An Exposé of the Death Care Industry: CNBC “Death: It’s a Living”

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On Thursday, January 31st, 2013, CNBC aired a documentary that went behind the scenes of the $17 billion death care industry in the United States.

Tyler Mathisen presented the show that looked at how death care professionals profit from helping us make that final journey.

It is already acknowledged by those within the death care industry that we are on the cusp of a revolution, in which the way we care for our dead and the rituals that help us transverse this life event, are changing.

The cremation rate is increasing exponentially in the U.S. and by the end of the first quarter of the 21st century it is predicted we will be cremating more than we bury. Direct cremation is a term that is now slipping into terminology. And as folks realize that a direct cremation means that they can care for their dead at a mere fraction of the costs of a traditional funeral, so I expect we will witness further growth in this sector of the cremation market.

For almost two centuries we have allowed death care professionals to convince us that we should not care for our dead ourselves and that we should pay huge fees to industry professionals. That we must spend excessively on funeral trimmings to best honor our deceased loved one. Now it seems that, as a nation, we are slowly turning the tide of reclaiming the death care ritual.

Shows such as CNBC’s “Death: It’s a Living” have helped to highlight how the industry operates, and further media coverage communicates that we may be overspending on our funeral care. In November 2012 CNN’s Money “The high cost of saying goodbye” feature also exposed how sometimes unscrupulous the funeral industry can be and how profit can be a driving aspect of death care.

A funeral is something that we will ALL purchase one day, perhaps one of the bigger purchases we will make in our lifetime, so we should ensure we are fully clued up as a consumer. We all understand the need to be thriftier on spending and make more price-conscious purchasing decisions, and a funeral purchase is no exception.

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Sara is the Editor in Chief for US Funerals Online and has been researching and writing about the death care industry in the US for the last 15 years.