When you think of a funeral home, what things come to mind? Do you think of unreasonably high funeral costs? Sadness and grief? A huge drain on the environment? The truth is, most people do. What’s also true, though, is that these thoughts are common misconceptions people have about funeral homes.
The Newhards of Bartholomew Funeral Home in Valparaiso know that funeral homes aren’t always a pleasant topic of conversation. However, they hope that by busting some of these misconceptions, the narrative around funeral homes will change, and people will feel more comfortable learning about their options so that they are better prepared for the future.
“We’re all going to die one day, and it's important that you understand what all your options are and a little bit about what that process is going to entail so that when that time comes, you or your loved ones aren't overwhelmed by what's going on,” said Kyle Newhard, office manager of Bartholomew Funeral Home.
One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding funeral homes is that they take advantage of people’s losses by making funerals so expensive. Funeral homes are a business, and like any other business, they do have to make a profit to exist and they have costs to cover. However, the Federal Trade Commission has policies in place to prevent funeral homes from taking advantage of people. At Bartholomew Funeral Home, the funeral director’s goal is always to make people feel comfortable and help them in any way they possibly can—not harm them.
The reason why people believe funerals are so expensive is because they are viewed negatively. Other major life events that are viewed positively, such as births or weddings, typically cost much more than a funeral, but because they are seen positively they are less criticized.
“People won't bat an eye when it comes to spending $10,000 on a wedding, which is a major life event and a happy event. But when it comes to a funeral, which is also a major life event, they’ll pick out $10,000 worth of merchandise and that’s suddenly seen as a lot of money. The reality is that they're both major life events,” said Newhard.
Another big misconception about the funeral industry is that funerals have to be sad. This simply does not have to be the case. Death is sad, loss is sad, but funerals don’t have to be somber affairs. Funerals can be a celebration that brings people together to commemorate a loved one’s life.
“Yes, you're sad that this person isn't here anymore, but you're celebrating them. It should be an occasion to get together and share good stories about the person who passed away and be with each other. We're here to design a funeral that will help you have not necessarily a sad time. We want to lighten your grief,” said Newhard.
One misconception funeral directors hear often is that funeral directors are cold people. Being a funeral director is no different from any other job, and a funeral director is no different than any other person. Most funeral directors are kind people who truly love connecting with people.
“It's funny,” chuckled Newhard. “We'll have people come in all the time and say, ‘It's great to see you. Not here exactly, but it’s great to see you still.’ I understand that.”
A big misconception about the funeral industry that used to be true, but isn’t anymore, is that all funeral directors are men. 40 years ago or so this may have been the case, but nowadays there are women funeral directors all over the country.
“I can think of 10 different women that have entered the funeral industry right off the top of my head. It’s great that we went from being a very male dominated industry to a more diverse industry. Sometimes people are more comfortable meeting with a woman or a man, depending on their situation, so it's another way we can help people be more comfortable in their time of need,” said Newhard.
One of the last big misconceptions about the funeral industry is that burials are bad for the environment. Many people worry that caskets aren’t biodegradable, but wooden ones degrade, and metal ones degrade over time, it just happens a bit slower. Some states are looking into greener alternatives, but right now there are only two or three states that allow these different options, so there isn’t a perfect solution. What matters most is that people choose an option that makes them feel most comfortable and best helps them in the grieving process.
Loss is never easy, but breaking past your negative misconceptions about the funeral industry is one of the best ways to open yourself to learning more about things that can make you or your loved ones' loss easier in the future. The team at Bartholomew Funeral Home is always there to help and answer any questions you may have.
“We encourage people all the time that if you have a question, ask us, because you're not going to know unless you ask. There's really no such thing as a stupid question,” said Newhard.