Bradley Funeral Homes we act as consultants and collaborators with the surviving family members to ensure an incomparable tribute is organized for the deceased. We want to make sure that every person has “a life well remembered.” Many times this costs the consumer nothing but time to talk with us and they take care of the rest. Other times we have the products, facilities and staff at the best value to celebrate the spirit of the deceased.
In other words we don’t offer urns until we are sure an urn is desired by the family. We know a cremation is desired and we follow through with that request in the simplest way and at the lowest cost we can manage. Our goal is to offer only what the consumer needs when they are ready. Dealing with the death of a loved one is difficult enough without having to be overwhelmed with too many choices.