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Funerals with a softer, gentler approach

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By Michael Clark, SDLV project manager


Kraft-Sussman Funeral Services

Corporate America makes its presence felt throughout nearly every aspect of our lives, so it should come as no surprise that this has happened in the funeral industry. Not all corporations are equal, of course. Some do respond to customers’ needs better than others. But there is legitimate concern that corporations often work to satisfy the stock market’s desire for increased revenues and profits, usually at the customers’ expense.

It is comforting to know that here in Las Vegas, two Jewish mothers own a local funeral home.

Why did they choose this vocation?

“They felt obligated,” reported Danielle Nadler in her RJ View profile on how Laura Sussman and Wendy Kraft got to where they are. Nadler concluded that the gals chose willingly “a venture few feel called to.” She’s right, of course. Burying the dead is sacred, holy work.

“Our philosophy is to treat our clients as family and to provide an alternative to corporate-owned funeral homes,” the article reported. “We call it concierge funeral service.” Wendy Kraft explained.

According to a Vegas Seven (April 2011) article Kraft-Sussman Funeral Services is the only company in Southern Nevada certified by the Green Burial Council. Its goal is to reduce the number of toxins and waste in the funeral industry. It also encourages ethical and environmentally sound burial practices.


Wendy Kraft and Laura Sussman.

It makes sense that Wendy and Laura heard the calling.

“So I try to make myself as available as I can, whether that means meeting during off-hours or visiting a family’s home,” Laura Sussman was quoted in the magazine American Funeral Director (May 2012). “I understand the emotional toll illness and death can take on a family.”

These ladies are well known and respected. This reporter met them through their goal to help medical professionals understand the importance of the continuity of care from illness to death. (Other continuing care articles can be found in the Health Section at

Laura studied psychology, religious traditions, insurance, state laws, finances and all other background needed to run a funeral home before she took the certification exam for her Nevada funeral director license, Nadler reported.

Laura explained it this way, “we don’t have a lot of administrative layers and overhead so we’re able to keep prices low.”

And green.

“As people discover the alternative, they get interested. The national trend is quickly moving to green awareness. Plus, it costs less than a traditional funeral.

It’s pretty tough to put a smiley face on funeral decisions, but my Kraft-Sussman can make it more sacred, and perhaps take away some of the sting.

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