All Articles Tagged "funeral"

Aftermarket: How African Americans Capitalized On The Funeral Business

March 5th, 2014 - By Lauryn Stallings
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best funeralIf you’ve ever picked up a fan in a Baptist church, chances are you’ve seen an appropriately misplaced ad for So-and-so’s Funeral Home inked across the back. There’s a logic to marketing death at church; in the African-American tradition afterlife services for even the least spiritual are held at the family church. But there’s something beyond that religious affiliated advertising that’s made the funeral business so prominent in the Black community. This rich history of interment should lay your curiosities to rest.

The basis of the African-American funeral is rooted in the slave trade. Prior to the Civil War, communities of Blacks gathered privately to celebrate the lives of their fellow men in quiet renditions of tribal African rituals. But as the 19th century progressed those homegoings bloomed more often into commercial ceremonies such as the Second Lines of jazz funeral parades and receptions that are almost parties to honor the dead.

As the funeral evolved, so did the role of the mortician. The job became more than embalming and warm preparation of the bodies as funeral directors took on the duty of ushering grieving families through everything from collecting the deceased to wakes to grave closings. It was also a business of necessity. In the early 1920s, with Jim Crow still a reality, Black run funeral parlors were the only options for the community. Beyond burial services, they were hubs of the Civil Rights movement that gave owners prominence among African Americans. And though some found funeral direction a calling, most are drawn into mortuary sciences through a lasting tradition. The family business.

As the 20th century opened funeral directors realized that apart from serving their congregations, to survive they would have to find loyalty in their customer base. Yet in the early ’70s dozens of homes began to close while others thrived. In cities such as New York and Detroit, those continuing to serve the community have done so for generations. Daughters and sons take control of the chapels opened by great-great grandfathers, not only because it’s a familiar setting, but also to protect the legacy their predecessors strived to build.

Although many undertakers, directors and in-house ministers are seduced by the esteem inherent in the title, there is a significant monetary appeal. The funeral business is one of the more stable options for African Americans (annual revenue for the funeral services industry approached $12 million in 2007*), leading some to an interest in mortuary science for its financial incentives. And if there was ever a prime moment to invest in the morbid franchise, it’s now. As Baby Boomers age past retirement and into hospice they’ll begin to grimly stimulate the economy. Analysts expect death rates — and therefore related sales — will rise as the remainder of 76 million Americans born in the era cap their life expectancy.

From humble memorials to extravagant acknowledgments of life, African Americans have found a fruitful tradition in the inevitability of the hereafter. That is nothing to mourn.

*Preliminary results of the 2012 economic census won’t be released until March 2014.

Philadelphia Woman Shows Up Alive Two Weeks After Her Funeral

August 26th, 2013 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Sharolyn Jackson

Source: CBS Philadelphia



From BlackVoices 

We all know at least one person who would show up late to their own funeral. The well-known saying is meant to be hypothetical, but in the case of 50-year-old Philadelphia woman Sharolyn Jackson the saying is true.

According to a local CBS affiliate, Jackson was found alive almost two weeks after her funeral.

It turns out, her family misidentified another woman’s body thinking it was Jackson after they received a call about an unidentified woman found dead on a West Philadelphia street. The woman matched the description of Jackson, and was officially identified by two people–her son and a social worker.

Jackson’s mother, Carrie Minney told the Associated Press that the woman they buried looked exactly like her daughter with the exception of her nose. The familyattributed the difference to the embalming process.

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Claudia Jordan Comes For Omarosa: ‘This Woman Had A Red Carpet At Her Fiance’s Funeral…How Upset Were You?’

March 28th, 2013 - By madamenoire
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claudia jordan

From EurWeb

Claudia Jordan has a problem with Omarosa.

So what’s up with that you say? Well, despite the fact that she’s now a woman of the cloth and suffered the tragedy of losing her fiancé, Michael Clarke Duncan, a lot of folks still don’t like her. Just ask La Toya Jackson. No, wait, just ask Claudia Jordan.

You see, Claudia and Omarosa used to be friends, but had a falling out after Michael Clarke Duncan’s funeral.

Apparently, Omarosa didn’t like the fact that Claudia had posted a picture on Instagram from her fiancé Michael Clarke Duncan’s funaral as she laid him to rest. Claudia, however, feels that was a minor offense if it was one at all because the picture she posted was in tribute to the Green Mile actor.

See Claudia Jordan’s response on

Big-Hearted Baller Derrick Rose To Pay Part Of Funeral For 6-Month-Old Killed In Chicago

March 14th, 2013 - By madamenoire
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Source: WENN

Source: WENN

From HelloBeautiful

Chicago Bulls MVP Derrick Rose allegedly offered to pay a portion of 6-month-old Jonylah Watkins’ funeral expenses. Jonylah was killed while getting her diaper changed by her father after bullets ripped through their car when they were parked.

According to the SunTimes, Rose is working with Leak and Sons Funeral Home.

“On Monday afternoon, Watkins was standing on the curb in the 6500 block of South Maryland, changing his daughter’s diaper on the front passenger seat of a minivan, when a gunman emerged unnoticed from a gangway behind him and opened fire. He and Jonylah were injured. She survived emergency surgery but died Tuesday morning.” -ChicagoSunTimes


And Now For Your Friday Night Ratchgedy: Woman Sings Mary J. Blige’s ‘7 Days’ At Boyfriend’s Funeral

December 7th, 2012 - By madamenoire
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We know we all morn in different ways, but what possessed a mourning girlfriend to sing Mary J. Blige’s  “Seven Days” at her boyfriend’s funeral, we just don’t know. Couple things, you never want to talk about making love to someone while people are coming together to pay their last respects, and of all the songs to sing, “Seven Days” just isn’t it. There are just way too many lines in that track that are not appropriate for that occasion.

Perhaps the funniest thing about this clip is that when the girlfriend goes into the second verse, someone decided to save her from herself and basically told her to have a seat baby. Thank God for that woman.

Check out the clip below. Have you ever had anybody sing a suspect song at a funeral you attended?

Reaching Out and Making Connections: What Will People Say About You When You’re Gone?

July 31st, 2012 - By Mame Kwayie
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Black Woman Dreaming

I hadn’t heard of writer Erica Kennedy, but I’d seen her title Bling on the shelf at Barnes & Noble a few times. Still, having only heard her name in reference to her June passing, I was taken by the number of requiems penned by fellow woman-writers in her honor, most of whom had never met her face to face. The memories were similar in that each written memoriam agreed that Kennedy was mentor to many and a connector of women who, in some fashion, had demonstrated promise in the realm of writing and publishing. All agreed that she was witty and sharp, but most of all, Erica Kennedy was remembered as an encourager.

This made me wonder about the legacies we leave. This was not the first time, however. During Whitney Houston’s funeral in February, a friend tweeted, “Who will speak at your funeral, and what will they say?”

In late-March, a co-worker of mine passed unexpectedly. In the days after the staff received word of the terrible news, we moved around each other in the halls, pressing our lips together and raising our cheeks in contrived acknowledgement and grief. As I placed my lunch in the break room refrigerator the following week, I had to push a Diet Pepsi out of the way. I wondered if it belonged to my deceased co-worker, a man whose penchant for the drinks became the stuff of office folklore. Did he have any food left in the fridge or freezer? I thought about how this simple sign of life turned into a striking reminder of how frail and fleeting our moments can be.

My officemates and I were rows deep in the sanctuary of a catholic church the following Monday, offering support to the grieving family and to each other at the funeral. Throughout the church were emblems of the departed’s life outside of the office: the youth athletic teams he coached (both current players and alumni), old friends, co-workers from past professional lives, and members of a tight-knit family, all of whom had faces flushed with shock and sorrow, all of whom spoke highly of their coach, colleague, and loved one. I thought about how much this said about his legacy.

The question of legacy hit home once again when, in the wee hours of July 20, twelve moviegoers were killed in the theatre tragedy in Aurora, Colo. Among them was Jessica Ghawi, an aspiring sports journalist whose social media prowess prompted her to post an essay about narrowly missing the gunfire at a Toronto mall the month prior to attending the fateful midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Colorado. The message she shared with her blog readers: “…every moment we have to live our [lives] is a blessing.”

It seems that we work hard to be somebody in this world, to be seen, to be “important,” as if our titles and toys mean anything really. What we can learn from all of this is that what matters are our connections, real and digital — reaching out to others, using our stories for good, and being an encourager and a mentor. It’s about using our platforms and positions for good and not just for gain. It’s a cliché because it’s true: you can’t take it (the spoils, the toys, the titles) with you. Whether online or in real life, our connections are lasting relics of our spirits. What remains are memories of your encouragement, your belief and your passion for someone and something other than yourself.

Readers, what do you hope is part of your legacy? Who will speak at your funeral, and what will they say?

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In Memory Of: Tameka Raymond Announces The Kile Glover Fund

July 27th, 2012 - By Brande Victorian
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This morning, Tameka Raymond and her family will lay her 11-year-old son Kile to rest in Atlanta, but his memory will not be forgotten. In one of few messages the ex-wife of usher has sent out since her son’s tragic jet ski accident, Tameka got on Twitter early this morning to thank her followers for their support during this time and to let them know that she is planning to use her son’s death for a good purpose.

I appreciate the hundreds, perhaps thousands of prayers. I’m so grateful to you guys. Kile was the most fun, creative, sweet, respectful boy,” she tweeted.

“Many have asked where to send flowers, but in Lieu of flowers. we ask that you make a contribution to the Kile Glover Fund @ Bank of America

“Our goal is increase water safety- thru implementing laws, policies & education. Kiles passing will not be in vain, we will see to this

“Sorry, I gave half info Bank of America Acct # 3340 3823 9828 OR via PayPal email … I love you guys. Goodnight”

According to Mercury News, The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is still investigating the accident which left Kile brain-dead and Jeffrey Hubbard, the driver of the Jet Ski that struck him on Lake Lanier that day,  could face criminal charges. Some reports say Jeffrey lost control of the water vehicle which is what caused it to make contact with Kile and the 15-year-old girl he was riding an inner-tube with at the time. Tameka and her family will likely be seeking laws that won’t permit jet skis to be ridden in such a close vicinity to others in the water who aren’t riding. Hopefully Tameka and her family succeed in making something good come out of such a horrific situation.

Brande Victorian is the news and operations editor for Follow her on twitter @Be_Vic.

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Public Wake in Harlem Today for Sylvia Woods

July 24th, 2012 - By Tonya Garcia
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Image: AP

The wake for Sylvia Woods, founder of the iconic Harlem restaurant Sylvia’s, will be held today from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Abyssinian Baptist Church. It’s open to the public. Her funeral will take place tomorrow at Grace Baptist Church in Mount Vernon at 11 a.m. Rev. Al Sharpton will deliver the eulogy.

Ms. Woods died last Thursday at the age of 86. She suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for several years. That evening, during what was supposed to be a celebration of Sylvia’s 50th anniversary, there was a moment of silence.

There will also be a public anniversary celebration on August 1, including a parade and breakfast.

Grief Counseling for Kindergartners: Explaining the Concept of Death to Your Child

May 25th, 2012 - By Toya Sharee
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“The turtles legs are falling off,” sang my co-worker’s fidgety 5-year-old son as he moonwalked across the waiting room with a carelessness that only comes with not knowing any better.  We had driven 35 minutes during rush hour traffic to bring their beloved bloated reptile to the vet since she had Googled “turtle dying symptoms,” dialed local vets and stressed throughout the workday.  Unfortunately, after hearing the opposing advisory of two vets, giving the pet vitamin shots and a taunting turn for the best, my co-worker found the pet’s limp and lifeless body resting on a rock two mornings later.  And that same boy who was re-enacting Michael Jackson’s Motown 25  “Billie Jean” performance while the family pet gasped for air in the next room, burst into tears at the news that Scooter was “no longer with us.”

It can be an extremely difficult thing for a parent to explain life’s limits while looking into the bright eyes of someone whose life has barely begun, but as a parent there will come a time where you’ll be forced to do so if you haven’t yet volunteered.  I still remember my father struggling to explain to me why my rabbit urinated on him before taking its last breath in his hands.  There were tears and feelings of loss that a 7-year-old just couldn’t understand.

If you’re having trouble initiating the dreaded “all things die” talk, you have to try to see things from your child’s point of view. This talk can sound completely different depending on whether you’re addressing a 5-year-old or 15-year-old. Until children are about five or six their view of the world is very concrete. This probably explains why my co-workers mini moonwalker couldn’t associate the turtle’s ballooned legs with sickness at the very least, let alone death.  Since children at this age are so literal, it’s important to avoid cute sayings that only make the parent more comfortable like “Grandma is sleeping for a long time,” which could result in your child developing anxiety issues with sleep. Children also have trouble grasping the finality of death and the fact that it occurs to all living things. To make the process easier, talk about death in a very physical way such as, “Grandma’s heart stopped working” or “Grandma is at the cemetery” instead of trying to break down intangible concepts of an afterlife.

You also may want to take a look at your own feelings and beliefs about death.  It’s important that children learn the proper way to grieve through example.  They shouldn’t be discouraged from crying or talking even if you still have issues with death yourself.  As much as loved ones may have good intentions advising, “You have to be strong for your children,” it’s important for your children to see that it’s okay to be sad, resentful, angry, or mournful, but those feelings should be brought to the surface and dealt with in a healthy way instead of being hidden. You want to be a solid source of support for your children; find a balance between crumbling into pieces and being an emotionless brick wall.  You’re a parent, but you’re only human and it’s healthy for your kids to see that.

Around the ages 6-10, children may develop natural fears about death associated with myths and stories they hear (i.e.,  the boogeyman and ghosts). It’s important to not feed into fears and give them honest, clear information about death.  Instead of simply sending your child back to bed when they say the boogeyman’s in the closet, explore the closet with them and show them there’s nothing to be afraid of.  Ask them what they think will happen if the boogeyman gets them so they have a chance to express any fears about pain and what death “feels” like.

Why I’m Torn About Whitney Houston’s Funeral Being Broadcast

February 16th, 2012 - By MN Editor
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It has been less than a week since Whitney Houston unexpectedly passed away in her hotel room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, and ever since that day, it has been a frenzy. A wealth of media coverage, Internet trolls talking crazy about the singer for attention, interviews done with people who claimed to know her best and other interviews done by people who act like they know her but didn’t (sit down Dr. Drew). On top of that though, there has been a great outpouring of love for Whitney–for what she did in the past, a grief over what she could have done in the future, and just for the wonderful person she seemed to be, no matter what her trials were.

Everyday on the local news here in NYC, they show a crowd of people outside the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey, signing cards, playing her music, leaving flowers and notes to commemorate the life of the Jersey-born songstress they idolized. They’ve been there since news broke of Houston’s death, and they keep coming back, more and more people. So when news broke earlier in the week that the family would not be holding Houston’s funeral at the massive Prudential Center where her face is currently emblazoned outside, some were mad, and some were sad, but understood the fact that the family didn’t want a huge “parade” as Pastor Marvin L. Winans called it.

But only a few days later, it was announced that to help Whitney’s fans get the closure they need, the funeral on Saturday would be streamed online, and could possibly even be available on television. As a fan, I can appreciate that the family would want to let the people, folks all over the world who loved her, share in the celebration of Whitney’s life. In Jersey, she was obviously a major figure, what with schools named after her and the fact that she used to rep Newark like no other. The sadness you hear in the voices and see in the eyes of those who wait outside the church (NOT those who peddle memorabilia outside of it…smh) is real, and they’re mourning too. I respect that the family recognizes how much Whitney loved her fans and how much they loved her back and want to share her in the end.

But I’d also like to say, as someone who lost someone very close to me unexpectedly as a young adult, I’m also a bit worried for Bobbi Kristina. Funerals in general are heart wrenching, but there’s something about a funeral for a sudden loss that occurs soon after that loss that are even more emotional. You never truly know how you will act on that day and during that ceremony until you step in the church and the reality of your loss sinks in. And when you’re younger and not used to such hits, it can be more difficult to hold it together. So while you might go in there with the hopes of holding it together, you never know how you’ll feel until it hits you. I was one year younger than Bobbi Kristina (she’s 18 now) when one of my siblings unexpectedly passed away. During the funeral, I think I held it together pretty well in front of the hundreds of friends and our family. However, I totally fell apart when they closed the casket. I yelped and literally could have fallen out right there in the funeral home. Emotions like that, which I’m thinking Bobbi might have seeing as she and her mother were more like sisters, in my mind, doesn’t really need to be seen or critiqued by the whole world, including the folks at CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and others.

I just think the grief of the family and those close to Whitney should remain amongst them. If Bobbi Kristina is all for it, then let it go on, but during it or when it’s all over, I’d rather not have the news or anyone else analyze, do a play by play, or make a mockery of how these people say their last goodbyes and how they pay their respects, because they’ve found every way possible to analyze how Whitney spent her last days (from analyzing old scratches on her to making accusations because her hair was messed up…smh again). Whether the family grieves quietly, or they find themselves rolling around on the floor in an inconsolable state, it happens, and if it does, that should be for them only if you ask me. But that’s just my opinion and something that was on my heart that I needed to say…

Photos courtesy of and

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