The death of a relative is usually a difficult time for families and this stress can be compounded by worrying over funeral arrangements.
A newly opened funeral home is seeking to make that process as easy as possible and to provide a higher standard of service.
R M de Souza Memorial Chapel Ltd Funeral Home is the epitome of the family business.
The funeral directors are two brothers and a sister: Bevan de Souza, embalmer; Nikolay de Souza, business manager; and Jauharah de Souza, marketing manager.
The home is named after their late father, Richard Maurice de Souza, who passed away four years ago.
It was his dream for the family to have its own business and coincidentally, the home opened on March 1 this year, his birthday.
They wanted their funeral home to feel like a regular home, and a lot of their home furniture, including their office table, was transferred to the location at Lot #5 New Yalta, Diego Martin Main Road, Diego Martin.
The funeral home experience comes from Bevan, who worked at a local funeral home for 21 years and studied and worked in the field in Toronto, Canada.
He says that as a funeral director your job is to listen and be there for clients.
"Because there's a concept in this country that funeral homes are all about money, the last thing on our mind in this funeral home is money," he said.
He said the first question families ask is if a down payment is required but they respond, "Let's discuss how we'll see about your relative and money is the last thing."
- embalming services - construction, repairs and maintenance of cemetery and vault plots
- bereavement counselling
- state of the art visitation rooms
- catering to all religions
- international shipping and receiving services
They also provide a chapel that can seat 120, in-house funeral arrangements, car transport services on the day of the funeral, photography, videotaping and live streaming services, and water, chairs and tents at the cemetery. They also use a lowering device for the casket instead of rope, and it is a soft landing instead of a hard, final drop.
They do not have any additional staff and they all deal personally with the clients and provide the various services. Bevan said even when the business expands and they have to hire employees they will maintain that personal touch. He stressed their entire concept is different from what obtains at other local funeral homes.
"We are not even worried about what other funeral homes are doing...but we are just trying to set a standard that much higher," he added.
Nikolay noted that his brother has drawn from his experience visiting funeral homes in Toronto and in the last year and half the family had been researching homes abroad.
Caskets range from low end local woods to high end foreign woods, stainless steel (usually for vaults) and they also offer urns, which can be customised.
Jauharah noted one client had a family vault burial for the late matriarch.
The casket was hoisted into the vault and they "sent her off like a queen".
Bevan said the client simply had to come in and choose the casket and they do all registrations, work with the hospital, post mortem and other things.
"We want to make it as easy as possible," he added.
Jauharah said a funeral, including cremation could go from $1,500 to much more, depending on what the family wanted.
Bevan stressed that the families are vulnerable at this time and they make sure that they stick to their budget without unnecessary add-ons.
"We can't take advantage of people," he noted.
After the funeral some of their clients just want to come in and talk, others returned with gifts of food or fruits. Jauharah said she felt honoured after a client asked if she could name her late baby girl, who died at six days, after the funeral director.
She would call and check up on clients on the ninth day after the funeral and 40 days after.
"Yes at the end of the day a funeral is about money but it is about more than that. It's about seeing about the family and the after care," she said.
She noted they are available 24/7 and while the office might be closed they are "always on call".
Nikolay said their future plans include a memorial garden where people could sit, pray, and plant a tree in remembrance of their loved ones.
They also plan to have their own crematorium and pet funeral services.
For more information you can call 223-2007/8, 789-6053 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.