Business

The public perception. . . discretion vs. transparency

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Many times discretion is warranted.  I know that there were lots of times in my life as a funeral director where I didn’t volunteer information.  It could have been with an accident victim or some other issue where I thought that the next of kin knowing the answer was worse than them not knowing and wondering.  Don’t get me wrong, I always answered if asked, but I didn’t always volunteer information if no one asked the question.  It’s part of that thin line of discretion that I felt many times needed to be straddled.

Or, what about a death out of town or using a trade service to make your removals and preparations when your neighborhood funeral home is called.  How detailed do you get with the client family about how that process works?

Or, what about local night calls?  Do they know that a trade service is making the removal and preparation, and not your staff,  even though they called your funeral home number in the evening?

Or, what about that trade call cremation that occurs for the snowbird?  The family tells you they want grandpa cremated in Arizona and then a memorial service in another state.  You tell them that you will see to it that grandpa’s cremated remains are returned to his hometown.  Do they know that it is by the United States Postal Service?

RelatedHere is an article on the increased use of the United States Postal Services for cremations.

I think there was a time where discretion and a “need to know” basis was the norm for our relationship with our clients.  I think our country and our clients have changed enough, however, that “full transparency” in all we do is now warranted.

Tom Anderson
Funeral Director Daily

I read this article from the Plymouth Herald in Great Britain just yesterday.  It is concerning an application by one of Great Britain’s largest providers of death care services, Co-op Funeralcare, to turn a warehouse into what is described as “an embalming theatre, as well as (a place for) personalisation of coffins. Around 14 full-time and 14 part-time staff would be employed and 24-hour use was needed to receive bodies, but most of the work would take place during the day.”

From reading the article it is apparent that the facility will be used by multiple locations of Co-op Funeralcare as a centralized location for preparation work.  Co-op Funeralcare states, “We are fully transparent with our families so that they know where their loved one is whilst they are entrusted to our care. . . .”

It was interesting to me that an objector would say the following, “An objector claimed the use of “mortuary hubs” was disrespectful to the dead and their grieving families, and represented the “industrialisation” of the sector.”

I’m pretty sure that twenty years ago no one would have made that objection.  Client families just trusted that funeral directors were making the correct choices for them.  However, today is a different time.

It’s just the world we live in today, but if I was still managing my funeral home, I think I would make sure that I have legal documents and disclosures whereby family clientele know of such things as trade services, mailing of cremation ashes, and the like.  I would hate to be caught in a position of routinely using a trade service and/or United States Postal Services and then having family members think that was either deceptive or disrespectful practice because I had not told them about it.

Just one of my many thoughts I felt was worth sharing.

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