Red flags to look out for when selecting a funeral home

Published: Oct. 18, 2018 at 6:08 PM EDT
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(10/18/18) - Gruesome details continue to be uncovered about a Detroit funeral home.

The latest reports confirming four additional cremated remains were found by someone working in the basement of the former Cantrell Funeral Home on the city's east side.

The Associated Press reported 10 fetuses and one full-term infant were discovered last Friday months after the business was shutdown.

ABC12 talked to the experts at Sharp Funeral Homes about red flags you should watch for before selecting a funeral home.

"Reputation, cleanliness of the funeral home, the appearance of the director when you're speaking with him, not so much physical appearance, but their body language. I think many people should trust their gut," said Roger Sharp, Jr., president of Sharp Funeral Homes.

What has happened in Detroit is not unheard of. In the last couple of years, ABC12 reported on two Mid-Michigan funeral homes where decomposing bodies or cremated remains were left.

In the summer of 2017 the state suspended the license of Swanson Funeral Home in Flint citing deplorable and unsanitary conditions.

Around the same time, Saginaw city inspectors found more than a dozen cremated remains inside the former Black's Funeral Home.

Sharp told ABC12 that sometimes the best way to know if a place is up to snuff is to listen to your gut and to avoid shortcuts.

"One of the red flags would be...if someone is providing services for a a third or half of what the other places are providing it for that would be a red flag to me, and I think we've learned that in some other situations with funeral homes as well," Sharp said.

Sharp says that while technically the State of Michigan considers cremation to be the final disposition of the remains, there is a moral obligation that he and other funeral home operators take on to properly secure those remains or place them with their loved ones.

"So we don't have any regulations from the state on how we should handle any remains that are unclaimed. It's more of an ethical perspective, so what's right or wrong," Sharp said.

Serving hundreds of families a year with four funeral homes, Sharp says stories like this make consumers more aware when making these important decisions during difficult times.

"I can tell you that is the exception and not the rule. Most funeral homes are again caring, loving, reputable companies," Sharp said.