Her Idea Is Dead On

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Posted on January 22, 2013 by

By Kate Fratti / Report Bucks County Courier Times

Sometimes I get sucked into the criticism of the generation of kids we've raised. Then I meet one who is making his or her way in the world and I'm reassured.

Like Rachel Zeldin, 29, a poised and professional Pennsbury grad who has founded a free informational website many of us will eventually need, but few will long to visit.

Some things you can't avoid. And so a business niche is made.

Before launching the site, Rachel traveled to Tel Aviv for a second time in her young life. It was to take a six-month graphic design course, and to gather her wits before taking the entrepreneurial leap.

Twenty-somethings think nothing of globe trotting. Or leaping for that matter. It can be hard on their more sensible parents.

So, there was Rachel sitting in a Tel Aviv cafe, trying to tune out the occasional air siren. What her mother didn't know wouldn't kill her, Rachel figured.

But moms aren't as dumb as we seem. Michele worried about Rachel's safety. As disconcerting as the Tel Aviv location was, the months prior were tense for mom, too.

Hey, no parent of a 20-something hasn't had her nerves jangled a time or two or seven. Sometimes daily.

Rachel, a 2006 Drexel grad, studied economics and international business and had landed a lucrative finance position. She was living well in Toronto. Her mother had begun to exhale thinking her daughter was finally settled.

Of course, today's 20-somethings won't settle.

Working 60-hour weeks, Rachel got to thinking it wasn't the life she wanted. All this pressure? For what? Nobody would die if she didn't make budget.

"Mom, I think I'm going to quit my job."



I have an idea, Rachel told Michele.

Jangle, jangle.

The idea was born of necessity, Rachel told me. Her family's need. One that wasn't met the year prior when a favorite great uncle died. He was single and had been living in Nevada when word came.

His funeral arrangements, including his transport, fell to Michele.

Rachel was struck to see how difficult it was to sift through burial options.

In all, Michele, grieving her uncle, contacted 10 funeral homes. Cost was an issue. Prices ranged by thousands of dollars for what appeared to be similar services. Michele tried to make sense of something she knew little about.

"You would not believe what that man just said," Michele vented one day after hanging up with a funeral director. "This is my uncle we're talking about. Where's the compassion?"

Michele found compassion was absent in some funeral director's hearts, abundant in others. Would have saved time and heartache to know who was who from the start.

And so, Rachel has launched I'm Sorry to Hear -

The site not only offers a directory of funeral homes and crematory services, but also a planning checklist, glossary, basic pricing, casket and vault options along with reviews and tips from regular people.

Log on and share your experiences with a funeral home. How were you treated? Was information professionally shared? Prices competitive? Promises kept? Any tips for doing it better?

Pay information forward. What do you know that might help someone else?

Rachel's target region is Philadelphia, New Jersey, and Delaware. (There are 70 funeral homes within 10 miles of her home in Lower Makefield). In the next six months, she'll ad New York, Maryland, and West Virginia.

When she is not meeting with funeral directors to encourage their active participation, she's attending tech meet-ups with investors and developers in Philadelphia.

Her friends?

"They think I'm crazy," she shares. Funeral planning isn't exactly sexy.

But, think Trip Advisor or Yelp, she tells them. When it's time to vacation or dine out, you research possibilities online, and sift through other people's reviews.

Why wouldn't you do the same thing to plan a loved one's final important sendoff?

In the meantime, Rachel has begun to think the most sensible, if not the most dignified way, to be laid to rest, is to be buried beneath a sampling tree that will be fed as you, ahem, return to dust.

I suggest she not use this in marketing materials unless it's to other 20-somethings. For them, nothing is sacred.

Her website is for the rest of us who require something more religious, traditional, or just plain legal in tending to our beloved deceased.

View Bucks County Courier Times
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