Reclaiming the American Way of Death
Publication Date: June 2011
Abuse of consumers by the funeral industry has only worsened in the decades since Jessica Mitford's landmark expose The American Way of death.Families are exploited financially at a time of intense grief, prepaid funeral money vanishes into thin air. Body parts are sold on the black market. In eight states, families are denied the healing that can come from personal involvement in caring for their dead.But a funeral consumer movement is awakening. As with natural childbirth and hospice, Americans are asserting their right to take charge of a major event in their lives. Many still want the help of a funeral director-but to assist, not to direct. And many are handling it themselves, with home burials, green burials, or direct arrangements with a crematory.Joshua Slocum and Lisa Carlson are the two most prominent leaders of that movement. In Final Rights, they provide the information consumers need to take back their rights under existing law, while proposing legal changes that could benefit all Americans who will plan or pay for a funeral.