Funerals360 Homepage

I’m Sorry to Hear Introduces the New Funerals360 Website

February 27, 2017

I’m Sorry to Hear is excited to introduce you to the all new Funerals360. Funerals360 (www.funerals360.com) is the first end-to-end online funeral planning platform where consumers can plan a funeral in advance, at the time of need, or even share funeral details and memorialize the loss of a loved one.

After over 4 years of providing consumers education on funeral related topics and helping them find local funeral providers through ImSorryToHear.com, Funerals360 is the next generation website which encompasses all the same great material consumers have come to love at I’m Sorry to Hear, but in a modern, mobile-friendly website.

Funerals360 features an all new mobile-friendly design and a full reorganization of content to make it easier for site users to find the information that is most meaningful to them.

New at Funerals360 is an interactive Funeral Planning Checklist that can be  saved, edited, and shared with the “planning team.”

Our funeral Vendor Marketplace is larger than ever with coast-to-coast coverage and reviews on local businesses and non-profits including: funeral homes, florists, cemeteries, headstones and monuments, home funeral guides and educators, death doulas, Funeral Consumers Alliances, eye, organ, and body donation organizations, and many more to come.

Visitors can contact Vendors directly through a new Inquiry feature, making it easier to get information directly from the vendors of their choice.

A new Funeral Announcement tool allows members to create a funeral announcement that includes funeral details, making it easy to share critical information with their friends and family via email and social networks.

No matter where you are in the funeral planning cycle, Funerals360 has the tools, information, and resources you need to successfully plan a funeral.

All existing registered members and vendor accounts have been migrated to Funerals360. Existing I’m Sorry to Hear users can access their new Funerals360 account by resetting their password.

Over the coming months we will be redirecting all of our members from I’m Sorry to Hear.com to Funerals360 which will be the primary website moving forward.

Jake Koltun is seen in a photo provided to CBS Denver station KCNC-TV.

Heritage Cremation Provider Accused of Being the Ultimate Scam

Via CBS News Denver – February 10, 2017

DENVER — As Lisa Koltun quietly thumbed through precious photos of her son Jake, she couldn’t help but remember how his 2015 death on a Colorado ski slope was made far worse by the treatment she received after he died, CBS Denver station KCNC-TV reports.

“That’s my boy,” she murmured softly as she looked through a photo album. “He had so many friends.”

Jake Koltun, 22, died at Breckenridge on his last run of the day. Things were only about to get worse for his mother as she connected with Heritage Cremation Provider, which purported to be a local, trusted cremation service in Boulder that could handle Jake’s remains.

“It was just a nightmare,” said Lisa Koltun.


She is not alone in that assessment. A KCNC-TV investigation found that the company paid to handle Jake Koltun’s arrangements has been the subject of numerous consumer complaints in Colorado and across the country, has been officially sanctioned by several states for shoddy service, and is essentially a web-based marketing company that collects upfront payments and fees from grieving families and then subcontracts actual services out to local funeral homes. The company acts as a middle man or body broker and is based in Florida.

After Jake Koltun’s death, his mother asked her friend David Williams to handle cremation arrangements, which is what Jake wanted in the event of his death. Williams did an internet search of cremation services in Boulder, which is where Jake had been living as he attended the University of Colorado. A website immediately popped up for Heritage Cremation Provider, which said it provided “trusted cremation services in Boulder” and said it was “family-owned and operated for over two decades. Compassionate community service close to home.”

“I trusted their website,” said Williams. “They stated clearly in their advertising that they were a locally owned in Boulder family-run business.”

Based on the local appearance, Williams contracted with Heritage to have Jake’s body cremated. The problems began immediately. On the first invoice Heritage sent to Williams, the company misspelled Jake’s last name as “Kolton.” On a follow-up invoice, the company said the deceased was “The William family,” apparently confusing David Williams as being dead. On another invoice sent to Williams, the bill was for another dead person – Sarah White. And on multiple invoices the company asked for additional fees for an oversize container for Jake, even though he only weighed about 165 pounds and was about 6-foot-2.

“It’s so dishonest,” said Williams. “It’s the ultimate scam.”

They aren’t the only ones who feel that way. In 2015, five complaints were filed against Heritage Cremation Provider with the state of Colorado. One of those was from the family of Jake Koltun. But two years later, the state agency that deals with funeral complaints says none of those investigations have been completed and the company has no disciplines on its state record.

Three of the complaints were filed in June 2015, another was filed in September 2015, and the fifth was filed in December 2015.

Lee Rasizer, a spokesperson for Colorado’s Office of Funeral Homes and Crematory Registration told KCNC-TV, “This is a complex case with numerous complainants from multiple jurisdictions, many outside of Colorado. Ensuring that the investigation is thorough, complete and ultimately ensures the public is protected takes due diligence and time. Information continues to be submitted, and is proving helpful in furthering that overall objective. The methodical nature of the investigation takes precedence over any timelines. All avenues are being explored.”

Rasizer said the agency would not appear on camera to further explain why three investigations of Heritage have now spanned 20 months with no resolution. Complaints have also been filed against the company in Colorado in 2016.

Many of the complaints revolve around the fact that Heritage Cremation is little more than a marketing company which does not do any of the actual transportation or cremation work itself.

DFS Memorials, a low-cost network of cremation services, wrote that Heritage Cremation Provider “give the appearance of being a local company when in fact they are just acting as ‘middle men.’”

In North Carolina last year, the North Carolina Board of Funeral Service filed an injunction against Heritage Cremation Provider and informed crematory managers throughout the state that performing a cremation for the company “would constitute aiding and abetting the unlicensed practice of funeral service.”

In Oregon in 2014, the state mortuary and cemetery board found the company’s online advertising “constitutes a sales presentation or practice that conceals or misstates a material fact” and ordered a fine of $10,000.

The Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado has also warned consumers about the company. The BBB gives Heritage a D- grade saying there were 10 complaints processed against the company in a 12-month period.

For the family of Jake Koltun, the ultimate insult came when they traveled to Boulder to retrieve his ashes. Believing the company was local and had an office in Boulder, the family said when they arrived Heritage gave them the runaround, only later to discover the company didn’t actually have a Boulder office.

When they pressed the company by phone to get Jake’s cremains, David Williams said a representative of the company told him, “They had no idea where Jake’s body was.” Lisa Koltun said, “They lost track of him for a week. It’s bad enough he is gone and I don’t get to see him again, but to not know where he was in that time period is completely unacceptable.”

Lisa Koltun said she eventually received her son’s ashes after numerous contacts with the company.

Katrina Goldsmith, who identified herself as a Colorado-based manager for Heritage Cremation Provider, told KCNC-TV by phone, “I don’t think there’s a story here. When people are grieving things get put in a different light. We do service many families, there’s always sometimes where we’re not perfect.”

She said she felt badly for Jake’s family but said it was “utterly ridiculous” for the family to think Jake’s body was temporarily lost. Goldsmith declined to meet with KCNC-TV in person, declined to agree to an on-camera interview, and said she did not want to review records of what occurred in the Koltun case. She cut off the phone conversation without answering most questions. Owners of the company never responded to KCNC-TV’s repeated requests for information and comment.

Lisa Koltun is answering questions. She said, “I can’t stand the thought of another parent going through this.”

David Williams, the family friend who first found Heritage Cremation and contracted with them, said the web-based company is “the ultimate scam. They are not the most trusted name in the funeral home business in any town in the United States.”

Colorado’s Office of Funeral Homes and Crematory Registration is asking anyone else with complaints about Heritage Cremation Provider to get in touch with the state agency.

See Original Article at CBS News Denver

Ellen Bethea at her home in Jacksonville, Fla. After her husband died, she paid $7,000 for her husband's cremation and funeral. She was unaware that the same company offered the same cremation services for much less.

Photo: Laura Heald for NPR

A Funeral May Cost You Thousands Less Just By Crossing The Street

Ellen Bethea at her home in Jacksonville, Fla. After her husband died, she paid $7,000 for her husband’s cremation and funeral. She was unaware that the same company offered the same cremation services for much less.

Photo: Laura Heald for NPR


This story is part one of a two-part investigation. Read part two here.

Story By Riley Beggin of NPR

Ellen Bethea sat alongside her husband’s hospital bed after doctors told her that Archie, the man she had been married to for almost five decades, wouldn’t make it.

“As soon as everybody else was asleep and I was sitting there with him, he passed on,” she remembers. “So I think he kind of waited for me to be with him.”

Bethea says her husband had several health problems and died of liver disease.

Later that day in November 2015, the staff at the hospital near her Jacksonville, Fla., home asked Bethea something she hadn’t prepared for: Which funeral home did she want to use?

Bethea had never planned a funeral before, but knew of only one in town — Hardage-Giddens Funeral Home of Jacksonville. Some of her family and friends had used it and, she said, it had a good reputation. She and her family went there the next day.

After meeting with a staff member, they walked out with a bill of over $7,000.

Bethea provided a copy of the itemized funeral bill to NPR. One thing quickly stood out, but only if you know something about Jacksonville’s funeral market.

The cost of Archie’s cremation — $3,295 — was more than twice the amount charged elsewhere in Jacksonville by the company that owns Hardage-Giddens. The cremations are done in the same place and in the same way.

In a months-long investigation into pricing and marketing in the funeral business, also known as the death care industry, NPR spoke with funeral directors, consumers and regulators. We collected price information from around the country and visited providers. We found a confusing, unhelpful system that seems designed to be impenetrable by average consumers, who must make costly decisions at a time of grief and financial stress.

Funeral homes often aren’t forthcoming about how much things cost, or embed the information in elaborate package deals that can drive up the price of saying goodbye to loved ones.

Ellen Bethea holds a picture of herself and her late husband, Archie. Photo: Laura Heald for NPR

Ellen Bethea holds a picture of herself and her late husband, Archie.
Photo: Laura Heald for NPR

While most funeral businesses have websites, most omit prices from the sites, making it more difficult for families to compare prices or shop around. NPR reporters also found it difficult to get prices from many funeral homes, and federal regulators routinely find the homes violating a law that requires price disclosures.

In Jacksonville, Hardage-Giddens and several other businesses in and around Jacksonville are part of a large, corporate-owned portfolio of about 1,500 funeral homes and several hundred cemeteries.

The owner and operator is Service Corporation International (SCI), a multibillion-dollar company traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

The Houston-based firm claims 16 percent of the $19 billion North American death care market, which includes the U.S. and Canada. Company documents say it has 24,000 employees and is the largest owner of funeral homes and cemeteries in the world.

In Jacksonville, SCI sells cremations under the Hardage-Giddens/Dignity Memorial brand at large, luxurious funeral homes.

The company also sells them for lower prices at strip-mall storefront outlets under other brands such as Neptune Society and National Cremation Society.

In communities around the country, it’s common to find wide swings in prices for funeral services.

“That to me, starts to cross a line into consumer deception,” says Joshua Slocum, executive director of the Funeral Consumers Alliance, a death care industry watchdog group based in Burlington, Vt.

Slocum was talking generally about markets such as Jacksonville, where a company’s centralized crematory handles remains from a variety of differently branded outlets — from posh funeral homes to humble storefront cremation societies.

The cremations are all the same, but some will cost much more than others, depending on where the consumer made the arrangements, and which of the company’s brand names appears on the invoice.

“You only get that lower price for the cremation society if you happen to know that it exists and is owned by the same business,” Slocum says. “I’m not saying they’re doing something illegal, but I am questioning whether or not we can really say, ‘Oh, they give a much higher level of service.’ ”

The front of 517 Park St., a crematory that serves multiple funeral homes. The building is located between downtown Jacksonville and the Riverside neighborhood. Laura Heald for NPR

The front of 517 Park St., a crematory that serves multiple funeral homes. The building is located between downtown Jacksonville and the Riverside neighborhood.
Photo: Laura Heald for NPR

The cremations arranged through all those outlets are performed in a large crematory at 517 Park St. in Jacksonville. The crematory’s supervisor, Troy Brown, wrote on his LinkedIn profile that the Park Street facility serves 14 funeral homes.

“Direct cremation is the same no matter where you go,” says Slocum. “When we’re talking about situations where some consumers do not know or can’t find out that that same business offers the same service at a lower price, maybe at a similar location, that is when I would have a problem with it.”

But Scott Gilligan, a lawyer for the National Funeral Directors Association, says comparing the two cremations is “like saying all weddings are the same.”

“Just like if I want a hamburger at a gourmet place, it’s the same hamburger I’m going to get at McDonald’s. But it’s going to cost more because of the atmosphere, because of what is being done. It’s choices,” Gilligan says.

According to Gilligan, when consumers choose a funeral home, they’re generally not making that decision on price. They’re looking at other factors, such as reputation and location.

When it comes to identical services, such as Jacksonville’s cremations, which have different brand names and different prices, Gilligan says: “Well, that is simply someone offering a service, or offering a division, which is going to cater to people who are looking for the price.”

One thing the storefront and the larger funeral homes have in common is an upselling strategy. Both try to sell consumers packages that bundle together multiple goods and services. This makes all of the funerals more expensive.

Bethea says it happened to her.

“Well, actually, I think they only showed us one package that they had,” she says.

Ellen Bethea and her great-grandson, Lucas, look at a painting of her late husband, Archie. Photo: Laura Heald for NPR

Ellen Bethea and her great-grandson, Lucas, look at a painting of her late husband, Archie.
Photo: Laura Heald for NPR

 

That package, known as the Honor Cremation Service, included a number of extra charges, including $495 for stationery and $345 for an Internet memorial.

That price premium is a problem the federal government has tried to fix with “the Funeral Rule,” a regulation in place since 1984.

It requires itemized price lists. But funeral directors are still free to emphasize packages in the sales process, as they did with Bethea.

“You know, Archie didn’t have hardly very much life insurance — maybe 5,000 — and I had, you know, a little bit of money in the bank, and it took everything.”

SCI, whose officials declined to speak with NPR for this story, tells consumers in sales materials that buying a funeral package saves them money.

But company executives tell investors a different story. In a presentation to Wall Street investors last year, the company said consumers spend an extra $1,900, on average when they buy a package, versus an “a la carte” funeral.

For some context, the national median cost of a funeral with a burial, not including cemetery costs, is over $7,000.

SCI CEO Tom Ryan told investors: “Think about society today. We are in a hurry, right? Everybody is on the clock … What we find is when we deliver these packages, people tend to spend more money because they’re buying more products and services.”

He added that consumers, in fact, like the packages.

“And most importantly, we survey our customers, and the highest customer satisfaction scores come from people that select the packages. So we know we’re doing the right thing. The packages allow us to do that for all parties involved,” Ryan said.

Company executives told analysts in July they’re rolling out a new point-of-sale system that also increases per-funeral revenue.

Packaging goods and services under multiple brands and setting different prices for identical services are strategies the company uses in many of its markets, which span 45 states and the District of Columbia.

In Raleigh, N.C., for example, the company’s full service funeral home and storefront cremation office are across the street from each other. Crossing that street can save you — or cost you — $1,895.

By Riley Beggin of NPR, Brian Latimer and Emily Siner of Nashville Public Radio, Joe Wertz of StateImpact Oklahoma and Ed Williams of KUNM contributed to this story.

View the original story along with its extras at NPR.

todd fisher with prozac pill shaped urn

Carrie Fisher’s urn is shaped like a giant Prozac pill, which she would’ve loved

IMAGE: CLINT BREWER / SPLASH NEWS

By JOSH DICKEY for Mashable

January 6, 2017

Carrie Fisher’s legacy as a mental health advocate and her fiercely ironic sense of humor were encapsulated in one final gesture: Her Prozac pill-shaped urn.

Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds, who died a day apart last week, were memorialized Thursday at a private service in their adjacent Beverly Hills homes. On Friday, paparazzi captured images of Fisher’s brother Todd at Reynolds’ burial at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles carrying what looked like a giant Prozac pill — which he later confirmed was his late sister’s urn.

“Carrie’s favorite possession was a giant Prozac pill that she brought many years ago. A big pill,” Fisher told reporters, according to ET. “She loved it, and it was in her house, and Billie and I felt it was where she’d want to be.”

ET also reported that Fisher had wished to be cremated, and that some of her ashes were buried with Reynolds on Friday.

“We couldn’t find anything appropriate,” Fisher continued. “Carrie would like that,” he added. “It was her favorite thing, and so that’s how you do it. And so they’re together, and they will be together here and in heaven, and we’re O.K. with that.”

To be sure, Fisher was as cheeky in life about her own obituary as her family was about her final resting place: Fisher wrote in her book Wishful Drinking that she wanted her obit to read that she was “drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.”

Todd Fisher also told reporters that the family is planning a larger memorial service “down the road for the public and all the family friends,” but did not give specifics.

Fisher died Dec. 27 at age 60, less than a week after suffering a heart attack on a flight from London to LAX. The following day her mother, Singin’ in the Rain star and longtime Hollywood royalty Debbie Reynolds was stricken with stroke-like symptoms and died hours later. She was 84.

VIEW ORIGINAL ARTICLE ON MASHABLE

ED HILLE / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Stonemor Might Be Writing Its Own Obituary

By by Laura McCrystal, Staff Writer for Philly.com 

When the Archdiocese of Philadelphia two years ago announced plans to lease its 13 cemeteries to a private company, the deal was heralded as one to help the church recover from a dire financial situation.

Now, the Bucks County-based StoneMor Partners LP could be facing money problems of its own.

Its stock plummeted in the fall after the company slashed its quarterly dividend to shareholders. Investors claim in lawsuits they have been misled. Some municipalities and school districts are locked in battles with StoneMor over property taxes on the cemeteries.

The changes are worrying investors and giving new ammunition to local Catholics and funeral directors who in the past complained about aggressive sales tactics by the company, which oversees about 7,000 Catholic burials a year in the Philadelphia region.

“We just don’t want to see consumers taken advantage of if this company gets in even more financial distress,” said Paul Cavanagh, a director at Cavanagh Family Funeral Homes in Delaware County.

StoneMor executives have acknowledged a cash-flow problem. But the archdiocese calls its relationship with StoneMor a positive one. And both sides declare the partnership, locked in for decades, to be a success.

“Other than the cash drain, which we had anticipated, it’s a terrific acquisition, and we’re hoping to find other archdioceses that are willing to partner up with us,” StoneMor CEO Larry Miller told investors during a conference call in December.

To bring in more cash, StoneMor has started burying empty vaults purchased by Philadelphia-area Catholics who have not yet died — a move that allows it to access money otherwise held in a trust until someone is buried. And the company plans to open its cemetery gates to non-Catholics.

In 2013, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which had always run its cemeteries, handed operations over to StoneMor, a publicly traded firm that owns or manages 317 cemeteries nationwide.

The 60-year lease called for the company to pay the church $89 million over 30 years. In return, StoneMor maintains the cemeteries, arranges burials, and sells plots, vaults, and caskets.

Within months of the deal, some local Catholics and funeral directors began complaining that StoneMor was misleading or harassing mourners with aggressive sales tactics at a time when many are most fragile or vulnerable.

Miller maintains such complaints were stirred by funeral directors simply concerned about new competition in selling caskets and burial vaults.

Ken Gavin, a spokesman for the Philadelphia Archdiocese, said the number of complaints that come in are largely consistent with what the archdiocese saw before leasing the cemeteries. He said church officials maintain  “a positive working relationship” with StoneMor and have a right to inspect its records and monitor compliance with terms of the deal. “We communicate with them regularly regarding the cemeteries,” Gavin said.

Last year, StoneMor reported a decrease in cash flow, cut its dividend, and became the target of investor lawsuits.

Seeking to ease shareholder concerns, StoneMor executives used the December conference call to lay out plans to bolster their sales force and increase cash flow.

One solution they explained: Getting more money from Philadelphia-area Catholics before they die.

State law requires funds from cemetery sales made ahead of a person’s death to be held in a trust until a vault is delivered and installed, which traditionally occurs after the death. StoneMor has a practice of burying those prepurchased vaults at the cemetery long before the intended occupant’s death, giving it access to the trust funds.

In its call to investors, the company said it would begin burying the 3,700 vaults it sold in the last two years to Philadelphia-area consumers to cash in on $8 million in trust funds.

Miller defended that practice in an interview last week as “the right thing to do” because, he said, buried vaults secure and reinforce the ground at the cemetery.

“We did make a very conscious decision that we were not going to install vaults (in the Philadelphia-area cemeteries) for two years,” Miller told investors in December, according to a recording of the call posted on the firm’s website. “We wanted to make sure that we were supported by the Catholic families, and we are, and we’re now installing those.”

It’s not a fine-print issue. When StoneMor customers sign prepurchase contracts, they also sign paperwork authorizing delivery and burial of their empty vaults before they die, the company says.

Still, State Sen. Tommy Tomlinson (R., Bucks), who is a funeral director, said he believespre-delivery of vaults does not follow the law’s intent: to protect the consumer and keep their money safe until they need to be buried “They certainly are violating the spirit of the law,” Tomlinson said, “and they are not being consumer friendly.”

Sen. Tom McGarrigle (R., Delaware) introduced a bill last session that would have required all prepurchase money be kept in a trust until a person’s death. It passed the Senate but stalled in the House. He plans to reintroduce it this year.

“My goal is to ensure that merchandise which consumers purchase is available to them and in the condition they expect it to be when the time comes for it to be used for its intended purpose,” McGarrigle said in a statement last week.

Miller dismissed the opposition over burying empty vaults as a tactic from funeral directors frustrated that StoneMor is cutting into their business.

“When we took over the archdiocese cemeteries, we started to sell the merchandise, and that inflamed a handful of funeral directors,” he said. “And they’ve been fighting it ever since, trying to protect their turf.”

Miller also told investors in December that additional cash would come from opening burial gardens in the Philadelphia area Catholic cemeteries for non-Catholic Christians. In the interview last week, he said he still had plans to do so but provided no timeline for that move.

Gavin, the archdiocesan spokesman, said any such move must be approved by the archdiocese, and StoneMor “has not yet sought permission to do so.”

Some investors have expressed skepticism about StoneMor’s plans.

“There’s been no specificity, it’s basically been trust us, things haven’t worked so well recently, but they’re going to get better,” one, Jeffrey Schwarz of Metropolitan Capital Advisors, said in the Dec. 14 call. “I could be wrong, but I for one would love to see a little bit more meat on the bones.”

One lawsuit, filed in Philadelphia on behalf of a shareholder by the Berwyn-based Weiser Law Firm, calls StoneMor’s business model “a financial shell game” based on making false and misleading statements.

That and other lawsuits allege that StoneMor had to amend its financial reports last year because the Securities and Exchange Commission required it to stop relying on flawed metrics, and that their new reports resulted in lower revenue and distributable cash flow.

Miller said last week the lawsuits had “no merit.” He characterized investors’ allegations as confusion over StoneMor’s business model, because it relies heavily on pre-need sales.

“We have an enormously strong balance sheet,” Miller said. “The company is a very, very strong company.”

Gavin, the spokesman for the archdiocese, said the lease with StoneMor allows church officials to monitor the company’s records and compliance.

It also requires StoneMor to pay property taxes on the cemeteries where they are taxed, although the archdiocese must shoulder some of the tax burden for the first 11 years.

One such battle is ongoing in Delaware County, where the Marple Newtown School District claims the $1.85 million assessment for the 321-acre SS. Peter and Paul cemetery should be millions more than it is, and StoneMor claims the property deserves tax exemption as a religious worship site.

Similar cases are underway in Montgomery County, where StoneMor is challenging the county board of assessment’s decision to revoke cemeteries’ tax-exempt status after they were leased to StoneMor.

Miller attributes the company’s decrease in cash flow to leasing the Catholic cemeteries in Philadelphia and costs associated with building up a sales force here. Despite the ongoing litigation and criticism, he said StoneMor officials remain confident and hope to make similar deals with other Catholic cemeteries across the country.

“We make attempts periodically to reach out,” Miller said, “because there’s a lot of archdioceses in financial trouble.”

'12 Philly.ComLogoSee original article, “Company operating Philadelphia Catholic cemeteries faces lawsuits, criticism” on Philly.com

DWD Congress Image

Help Stop DC from Squashing Death with Dignity Legislation

From the Death With Dignity National Organization:

The clock is ticking. The companion resolutions in the U.S. Senate (SJ Res 4) and House (HJ Res 27) to block the Washington, D.C. Death with Dignity Act are moving through the legislative process, getting closer and closer to a vote.

The same members of Congress who talk nonstop about small government and states’ rights are seeking to use their federal power and their personal views to override the will of the Washington, D.C. residents, whom they don’t even represent. Worse, more and more Representatives and Senators are signing on as co-sponsors. Whereas two members of Congress introduced the resolutions, last week their ranks grew to 13, and now there are 20 in all.

This attack on the District residents’ rights is a growing threat, and we must match its force—not just for the District, but to preserve the gains we’ve made since 1994. While we are actively working behind the scenes with our friends and allies in the D.C. Council and Congress, we need your help to preserve our victory in D.C.

Please call your members of Congress and urge them to vote against the SJ Res 4/HJ Res 27 resolution!

Once you are connected, tell the staffer on the line that you are a constituent and would like the Representative/Senator to know that you oppose the resolution to disapprove of the D.C. Death with Dignity Act. That’s it.

If you think, “I don’t live in D.C., this doesn’t concern me,” think again: We know from our experience in Oregon that if the D.C. bill goes down, a national ban on assisted dying may be next. Already, Rep. Wenstrup has tweeted that, “Congress failing to act would imply federal approval of physician-assisted suicide.” These members of Congress are not just after Washington, D.C., they want to stop the growing momentum we’ve built in passing Death with Dignity laws across the country.

Your members of Congress are obligated to hear their constituents’ voices. All calls, both for and against, are tallied. If you do not make that call, the tally will give a mistaken impression that their constituents do not care about the issue or want them to vote differently. It’s much harder for your Representative/Senators to vote down the resolution if the only constituents they hear from are its supporters. Your call is especially critical if your members of Congress are leaning toward voting for the resolution. Nothing sways your electeds’ vote like overwhelming opposition from their constituents!

Please call your members of Congress and urge them to oppose H.J. Res 27/S.J. Res 4 today.

Your Representative is here:

http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

Your Senators are here:

https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm?OrderBy=state

Thank you for making the most important call of this year,

Peg Sandeen
Executive Director

diamond from ashes

From Ashes to Diamonds

By Mandy Kennedy for 22 Words; Photo Credit: Bear Creek Funeral

A New Technology Creates This Bizarre and Beautiful Alternative To Burying Your Deceased Loved Ones

As traditional in our culture as funerals and burials of loved ones have become, it’s a pretty wasteful practice. A company out of Switzerland has recognized this and has offered up a brilliant and offbeat alternative to remembering your loved ones.

Algordanza has perfected a technology that will preserve the cremated remains of your loved ones into an elegant-looking diamond.

via: Algordanza

Whereas a funeral with a casket, headstone, and plot can cost more than $10,000, this alternative can cost less than half that. And it can travel with you!

via: Washingtonian

And, if you’re so inclined, you can even get the stone made into jewelry or anything else that’s wearable.

Here’s just one iteration of what the finished product can look like.

via: Memorial Technology

In fact, because carbon is pretty much all that remains after cremation, the end result is no different than the other realistic diamonds that are being created artificially these days. You won’t be able to pick the color of the diamond, however. The color will be determined by the characteristics of the ashes.

via: Insurance Finder

In fact, with this practice, you’re not just helping preserve land that would otherwise be used for wasteful burials, but you can actually start your family’s own collection of family jewels, just like the British Royal Family’s!

via: Telegraph

The process isn’t just earmarked for people. The same transformation can take place for cremated pets as well. If your dog’s permanent resting place is important to you, to the tune of $5,000, then this might be for you!