SOUTH LA (CBSLA.com) — The Boyd Funeral Home is undertaking a unique business model.
They give unique and colorful sendoffs to the dearly departed.
CBS2’s Pat Harvey reports the funerals are anything but … funereal. They are called a home-going, a celebration of life rather than a mourning of death.
“I am the head boss in charge,” explains Candy Boyd of the family business.
“It’s ministry dealing with grieving families during their time of loss,” she said.
The loss of life is an unfortunate reality.
“In this area, the statistics of the death rate is very high,” Boyd says. “A lot of times, death occurs suddenly. They’re not prepared.”
During this emotional time, Boyd and her daughter Jasmine McFall provide a unique support for the grief-stricken family.
Boyd calls it “a performance.”
The home-going is a personalized farewell.
The ceremony is traditional in some parts of the country but relatively new to the LA area.
In a traditional home-going, pallbearers dressed in tuxedos, top hats and white gloves practice dance steps and swinging to gospel music while escorting the casket out of a luxury hearse.
After the pallbearers stand guard during the ceremony, it is customary for them to perform in front of the deceased’s home.
During Marchara Collins’ home-going, Boyd played music from her favorite artist, Prince.
“One of my main goals is to serve my community,” Boyd said.
She’s not only helping grieving families, she’s employing pallbearers from the community.
“I help everybody,” Boyd says.
The pallbearers are often former convicts — some jobless, some homeless.
“I feel good about myself coming from prison, in a tuxedo, in a top hat, and I’m helping people. It’s rewarding,” says Michael Little, a pallbearer.
“She hired me, you know, not thinking about my criminal past,” says Richardo Beltran. “I have my gloves inside my coat pocket. They have to be white all the time. Gotta wash them all the time. Feels good, clean. Like here I am.”
Boyd is the first to acknowledge that it’s not easy juggling all those responsibilities.
“Sometimes, it could be very, very frustrating … extremely frustrating. It gets overwhelming, but I seem to somehow manage.”
She also spends time teaching her daughter the business. Female funeral directors make up about one-fifth of all funeral businesses, a growing number.
“I often hear that I don’t look like a mortician, which prompts me to ask, what does a mortician look like? I guess it’s not a 26-year-old, 5-5 woman,” says McFall.
“When the funeral is over and the family comes to me and they say job well done, then that is so rewarding.”
Boyd says the home-going service starts about $2,700 and can go up from there.