For Wendy Kraft and Laura Sussman, it is an honor to care for the deceased. Both were part of the Jewish burial society, or chevra kadisha, and say it was a fulfilling, spiritual experience. “Each day we feel blessed that we can perform this mitzvah and help the families of our community,” Kraft said. Although the women are Jewish, their business, Kraft-Sussman Funeral & Cremation Services, caters to the needs of all cultures and religions.
What types of funeral services do you offer?
Funeral services, memorial services, burials, cremations, worldwide transport for burial in other locations, advance planning. In the near future, we’ll offer alkaline hydrolysis cremation, or aquamation. We also do a number of educational seminars for local groups, to inform them and demystify information about funeral service. We can do traditional services and have certified celebrants on staff to do more personalized services.
How has the funeral business evolved in recent years?
Corporations have taken over many of the family-owned firms. Some people say this decreases service and increases price. Some firms are beginning to do online arrangements, where families don’t even meet with a funeral director. There is a considerable trend for families to choose cremation over burial.
What sets you apart from other funeral homes?
Kraft-Sussman Funeral & Cremation Services
• Address: 3975 S. Durango Drive, Suite 104, Las Vegas
• Phone: 702-485-6500
• Email: [email protected]
• Website: kraftsussman.com
• Hours of operation: 24/7
• Owned/operated by: Wendy Kraft and Laura Sussman
• In business since: 2008
We are locally and woman-owned. We are part of the community, sitting on a number of nonprofit boards and involved in numerous religious and community organizations. Our staff does not work on commission and we have a grief therapy dog, Obie. Because we don’t own a cemetery, we work with all of them and provide information on all of the cemeteries so families can make informed choices. We care for the deceased in our facility, versus a central “care center” used by many funeral homes.
Kraft-Sussman offers continuity of care, so families can develop a relationship with one staff member, instead of having to deal with numerous people throughout the process. We are totally transparent and provide our pricing on our website. We offer a free final visit for families prior to cremation or burial.
What is the biggest misconception about your industry?
Most people don’t know that embalming is not required by law, except in certain cases. People also think that cremation reduces the body to powder or ashes without the bones being processed. Many people feel that funeral homes are scary places. We’ve tried to change that belief.
At what age should someone consider pre-planning their funeral arrangements?
Any age. It’s good to have these discussions with people who are important to you at any time. We are always available to meet with people — at no charge — if they want to plan for their care. People can pay for their plans if they want to lock in the costs, but that is not required. The funeral industry has embarked on a program called “Have the Talk of A Lifetime.” We have playing cards that families can use to start that conversation in a healthy, informative way.
What advice can you offer those who have never arranged a funeral?
Start thinking about what your final wishes are. There are numerous resources online. Some initial questions are:
• Think about the type of services you desire.
• Are there any religious traditions you want observed?
• Would you like a funeral or memorial service?
• Where will the service take place? A funeral home, house of worship, graveside, home, or some other place?
• Will you be arranging a burial, cremation or shipping to another location?
• Do you want to be embalmed?
• How will you be dressed?
• Will there be a visitation or viewing?
• Is there any special music, poetry or prayer you would like included?
What is the average funeral cost in the Las Vegas Valley?
It really varies. A funeral and burial can run from $4,500 to $20,000, depending on the casket, type of service(s) and cemetery choice. Cremation prices are generally less, depending on the type of ceremonies associated with the cremation.
What is the best part about doing business in Las Vegas?
Because Las Vegas is a melting pot of sorts, we have the opportunity to work with people from all over the world with different religious and cultural backgrounds and customs. Most people are from somewhere else, with little or no local family support. Our staff understands that we need to take the time to educate and inform the families we work with, as this may be the first experience many have had with death. We’re not salespeople as much as we are educators and counselors.