Saturday, January 5, 2008

No Do-Overs In Death

Here on this blog I have a quote from Gladstone that says, "Show me the manner in which a nation or a community cares for its dead and I will measure with mathematical exactness the tender sympathies of its people, their respect for the laws of the land and their loyalty to high ideals.”

I was introduced to the funeral profession some eighteen years ago; I have seen a great deal of change in the manor in which we care for our dead. For many years older funeral directors would speak about how slow this profession was to change and how traditional it was. That has all seemed to change in recent years.

Traditions have been changed and modified mostly out of convenience for ourselves. Although we all can admit we are uncomfortable with death and grief but for many it has become a real inconvenience.

At one time the body of our deceased loved one would be brought back home by the undertaker for a wake, viewing and funeral services. Then as a community of friends we would have funeral service and viewing at cemeteries, funeral homes, churches, and community auditoriums. This was a time when friends, family, co-workers, church members, etc. would come together and pay tribute and honor the life of the deceased.

In all of this there was always several days of a process, the death would occur, the careful planning of services, an evening or two of visitation, a funeral service, dinner after the services, and then friends may gather at the home of the deceased.

Today, we still observe many of these traditions, but a growing population of people is choosing no services, no viewing, no dinners, and no real interaction with others during this process.

Are we becoming a society of individuals who simply wants to dispose of our dead? If so, do we have no obligation to friends, family neighbors and co-workers whom all interacted throughout life with the now deceased? How do we properly grieve? Was Gladstone on to something, maybe there is a direct correlation between the way we care for our dead and the way we abide by the laws of the land?

Is there a connection between the respect for the laws of the land and their loyalty to high ideals and caring for our dead and the feelings of others? Have we become a society of self-interested people who only care about ourselves and how this death may inconvenience our lives?

We have an obligation to ourselves, and our loved ones to take the time to grieve and honor their lives properly. If not, we risk finding out in the future that we may have made a mistake regarding one of the most important events in our lives (death). Remember, a death of a loved one and the service planning, viewing, etc. can never be re-created so that we can correct our misjudgments. In death we get no do-overs…



jes1715 said...

Good to know there is a "Green"
Burial option in some areas. This information will help me better serve our families.

Jan Shrader, Funeral Director

Fred H. Kitchen, CFSP said...

Thanks for your comments; I trust this site will be helpful for the consumer, funeral professional as well as others. Although "Green" burials are not available everywhere across the country, I feel with time, we will see more of this form of burial option in most major cities. The thing to remember be it a traditional burial, green burial or a cremation, there is much importance from a psychological standpoint in a viewing and service of some type for the deceased. It is part of the grieving process and realizing the death has occurred. The form of disposition should be utilized just for that – final disposition. Thanks, once again for your comments and look forward to a regular dialog with you on this blog. --Fred