The Caregiver's Soapbox

Volume 17    www. thedead-beat.com    Issue 1

Mortuary Muse*     Mortuary Muse

*to think or consider deeply; meditate By Lowell

My recent rant about “Where are my clothes? Where is my dignity?” brings to mind another potential emotional turmoil for families and the funeral directors who wish to ease the pain of loss for everyone and still get paid.

After listening to a radio discussion about an author’s new book, the author and her husband were a LGBTQ couple.  They lived in a state where their marriage was legal and they were well-served by their selected funeral service provider and Christian spiritual advisor.

However, she explained, in some states where their choices are not considered legal, her husband’s death certificate would only show his assigned sex at birth —not his chosen sexual identity.  And depending on the state’s survivorship laws and family relationships she might have had no control over his services and he might not have been attired in the clothing of his chosen sexual identity.

This certainly could be a difficult situation for a compassionate funeral director to come up with a realistic compromise.  I’m glad I’m a retired funeral director.

Is the prestige, honor and dignity of a funeral coach perceived by the public everlasting?  Does the use of minivans, crossover cars and suburbans as utility vehicles or long distance body transport dilute the image of the coach/hearse?  As long as the vehicle has landau bars does the public still view it as a hearse?  Does the medical or other care facilities in your area prefer that hearses not be used for removals?  If you answered yes, no or perhaps to any of these questions, you may have too much time on your hands.

What prompted my questions was an observation of our oldest funeral records. Infants and small children comprised as much as 30% of the total volume.  Most often a $2 - $5 cost of a child’s casket was noted, but the family was not charged for it.  On the other hand there almost always a $15.00 charge for the hearse.  In the minds of these families was the trip to the burial ground in a hearse the ultimate tribute to a young life never lived? What now?  How do families really feel about this? Are they grateful for a less expensive vehicle?  What about a European style smaller window hearse for cremains?

About the Author:  Lowell Pugh has had funeral director and embalmer licenses in Missouri and Texas.  He is publisher of The Dead Beat which began in 1999.  He can be contacted at The Dead Beat address. 

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