Don’t forget our “Sacred Duty”

Last week a jury in Maine deliberated and found a verdict against a Lewistown, Maine, funeral home and its owner.  Here’s what the website said of the deliberations,   “A jury awarded Marielle Bischoff-Wurstle, 34, of Falmouth, $5.5 million Friday as compensation for significant emotional damage suffered because her father’s body was left to decompose for weeks in the basement of the funeral home last year.” 

According to the same publication, which you can read here, the verdict damages awarded to the plaintiff were more than asked for.  Here is what the publication reported, “Bischoff-Wurstle​ had asked for $5 million. The jury came back from deliberations shortly before 2 p.m. and awarded that amount plus $500,000 more.” 

Funeral Director Daily takeFuneral Director Daily generally reports on the business of death care.  I’m not particularly interested in reporting on bad things that have been done by funeral directors or pre-need representatives, nor do I believe my readers are all that interested in reading about these issues.

However, it is pretty fair to say that when I am searching for story lines for Funeral Director Daily I find what, in my opinion, is way too many stories of this kind.

It’s made me think back to my early days of funeral service when I was informed that as funeral directors we have a “Sacred Duty” to perform our jobs with all possible dignity.  When I look up the definition of “Sacred Duty” is says “Something that is “sacred” is believed to be holy and to have a special connection with God” .  And, “Duty” is work that you have to do for your job.”

Tom Anderson
Funeral Director Daily

To me there was nothing so “sacred” as that dead human body being in my care.  It was just drilled into me and my Christian faith compounded that reverence.  I understand that not every funeral director comes from the same denomination of faith as I do, but the words “Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you” also served me at that time.

In other words, you did not have to be religious to understand the importance of taking care of that dead human being that had been entrusted to you.

It pains me when I see articles like the one I reference in today’s blog post.  Families are entrusting us to care for their loved ones. . . .and we must give that care. . . even when no one else is looking.  It is our oath.

I’m sorry for today’s blog.  It is probably one many of you don’t tune in here to read.  However, if funeral directors are not going to be respectful, how will we carry on our duties?  And, it should also be noted that if we see one of our colleagues having a tough time — mentally, physically, or addictive — we have an obligation as human beings to reach out and help.

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1 Comment

  1. Ken Biery on October 6, 2022 at 2:05 pm

    Hello Mr. Anderson, I truly appreciate your comments, Christian convictions, morals and, ethics. Twenty five years ago when I started my career as a funeral director the owners and my fellow funeral directors led by example of the sacredness of our profession. My Christian beliefs along with my upbringing by my parents reinforced my earnest desire to care for both the living and the dead. Today it seems as if the worst behaviors in society are what’s uplifted and shared through music, movies, social media and the news. Its refreshing to read your comments and how you approached sharing the story. Your words felt remorseful and sorrowful as I read them. Remorseful and sorrowful for an incident like this in an industry that you obviously love. I appreciate you emotion because I feel the same way. Funeral service should be the beacon of light on the hill for all those we serve. Thank you again for your words and how you communicated them to myself and all of your loyal readers.

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