Therapy, Ligitimation Or Both: Funeral Directors and the Grief Process

Emke, Ivan (2003) Therapy, Ligitimation Or Both: Funeral Directors and the Grief Process. In: Association for Death Education and Counselling Conference, March 2003, Cincinnati, OH. (Unpublished)

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Although Funeral Services generally presents itself as a profession, there are occasional difficulties in legitimizing this occupational stature. Funeral Directors often use their role in helping the bereaved to organize funerals and memorials as part of their legitimation of a professional status. These roles are couched in therapeutic terms, and Funeral Directors are presented as providing a valuable psychological service to the mourners. Indeed, in a secular age, Funeral Directors may be the one occupational group most likely to have direct and close contact with the bereaved early in the cycle of mourning. Furthermore, they are in some form of contact with almost all families who are bereaved, regardless of religious traditions or access to therapists. The paper clarifies this function of the Funeral Director in the modern funeral system and analyzes how the therapeutic value of funeral directing is asserted within Funeral Services literature. The paper then turns to how this assertion about the therapeutic role of Funeral Directors is incorporated into the curriculum of Funeral Services Education. Evidence is gathered from Funeral Services industry publications, Funeral Services curriculum, social science studies of Funeral Directing, and interviews with Funeral Services students and faculty. Funeral Directors will continue to play an important role in maintaining funeral rituals and directing the mourning behaviours of the bereaved. Furthermore, their status as a profession may depend on how well they perform their tasks as grief facilitators.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)
Item ID: 98
Keywords: funeral director, grief, bereavement
Department(s): Grenfell Campus > School of Arts and Social Science > Sociology
Date: March 2003
Date Type: Completion

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