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Nov 9, 2022

News To Die For: Brit Funeral Provider Loses Money

Is death taking a vacation?

By Ed Goldman

Dignity, the only publicly listed funeral provider in Britain, reported a half-year pre-tax loss,” according to a recent report in The Economist. A sentence later we learn that “Rising fuel costs have caused it to consider a surcharge on the gas burned at its crematoriums.”

Through the efforts of this column’s England correspondent, Sarah Snuthing-Lica (Dame), we’ve obtained an internal memo from Dignity’s business consulting firm, Deathbee, Knott, Prowed:

Edgy Cartoon

Someone’s coffin in here

To: Dignity Shareholders—and, for vampire burials, Stakeholders

From: Your Team at DKP

Re: Dignity’s Embarrassment

The first thing you should know is that while the funeral market has peaks and, certainly, valleys (of death), dying has pretty much remained a reliable investment. 

Our studies show that people will always die and their survivors will need to do something about it.

While we can’t pretend your fiscal losses are illusory in any way, as we do with our Crypto clients, we can assure you that yours remains a growth industry.

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For example, just the other day, there were 10,960 deaths recorded in England and Wales, compared with 8,751 in the previous week. We find this an encouraging trend since it does not even factor in such disrupters as pandemics, climate change and sword fights, which tend to skew outcomes (and in the latter case, skewer them—sorry, we could not resist).

Now, we recognize that there are some pockets of longevity throughout the commonwealth—which, if their healthful practices spread, may in fact cause some anxiety for you and yours. However, these pockets exist mainly in nudist colonies, which, one need not point out, have an absolute paucity of pockets. We discovered this through intensive field research, one hastens to add. Yet we have opted to not invoice you for our considerable outlay for aloe creams. Call it professional courtesy.

There also seems to be a rising tide of plant-based foods, which may possibly yield longer human lives—though we most assuredly doubt that your average English bloke will transition from eating an “impossible burger,” which evokes the sapor of lightly seared Styrofoam, when he can just as readily bite into a genuine British beef product that tastes like a Chelsea boot.

Finally, we must issue our professional reaction to your pending decision of adding a surcharge for the gas expelled during cremations:

Brilliant idea! But does it go far enough? You may also wish to include the following:

a. A “handling” fee for the transport of coffin to grave or urn to commemorative shelving;

b. A “soil disruption” levy due to your diggers’ need to break hard ground and prep graves, a process that may have an impact on natural erosion or some such.  Whatever. We believe you can gently hype this as Dignity’s nod to the environment. In a follow-up memo we’ll discuss how to rebrand and market your business as a “green” mortuary, suggesting catchphrases such as “What could be more organic than being deceased?” and “Ask About Our Cryogenics Program: Free-Range Freezing May Be Right For You”;

c. A lozenges add-on item when funeral orations must be delivered outdoors in dreary weather;

d. A “locked supply chain” bump-up since you don’t make those stone markers, coffins and urns in-house—meaning, sometimes express-delivery will be warranted. Surely, no grieving survivor will begrudge you the added cost when you point out the alternative would be a three-week wait for a freighter to be unladen;

e. Depending on the beauty of your grounds, we urge you to cautiously think about tacking on a “resort fee” for maintenance purposes. This apparently works for American hotels even though the guest is already aware he or she booked a room at a hotel that happened to be a resort.

My firm hopes these thoughts will assist you as you navigate your way through the shoals of temporary insolvency and, one must append, remit payment immediately for the enclosed invoice.

Sincerely yours,

Westin Pease III
President and CEO
Deathby, Knott, Prowed

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).

Yes, Virginia

A Weekly Blog by Virginia Varela

President, Golden Pacific Bank, a Division of SoFi Bank, Inc.

photo by Phoebe Verkouw


I’ve been living in Sacramento for over eight years. I came here for a job opportunity I thought was temporary—until it lasted.

Born and raised in San Francisco, and moving from San Francisco, I had a snobbish view of Sacramento. “Sacratomato” we called it. But I’ve grown to love this capital city. And while I did leave my heart in San Francisco, I’m not sure about my legs or taste buds.

By this I mean that “Sac” is infinitely more livable than “SF” on a day-to-day basis. Instead of wasting hours in public transit or bumper-to-bumper auto gridlock, I can get from here to there, in the city, county or across town, in about 15 minutes.

It’s also amazing as a cultural melting pot. In fact, in 1992, Harvard University published a study, which became a major story in Time Magazine, declaring that Sacramento was the most diverse city in the United States.

Sacramento is the political nucleus of California, a wonder-filled state of political and business influencers, an embracer of democracy and the fifth largest economy in the world, with a gross domestic product of $3.558 trillion (that’s a 2022 recent statistic).

It’s surprisingly easy to do business here as a banker. Everyone knows everyone else. It allows us to do banking on a one-to-one basis, which can be ideal for all parties.

And don’t get me started on the freshness and tastiness of the food here! Dubbed the nation’s Farm to Fork capital several years ago by Josh Nelson—a local restaurateur who’s a member of the Selland Family of fine- and casual-dining eateries—Sacramento is a wonderful place to indulge and thrive, personally and professionally. Throw in our Mediterranean climate and this River City may just be Heaven on earth.

“Sacramento is where I grew up, so I felt like it had not been given its proper due in cinema,” said film writer/director Greta Gerwig. Her breakthrough movie, “Lady Bird,” is about her growing up in California’s capital. The film is essentially a love letter to this city. So is this week’s blog.

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