Last month, on a cold February morning, I attended the funeral Mass of a colleague. As I sat in a pew, listening to the priest’s homily, in which he referenced … Continue reading No Funeral for the Funeral Director? That Can’t Be Right!
Tag: funerals matter
Are You Thinking of Hiring a Funeral Photographer?
Today, photographing the dead is making a comeback. But this time it’s not only the deceased who are being photographed – it’s the entire funeral service. Candid shots of the … Continue reading Are You Thinking of Hiring a Funeral Photographer?
Elaine & Jimmy: A Tale of Two Restaurateurs
During a recent conversation about iconic New York City restaurants, I mentioned Elaine’s. “Elaine’s? Never heard of it,” someone said. “Never heard of Elaine’s!?” I asked in surprise about the … Continue reading Elaine & Jimmy: A Tale of Two Restaurateurs
What You Need to Know When Considering a Home Funeral
In 1911, when newspaper publisher and journalist Joseph Pulitzer died, he was waked in the library of his Manhattan home. The room was filled with floral tributes and the furniture … Continue reading What You Need to Know When Considering a Home Funeral
How We Remember
I was honored to be asked to contribute an essay to NFDA’s ‘Director’ magazine in observance of the somber 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. I chose to write about … Continue reading How We Remember
12+ Things You Should Know About Planning a Memorial Service
Two summers ago, my cousin Elizabeth died. Her death was sudden and occurred less than two weeks after the death of her mother. But unlike her mother, who had a … Continue reading 12+ Things You Should Know About Planning a Memorial Service
Post Pandemic Funeral Service – Can We Find Some Normalcy?
As the winter of 2020 turned to spring, the death toll from Covid-19 seemed insurmountable. For funeral directors, it was the darkest and most challenging time we’ve ever faced. In … Continue reading Post Pandemic Funeral Service – Can We Find Some Normalcy?
I Want to Watch
An essential component of our role as funeral directors is to maintain the sanctity of our work and protect the privacy of those in our care. Something that continues to trouble me is the prurient interest some have in the most private part of funeral service. “I want to watch. Can I?” It is an embalming they are asking to watch. In mortuary school we were told that the only non–official who could legally watch was the next of kin. “But why would they want to?” asked out instructor.
Some years back, I was interviewed by a young freelancer for a piece about Green-Wood Cemetery (my book about the cemetery had recently been published). At the conclusion of our interview she asked if she could come to the funeral home to watch an embalming. It was not the first time I had been asked, and, as always, I was taken aback by the question. After telling her that she could not, she spitefully cut me out of her article. Not very professional!
At one time or another many funeral directors have been asked that question by the morbidly curious. Some feign an interest in funeral service as a way to gain entrée. At other times a funeral director is careless in his/her thinking, and allows a person into the preparation room. But that is always a mistake.
A colleague shared the story of a funeral home owner who allowed a friend to keep him company in the prep room. When the friend’s mother died, he went elsewhere for her funeral. When his funeral director friend asked why, he responded by saying, “I feared you would let someone else in to keep you company, and I didn’t want anyone to watch my mother being embalmed.” The funeral director’s indiscretion cost him a funeral –and the trust of a friend.
Recently, I overheard a “videographer” working on a potential documentary ask a funeral director if he could watch an embalming. I hope the funeral director will have the good sense to turn him down
It is both morally reprehensible, and illegal, to watch an embalming without being qualified to do so. Please don’t ask us to break the law. And if those factors don’t deter you, ask yourself this question: Would it be okay for strangers to watch the embalming procedure of someone you love?
Today I participated in my second home funeral. The visitation was held in a magnificent estate in Greenwich, Connecticut and, as we were getting things ready, a colleague remarked that … Continue reading Home Funerals
As deaths from the pandemic have, mercifully, subsided, cemeteries have relaxed a number of their restrictions. One that has yet to do so was the cemetery I was at this … Continue reading God Winks
The Art of Giving a Eulogy – Share the Best Stories and Get Personal About It
Over my long career as a funeral director I’ve heard more than my fair share of eulogies. In a sense, eulogies are like taking a scenic drive through a life. … Continue reading The Art of Giving a Eulogy – Share the Best Stories and Get Personal About It
10 Cretive Ways To Keep Funeral Costs Down
Funerals can be expensive. There’s no doubt about that. In 2017, the median cost of a funeral was listed as $7,360 on the National Funeral Directors Association’s website. That cost … Continue reading 10 Cretive Ways To Keep Funeral Costs Down