Few things in life are as tough as planning a funeral.

Just ask Mark W. Duffey, the president and CEO of Everest Funeral Package, a Houston company that provides "funeral concierge" services to a growing number of Americans through their employer-paid life insurance policies.

"My dad died two years ago of cancer," Duffey recalled recently. "The day he died, a week after his 84th birthday, was a Friday. Everyone knew, everyone was prepared for it. But it just hits you. All of the small things you have to do … everything feels like you're trying to move a mountain. It's like trying to run through quick-sand."

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