A funeral home that’s not a funeral home?
That’s the new concept introduced last year in Southwest Florida. Michael Whyte and Glenn Witzenburg partnered to offer an alternative to the traditional funeral home setting - to operate a “funeral home without a funeral home.” They named it Legacy Options and all basic operations are streamlined in the compact quarters of an actual office building. The office includes a crematory, refrigeration room, preparation room, and identification viewing rooms. There is also a small reception area and an arrangement room where funeral merchandise is on display.
A funeral home in an office park.
Legacy Options' website claims “We are a Remembrance of Life Organization" providing community-based end of life remembrance options sensitive to the wishes of families. These celebrations are personalized, affordable, and completely free of the constraints of a traditional funeral home setting.”
The bottom line is that there is no funeral home on the premises. Instead, Legacy Options will locate a personalized faith-based or other community organization that has provided comfort and healing to families and their loved ones for a public viewing or memorial service. They feel that in this way they better serve their families and also support the community.
Legacy Options claims to provide high-quality, in-house preparatory and crematory services for their clients, but removes the cost of visitation or remembrance ceremonies in a funeral home. They state that the services they provide to families are more affordable than those in at traditional funeral home setting.
They also feel that the traditional funeral home is not the most comforting setting for a visitation, funeral service, or memorial event. They report that when given the choice, most families prefer a venue that holds special meaning and provides solace. Legacy Options, encourages families to use their own church or fellowship hall for whatever type of event they choose. Picture a wedding ceremony at a botanical garden or zoo and then imagine a memorial service in the same setting. Butterfly and dove releases enhance the effects. Will people really have funerals in parks and zoos to avoid visitation charges?
They state “Because of this reduced overhead, we offer more affordable funeral and cremation pricing. I looked at their general price list and it wasn't much lower than their competition –the traditional funeral homes.
“What we provide in lieu of a visitation room is full personalized service in arranging a visitation or memorial service at the venue of your choice.” Shouldn't families expect personalization and a high level of service anyway? This is the hallmark of a quality funeral home – full personalized service.
Remembrance of Life.
The premise for this “Remembrance of Life” enterprise is that lower overhead purportedly enables more affordable pricing, while allowing families to experience more memorable and personalized commemorations outside the confines and constraints of traditional funerary settings.
Those who adopt this approach are expected to comply with a commitment to make monetary contributions to the non-profit facilities where their events are held. This “Care Sharing” strategy conveys the owners’ mantra of giving back to the community. The arrangement, dubbed "cashiering," can be a convenient substitute in lieu of floral gifts to the family.
So if you seek distinctive or unconventional surroundings for a memorial tribute, you may be in the market for a funeral home that is not a funeral home like this one. But chances are, you won’t be saving much money and I personally think it is convenient to have everything under one roof.
The idea of “cashiering” –i.e. donating towards the costs of the funeral in lieu of funeral flowers is also the concept of crowdfunding and the business model for FuneralFund. Before you order flowers for the next funeral or memorial service that you will be attending, check to see if the family could better use donations for the funeral costs versus flowers or sympathy gifts. When planning a funeral for a family member or close friend, ask the funeral director to start a donation campaign through FuneralFund - the only crowdfunding platform designed exclusively to help defray funeral expenses. Also ask the funeral home to post the link in the online obituary.
Nancy Burban 2014