Prepare for Loved Ones – Funeral Director Advises

by Kofi Ayim

A funeral home owner has advised the African community in the U.S. to face reality and prepare for their loved ones when death comes knocking. Mr. Clarence Wright of Clarence B. Wright Funeral Home in Irvington, New Jersey pointed out in an interview with Amandla that, because land is a finite quantity, ground burial would be a thing of the past in the near
future. He explained that white people saw cremation as an alternative to ground burial a long time ago, but the African American community, which used to detest cremation, is fast catching up to it. “We used to cremate on the average one African American per year in the good old days, but it’s no longer so,” he said, adding, “it’s a matter of time that African immigrants would follow suit.” He therefore urged African organizations such as religious bodies, civil and social associations to team up and purchase tracts of burial plots in a given location for their loved ones. He commented that other homogeneous ethnic groups are fast buying plots of graves because it is economically cheaper than buying one solo, plus the added benefit of a community area of burial. He remarked that regular increases in grave plots make it a necessity for Africans to do the right thing.

“Given their culture, it would be prudent and in their own interest to buy now because of potential price increases,” he advised. He opined that very soon Africans would be faced with the hard choice in their lowest and most vulnerable times of either paying excessive costs for ground burial, going with cremation (which is cheaper), or shipping the remains of a loved one back to Africa for burial. He said that because of the deep and passionate care Africans devote to their dead, cremation would be a real psychological challenge for many. He also noted that, with the very few Africans he has had to cremate, the choice was purely due to financial constraints. The 88-year- old funeral director, who entered the burial profession in February 1951 with the David D. Woody Funeral Home in Newark, said he has seen it all when it comes to African burials. He suggested that gone are the days when the majority of Africans were shipped back home for burial. According to Mr. Wright, the average cost to ship a body to Africa is about $10,000. Due to this and other factors, there has been a significant drop in the number of shipped bodies home in the past several years. The average cost of burial in the U.S. is about $8,000.

He advised Africans to invest in life insurance policies to help stem the funeral costs of the loved ones they would leave behind. He wondered aloud if weekend funerals organized to raise funds for bereaved families would be economically viable and beneficial to the community. “That’s the culture there, but not here,” he suggested. He said because funeral homes do not offer payment plans for the bereaved, the investment could be achieved through life insurance payment plans. Mr. Wright observed that because the death and funeral rites are sacred to Africans, they seldom discuss them, but “If you really love your immediate family, prepare for them now because death is inevitable.”

(see advertisement of Clarence Wright Funeral Home on page 4).

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Posted by on Dec 12 2017. Filed under top stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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