Local company offers online funeral planning

January 10, 2012 3:42:49 PM PST
A local company is trying to make planning a funeral more convenient and cheaper by offering funeral planning services online.

BasicFunerals.com is the first complete online funeral planning company in the Chicago area.

"It's cheaper and it's a lot more convenient, it's like all in one," said Donnie Bernacchi.

When Bernacchi's father passed away suddenly, he didn't know where to begin. He took to the Internet and found BasicFunerals.com. He admits it's unconventional but says it worked for his family.

"You don't have to deal with going into the funeral home and looking at his casket and looking at that casket, it's all right there for you," said Bernacchi.

Eric Vandermeersch and Dominic Mazzone are the website's co-founders. Vandermeersch has been a licensed funeral director for over 10 years. He wanted to make the funeral business more user friendly and stress free, the men decided to create the website.

"The consumer has changed, the consumer wants all of this information at their fingertips. It's very important to understand that we buy everything online, why should a funeral be any different?" said Mazzone.

Because BasicFunerals.com is a fully licensed funeral provider, they can handle many of the arrangements at less than half the cost of a traditional funeral.

"People don't even get a chance to grieve until after the funeral. It really shouldn't be that way, people should be able to grieve right away and in whatever way they need to, they shouldn't have to worry about all the little details," said Vandermeersch.

The company seems to be a hit. Since the website launched in 2009, orders have gone through the roof.

"It's a tremendous service. People like it and now people are really starting to talk about it. We're seeing a lot of growth - biggest year ever," said Mazzone.

The Illinois Funeral Directors Association says even though providing everything online is still rare and new to the industry, more and more funeral homes are starting to offer more services on their websites.

"As we look at the next generation coming up, they will know more of it than the previous generation. It'll be more prevalent as time goes on," said Duane Marsh, executive director of the Illinois Funerals Directors Association.

Marsh admits the industry is changing, although he doesn't think it's necessarily a good thing.

"Funerals are a very personal thing. I find it very disheartening that eventually if things continue to go how they are we will not have to have any people to people contact, and that's unfortunate," he said.

The founders of the website plan to expand across the country. If families wanted to meet with a funeral director one-on-one or finalize arrangements, that's also an option. BasicFunerals.com also handles cremation services.