Paradise Funeral Chapel in Saginaw, Michigan has caused a stir that could wake the dead with their recently unveiled drive-thru visitation services.
“You may find people who are afraid of funeral homes, now they can view their loved ones from the convenience of their car,” said Ivan Phillips, owner of Paradise Funeral Chapel.
“I wanted to bring something to Saginaw that we’ve never had here before,” he said.
In addition to the novelty of the drive-thru service, Phillips said that client accessibility also played a factor in his decision. While in the past, he’s had video and online viewing for disabled family members, this allows them to take part in the experience in a new way.
“The funeral industry is changing rapidly. So my intent was to bring something here that was accessible to the community,” Phillips said.
Phillips said reaction has been mixed. Some in the community have embraced the technology, while others find it to be disrespectful. Phillips believes that’s because they don’t know how the process works.
“When you enter the drive thru you’ll drop a memorial into the memorial box, sign the register book, drive forward and you’ll be able to sit in the privacy of your vehicle for three minutes,” Phillips said.
The service is offered to families at no additional charge. Built-in sensors are used to open and close the curtains when cars pull up and leave.
Though this practice is certainly unconventional, it’s not unheard of at all.
Oliver and Eggleston Funeral Establishment in Farmville, Virginia began offering the service in 2013.
King’s Funeral Home in Ruston, Louisiana also offered the service, but it is unclear if they still do.
Robert L. Adams Funeral Home in Compton, California has been providing drive-thru viewing since 2011. The body of the deceased is visible behind bullet-proof glass.
“You can come by after work, you don’t need to deal with parking, you can sign the book outside and the family knows that you paid your respects,” said owner Peggy Scott Adams. “It’s a convenience thing.”
Chicago’s Gatling’s Chapel offered a variation of the service—cars would pull up and a projector screen would show them the body of their loved ones—for more than 20 years until vandalism became an issue, according to Gatling employee Jeanette Williams.
“You just pull up to the screen and push the button to the chapel that has their body in it,” Williams said. “It was extremely popular for the young people who would come through late at night.”
Let us hear your opinions in the comments, NewsOne Fam!
How do you feel about drive-thru visitation at funeral homes?