This ain’t your grandma’s burial…

Is a traditional burial just too, uh, traditional for you? Well lucky for you, there are several ways that you can be put to rest after death that have nothing to do with caskets or cremation. And although Sunset Hill Funeral Home & Cemetery is traditionally traditional, we still thought we would share some of these bizarre burials with you.

For all of you tree-huggers out there, the eco-burial may be the perfect burial option. There is a Swedish company that specializes in eco-burials – a completely bio-degradable burial that consists of pulverizing a body and burying it in a cornstarch urn. The burial takes place in a shallow grave in living soil that turns the urn and its contents into compost with a year’s time.

Maybe bio-degradable isn’t for you – but how about recycling? They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend – and with this bizarre cremation, you can literally make a diamond out of a best friend. LifeGems, a company based out of the United States, creates diamonds out of cremated human or pet remains, which can then be cherished by loved ones for years to come. A full human body can be used to create up to 50 one-carat diamonds, which typically cost around $14,000 each.

Okay, so a bio-degradable burial weirds you out and you’re certainly not ready to become a necklace. How about a celebration of the circle of life? Tibetan Buddhists practice sky burials, where they cut and beat a dead body to a pulp, then leave the remains for vultures to eat. Because Tibetan Buddhists believe in re-incarnation, they consider the dead body to be nothing more than food for nature. Now that’s bizarre.

tibetan buddhist

"I love Tibet."

We’ve covered burials under the earth, on the earth, and in the sky. So how about a burial in space? Well, a company in the United States, called Memorial Space Flights, has actually made it possible to be buried in space, by launching your loved one’s cremated remains into outer space. Of course, this service comes with a fee, ranging from a brief orbit and return to earth ($695) to a permanent launch into deep space ($12,500).  Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t know how loved I’d feel if my “loved ones” launched me into deep outer space for the rest of eternity.

If a traditional burial or cremation sounds a little more appealing now that you’ve read this, then call Sunset Hill Funeral Home & Cemetery to pre-arrange yours today. That way, you won’t have to worry about your “loved ones” subjecting you to pulverizing, diamond-cutting, vulture-eating, space-launching, or any other bizarre burial process. Call (618) 656-3220 or visit for more details.


Memorial Day 2010: To salute or swim? Making the most of your day off…

Memorial Day is an incredible holiday. Sure, it always guarantees a Monday off of work and sometimes even results in a pool party at the neighbors’, but it’s more than that. Especially for Sunset Hill Funeral Home & Cemetery.

Following the end of the Civil War, several communities set aside a day to mark the end of the war or as a memorial to those who died, and called it “Decoration Day.” The alternative name of “Memorial Day” wasn’t actually used until 1882, and wasn’t declared as the official name by Federal law until 1967, almost 100 years later. Clearly our government has always been the type to take their time.

Whereas Memorial Day was once recognized as a day of remembrance, it is now observed by most businesses as a three-day weekend kickoff to summer vacation season. God Bless America.

Sunset Hill takes a more traditional route when it comes to Memorial Day, however. In fact, the funeral home actually remains open during the national holiday. This is to cater to those community members who also traditionally celebrate Memorial Day, by visiting cemeteries and memorials to commemorate the U.S. men and women who died while in the military service.

Every Memorial Day, Sunset Hill Funeral Home & Cemetery invites all to join them in honoring the veterans who have proudly served this country. This Memorial Day, May 31st, will mark the 21st Annual Sunset Hill Cemetery Memorial Day Salute and Avenue of Flags.

Sunset Hill Cemetery

"Avenue of Flags" on Memorial Day

Over 1,000 American flags will be raised and displayed in remembrance of our fallen soldiers from 9am-3pm on Memorial Day. The event will be opened with a prayer service overlooking the cemetery’s Serenity Lake, followed by a balloon release at noon in recognition of all deceased veterans. The close of services will be signaled with the playing of the taps at 3pm, the time that also marks the national moment of remembrance across the country.

If you would like to volunteer to help raise or lower flags this Memorial Day, please contact the Sunset Hill Cemetery office at 618-656-3220 or visit our website for more info. Or, if you would like to simply skip the BBQ and honor our country this Memorial Day, stop by anytime between 9am-3pm on May 31st and take part in the truly unique experience during your day off.

Complete Service, Complete Trust, Complete Care

Sunset Hill Cemetery is one of the St. Louis area’s finest and most respected cemeteries. Many area residents, like yourself, chose Sunset because of the accessible location, the well-manicured grounds and the overall beauty and serenity it provides. The full-time staff of Sunset Hill Cemetery work very dilegently to ensure we live up to the standards of our community.

To further serve your family’s needs, in 2005 we built a new on-site funeral home on the grounds of Sunset Hill Cemetery. Our new facility, Sunset Hill Funeral Home, was built to be spacious, warm and comfortable for you and your family. Our newest location offers peace-of-mind and allows one to make all their arrangements seamlessly in one place, saving time and money.

Glen Carbon, Illinois

Sunset Hill Funeral Home

We understand the decisions one has to make are sometimes difficult and overwhelming. That is why our courteous and professional staff are here to assist you with absolutely NO OBLIGATION. If you have questions regarding pre-arraanged funerals, burial, or memorialization, we offer many options and programs that can be tailored to meet the needs of you or your loved one.

We offer services at Sunset Hill Funeral Home & Cemetery, along with Herr Funeral Homes in Collinsville and Caseyville, Illinois. We have been an integral part of the Metro East communities for over 100 years and rest assured you can put your trust in us for the next 100 years.

Cremation is cool! Wait, what?

We always knew that caskets were in the business of the dead, but who would have thought they’d ever become a dead business?

According to the Wall Street Journal, sales of caskets have been declining for years as more people choose cremation as their “burial of choice.” Of course, the recent recession isn’t helping the situation out either. Those who do decide to go with the traditional 6-feet-under-deal are purchasing cheaper caskets for the hereafter.

In response to the dying business (no pun intended), casket makers are starting to focus on producing and selling less expensive models while funeral homes are placing greater emphasis on cremation for clients.

Who can blame them when the pace of cremations in North America has grown about 1% each year? In 2008 alone, 36% of the departed was cremated, and in 2009, 38% of deaths were followed by cremation.

This may be why some casket makers are even getting out of the business altogether. Batesville Casket, the nation’s biggest casket maker and distributor, has decided that 2010 is a good year for them to make the shift from the funeral business to the factory equipment business.

And the coffin business isn’t much different. And yes, coffins and caskets are different – coffins have 6 sides while caskets are rectangular. Anyway, Coffin It Up, a custom coffin maker, reported that their revenue has decreased 50% over the last year and a half. The owners have seen a significant decrease in demand for their custom coffins, which are engraved or embellished with art and can cost up to $10,000 each.

As cremation becomes the preferred choice for many and requests for the service continue to rise, Sunset Hill Funeral Home & Cemetery is proud to not only offer cremation, but also to offer onsite capabilities. Though many funeral homes advertise the service, they may actually use other facilities, and sometimes use facilities that are far away.

To assure that local families’ loved ones always get proper care, the Herr Family installed an onsite facility more than a decade ago for families who choose to be cremated.

This way Sunset Hill Funeral Home, owned by the Herr Family, can offer peace of mind to families by ensuring that loved ones will never leave our care and will be provided the unparalleled service and trust that the Herr Family has prided themselves on for over 100 years.

With the addition of a full line of cremation products, Sunset Hill Funeral Home & Cemetery is your complete source for those that choose cremation. You can call it capitalizing on the death of the casket, or you can call it being ahead of the curve. Whatever you call it, be sure to call us if you’re considering cremation.

Dead or alive, don’t drink and drive.

The New Year usually brings a feeling of a new beginning, a fresh start, a clean slate, and all that jazz. And typically, this is a good thing, even for the funeral business. So why does it seem that 2010 is the year for crazy funeral home staff to come out of the woodwork?

Just a week after the ball dropped in Times Square, a hearse driver in California did more than drop the ball. He completely ruined his career, his trust from an entire family and community, and of course, we can’t forget that he scorched a hearse. Fortunately, there was no damage to the departed.

While on his way to the funeral service, the hearse driver first collided with a truck, and continued to drive erratically at over 65 mph regardless of a blown front tire. As the tire wore away and the metal wheel was grinding along the pavement, sparks started flying and the hearse quickly became engulfed in flames.

Fortunately for the family and the driver, the casket and contents were unscathed. The family and driver however, were anything but.

The one person who should have definitely been sober for the funeral was the one person that was drunk…and behind the wheel of the hearse transporting a family’s loved one to their funeral service.

According to ex-colleagues of the funeral home, the driver had a reputation for being rude and disrespectful to fellow employees as well as to the families and friends attending the funerals that he directed.

I guess that should’ve been a red flag.

Fortunately, the employees at Sunset Hill are not only reputable, but also trustworthy and respectful. In fact, the average Sunset Hill Funeral Home and Herr Funeral Home employee has been in the family business for at least a decade.

The Herr Funeral Home trifecta prides themselves on over 150 years of honest and quality service, always treating employees with the utmost respect, and always treating clients even better.

And most importantly, Sunset Hill and Herr Funeral Homes employees don’t drink and drive.  Instead, they are working to add 2010 to the many successful years they have had thus far.

Funeral Home Ad-herr-ation

Long, long ago…thirty-something years to be exact, The Herr Funeral Home Business was already making a name for themselves. No, there was no such thing as social media and the closest thing to a blog was a handwritten journal, but Herr was still wildly popular.

So how did they do it without the Internet, you ask?  Three words.  Illinois State Fair.  And one year, Herr Funeral Home boasted the most visited booth of all booths during the Illinois State Fair during that year’s fair.

That means more people wanted to check out what a funeral home has to offer than what a tiny woman does in her tiny house/booth all day.  That’s some stiff competition!

Tiny woman

Held in Springfield, Illinois’ beloved capital and the resting place of our beloved 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, The Illinois State Fair is an annual festival that revolves around agriculture. The fair has been celebrated almost every year since 1853, bringing in more than 700,000 visitors in 2008 alone which makes it the 13th biggest state fair in the country.

That means that for one year, Herr Funeral Home’s state fair booth was at least the 13th most visited booth across the entirety of the United States! I guess it’s only fitting that 13 would be a funeral home’s lucky number.

Even cooler than Herr Funeral Home’s booth popularity that thirty-something years ago is the fact that Sunset Hill Funeral Home in Glen Carbon and both Herr Funeral Homes locations still display artifacts and memorabilia that date back to at least 1853, that fateful first year for the Illinois State Fair.

Oh, and it gets better. I know…unbelievable. But you can actually check out all of the priceless pieces that are adorned on the walls and in cases for yourself just by visiting one of the Herr Funeral Homes.

And if you’re lucky, you may even get to see what exactly was so irresistible in that booth some thirtyish years ago.  But just maybe.

Do You Hear What I Hear?

In honor of the holiday spirit that is upon us, I thought it would be appropriate to put this hilarious (and true!) story to song…and a Christmas song at that!  So just to provide a little background info before you perform a musical, Bob was overseeing a funeral at Sunset Hill one afternoon when he was approached due to a peculiar noise that was distracting several family members during their time of remembrance.  This is the tale, and now ballad, of what happened that day, that must be sung (or hummed) to the tune of the well-known carol, “Do You Hear What I Hear”…

(You can sing it along to the instrumental version here —> )

Said the daughter of a dad who just passed,

“Do you hear what I hear?

Sounds like the AC is gonna blast!

Do you hear what I hear?”

“A whistle, a squeak, of a high frequency is ringing loudly in my ear, is ringing loudly in my ear.”

Said the daughter to the funeral director,

“Do you hear what I hear?”

He checked out the AC like an inspector,

“Do you hear what I hear?”

The director said, “I don’t think it’s the AC, it’s someone’s hearing aid frequency. It’s someone’s hearing aid frequency.”

The funeral director walked around,

“Do you hear what I hear?”

Shaking hands and listening for the sound,

“Do you hear what I hear?”

Aunt Bea, Aunt Pam, could it be Uncle Dan? Someone’s got to turn that thing down. Someone’s got to turn that thing down.

He tried to seek the culprit of the squeak,

“Do you hear what I hear?”

Until up to the casket he did sneak,

“Do you hear what I hear?”

“It’s him, he’s dead, and still got aids in his head!” Then the daughter and director began to laugh. Seems that dad made them smile on his behalf!