Attitudes About Funeral Service: The Public vs. Funeral Directors, Part II–Cremation

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May, 2018 Posts - FD Vs. Public, Part 2The percentage of Americans who were cremated reached an all-time high of 50 percent in 2016. Cremation opened the doors for people to hold funeral ceremonies in places that were meaningful to them and gave them more time to consider options. There’s just one problem, and it drives funeral directors crazy: the guest of honor is often conspicuously absent from his or her own funeral. With no body present, people have to imagine to whom they’re paying tribute.

A conversation between a member of the public and funeral director about cremation might go something like this: 

Public: When it’s my time to go, I don’t want any fuss. Just burn me up!

Funeral Director: Cremation is a good option, but it’s merely a way of disposing the body. You can have any service or ceremony you want before the cremation.

Public:  I thought once you cremated someone, that was it. You put them in an urn or you scattered them.

Funeral Director:  Acknowledging the loss of someone among family, friends and associates benefits everyone. Funeral service rituals offer people order and reason at a time when losing someone they love makes no sense to them.

Public:   Yes, but who would want to see my dead body?

Funeral Director: Everyone! No, that’s not an insult. Seeing someone after they die helps our minds process that this person’s life has ended, even if a person’s appearance has changed due to aging or illness.

Public: I still like the idea of cremation, but I’m not sure who should get my ashes.

Funeral Director: The easiest solution is to divide them among those who are closest to you. You can also have them buried.

Public: Bury ashes?

Funeral Director:  Sure. Most cemeteries have small plots to bury cremated remains to give loved ones a permanent place at which to pay their respects.

Public: I still want cremation, but maybe a little fuss wouldn’t hurt anyone.

What’s your perception of cremation? Do feel like a “little fuss” wouldn’t hurt anyone?  Comment below.

Next week’s blog will explore an issue about which funeral directors and the public have perhaps the widest differences in opinions: the cost of funerals. 

ShutterBug Headshots Austin TXBy Mark Allen
OGR Executive Director & CEO

Have you had a similar conversation?
Email Mark and tell him all about it or comment below.

3 thoughts on “Attitudes About Funeral Service: The Public vs. Funeral Directors, Part II–Cremation

    Eric Butler said:
    May 29, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    Personally, I will hope to be cremated when my time is up. But, only after calling hours/visitation, and (possibly) a service. In the late 1970’s, a Roman Catholic priest said something that I’ve never forgotten, regarding a service without the body present. He likened it to “a baptism without the baby; a wedding without the bride and groom.” Enough said.

    No one is forced to walk-up to an open casket, but some are compelled to do so, for myriad reasons. It is a choice. If that choice is taken away, the choice is made. To me, that’s not fair. Not fair at all. Seeing is believing, which leads to understanding, which leads to acceptance, resolution of sorts.

    Viewing is as old as the ages. How it fell out-of-step can be answered by as many opinions why, and all would be correct. And I truly believe the basics of embalming, the “art and science,” have been left by the side of the road; the practical, useful, beneficial apprenticeships are mostly long-gone. I am grateful for my mentor, who cared to take the time to educate me in the fine detail of preparing the dead to be returned to their families. Of course, I wanted to learn.

    Liked by 1 person

    Barbara Kemmis said:
    June 4, 2018 at 6:29 pm

    Nicely done, Mark. It is a modern phenomenon that cremation has become disconnected from memorialization and often viewed as “enough”. There are so many reasons why this has become the case, but funeral directors are our best resource to change attitudes in interactions as you depict. We do matter and deserve a little fuss. Keep up the great work!

    Liked by 1 person

    Bedemand Slagelse said:
    October 4, 2018 at 3:17 pm

    Good article.

    I like the comment “I still want cremation, but maybe a little fuss wouldn’t hurt anyone.”


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