Inclusive Funeral Care brings concierge level of service to the funeral planning process.
After 25 years in the industry, Funeral Director and Celebrant Brooke Benjamin has gone indie. Benjamin added her name to a swinging shingle alongside that of Russ Henrichsen at Inclusive Funeral Care, located right at the convergence of Ravenswood, Uptown, and Andersonville.
“We are an affordable boutique. Anything a traditional funeral home can do, we will do at a lesser price, faster, and with a higher level of service. We are like concierges with Funeral Director licenses, although we also do most of the hands-on care ourselves,” said Russ Henrichsen. “Burials, funerals, cremations, anatomical donations of people, celebrations of lives, cremations of pets… we even had a recent inquiry about the biodegradable mushroom suit.”
“A lot of funeral directors get stuck in their positions, as I was for two decades at another firm.” said Benjamin I fantasized about going solo for years, but was deeply daunted by the business of running a business. I was waiting for the perfect partner and Russ is The One.”
“The time we spent time together, the more our grey matter fused. Russ was a one-man show for almost two years. Like most things in life, we are stronger together.
“He’s sharp as a tack, enthusiastic, sweet, funny, with a super-strong work ethic. Where I bring efficiency and experience, Russ values attention to beauty and detail, strength, and frankly, a patience for what I consider to be the tedious stuff.”
“Right now we are really sharing a brain, and 75% of that brain matter is devoted to Being in the Service of Others with the other 25% to enjoying the lives we’ve been given.
“Russ is also an excellent embalmer, when that need arises. Many of our clients prefer a more natural approach and embalming is recommended only under certain conditions. We see more interest in eco-consciousness and efficiency. We’ve done several green burials. Even our cremation clients seem to give deep consideration to alkaline hydrolysis (green) versus a traditional (flame) process. Some families wish to be present during the procedure, or even instigate the process. It’s not for everyone - different strokes. But consumers have the right to know all of the options.”
“We can all agree that people are fascinating. And as far as we know, we are the only wholly queer-owned funeral outfit in Chicago. But we intend to serve every walk of life, and our city is a wide berth of humanity. Every one of us has a story. It’s not so much about who has died – it’s about who has lived.
“The more you hear about people’s lives, the more you understand why people are the way they are. So even that estranged, hostile relative or that conservative great-aunt-- the one who doesn’t see the world the same way so many younger Chicagoans do? The people who claim these folks, who love them, or who at least feel some sense of legal or familial responsibility—they will receive the same level of respect, consideration, and advocacy as all of our clients.
“We are always eager to help families understand their options, to break down the options and expenses. Many of our clients are establishing new traditions but still pay mind to the old ones. These sometimes really ancient needs arise as people start contemplating the actions they are about to perform. A recent client said ‘the more I think about this, the more Jewish I’m becoming!’ We ended up watching that family fill in their father’s grave by hand. We just kind of stood back and held space while they did their thing. And it was beautiful.
“Not everyone is as forthcoming about their loved ones or wants our help with a memorial event, and that’s fine, too. Minimally, we arrange for a simple, dignified, affordable disposition of human remains.
“Although we’ve also talked to three people in the past week with cremated remains in storage at their homes and zero idea of what to do -- how to engage with the contents of the vessel, or how to release them without making a humongous dust-cloud of a mess. One of these callers had two set of cremains, one from 40 years ago and one set we processed. They looked different, because technology has changed-the older set was probably processed by hand. And so we were offered to re-process both sets with the same machine, so they looked alike. So no job is too small, and no inquiry is too bizarre, either. Yes we will cremate your goldfish, and even do a backyard funeral.”
Inclusive Funeral Care
4880 N. Clark St.