Each family that walks through the doors of a funeral home is different, and each grieving family is dealing with their own unique set of circumstances. As a consequence, no two families will react in the same way to the many facets of funeral planning — including associated costs.
For the families you serve, there’s an incredible difference between expected and unexpected deaths. With an expected death, the expenses aren’t likely to be a surprise, and the family (or the deceased) probably had a plan in place. Perhaps that planning process began when the deceased first became ill, or when they sailed past their eighty-fifth birthday. Planning these types of funerals will still be a painful and somber experience for families, but there’s very little shock or acute grief involved. It’s a hardship, but the families are able to focus their energy and attention on mourning their loss and banding together to support one another.
With unexpected deaths, however, the situation could not be more dissimilar. If the deceased is a young person or a child, there will inevitably be heightened shock, disbelief, and heartache. These families did not have time to prepare themselves emotionally for their loss, and certainly had no reason to consider preparing themselves financially. Unexpected deaths can leave families reeling, struggling mightily to put a fitting funeral service together while maintaining some level of composure.
As the concept of crowdfunding gains more traction and visibility in deathcare, there’s some debate about its necessity and whether or not funeral homes should play a role in its facilitation. But one need only review the statistics to recognize the overwhelming need for certain families to have additional financial opportunities available to them.
For example, according to the CDC, there are 130,557 unintentional injury deaths per year, 16,121 homicide deaths, and 41,149 suicide deaths. Accidental death is the fourth-leading cause of death in the United States, and suicide is the 10th. Friends and family members will not only be forced to confront tremendous grief, but also an unforeseen and unexpected financial burden — a burden that many families simply cannot afford.
An article recently published in Commercial Appeal highlighted a Memphis funeral home’s challenges in dealing with an unusually high rate of homicide deaths. Ron Taylor, a funeral professional with N.H Owens and Son Funeral Home, explains that “The homicides are a sudden impact for the families. Typically, many of them are not prepared financially because the folks being killed are young people and their parents are young people themselves.” Later in the article, after crowdfunding is called out specifically, he adds that “We are 104 years (old). Don’t get me wrong, we have bills to pay like everybody else, but it is part of our commitment to the community to work with the families to make sure we do the best for them with the arrangements, especially the families dealing with homicides with so many of the victims being so young.”
There’s no question that crowdfunding has a role to play in the funeral profession, nor that crowdfunding campaigns can provide special benefits to families of all shapes, sizes, and circumstances. What is abundantly clear, however, is that crowdfunding campaigns can be especially meaningful to families struggling to plan funerals for loved ones who have died unexpectedly.