Margaret Thatcher Funeral Details


On April 17, Britain will honor Margaret Thatcher with full military honors, in a ceremonial funeral service attended by the Queen and her husband the Duke of Edinburgh.

The date was agreed at a government “co-ordination meeting” with Thatcher’s family and Buckingham Palace officials on Tuesday morning, Downing Street said.

The ceremony, which is to be held at St Paul’s Cathedral in central London, is expected to be attended by dignitaries from around the world.

Find out about all the plans here.

Pope Benedict XVI Resigns


It was a shocking day for the Roman Catholic Church, after the stunning resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. This is the first papal resignation in almost 600 years.

In an address read out in Latin before a group of cardinals in the Apostolic Palace, the 85-year-old pontiff said he had decided that, due to his “advanced age” and deteriorating strengths, he would be stepping down as head of the Catholic Church on 28 February.

While there have been glowing tributes coming forward since the announcement, there are also contrary opinions. Victims of the sex and child abuse scandals that erupted under Benedict’s papacy either accused him of being directly complicit in a conspiracy to cover up the thousands of cases that have come to light over the past three years, or of failing to stand up to reactionary elements in the church who were resolved to keep the scandals under wraps.

Norbert Denef, from north Germany, who was abused as a boy by his local priest for six years and was later offered €25,000 (then £17,000) by his diocesan bishop to keep quiet, said: “We won’t miss this pope.”

A successor may be chosen by Easter.

Michigan Man Busted for Stealing Father’s Corpse from Cemetery

Corpse Discovery

Home where cops found corpse

Detroit, Michigan

Police recently arrested a man for stealing his father’s corpse from a cemetery. Authorities say that   Clarence Bright’s corpse was taken from the cemetery just prior to burial.

The corpse was eventually located in the basement of a home, which happens to belong to Bright’s 48-year-old son.

Investigators put the pieces together when they discovered the son, along with another man, carrying an empty casket inside a van at a gas station.

Police have not yet provided a motive for stealing the corpse.

Bright’s burial was supposed to take place on a Saturday at Gethsemane Cemetery on the east side of Detroit. However, soggy conditions following rain created a delay. So, the casket containing the 93-year-old’s body was placed near a chapel or a mausoleum on cemetery grounds and remained there through the following Monday morning when it was reported stolen, said Leon Jones, a mortician’s assistant at Swanson Funeral Home, which handled Bright’s funeral.

“This is a very, very bizarre situation,” Jones said.

Police received a tip that a white van had been seen at the cemetery around the time the body was taken, which turned out to be the van officers discovered at the gas station.

Once the van was discovered, it only took police about an hour to sniff out the corpse, in the basement just a few blocks away.

“Nothing seems to be wrong with the body,” Day told reporters. “Hopefully, the family can now get the body back and give it a proper burial.”

Police declined to release the names of Bright’s son or the 38-year-old man who was with him. They had not been charged and the theft remained under investigation.

Planking: Coming To a Funeral Home Near You

Have you heard the term planking?Maybe you are a visual person…so..

James Patton on Planking

A Little Planking at the Mall

If you’re like me, maybe you’ve heard the term, but didn’t really know what it is about. According to Wikipedia:

Planking (or the Lying Down Game) is an activity consisting of lying face down in an unusual or incongruous location.

I still don’t get it. Anyway, one thing that did catch my eye was the phrase in an unusual or incongruous location. Like, for instance, a funeral home perhaps? Well, little did I know, the fad has already found its way into our industry.

James Patton says planking is coming to the funeral industry

Restorative Art Lessons


Aspiring funeral directors practicing restorative art techniques in mortuary school


Social Media and Funeral Homes: You’re Doing It Wrong

funeral directors and social media
funeral homes and social media

Image Credit

An interesting outbreak has emerged, which should probably come as no surprise considering the explosion of social media. After reading the latest tweet from Katy Perry, or following the Twilight saga on Facebook, it seems that everyone wants to jump-in. All those Facebook “likes” sure are tempting, right?

Social media gurus are stressing the importance for business of all sizes to launch a social media strategy. And of course, you must hire them because they have the know-how. One article by a self-appointed “guru” I ran across recently said:

“Social media is like teen sex. Everybody wants to do it, but nobody knows how. When it’s over you are surprised it’s not better.”

Naturally, he was pounding the table on why you should hire him. Unfortunately, there are a million other guys like him who have turned their attention to the funeral industry. But is it right for the funeral profession? Andreas Svensson contributed his thoughts to Clearly Too Much Info, with When Social Media is Not Right for You. He says:

“When you’re the local funeral home, for example, how many people are going to “like” you? Not too many people are that excited about death.

Take the example of a funeral home. Most people don’t enjoy funeral homes. They don’t look forward to visiting them; some people think they’re creepy and morbid. A funeral home is synonymous with death and sadness. Even though one funeral home can be much nicer than another, most people aren’t going to go out of their way to “like” or interact with this type of business online. It’s not something they want to share with their friends or a page they want to visit more than once. Also, everyone will need a funeral home one day or another. A Facebook page won’t necessarily increase the appeal or necessity of that type of business.” 

And what about these social media gurus?

Gary Vaynerchuk, author of The Thank You Economy told Techcrunch:

”99.5 percent of the people that walk around and say they are a social media expert or guru are clowns,” he says, continuing with “we are going to live through a devastating social media bubble.”

I also liked the definition given by Milo Yiannopoulos in The Telegraph:

“A rag-tag crew of blood-sucking hucksters who are infesting companies of all sizes, on both sides of the Atlantic, blagging their way into consultancy roles and siphoning off valuable recession-era marketing spend to feed their comic book addictions. They claim to be able to improve your relationships with your customers by “executing 360 degree reignition programs”

He went on to say:

“These people are genuinely beyond parody. If you were to conduct an archaeological dig into a social media guru, you’d probably uncover layers of life coaches, yoga teachers, acupuncturists and feng shui consultants. That’s the level of business insight and mission-critical expertise we’re talking about here.

The poisonous cult of the social media guru – or, get this, “swami” – is disastrous for pretty much every kind of business: it’s wasteful for large companies and potentially fatal for start-ups. Social media consulting amounts to little more than mastering the art of the bleeding obvious and no company, no matter what its size, should even consider hiring external social media consultants. Internally, the most you need is a couple of interns with laptops.”

If anything, social media has allowed funeral directors to gain more access to available products and services, therefore benefiting the product vendors. However, in terms of funeral homes gaining customers through social media, I think the gurus are leading you down a dangerous, costly and useless path.

Service Corporation International Funeral Home Worker Lawrence J. Clement Accused of Sexually Molesting a Corpse


Toledo, Ohio

Cindy Putman protests outside the H.H. Birkenkamp Funeral Home on Tremainsville Road and with good reason.

A deeply disturbing story has unfolded in this Toledo funeral home, one owned by Houston-based Service Corporation International. In yet another scandal for the largest funeral corporation, an employee with H.H. Birkenkamp funeral home has been arrested after police say he sexually molested a corpse. Lawrence J. Clement, 57, was taken into custody after the victim’s family notified police.

Lawrence J. Clement Sexually Molested Corpse

According to the Toledo Police Department, employees with the H.H. Birkenkamp Funeral Home called the 51-year-old victim’s family members to report that one of their staff members had sexually abused her corpse. Another employee allegedly witnessed the sexual assault and threatened to go to police unless the family was contacted. The funeral home offered to waive the $11,000 funeral bill if they agreed not to call police. The family rejected the offer, contacted police and transferred the victim’s body to another funeral home.

Specific details about the abuse were not released, other than “sexual molestation.” Lisa Marshall, a spokeswoman for Houston-based Service Corporation International (NYSE:SCI), says the employee has been fired.

Clement was booked into the Lucas County Jail and charged with sexual abuse of a corpse.

Service Corporation International funeral homes can be identified by the Dignity Memorial Brand.