LAKEWOOD RANCH — A lifetime in the funeral business yields volumes of stories.
Like when Yvette Reckling started working with her grandfather at her family’s upstate New York funeral home at the ripe old age of 4.
Or any number of times the two got a call in the middle of the night and trekked out into the snowy dark to pick up the deceased.
Or that time when Reckling’s 12-pound prime rib shrunk to an unrecognizable mess in the oven when she was called away on Christmas Day.
“It’s a 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week business,” Reckling said. “But it’s my passion.”
She pauses for second.
“Oh, my poor daughters,” she said, laughing.
Reckling, along with her fiance, 35-year funeral directing veteran Jim Klausch, opened Lakewood Ranch’s first funeral home July 15. Because We Care Cremation and Funeral Home Inc. is a full-service funeral home that offers every option imaginable — from the traditional service/visitation memorials to something more unorthodox such as turning a loved ones cremated remains into a diamond.
Planning for Because We Care began in February after Klausch was a cutback victim at Moss-Feaster Funeral Homes Group in Clearwater.
“I’d spent 35 years working for that company,” Klausch said. “After that happened, I thought, ‘Wow. What am I going to do?’”
That’s when the couple decided to open their own funeral home. Reckling had worked previously for Manasota Memorial Park and Funeral Home, where she had provided services to many East County families.
“We had a lot of people ask us why there wasn’t a funeral home in Lakewood Ranch,” Reckling said. “There’s a huge need here (for a funeral home.)”
The couple found their location off Lake Osprey Drive. The building’s secluded-yet-easily-accessible location as well as ample parking made it perfect for their needs.
Reckling and Klausch applied immediately for their funeral home license and began working on the building, which includes a planning room, gathering room and chapel. Reckling chose the home’s colors, while Klausch equipped it with the latest technology — including a computer program that includes a catalog of casket options.
“We don’t have any caskets on-site — that makes some people uncomfortable,” Klausch said. “But we can get any one of them here within 24 hours.”
Because it’s not affiliated with a larger corporation, Because We Care can tailor any service to meet the needs of its families, Klausch said. For example, services can be adapted to feature a loved one’s favorite pastime, and the home offers special packages for veterans. It also can facilitate transfers up north and assist with florists, hotels and airlines.
“We can run rings around corporations with our service,” Klausch said.
And although Reckling admits she’s shed plenty of tears along with the grieving families, the job offers its own rewards.
“We’re there whether it’s a child who has passed or an 80-year-old mom who just lost her 60-year-old son,” Reckling said. “Or when it’s a couple who has been married for 67 years and you know that a huge piece of them just got ripped apart.
“I love being able to help a family in the worst time of their lives — to be able to be with them and get them through it,” she said. “It’s hard, but it’s so fulfilling. When you get that hug afterward — that’s the best.”
Eventually, Reckling and Klausch hope to find land farther east and relocate the business to a freestanding building. But for now, they’re excited to begin offering their services in the East County.
“Lakewood Ranch is a homey place — they want to be one within themselves,” Reckling said. “When there’s a death, no family wants to get in a car and drive 12 miles to the closest funeral home.
“We want to make their lives easier — and their deaths easier,” she said. “It’s all about the families. To me, we’re not in the funeral business, we’re in funeral service.”
Contact Michael Eng at [email protected].
WHAT: Because We Care will host an open house to give families a chance to tour the funeral home and meet its owners.
WHEN: 1-5 p.m., Aug. 2
WHERE: 6286 Lake Osprey Drive, Lakewood Ranch