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Decision Fatigue and Funeral Choices

Michael Rulison – Volunteer
Funeral Consumers Alliance of the Triangle (FCAT)

Sunday, Aug 28, 2011

FCA Forum – Funeral Consumer Discussion – Funeral Arrangements

A recent article [Tierney, John, 2011. “To choose is to lose”, The New York Times Magazine. 21 Aug. pp 33-37, 46] discusses decision making errors in complex situations. Based on the research examined, it asserts that human mental apparatus degrades when stressed with a series of decisions and either puts off a decision or makes poorer decisions as fatigue sets in.

Some decisions involve a series of choices. For example:

• buying a car [or computer] (make, model, age, color,…)
• buying a bespoke suit (material, style, lapels, cuffs, buttons, lining, pockets, pleats,…)
• refrigerator (make, model, shelves, ice service, color, freezer placement, door opening,…)

Now let us consider funerals: venue, viewing, visitation, video/audio recording, casket, date & time, officiant, eulogy, music (choir, soloist, harpist, bagpiper, other instrumentalists), reception, announcements, programs, obituary(ies), register books, thank-you and prayer cards,…. Even a short, two-page general price list may have 30 items, although choosing one may rule out two or three others. One seven-page list has 78 items before arriving at the separate casket list that has another 51 choices. The lists for outer burial containers and urns are separate and take multiple pages each. More: most price lists offer several packages of goods and services (default choices).

Is it any wonder that funerals are a prescription for perfect storms of decision stress?

Read the full article at Michael Rulison – Volunteer

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