Story and photo by Jake Dowling, Icon summer intern
Heard of the saying, 'there's no place like home?' For Gordon Diller, funeral director of Chiles-Laman Funeral Home, Bluffton, there is no better place for a home than a funeral home.
"It has always been nice to work here," Diller said. "My home is upstairs and so I have always been able to raise my family in a funeral home."
Funeral homes that serve as a home are not as common as they used to be, but for Diller, that has meant the world to him.
"Living here, I am more than just a funeral director. I mow the lawn, clean the windows and I am still a part of the community," he said. "And that is what I have always enjoyed while working here."
Diller, who has been the funeral director for Chiles-Laman since 1986, said being a funeral director runs in the family. Many relatives have been funeral directors in the past.
One of the task with being a funeral director is taking care of prearranged funerals, something that was not popular about 30 years ago.
"Prearranged funerals have always been around," Diller said. "But I would say in the mid '80s, when the laws changed with Medicare, we saw more pre-arranged funerals."
Diller says there are many advantages of a prearranged funeral for a loved one.
"If people are in a nursing home for some time it uses up all their assets. If they prearrange and prepay for their funeral, we put the money into an insurance fund, so it is no longer an asset for them," Diller said.
Funerals in themselves are hard to deal with for families and friends, on top of the emotional roller coaster there is the cost and planning on the funeral, which creates more stress, but prearranged funerals help ease the stress a little, maybe even a lot.
"Majority of prearranged funerals are planned when the mom or dad, or a grandparent, are moving into a nursing home or just moving out of the home to go somewhere else. That seems to be the biggest trigger," Diller said.
Families, or even individuals, who want to plan their funeral, can have everything taken care of at Chiles-Laman.
"We get the information for the people that we would need like the death certificate, the obituary and just kind of get to know who the family is and then we set up everything for the family with a service charge, the merchandise and cash advances," Diller said.
The service charge pays for the use of services, utilities and equipment at Chiles-Laman. Paying for the cost of the merchandise include a casket, burial vault, or even an urn and cash advances would be paying the cemetery to open and close the grave, the minister, organist, things that Chiles-Laman would have to pay for.
"Once we put the money into the fund that we use, the merchandise and our services are guaranteed," Diller said.
Diller says he sees many benefits in planning for a funeral, even though it may be hard for some, planning for a funeral can go a long way when that time comes.
"A prearranged funeral resolves issues such as, knowing exactly what a person wants for their funeral compared to after they have already died. It also makes the emotional toll a little more soothing because by then, the family does not have to worry about planning for a funeral," Diller said. "They can focus on other important things once a family member does die."