“Most people in the funeral industry are servants by nature, but it’s time that we took that servant nature and put it to better use by aiding you in the process of caring for your dead. Instead of doing it ourselves, we now need to be teachers, and not just directors; we need to be mentors and not just morticians. We need to reintroduce you to the value of caring for your dead.”
US 6th generation undertaker Caleb Wilde in a TED talk here.
“… caring for the dead is not neurosurgery requiring esoteric knowledge and the skills of experts. People have the social savvy and wisdom to do these things themselves, and centuries of our forebears managed to accomplish them without benefit of clergy or mortician.
When funeral directors and clergy realise that people can perform these actions quite adequately without us, ironically a window of understanding opens through which we can see what our proper roles might be and how it can be that people can do this better with us. And what is this proper role? To put it succinctly, the task of both funeral professionals and clergy is to help people do this very human thing more humanely.
That is why, when it comes to funeral professionals, the old title of “undertaker” is so apt. People do not need to have their funerals “directed,” any more than they need their lovemaking, birthing, bathing, eating, laboring and going about the trials and obligations of everyday living directed. Women in labor don’t need a birth director, they need a midwife. In the same way, people caring for and burying their dead don’t need a funeral “director”; they need people who will undertake to help them accomplish these tasks well.”
Thomas Long, theologian, in The Good Funeral
Wilde is reckoned to be on the progressive wing of the funerals business and Long is considered a reactionary.
ED’S NOTE – Yes, the pic at the top is John Bates, the valet in Downton Abbey.