PATERSON, NJ- It’s been said that the only certainties in life are death and taxes. And while we know that April 15 is going to roll around each year, and usually take some steps to organize documents and receipts, not enough of us plan for the eventuality of the end of our life.
Thankfully, in the hours and days following the inevitable, there are skilled professionals trained and prepared to lend a helping hand to families as they decide how best to commemorate the life, and properly recognize the loss of, a loved one.
On Monday, TAPinto Paterson visited Scillieri-Arnold Funeral Home and got an in depth look into the funeral business.
The two story home sits atop a hill on Paterson’s 5th Avenue. Boasting a large parking lot and multiple entrances one can easily see how ease of access is a benefit to those that visit.
Once inside, a visitor immediately will notice the tranquil nature of the decor, with a mix of modern amenities such as flat screen monitors used by families to share memories of their lost loved one.
“Memory steps” in the building’s main corridor provide another warm place to share mementos and other keepsakes, including recently, according to the Retha Arnold, a sewing machine and other mementos of a seamstress whose arrangements they handled.
Opened originally in 1960 as Scillieri Funeral Home, Samuel and Retha Arnold purchased, refurbished, and reopened it with their name attached in 2016.
While the original owner, Steven Scillieri, is deceased, the Arnolds remain in touch with his daughter and say that they are committed to build from the foundation and many years of service that he and his family provided to the community.
Samuel has been in the funeral business since 1970, a job he took back then to help his brother-in-law at Perry Funeral Home in Newark. With nearly 50 years in the business, Samuel said, things have changed.
First and foremost the cost has continued to increase, a factor Retha said they work with families on every day. According to the New Jersey State Funeral Director’s Association the average cost for end of life arrangements is over $15,000. Included in this is not just the funeral home costs, but costs of caskets and burial plots, the latter become more scarce in the local area. Flowers, photographers, memory cards, and other details can also inflate the price tag.
With cremation being a more affordable option, Samuel said, many families are turning to it as a way of saying “goodbye.”
Retha offered warmly that they are often meeting their customers during the “worst moments of life,” and she sees it as her responsibility to do all she can to make the funeral process seamless. When it comes to costs, Retha said, she works closely with loved ones so that “no one leaves disappointed, regardless of economic background.”
In a city as large and diverse as Paterson, Retha acknowledged, they must always be prepared to accommodate different ethnic traditions, something they gladly welcome.
“We want to be seen as a multicultural home, one that serves everybody in our community.”
Just as the funeral business is changing Retha offered, so is Paterson. “We might be new to Paterson, but we have become a part of Paterson. We want to continue to be a part of Paterson.”