How The Grinch Stole Christmas (Funeral Service Edition)


Every funeral director in Funeralville liked celebrating life a lot…
But the Funeral Grinch, who had been in Funeralville for too long, did NOT!
The Funeral Grinch hated planning celebrations! The whole funeral service!
Now, please don’t ask why. No one asks because they’re too nervous.

It could be his commissions weren’t adding up just right.
It could be, perhaps, that his creativity was nowhere in sight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all,
may have been that his traditional views made him hit a wall.
For this funeral director stood there during every service hating the laughter.
He thought funerals should have tears, not a happily ever after!

Staring down from his office with a sour, salesman frown,
at his warmhearted co-workers helping families in his town.
He knew every funeral director in Funeralville was busy,
planning every aspect of a loved one’s celebrations until they were dizzy

“They’re even putting together tribute videos!” he snarled with a sneer,
“But tomorrow is the funeral! It’s practically here!”
Then he growled, with his Funeral Grinch fingers nervously drumming,
“I MUST find some way to sell an expensive casket or something!”

“Why, for fifty-three years families have loved our tradition?
“Maybe they’ve changed” his co-worker said, and the Funeral Grinch had a suspicion.
How could he figure out why these “new families” were on the rise?
Then he got an idea. What if I, the Funeral Grinch, attended a funeral in disguise?

So the Funeral Grinch took off his intimidating black suit.
He put on comfortable clothes and picked up a basket of fruit.
He walked up to the funeral home, and opened the door…
The Funeral Grinch had no idea what would be in store.

When the service began, he heard a noise he simply must hear,
so he paused and put his hand to his ear.
And he did hear a sound rising over the casket,
it started in low, then echoed throughout the flower baskets.
But the sound wasn’t sad! Why, this sound sounded merry!
It couldn’t be so! But it WAS merry! VERY!
He stared down at the funeral! The Funeral Grinch popped his eyes!
Then he shook! What he saw was a shocking surprise!

Every friend and family at the funeral didn’t focus on the sadness of death,
instead they celebrated who the loved one was before their last breath.
There was no fancy casket, no clergy and not even a priest
In fact it was the family and friends who gave the eulogy for the deceased.

So the Funeral Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: “How could it be so?”
“The funeral came without embalming! It came without tradition!”
“In fact the family only really needed advice and guidance from their mortician!

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe funerals …perhaps…mean a little bit more!”
And what happened then? Well…in Funeralville they say,
that the Funeral Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day!
And the minute his heart didn’t feel quite so tight,
he whizzed back to the funeral home through the bright morning light.
He brought back with him some new funeral personalization tips,

and he decided that the family should provide their ideas and scripts.
His salesman lingo would no longer serve him any use.
Instead, he thought, he could be than just a funeral director, he could be a muse
For funerals, he thought, should focus on happiness of moms, dads, husbands and a wife
Funerals, he concluded, were about celebrating life.

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  1. virginia camacho

    Loved this blog post!! I shared it with our community!

  2. Shane A.S. Ritchie, CFSP

    A little poem of my own:

    Experiential avoidance with a new name; Celebration of Life? It’s really the same. No need for a body to spoil the mood. A corpse at a party? Now that would be crude. Just keep it upbeat, no reason for tears. No pilgrim or great narrative that has served humankind for years. Of course no one better than you should know, that when saying goodbye, one must start with hello. “But if I tell the truth they might take offense! I don’t want to lose business; that just makes no sense! Forget my true calling, just follow the gold. Not a trusted adviser, just a ware to be sold.” So just plan celebrations to keep spirits high; no need to acknowledge they really did die. And when the gaiety is over and the revelers have gone. The emptiness will remain, lingering on and on. Then the emotions will come; they always do. And those left behind will focus on you. You knew what was coming; you are the pro. But your counsel was wrong and too late they will know. The thin, empty party that you helped in convening now pales in the truth, devoid of real meaning. The distrust and grief will creep in inch by inch. And it will become clear, who is really the Grinch.

  3. Krystal Penrose

    Shane, interesting take on the poem and thanks for sharing your thoughts. What do you propose as a solution to the challenge you discuss?

  4. Krystal Penrose

    Thanks Virginia! Happy Holidays!

  5. Melissa Williams

    I really found this offensive as did a number of my colleagues. Certainly focusing always on the money seems to be a hallmark for those who provided “advice” to funeral licensees who are actually doing the work everyday.

  6. Marjorie

    Well one place to start, before we go discussing solutions to challenges, is that you educate yourself in the meaning of actual funerals, why humanity has acknowledged their loss as they have for millenia, the psychological need to see the body, the importance of grief work which yes includes tears, just to start. All of which is best learned through your nearest mortuary school. Giving all this advice to professionals who dedicate their lives to serving others by actually getting a degree and license in funeral service, I would assume you yourself are fully licensed? Otherwise it would be a bit like a waitress giving advice to a doctor on how best to practice medicine, wouldn’t it?

    I have given my life to this particular form of ministry for 10 years and I have yet to meet a director who works on commission, hates to plan funerals, turn a deaf ear to a family’s requests, or just sit there and offer no advice to a family who is lost and doesn’t know where to begin. It’s easy to judge a director and clergy when you are an outsider. And trick question as I already know the answer since you apparently aren’t aware of the distinction between a funeral and a memorial service-something offered by every funeral home in America. You didn’t reinvent the wheel, here. I’m surprised you didn’t mix up casket with coffin.

    You see, not only am I a licensed FD/EMB, I too am a Certified Funeral Celebrant. But, oh wait, oh my stars how can that be? Nobody should hate planning meaningful funerals as much as me! I’m a scary, unfeeling undertaker, just waiting to steal money when people go meet their Maker? How can it be I listen so, when families tell me how they’d like it to go? After the dvd’s skip and the flowers wilt, it is the family on which genuine memories are built. Traditions are there, there for a reason, to help survivors through their transition. Stand aside, charlatan, silly insults you lob, doesn’t change the fact it is the funeral director who is best trained to do this important job!

  7. Denise Hammelrath

    I find this to be vapid and a waste of energy to even read. I am weary of the people who feel the need to trivialize what we do.

  8. Mark Barker

    The way to solve the problem is to eliminate the role of undertaker and funeral homes in our society. Institute mandatory organ/tissue donation through government facilities, with the outflow being bone meal for fertilizing farm land. The processing facilities could be staffed by the out-of-work undertakers (they are ghouls, anyway). The public would be spared having to look at dead bodies and would not have to miss work to attend funerals. The money saved by eliminating funerals would be tremendous and would boost the economy greatly. Cemeteries could be eliminated, with the land now wasted by being cemeteries converted to usable acreage for the living. Of course, the supply companies supporting funeral homes would also disappear.

    Just think how advantageous such a move would be… time lost for bereavement leave, no costly outlays by families, no money-grubbing undertakers draining family resources, no interruptions in everyday life, better use of resources, and on and on. Happy days would be here again!

  9. Meryl Kos

    Normally i’d say “Don’t give up your day job” after reading something like this…but all considered you REALLY should! This is complete garbage!

  10. Shane A.S. Ritchie, CFSP

    I address this very issue in the next edition of the Dodge Magazine. However, since you are NOT a licensed funeral director, I don’t suppose you will have access to that.

  11. Glenda Stansbury

    The answer is Funeral Celebrants. We honor the life and provide healthy ways to mourn the death. “Celebration of Life” or expecting the family to put it all together does not provide the complete approach to hearing the stories and creating a unique and personalized service by a professional. We touch families and give them a first step into grief. We continue to plead with funeral directors, grinchy or not, to understand the impact of a Celebrant service. We truly can change the business of a firm.

  12. Tom Wiggins

    Hello Krystal: Nice piece indeed, I specialize in Life Celebrations, as did many people prior to 1900 when they had a big Brass Band playing the old Church hymns and John Philip Sousa Marches at Funerals. Then the Brass bands and the Ragtime players in New Orleans got together and started putting syncopated african american rhythms under those old Gospel songs and created Jazz funerals or Life Celebrations. Music heals many of our emotional problems and has the power to change moods instantly and allows people to deal with their grief in their own way. We have been performing New Orleans style Musical Funerals for 25 years and I am always amazed and blessed by the comments of the people who attend them and those that hire us to play for their loved ones services. We always get calls to play several other Funerals after everyone we play, and some folks call and even set up a pre need plan with their funeral directors. It would be even more popular if it were embraced and offered by all Funeral Directors and help to sustain their business more than they can even imagine. We also offer the services of one of our Trumpet players to play Taps for departed Service personnel as well at no extra charge. We do this because many of our guys are also veterans and we find it deplorable that a Cemetery or funeral director or even the Military vets that come out to do the Military ceremony for a vet show up with a boom box and a long worn out cassette tape of somebody playing Taps. What an absolute insult to the vet being laid to rest, They charge more for the Folded Flag they give than it would cost to hire a professional Trumpet or Bugle player. We perform for many cultures from around the world and often customize the music to suit their musical cultural preferences too along with our traditional songs and any other songs the family wants. we are professional musicians and are here to serve the musical wishes of the families, it is their show not ours :)) Happy Holidays to you and yours from us and ours.