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Thursday, 05 September 2013 03:46

The Lost Education of Cremation

Across the country for funeral service students and interns, course topics have ranged from anatomy and pathology to management, embalming, and restorative arts; yet funeral programs have not traditionally emphasized details regarding cremation or cremation services.  In my opinion, much of the curriculum is still geared toward the traditional funeral service even though the percentage of those choosing cremation for final disposition has risen to 44% in 2013, per CANA.  With these percentages rising, students and funeral directors must know what steps to take in assisting those who have chosen cremation for their loved one. 

Funeral services and preservation began during ancient Egyptian times and have been substantially progressing ever since.  The traditional funeral service included embalming of the body and/or burial whereas cremation was frowned upon.  Cremation was considered cheap, unethical, and in some religions it was simply just not allowed.  It was not until the 1980’s that cremation became more popular.  Cremation is now accepted in the Catholic faith, younger people who pass away prefer cremation, and families are finding it comforting and convenient to have grandma at home on the mantle.  Regardless of the reason for a family choosing cremation, the profession must accept and adapt to changing conceptions.  As a funeral service intern, I notice that many funeral directors personally prefer burials vs. cremation, especially the older generation directors.  As funeral directors, it is our main purpose to serve the families of the deceased and abandon our personal agendas. 


Many funeral homes have difficulty in getting their employees to think differently about the families they serve when that family has chosen cremation as their choice of disposition. Cremation does not mean Direct Disposal. Most families know one thing, they want cremation. Other than knowing that they desire cremation, they really have no idea just what they want.

This is where we, as funeral directors, fail in not offering services and options to those families so they know they have choices. Disposition by cremation does not have to be any different than disposition by burial. Staff training is so vitally important when it comes to having your employees understand how to better connect with your cremation families.

There are a number of things you, as the owner/manager, can do to ensure your employees are on board with your marketing procedures to provide cremation families with the information they need to make sound decisions. Communication is the key when your employees are making arrangements with a cremation family. Your employees must be equipped with the tools that raise their confidence level when dealing with the cremation family that wants a Direct Cremation.

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