The 10 Most Surprising Things about Deathcare
As a literature student fresh out of college, I knew very little about deathcare, if anything at all, before joining DISRUPT Media as a content writer. Deathcare didn’t have a regular role in my life or the life of those around me—probably due to my age. For me, deathcare was comparable to a distant uncle you see sporadically at family reunions and forget about till the next one came around. But just because I didn’t think about deathcare on a daily basis does not mean it does not thrive every day. In less than 6 months of serving the deathcare community here are the 10 most surprising things, I’ve learned.
1. The word “deathcare”
The first time I heard the word “deathcare” was my first interview with DISRUPT. I thought, wow, that’s a much better term than the ones floating around in my mind, like “funeral business,” a less empathic term. According to Merriam-Webster, the word deathcare is defined as “of, relating to, or providing products or services for the burial or cremation of the dead.” And this definition does not cover all the intricacies of the trade nor the emphasis on care.
2. Preplanning is a typical service
Preplanning was a service I had also just heard of when becoming interested in DISRUPT Media. I learned that is a great service for people who want to decide for themselves what their memorial service would be like and relieve their families of the burden of planning after losing their loved one. I also learned how life insurance differed from preplanning. Once again, my age hindered my knowledge. While you may have life insurance, the reimbursement a surviving family member receives isn’t always an option for funeral expenses. Even if you have a policy in place, your loved ones may not receive the reimbursement in time, or it may not cover the full amount—leaving them to pay out-of-pocket for final arrangements.
3. Pet crematories are available
One of the clients I make content for has a pet crematory so that they may serve families and their pets. It’s such a great way to honor a pet that I didn’t know was an option. Both my childhood pet that passed away were cremated at the local veterinarian’s office and we didn’t get their ashes back. Never having to part from your pet might be the path to healing different families’ needs.
4. Pet-preplanning exists
On top of pet cremation, there are also a few firms that offer pet-preplanning. A non-profit start-up called Piper Pet Rescue Ranch & Sanctuary Inc. gives pet owners the opportunity to leave their pets in the care of the Rescue. What happens if your family/extended family does not want to take care of your pet or if there is no one to take care of your pet when you’re gone? Now there’s no guesswork. I think it’s a great idea that takes into inconsideration those who preplan their funerals.
5. Family firms are the norm
Family businesses seem to be dwindling around the country. I’ve witnessed firsthand in my own hometown how small, local businesses are struggling in the past few years. And though funeral homes are affected by economic downturns, a family business remains the norm. As of July 2019, broken down by ownership type, 89.2 percent of funeral homes were family-owned or small businesses. I had never thought about funeral homes as small businesses until now.
6. Aquamation is a greener option
First of all, aquamation was another term I had never heard of. As someone who tries to live an eco-friendly life (and sometimes falls short), I was impressed by the option of aquamation. According to Bio-Response Solutions, aquamation saves 90% of the energy compared to flamed-based cremation, eliminating the burning of fossil fuels and direct emissions.
7. Becoming a tree is possible
In the past, I have seen some social media posts in which users claimed that they would become a tree once they were cremated—but there always seemed to be an underlying unseriousness to these tweets or memes. However, companies like ROOTS eco-tree-urn and Living Urn® make those musings a reality. The general process consists of transferring ashes into a biodegradable urn provided by the company, placing the urn in the ground, lowering a young tree into the urn, and filling all the space around the roots in the urn with soil. What better way to honor the earth than to become a tree?
8. There are different types of cremation
Apart from aquamation, cremation itself can be broken down into further categories. Prior to learning about deathcare, I assumed that there was a one-size-fits-all procedure. But families have options. Full-service cremation allows families to delay the cremation until the funeral service is completed. In contrast, Basic or Direct Cremations is when a family says their goodbyes to their loved one at the place of death and is sent directly to be cremated. It all comes down to how individual families want to celebrate their loved ones.
9. Deathcare is a growing industry
While doing some research for this article, I learned that deathcare has grown in the recent past. According to Statista Research Department, “In 2021, the number of morticians, undertakers, and funeral directors employed in the U.S. increased by approximately 200 when compared to 2020. Since 2013, there has been an increase of over 1,500 employees working within this industry” (2022). It may seem like a small number, but bereaved families know that one funeral home staff member can make a huge difference in their grief journey.
10. The amount of community involvement of funeral homes
Almost half of the content we make for our clients at DISRUPT Media highlights funeral homes’ involvement in their given community. We highlight fundraisers, sponsorships, conferences, fun events, and funeral home staff simply enjoying what their community has to offer. They’re my favorite posts to create because they get rid of the morbid stereotype of funeral directors and their staff. And it’s all about connecting people with people.
The above is not a definitive list of all I have learned in the past 6 months. And I’m sure there’s still plenty to learn in the future! Are you surprised by any of my 10 things?