Business, Regulations

Cemeteries, Crematories, and their issues

Just about every day when we peruse articles to opine on we can find articles that pertain to cemeteries and crematories and the problems they seem to cause to just everyday people.  You might argue that some of these issues are pretty petty and could be easily fixed, however, to the consumers they bother they are big issues.

When these types of issues happened to us, which fortunately was not very often, we always tried to reason with the customer and make sure that we could appease them so as not to make such a big deal out of the issue that it hit the newspapers.  We guarded our brand name very carefully and reasoned that once it hit the media, the cat was out of the bag and regardless of how you settled the issue, most people would see the business as the bad guy.  We would settle issues many times even if it meant bending over backwards more than we felt we deserved. . . .it was just good business to get the matter settled.

Today we bring you three news stories that regardless of how they turn out, the funeral homes, cemeteries, or the crematories will probably be remembered as the bad guy.

  • This first article is from the State of Michigan and concerns a story in the Detroit News that you can read here.  On Monday authorities were called out to Great Lakes Cremation in Lyon Township about strong odors emanating from the building.  The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) investigated the complaint on Tuesday.

According to the article and Oakland County Undersherriff Michael McCabe they concluded that “there were no licensing violations.”  Michigan law requires bodies in storage to see their final disposition within 60 days and it appeared that no body had been in the facility longer than July 5 — a period of about 17 days.

  • The second article and news video we have on this subject comes from Mobile, Alabama and NBC15 that you can see and read here.  It deals with the Heritage Memorial Gardens where there has been accusations against the owners for abuse of a corpse.

A trial in the city court system has been delayed and neighbors of the cemetery as well as families of those buried in the cemetery are feeling the pain over what is going to happen.

One of the reasons for that pain is what they describe as a stench  that makes it too burdensome to visit the cemetery while neighbors have resorted to wearing face masks in their efforts to eliminate the smells.  Neighbor Virginia Firestone believes that her health is declining as she continues to wear a mask in and around the house because of the strong odors.

  • Finally, we bring you this article and news video from Indiana’s WTHR 13.  This story concerns the Forest Lawn Memory Gardens in Greenwood, Indiana, and a burial that took place in 2006.  Whether the cemetery knew of the mistake or not at that time is a matter of debate.

It turns out that that burial was in the wrong place and in 2017 when the family went to the cemetery to make sure all things were in order should the widow of that person die, they were told that the husband was in the wrong place.  The widow died earlier in 2019 and her cremated ashes were placed next to her husband but the family then found out that, because of the 2006 error, the headstone was in the wrong place.

On Wednesday, July 24 the cemetery fulfilled their promise to install a new and correct headstone in the proper location.

Funeral Director Daily take:  These stories give some glimpse of the problems that funeral homes, cemeteries, and crematories can have.  Some of their problems are of their own making. . . possibly even criminal in scope.  And some, where they probably had some indication that not all was right, but the company just didn’t take the initiative to get things done.

Take, for instance, the odors from the crematory.  You would think crematory personnel would also have noticed this odor.  As was stated in the article, the crematory had been operating every day.  You would think an employee would have taken some initiative to mask this odor and thus eliminate a negative story in the press that may damage the reputation of the business.

And, the cemetery that had the original burial in the wrong place in 2006.  Even if they did not know it until they told the family in 2017, making a pre-emptive change of the headstone at that time probably would have warded off the the poor media coverage in 2019.

As a final thought, whatever business you are in. . . we just think that it is good policy to take the initiative to stop what may be little issues before they blow up and become big issues.

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One Comment


    I am a licensed FD in South Florida. There have been several Senior Expos here recently. They include anything for senors, medicare, long term care, and of course Funeral Homes and Cemeteries. These sponsors pay for a table at the event.

    I have noticed that at the recent expo three funeral homes were all set up with everything except GPL There excuse is that this is not a funeral home and they do not have to provide GPL.

    I reached out to the State Board and FTC and they say the funeral rule is in effect because they arranged to be there in advance. A simple required GPL is to be given to all that asked for one. nothing fancy in a folder just the basic GPL. These funeral homes should be advised by the state board of this requirement.

    Your Take on this

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