Heather Walton has seen it from all sides.

As a hospice nurse in Amarillo, she has been with families as loved ones slip away. She's been privy to conversations where funeral arrangements have been discussed. She's been able to help those struggling with grief figure out what to do next.

As a daughter, she has known her mom's dying wishes and the hurt when those wishes can't be fulfilled because of a lack of money. She's had to live with that guilt.

As a friend of a grieving mother, she has witnessed the relief that a less-expensive funeral has afforded the family. One tragedy didn't have to lead to another, financially speaking.

Walton is a proponent of Lighthouse Funeral and Cremation Services.

Lighthouse, which has been in business in Amarillo since November, offers a new approach to funerals. It has taken the funeral building out of the equation, which in turn has allowed it to offer much less-expensive end-of-life celebrations.

"We have cut out our overhead cost, which is the biggest expense that you pay for in the cost of a funeral," Lighthouse Funeral Director Zach Sustaita said. "We've been able to lower our prices on everything, from cremation to burial, anywhere from 25 to 50 percent less than any other funeral home in town."

When Lighthouse started it didn't have a physical address, Sustaita said. He met families to discuss arraignments in their homes. The past seven months have been educational and business has exceeded expectations, he said.

It sounds moribund to say the funeral business is booming because we all know what that really means. But for a company, like Lighthouse, to stay in business and help people, which is the whole reason Sustaita became a funeral director in the first place, it has to make money to pay bills and keep the doors open.

Lighthouse, which has since rented a spot at 4207 SW 21st Ave., partners with local establishments to customize each funeral with unique locations and features like food and music.

"If the family wanted food and beverages, adult beverages even, they could make it as much of a celebration as they wanted to," Sustaita said.

Some of the local venues that Lighthouse has used are Destiny's Garden, 1134 E. Loop 335 South; CP Event Center, 310 S. Ross St.; Fresh Start Community Center, 612 N. Polk St.; Amarillo Botanical Gardens, 1400 Streit Drive; and The Venue, which used to be the Party Barn off Interstate 27.

"We felt like these facilities would be better suited to serve families because their spaces were typically larger and these places were built for celebrations," Sustaita said. "They could house just about anything. Funeral homes, typically, are not the case."

And the event venues were excited to be able to generate revenue during their non-wedding season.

"We are trying to create this as a celebration of the person's life so why couldn't we use those facilities for funerals," Sustaita said.

Walton, for one, wishes Lighthouse had been an option when her mother, Sherry House, passed away from cancer more than a year ago.

House, 68 when she died, wanted a traditional funeral. She had set aside a life insurance policy for $5,000 but a regular service cost about $8,000, Walton said. So Walton decided to cremate her mom's remains for $3,000.

"Mom wanted a funeral, but it was just too much," Walton said. "I know she wouldn't have wanted me to have to finance her funeral.

"I would have loved to have given her the funeral that she wanted. I have to live with that."

Walton, unfortunately, had a second chance to make things right. When her friend, "who's more like a sister," Walton said, had to decide what to do after her 19-year-old son died suddenly this year, Walton thought of Lighthouse.

The family lives in Booker, and the son died in an Amarillo hospital. The family didn't want to come back to Amarillo, so Walton worked with Sustaita to figure out all the paperwork online.

The cost of Lighthouse's funeral was a third of the price of her mom's cremation, Walton said.

"It takes a huge burden off of many families," Walton said. "They didn't have to come back to Amarillo, and I did all the arraignments by email and over the phone. I did everything they wanted."

For Walton it was a kind of redemption during one of life's cruelest moments.