Broker. I think I love that term. Broker.
Wikipedia says ” A broker is an individual or party (brokerage firm) that arranges transactions between a buyer and a seller, and gets a commission when the deal is executed.”
After some thought, I realized that most major transactions we make in life involve a broker: buying a home – Real Estate Broker; purchasing stock for retirement – Investment Broker. Need Insurance for your car? Your local insurance company is your broker who will go out and shop for the coverage that is perfect for you. Joint Venture Broker, Information Broker, Energy Broker, Marriage Broker …the list goes on. If you can buy it, there is a broker that can help you.With the price of funeral services being so high, (US average $6, 000 – $10,000) wouldn’t it be nice to have someone helping you navigate all the options and decisions? Someone who has been in the business for 20 years. Someone who has served 1000′s of families.
- Do I need a vault? What do you mean by vault?
- What is a sealed casket? What IS a sealed casket?
- Do I have to pay for embalming? What the heck is used in embalming?
- How much does a casket cost? Where can I get a loan to pay for all of this?
Williams River Services is offering Funeral Broker services. Let us answer your questions. Let us help you find the best services, at the best prices, for this major expense for your family. We would love to help your family now or at the time of death. We are here and helping families.
Call anytime at 802 353-0021.
Category Archives: Experience
Something interesting that I found this weekend. It was in the New York Times so it must be good, right?
After I watched A Good Death by Joshua Bright all I can say is “WOW”. This is the scene at many a home which I have visited over the years. The hospital bed set up in a bedroom or in the living room where everyone can gather. A lot of nursing homes and hospitals have single rooms just for this reason.
I found this article in The Huffington Post. The article points out again and again that funeral homes might not be the best place to get what you need as far as end of life services go.
The article tells of a family with 2 very sick children and there experience with home funerals. Caroline was the first to pass.
“We had taken care of Caroline her whole life,” recalls Alison, whose other daughter, Kate, has the same disease and will also have a home funeral. “Why would we give her to someone else once she died?”
Mom makes a valid point. 200 hundred years ago this was not a choice but necessity. The family was well prepared when the death occurred. Its evident they did their homework and researched all of their options.
The rest of the article talks about how some states have made it hard or impossible to take any of the end of life services away from the funeral professional. Closest case in point is our neighbor New York. New York is one of the few states that requires a funeral director to be present or to sign off on nearly every part of after-death care. Medical examiners and coroners have to turn over bodies to funeral directors, and the law says an undertaker has to personally oversee each funeral. Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska and New Jersey also have similar rules. New Hampshire has a law that says no one but a New Hampshire licensed funeral director can sign a death certificate. Is it just me or is that just crazy?
“Until the Civil War, death was largely a home matter and home funerals were the norm. It was common at the time for unembalmed bodies to be put in simple caskets and buried in cemeteries that weren’t treated with pesticides. (It’s a growing trend today, known as “green burial.”) Historians say that our culture’s approach to death in the pre-Civil War years had much to be praised.”
We should have the ability to care for our dead, if possible. Laws shouldn’t be written in favor of the funeral industry. I realize I’m a funeral director and this seems ironic… but I think people need to know their options. Ultimately, the final good-byes will be more meaningful and you won’t have the chance to do it twice.
Whether it’s the best of times or the worst of times, it’s the only time we’ve got. Art Buchwald
It has happened. Things have been busy. I knew, sooner or later, I was not going to be able to be in two places at once.
A family in the Burlington area called. It’s a long way away, but I wanted to help. Shortly after arriving at the home, the phone rang again. I talked with a young lady whose mom had just passed. Mom passed at home surrounded by her family. Mom and family were 3 hours away in the other direction. I explained my location and availability while being very sensitive to their situation at home.
First, Burlington… The family helped care for their loved one, gathering precious belongings for me to take along. We planned to be in contact in the morning. I gave them my web site and said they might find helpful information before our meeting but not to worry, we would review everything together.
After leaving, I spoke with the second family again. We talked for a few minutes about what they should do until I arrived. They were very understanding; it was helpful that a well-trained visiting nurse was at their home during Mom’s last moments. I assured the family everything would be fine and Mom was fine right where she was. She was in her bed, covered with her favorite blankets and holding her stuffed-animal dog, as she has been holding for the past few years.
Speaking with the visiting nurse, I half joked to crack the window and shut the door, to keep the room cool. She said she was already ahead of me and would be staying until I showed up. Upon arrival almost four hours later, everyone was in Mom’s bedroom. There were no tears but only relaxed faces telling stories about Mom, with Mom. They were all very happy she was still with them and that they had this extra time together. One by one, family members said their good-byes and went into the living room. When I met with the family the next day, they expressed appreciation for the four hours – for the time they got to spend with mom.
This made an impression on me – something I want to share with you. There are no laws that say your loved one has to be moved immediately after death. If your loved one has chosen to die at home, make sure Hospice and your funeral provider know what the family will want after the death. If you aren’t given options or if it seems like an inconvenience, talk to your local Visiting Nurses Association and find a new funeral provider. Take the time you need; you and your family will appreciate it.
As always, if there are any questions I can answer, please be in touch.
Here is a blog I found about Jewish funeral services. I have directed my fair share of Jewish services over my career. They have a huge amount of symbolism incorporated in their services. These customs are millions of years old. Some of their traditions have been changed slightly over the years but they all are very meaning full to the family and the community.
The tearing of the cloth, the shoveling of dirt into the grave, and the lighting of the Shiva candle all have great symbolism and provide comfort for the family. It is nice to see that the community gets so involved. Upon learning of the death, the family focuses on making the arrangements for the funeral. At the start of the funeral, the focus shifts and the family moves from being caretakers to being taken care of by their community.
Letter to the editor of all the local media outlets. Step up or move on.
Things look a little empty. Abandoned is a better word. The owner of our “local” funeral establishments, Service Corp International, doesn’t look like they are even cutting the grass. It appears that they are not interested in Chester, Ludlow, or the surrounding area.
The company is continuing to let the properties fall into disarray. I’m not sure if you have driven past these locations but things look abandoned. The building in Chester has weeds growing shoulder-height. I’m not sure if the new neighbors have an opinion; they have invested time and money resurrecting the old Legion building (which looks great, by the way.) The Vermont Institute of Contemporary Art is now situated next to “that” building. Funny, it used to be the other way around. The Ludlow facility is not any better; but, it does have a new sign.
Some people will say these comments come from a disgruntled ex-employee. True. But, as a member of the community and a member of both the National and State Funeral Director Association, I am outraged and offended. As a Funeral Director and Embalmer who has worked at both large and small funeral homes, I would consider the condition of these buildings as unacceptable. I am personally, and professionally, offended that a business, one that intends to offer dignified services, would present itself in these facilities. What does it say about their business practices? The fact that these are the most expensive funeral homes in the State of Vermont is direct slap in the face to hard working families and the funeral profession everywhere.
As a former employee, a member of the community, and a member of both the National and State Funeral Directors Association, I feel that SCI is obligated to provide the same service, facilities, and business practices as they do in their other SCI facilities. As a member of the community, I feel they should take pride and responsibility in their facilities, business practices and commitment to the community. As a Funeral Director and Embalmer, who has 20 years of experience, I ask SCI to please manage your locations. Funeral Directors have had to fight a bad reputation due to poor facilities and poor business practices for years. SCI, you are doing a disservice to yourself, our profession, and the community of which you are a “part.” Have some dignity.
I love it when I find a great article. The article “How Doctors Die” is an interesting look at end of life for those in the medical professional. Yeah, kinda weird, right? They are the professionals, who live by the Hippocratic Oath, who will do anything to save a life.
The Hippocratic Oath:
I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:
I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.
I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.
I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.
I will not be ashamed to say “I know not”, nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.
I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given to me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.
I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.
I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.
I will remember that I remain a member of society with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.
If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, be respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.
How I understand it, a doctor, by oath, must do everything he can to save the sick and elderly. There is no wiggle room. The doctor cannot play “God” and decide someone’s fate regardless of anything. He must preserve life at all cost.
When the life they could save is their own, physicians take a more practical path. They have access to the best medical care, in the best medical facilities. They can get advice from top medical colleges anywhere in the world, and most have the resources to buy the best care. But according to this article, most doctors chose not to use it any at all.
An Undertaker’s Oath is a lot like that of a doctor: loyal and honorable to those we serve. However, Doctors like Undertakers look at life and death differently. We deal with it daily and are at peace with the fact that it is going to happen – no matter what we do. Clinically, the moment we are born, we start to die.
This article points out that most doctors will not take any heroic measures to save their own lives. If a doctor is diagnosed with cancer, he quits his job and tries to stay healthy for as long as he can. In my experience, I have never assisted a doctor’s family at a hospital or nursing home. Most chose to die at home surrounded by family.
I’m hoping this undertaker goes the same way.
Dr. Wolfelts is one of the first voices that told funeral directors they needed to come up with a different business model. He is a firm believer that the experience far out ways any of the tradition. Personalization is demanded by baby boomers in everything these days. Restaurants, clothing stores, etc.
I saw him speak 5 years ago. Great orator and very topical. He does not hold back anything. “If you people in this room don’t help families create a more meaning full end of life experience, some one else will, and you will all be out of a job.”
This what makes WRCS different. Personalized services, any where you want, at a fraction of the cost. No more 2 o’ clock funerals
“We know that Boomers typically want more information and more ideas for personalization. They increasingly want cremation. They often don’t care about the casket.. Some days it feels like they’re picking on just funeral service, but they’re not. They’re voicing similar wants and complaints about restaurants, clothing, education, home design, etc. etc. etc.. Across the board, Boomers want engaging experiences. Funeral service just happens to be an old-fashioned, traditional goods- and services-based industry that might suffer more growing pains because it may have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the Experience Economy.”
This article is excerpted from Dr. Wolfelt’s book Funeral Home Customer Service A-Z: Creating Exceptional Experiences for Today’s Families. This revolutionary and comprehensive manual, which covers the full gamut of customer service issues from aftercare to cremation to products to visitation, is available from Companion Press for $24.95. An abbreviated pocket-sized version is also available. To order or for more information, visit www.centerforloss.com.
This is a add for Basic Funerals. They are a company out of the Mid West that provides the same services as Williams River Cremation Services. If WRCS had a budget our add would look something like this……
Last week, I wanted to do some research so, I called the nearby funeral homes in Chester and Ludlow. The law says that anyone anywhere can call a funeral provider to request a copy of the general price list.
When I asked for an email with their GPL, the manager said (and I am not paraphrasing here): I will have to mail you a copy of our GPL. I don’t have it in electronic format to email. This is the largest funeral provider in the world and they can’t email a copy of the general price list?
Last year this company made $363 million in profit. Can’t they afford a computer or the technology to email a copy of the most important document to protect a funeral consumer? I looked for another solution and got the GPL by fax.
By the way, the General Price List for WRCS is always available on my website. (
Back to the research… At first glance it looked like they lowered their service charges. Awesome. I felt that I had made an impact. Capitalism at work. I helped to lower their prices due to the competitive business, WRCS, down the street. I had an impact on the largest funeral provider in the world!
Then I looked closer. The prices had changed since the FCA issued a comprehensive report last fall. I reached for the calculator. THEY WENT UP? The most expensive funeral home in the state is now more expensive. The price for services as compared to every other funeral home/crematory in the state is now $2,000 more.
After a $6,010 basic service charge, you still have to purchase a casket. (Average casket cost is $3,200.) Liners are $1,095 (which is a minimum requirement at most cemeteries.) Vaults will cost between $1,500- 3,795. With a middle range casket and a liner, the final costs can range from $9,200 -$10,000.
There are additional costs for other services (cash advances) such as grave opening and closing, installation of liner/vault, newspaper notices, honorayem for clergy, stipend for organist and cantor, and cemetery equipment. These can total another $1,000+/-.
And then, if you want to hold a reception… this is additional. Depending on the size, it could be costly. This could total over $13,000. I know reading GPLs can be confusing but I know what I am looking at …and this is still mind boggling.
With a gleam in my eye, I reviewed my GPL. WRCS can provide the same services (minus calling hours in an old out date building) for $3,560. Our average casket is $1,600. Our liner is $700. Our total cost is $5,860 for the same services and comparable casket and liner. My prices are $7,140 less than the other funeral provider in Chester or Ludlow.
Prices from these large funeral corporations show no respect for its customers. For families, these are emotionally difficult times, during possibly very difficult financial times. The fact that they are thousands of dollars more than ALL other funeral business in Vermont makes no difference to the large corporations.
It’s the 1% taking advantage of the 99%… that familiar story. It’s hard to believe that can be happening in our own backyard.
Please, be a smart consumer. If you can’t understand that corporate GPL, call me; I’ve read over them hundreds of times. My cell is(802) 353 0021