A Final Farewell By Flight

With cremation becoming an increasing popular choice for many people these days, it is more and more common to scatter the remains of their loved ones by land and by sea.  However, there is another option that perhaps people aren’t aware of.  There are many companies that now offer ash scatterings by airplane.  Aerial ash scatterings is an environmentally friendly option where the cremated remains are released into the wind, setting a person free on a final journey to their final resting place.

The service is available all over the world, and the east coast is one of the more popular destinations.  As one might expect, California and Hawaii are currently the most common locations, with aerial scatterings providing the very proper “surfers farewell.”  I find this to be a very interesting option for those that want an alternative and perhaps very customizable option for their deceased loved one.  One could chose to scatter the remains of an avid golfer over their favorite golf course, a hiking enthusiast over the mountains, or even a baseball fan over their favorite baseball field.

Unclaimed Remains Need Final Resting Place


This may come as a surprise to you, but funeral homes across the country – ours included – are home to many unclaimed cremated human remains, which often are referred to as “shelf people” or the “forgotten society”.  Despite valiant efforts to contact surviving family members of the deceased, there are a substantial number that continue to be unclaimed.

In most cases, the person died alone and had no surviving family members to claim their remains.   Sometimes, the family has asked that the remains stay at there.  Other times, the family doesn’t come back to take custody due to their inability to pay, or family rifts get in the way.   Also, with cremations becoming more and more popular, there are many that simply don’t know what to do with the ashes.

The state says that we can dispose of unclaimed remains after 30 days.  However, if there is any known family, than there is a chance that a family member, even a future generation, may come back to claim them.  These remains truly represent someone’s life, and it is important that they are treated with respect and dignity.  So for these reasons, we continue to keep them indefinitely, in hopes that this happens and that their lives can be properly honored by providing them with a final resting place.

Pallbearers Chosen Based on Skin Color in Lima

Despite the changing face of the world we live in, unfortunately, racism still exists.  It’s not something that I typically would relate to the death care industry, but I learned that this industry is in fact affected, after reading a Yahoo! News story entitled “Lima: Where the pallbearers are black”.  It is evident that racism is still ingrained in the culture of Lima, Peru, as the pallbearers for this South American capital are in that line of work simply because of the color of their skin.

Apparently “Afro-Peruvian” pallbearers are considered a legacy, and to have one’s body carried by a black is understood by most to be a symbol of prestige, just as it was for nobility in South America (and many other parts of the world at one time) to have an entourage of house slaves.  Very sad indeed, to hear that people are forced into a profession due to lack of opportunity and racial prejudice and that despite the progression that has been made towards equality, such discrimination is still present.

You can read the article here: http://news.yahoo.com/lima-where-pallbearers-black-075929226.html

Aging N.H. Population May Have Serious Effects

I have read several articles recently about the “graying” of New Hampshire, or the “Silver Tsunami”.  Apparently, the median age of the state’s population is continuing to rise – faster than any other state in the nation –with a median age of 42, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The full impact of these changes is unknown, but is expected to be serious.  Experts say that an aging population requires a different mix of social, health, housing and other services than we now see.

One of the many predicted effects of our “graying” state include shifts in healthcare costs, with more people enrolling in Medicaid and more of resident’s disposable income being spent on healthcare services, instead of retail goods and services.  Also, the retired population is likely to decide to spend their winters in warmer climates, which may affect retail sales, in turn affecting the value of commercial real estate.  Experts say that would deflect those costs onto residents, raising property taxes.

It looks like the state now needs to find ways to repopulate the state with young-adult families and their children, and be looking for ways to convince college graduates to stay in New Hampshire to work and start their families.  Property taxes are always a major driving factor in people’s choice of where to live, as are the school systems.

What do you think New Hampshire can do to keep young adults in the state, and also to attract a younger population?

Mourn on the Go?

I often talk about how the funeral industry has to adapt to the ever-changing needs of consumers.  However, the newest service that a Virginia funeral home offers is one that is seen as innovative and convenient by some, and as a mockery by others. The unique new service is ‘drive-through viewings,’ which allows mourners to view their loved one in a casket − through a window − without having to leave their car.

The thought behind the service is that it would allow people with disabilities to easily be able to pay their respects, without having to navigate through a crowded funeral home.  It is also believed to be convenient for the elderly, particularly in bad weather.  And then there are those that just don’t like to grieve in public, and would like to have privacy when visiting the casket (or urn) and paying their respects.

The viewing process is a very important part of grieving and it is always good to try to find ways to make sure that everyone has the opportunity.  Online streaming of visitations and funeral services has been becoming increasingly more common.  Although not something we plan to be offering anytime soon, it will be interesting to see if drive-through viewings catch on.

Honoring a Beloved Family Pet

More than ever, pets are considered to be part of the family. However, the days of burying the family pet in the backyard may soon be over, as pet “aftercare” services, including cremation, funerals and pet cemeteries, are becoming a more common choice. Pet lovers spare no expense in making sure their pets are healthy and well cared for, and providing them with all the toys, treats and comfy beds their little hearts could desire. And when those beloved family pets pass on, more and more people are opting to honor them with memorial services, and in some cases, even choose to include their pets in their plans for their own final resting place.

Pet aftercare is a growing trend and we are seeing exclusive pet funeral services popping up across the country. Pet owners can now opt to have all-inclusive funeral services, complete with visiting hours or a “reception,” caskets or urns and headstones. You can also find unique resting places for the burials of animals. Some cemeteries allow you to make arrangements to have your pet buried in your plot at your local cemetery, where you can later join them.

While cremation seems to be the most popular way for people to memorialize their pets, there is an endless array of other options to remember that special bond that you shared with your pet during their lifetime. There are companies that provide blankets with photos of your pet embroidered on them, personalized pet ringtones, garden sculptures, stained glass portraits and even many unorthodox options.

What have you done to remember and honor a beloved pet? Would you consider funeral services for your pet?

Cultural Changes–Cremation Becoming the Norm

As cultural values in America continue to progress, cremation continues to grow in popularity.  This is a trend that we have been seeing on the upward slope for some time now and, according to a June 13th TIME Magazine article, by the year 2017 one out of every two Americans will choose cremation over earth burials.   We have seen this shift as a result of changes in religious attitudes, as well as the economy.  Religions that previously frowned upon cremation are now understanding its value to families and adjusting their principles to accommodate this choice.

Cremation does not mean that you forego visitation or funeral services.  A visitation and/or funeral with the body present can be held prior to cremation, or a memorial service with the cremated remains present can be held after the body has been cremated.  We see more and more of these types of services each day.

TIME also discusses what people do with the “cremains” and the options available for finding a final resting place for your loved one.  Another trend that we are seeing more and more is people choosing sea scatterings, which we have offered for more than 10 years off the Isle of Shoals.  However, this past year we have partnered with New England Burials at Sea, LLC to provide enhanced service offerings for the growing number of people looking to honor their loved one with an ocean burial.

You can read the full TIME Magazine article here: http://ideas.time.com.

Planning That Once-in-a-Lifetime Event

Last week, I discussed how the generation of the Baby Boomers is shaping the funeral service industry, with their desire to want to customize or personalize every aspect of their final arrangements. Part of the trend that these consumers have helped to craft includes the use of an event planner, or “funeral consultant.” Like a wedding planner, this professional consultant’s sole purpose is to help plan this once-in-a-lifetime event. Seems strange to some, but to others, this is a huge stress saver. Funeral consultants help you assess your options, make tough decisions by offering professional advice and help to keep you within a budget, all while allowing you to customize a final farewell that is all your own, or that is perfect for your loved one.

Within our firms, we have experience with the funeral customs and traditions of just about every religion, as well as the know-how and resources to assist you with any special requests you might have, to make your service as meaningful as possible. For your convenience, we can do virtually all that a funeral event planner does, and then some. After all, we are funeral consultants.

When our families want to do something that really speaks to the beautiful life of themselves, or the deceased, we go above and beyond to make that happen. Our mission is to exceed your expectations every chance we get. I am so confident in my staff and facilities, that if our client is not completely satisfied with any aspect of the services, I will refund that portion of the service.

The Effects of Baby Boomers on the Funeral Industry

The baby boomers – known as the generation that redefined traditional values and were a major catalyst in changes to lifestyle and social norms – are continuing to live up to their reputation, even as they begin to face end-of-life realities.

With just under 25 percent of the U.S. population over age 55 in 2011 (according to the Census Bureau), it has become apparent that funeral service providers need to pay attention to the unique demands of these consumers, who like to plan ahead and want to customize every detail of their final arrangements.

We see a great deal of this in the services we provide at our firms.  We have hosted funerals where food / passed hors d’oeuvres are provided during the services, jazz and rock bands have played, Harley Davidson’s are used in the funeral procession, with the urn strapped to it, and where classic and muscle cars were used in the funeral procession.   Of course customized caskets, urns and keepsakes are also a growing trend.  We are continuously kept on our toes with new and unique requests and our funeral directors are tasked with thinking outside the box, to meet the growing demand for these value-added services.

CNBC recently published a very interesting article on this topic, which I invite you to read:  http://www.cnbc.com/id/100788587#_gus

Phaneuf Funeral Homes Receives Achievement of Excellence

After an intense application and review process by the Granite State Quality Council (GSQC), I am very proud to announce that Phaneuf Funeral Homes & Crematorium has earned the Achievement of Excellence – the highest recognition level in the Granite State Quality Awards and Recognition Program. This recognition is based on the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence, which is accepted around the world as the standard for organizational performance excellence.

The Achievement of Excellence level recognizes organizations that demonstrate quality and performance excellence as defined by the Baldrige Criteria, which is utilized to empower organizations such as ours, to reach their goals by aligning plans, processes, decisions, people, actions and results.  We were assessed in seven categories:  Leadership; Strategic Planning; Customer Focus; Measurement, Analysis and Knowledge Management; Workforce Focus; Operations Focus and Results.

I was told by a GSQC examiner that Phaneuf earned this recognition, in part, for our customer-focused culture and our approach to strategically grow and sustain a family-owned business in an industry where larger corporate chains are the trend.

This is a great milestone for our firm and I am extremely proud of our staff for this accomplishment.  It is because of the dedication of each and every member of our firm that we were able to receive such a prestigious honor. This was also an extremely beneficial process that provided us with tools to become even more efficient, innovative and effective.  Phaneuf will be formally recognized in a public ceremony later this year.  Stay tuned for more information!