After serving grieving citizens in the Quad-Cities for years, funeral home owners Earl “Boo” Wendt and Jeff DeRoo created Mississippi Valley Cremation & Direct Burial to simplify the after-death process for those who have lost loved ones.
Direct cremation and burial services are less expensive than traditional funeral services because of fewer steps in the body disposition process. The shorter process means fewer decisions for families without sacrificing quality.
“We want the families to concentrate, and be with their families, and not have to worry about taking care of arrangements or going into debt or how much it's going to cost,” said Tamara Wendt, marketing director. “Peace of mind is our top priority for our families."
The direct services skip the traditional embalming process that prevents a corpse from decaying to preserve them for viewings and other funeral services. Mississippi Valley doesn’t include viewing services unless clients request a private viewing for immediate family soon after death.
Traditional burial, cremation and funeral services can cost around $10,000. The direct burial package at Mississippi Valley is $1,895, which includes the cost of the casket and taxes, and direct cremation costs $965. The cemetery lot cost, and other additional add-ons, are not included. For veterans, direct burial services cost $1,625 for those being buried in the Rock Island National Cemetery and $1,745 for those being buried elsewhere.
Earl Wendt, owner of Wendt Funeral Home, said it was important to meet the demand for services that offer “simplicity, transparency," and are "stress free and debt free.”
The National Funeral Directors Association projects that 57.5% of Americans who die in 2021 will be cremated.
However, Earl Wendt and DeRoo, owner of DeRoo Funeral Home, wanted to make the newest options more accessible than traditional methods by offering complete online planning.
“Instead of making an appointment and coming into one funeral home, and there's maybe a little bit of anxiety that comes with that or someone doesn't want to come in,” DeRoo said, “all the arrangements can be done with input from the family on their own time schedule.”
If clients have difficulty navigating the website, www.mvcremation.com, they can contact the on-call funeral director who is available 24/7.
Both pre-planning and immediate planning services are available through the website, along with quotes for either service. There are two options for pre-planning services, one where the individual will die within six months or one where the individual will die beyond six months.
After a client selects the timeline they are planning for, they will be able to pick out other funeral elements — like a casket, amount of death certificates and scheduling a private viewing — online. Clients do not have to pre-pay for pre-planned arrangements. The step-by-step process creates increased transparency and allows clients to see and understand all the options that are available to them, according to DeRoo.
Pre-planning funeral arrangements, even when a person isn't in the process of dying, is becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Studies show, and DeRoo said, millennials and Gen Z are more comfortable talking about death than older generations, and feel comfortable doing in-depth planning virtually, which makes Mississippi Valley's online process efficient.
“You look at other industries and they are switching to more services online or more ways to handle business online,” Tamara Wendt said. “We can help the families by doing this too.”
Planning services ahead of death takes pressure off family and friends after their loved one's death, she Wendt said. Specifically, it makes it easier for Mississippi Valley to complete certain services, like writing an obituary.
“They have their information to be able to share with their family,” Tamara said. “Their family isn't worried about trying to track down all that information, and they can be there for the rest of their families.”
While DeRoo does enjoy meeting families and helping them in-person at a funeral home, the online process serves families in ways he can’t.
“It's a simpler way to help the families," he said, "by allowing them to do this on their own time."