The 6 Most Shameless Gimmicks Used by Funeral Homes
Death is a big business. In 2012, the funeral home industry pulled in $13.4 billion in revenue. From dead people! Those guys barely even work. It's pretty impressive, but it's also pretty cutthroat, so to speak. With all that money falling out of the pockets of the dearly departed, you really need to offer people a reason to spend their money with you. Anyone can jam Grandpa in a fridge box and take $500 for it; what's the extra touch that ensures that you get the money and not Mort Mortenson down the road?
Luckily for you, since you're now wondering the answer to that question, I wrote this whole article about how funeral homes go that extra mile to get your business. Your depressing, dead business.
Slutty Santa Funeral Home
I can barely preface this video with any words that will adequately prepare you for it. As far as I know, it's a legit commercial for a funeral home in Guatemala. Look!
Oh, Funeraria Lopez, you so crazy. The gist of this commercial is that, if you're lucky enough to die over the Christmas holidays, you can use this funeral home, which is endorsed by Santa and his army of scantily clad Santettes. Are they elves? Is Santa polyamorous and they're Mrs. Clauses? We may never unravel the full mystery, but maybe that's the point. Like death, it is the great unknown, and it is full of wonder and tits.
At 0:27, as we're all just about to mourn the passing of one of Santa's cookies, bam! Plot twist, as she opens her eyes and give us the thumbs up. She was alive the whole time, it's just that Funeraria Lopez has such comfy caskets that she was maxing and relaxing in one, the way women in high heels and fur-trimmed miniskirts tend to do.
At 0:50, Santa raises someone's hand in triumph; could it be Papi Lopez? The two celebrate the Funeraria Lopez, the closest you'll ever get to being buried in an actual vagina. Book your death today!
Make It Lazy
What can you say about a drive-thru funeral home that hasn't already been yelled by a drunk on a street corner toward an innocent child? Fuck you, you shifty-eyed fuck. You're not better than me.
Deep in the heart of terrible ideas, you'll find not one, but several funeral homes that stumbled upon the idea of pressing your dead loved one against the window like a ham in a display case so people who need to get home to watch Judge Judy can have a look-see and make sure the sumbitch really is dead before picking up that Slurpee and returning to the homestead. Added bonus: Put a towel across your lap in case the police roll up and you don't even technically need to put on pants.
In Compton, the Robert L. Adams Mortuary offers the bereaved yet impatient the ability to just drive by the departed and take a gander. The owner of the mortuary insists it's not disrespectful, and in fact is a benefit for many who can only get away on their lunch break, or for the elderly, who have a tough time getting out of the car. On the other hand, if you can't get away except at lunch or you're too decrepit to even get out of the car, maybe they could just stream the funeral to your phone or text you one or two captioned meme photos that really convey the feeling of the moment.
Taking my joke away from me is the drive-thru funeral home in Farmville, Virginia, which actually does stream the service so you can watch it online. The owner here also feels that this is a benefit for the disabled, but added that if the weather is bad, a drive-thru funeral is a bonus as well, because you don't have to get out in the snow or the rain. So make sure you tell your family and friends every day how you feel about them, because you never know when you might lose them. Let them know that you love them, unless there's inclement weather, in which case you love them enough to look out the window at them and that's about it.
Coffee and a Corpse
Funerals are downers, with all the weeping and some guy in the room who's not alive. What's a good way to perk up all those sad sacks moping around? Necromancy! But of course that's meddling in powers you can't possibly comprehend, and it will get you evicted from your basement apartment, so best leave that off the menu for now. Instead, why not coffee? Why not indeed.
Robinson Funeral Home in South Carolina decided to add a coffeehouse to their business for the benefit of friends and family so they could remember their loved ones the way our ancestors did, with a half-caf double foam soy vanilla steamer in their hand and a stale biscotti on a napkin in their lap.
Who eats these mangy turds anyway?
The Coffee Corner at the funeral home was planned to serve as a way to comfort the bereaved, because what's more comforting than mass-produced overpriced chain restaurant beverages? Human contact and interaction? Ha ha, shut up, you.
According to the funeral home owner, you're always hearing about the Starbucks experience and how it's not just coffee, it's an experience. Really, he said that and everything. I usually hear about how Starbucks can't spell someone's name right and how obnoxious the chain is as a whole, and once I heard about how the logo was either pornographic or satanic, but maybe that's all part of the experience, too. Technically getting shot in the ass with a high-velocity searing-hot dildo is an experience; the word has a lot of latitude.
Valentine's Day Dinner
Say you're 75 -- why are you at a funeral home? Nine times out of 10, it's because you just lost a life partner. That other one time it's to take the wares for a test drive, see which casket you want for later on and put down $20 to reserve it, but guess what? They won't reserve it. You'll be dead -- who's holding them accountable? Now they have your $20 and you're going to be buried in a sack. Thus, Felix Clay points out the flaw in your brilliant scheme.
Anyway, back to lonely old people. Some funeral homes like to go that extra mile and offer support for the families of the deceased, grief support to help you get through dealing with loss. And maybe, after a few martinis and a long night talking to a dead body in the basement, one funeral home decided it would be a good idea to set up a Valentine's Day dinner for those left behind, because hey, you're single, why not mingle?
"All your friends are dead? Me too! Zomg!"
The Bradshaw Celebration of Life Center has more than just a wholesome granola and wheatgrass smoothie of a name; it holds an annual Valentine's dinner featuring a catered meal, a social hour, and a barbershop quartet so that the living can listen to the music of the dead as well.
For its inaugural 2009 dinner, 45 or so guests had been invited, and most of them expressed a lot of enthusiasm for the idea and the other support groups offered by the funeral home, which is good for them if it works out, and only creepy to those of us who read about it judgmentally at home.
For years, Harley-Davidson has been the quintessential manufacturer of badass motorcycles. For a brief time, Edsel tried making motorcycles, but they just looked like giant metal penises and they blew up way too easily. And since there are about 2.8 million registered bikes in the U.S., it's safe to say there's a good chance one or two of those owners want to go out in one final wild ride, and now they can, thanks to the Harley hearse.
As you may be aware, the modern hearse is basically a morbid station wagon that never takes you anyplace fun. Who needs their last ride in life to be so lame? Instead, the good people at the Harley Corporation have teamed up with some funeral homes to offer a ride in the Harley hearse, a Harley made for hauling that will drag behind it what for all intents and purposes is a glass trailer meant to house your carcass, but a little fancier than I just made it seem.
"It's gonna be so badass when I die, man. I can't wait."
The West Monroe Funeral Home in Louisiana has just started offering the Harley, and Boot Hill Hearse has had one going since at least 2011. It offers you one final opportunity to show up the average sucker and maybe cop a feel of some biker mama titty. I assume the hearse is also full of biker mama titty. Why wouldn't it be? Someone needs to reassess their piss-poor business plan if it's not.
The Best Funerals Ever
Try to imagine the best funeral ever. What would it look like? The concept is a little odd because, if you're not being a little bit dicky, the answer should include whoever died being alive. But say that's not a possibility because of what we've already established about necromancy and the laws of nature. Given that the funeral has to happen, what would make it awesome?
Personally, I hope to one day be disassembled and have my various important and identifying parts fused with technology, such that, after everyone has entered the room for the service to begin, a giant robot bearing my face and hands but with some manner of dragon-like form and containing my vital organs will stomp into the room and recite something really profound that I had written ahead of time in a booming robot voice. Then it will lead a procession outside and I will dig my own grave with hydraulic scoop-shovel hands and bury myself while my robot sound system plays a medley of my favorite songs. No one's going to forget the day they saw that shit go down.
"That Felix Clay funeral was so stunning, I'm going to use necromancy to bring him back and make love to him."
Until such time as that is a possibility, the tactless monsters over at TLC have a show to fill the gap in your life called, appropriately, Best Funeral Ever. It follows the employees of Golden Gate Funeral Home as they try to make funerals into lifelong memories for loved ones with epic and ridiculous parties to celebrate the lives of the dearly departed. No robots to speak of, but one client who enjoyed breakfast three times a day (which is its own entry in a different article about insane people) had a service that included preaching, flapjacks, and fried eggs. Because when you think "sunny-side up eggs and toast," you think "corpse in the room."
Other funeral parties have included a casket dipped in chocolate, a boxer who gets one last turn in the ring, and, of course, disco dance parties. Look, there's a video that isn't in any way tacky:
This couldn't be more a TLC show if midgets crept out of your TV, The Ring style, and made you a preposterous cake before a child dressed like a hooker did a dance routine for you. The most stunning part of this show and the funeral home in general is not the service they provide, but the garish and frightful appearance of the funeral director himself, his name embroidered on the collar of his own shirt as he practically sweats the money he's fleeced from people struck dumb by grief. But yeah, TLC.