Debunking 7 Myths About Funerals

Even though we’re in the funeral profession, I think we all can admit that not many people jump up and down excitedly at the thought of setting foot in a funeral home. In reality, what might seem like a somewhat strange profession is actually a deeply rewarding one, full of opportunities to make an important difference in the community and the lives of people who’ve lost a loved one.

But sadly, thanks to pop culture and general misinformation, the funeral profession as a whole tends to get a bad rep. In fact, when we asked on social media for people to share the misconceptions they’ve encountered, we were flooded with responses. That’s why we’ve set out to debunk some of these common myths about funerals to offer a fresh perspective.


Myth 1: Funeral directors are ghoulish, grumpy introverts.

This couldn’t be farther from the truth…Ultimately, being a funeral director is a people person’s job, and one that demands a person who can provide much needed support at one of the most trying times in people’s lives.

Hosting an arrangement conference, coordinating every last detail of a service, or gathering photos and video to create a memorial that truly captures the life of the loved one aren’t just items on a to-do list. The funeral directors that thrive in this profession recognize that every element of a funeral service can provide families with more opportunities to share loving memories and celebrate a loved one.


Myth 2: Funerals have to be miserable.

There’s no way to get around it; odds are there will be tears and heartache. But this doesn’t mean that the entire funeral service needs to be a miserable affair. Those of us working in the funeral profession put our whole hearts into helping family and friends honor the people who mean the most to them. In fact, some of the best funerals celebrate the life of the loved one and show them due respect by interspersing some laughs in with the tears.


Myth 3: Funeral directors don’t have to work all that much.

Okay, once you’ve stopped laughing at how way off base that one is, consider what the always on-call nature of the funeral profession says about us. Death doesn’t sing Dolly Parton’s “working 9 to 5” tune, so caring for people who have passed can’t be limited by a time clock. More often funeral directors work 24/7/365 because we truly care about the families we serve, and want to do whatever we can to make a difficult time less challenging.

We’re often passionate about making a difference and being there for members of our community. Funeral professionals work hard because we appreciate how lucky we are to be able to support people as they heal, grieve, love, remember, cherish, and share life’s most important moments.


Myth 4: Everyone’s funeral has to follow the same rules.

Funeral directors are empathetic individuals who work hard to help people heal and grieve in services reflecting the uniqueness of the loved one being commemorated. Funeral personalization is a trend for a reason. We want family and friends to be creative in planning a service to best suit the individual being celebrated.

Green burials, funeral webcasting, and social obituaries are among today’s more modern funeral trends breaking the old rules. Meanwhile, funeral directors are keeping up on technology, social and cultural changes to ensure they can provide the most meaningful service to families in the future too.


Myth 5: Funerals are so expensive.

As with any other purchase someone makes in a lifetime, there are going to be differently priced options. This means the cost of the funeral comes down to the choices individuals make to customize the experience. For example, Gonzo-journalist Hunter S. Thompson wanted his ashes to be shot out of a cannon and six months later a 150-foot tower was built do just that. Not everyone is going to take that route, though!

By thinking outside-of-the-box to create celebrations of life that are as unique as the individual being honored, funeral directors can work with clients to offer personalized services that suit budgets as well as cultural traditions, family expectations, and recognize the loved one’s life lived.


Myth 6: Everyone has to be embalmed.

Some may believe that embalming is required by law for public health reasons. Yet, in fact, embalming is never required in the first 24 hours and, in many states, may not be required at all. As a matter of fact, the body of someone who has passed away is less threatening to public health than a live, sick one — especially this flu season.

While embalming is an option to consider, it shouldn’t be done for false reasons. That also means embalming a body so that it never decomposes is flawed thinking. Most mortuary-type embalming holds the body only for a week or so, with temperature and climate playing a role.


Myth 7: You can’t have a service if your loved one chooses cremation.

Cremation has become an increasingly popular option, but going this route doesn’t preclude a viewing or full service. Even if someone is not being buried in a casket in the family plot, it can still help family and friends to come together to celebrate a loved one’s life, to have the opportunity to recognize wonderful friendships and relationships, and to receive the support and well wishes of their community.

The popularity of cremation also makes it possible to host a life celebration service a month, three months, or a year after someone’s passing. Families might also continue to share the love and remember the life lived with an annual celebration that could involve the scattering or burying of the cremated remains.

We’d love to hear what preconceptions you’ve encountered…Or what surprised you most about the job once you actually stepped foot in the door for an apprenticeship? Share your stories with us and our readers in the comments below!

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  1. Barry Slocombe

    Excellent article, most informative and gets directly to the truth about funerals and the 10’s of thousands of Funeral Professionals throughout the United States and Canada.

  2. Carolien

    Thank you, Msgr Pope, for raising this topic.