It’s been building for some time. Gaining momentum. And now exploding with impressive force. Nope, I’m not talking about anything political or weather related. I’m referring to a trend in the death occupation (I HATE the term “death industry”) that every funeral home is seeing, families choosing Saturday for the funeral or memorial service of their loved one. Sure, Saturdays have always had plenty of funerals, but nothing like the increase we are currently experiencing.
Usually, families we serve will choose to have a ceremony two or three days after their loved one’s passing. That gives plenty of time for the cemetery, florist, newspaper obituary, and minister to be prepared for the service. Within the last five or ten years, though, families have decided that Saturday is the best day for a funeral, no matter WHEN the decedent died. Reasons for this trend are myriad, with the biggest one being the convenience factor. Obviously, a Saturday funeral or memorial service keeps most attendees from having to miss work or school. It also allows out of town guests plenty of time to drive to and from the site of the rites. In addition, most cemeteries in our region are not open for burials on Sunday.
Consequently, our average number of funerals Monday thru Friday is between three and four. On Saturdays, however, we are averaging between five and six services. And many of those ceremonies have been set for days or even weeks!
As I write these words on a Monday morning, we already have two funerals awaiting us this Saturday. Our firm can accommodate about eight funerals in a day, but anything over that begins to tax our facilities, motor equipment, and manpower. We could probably have ten services in a day if they were all spread out so that our staff could “double” over on them. That is, have the same crew work a 10 AM and a 2 PM ceremony. Unfortunately, everyone seems to want their loved one’s final rites to be around noon, give or take an hour.
All funeral service professionals including myself certainly knew when we chose this occupation, it meant plenty of nights, holidays, and weekends. But trying to get off on a Saturday anymore would be equivalent to my great-grandfather trying to take a day off during the flu epidemic of 1918. My granddad told me countless times about how his father worked for four months without a day off. So I guess I really have no reason to complain, do I?
Anyway, I’ve worked eight out of the past ten Saturdays, and desperately want to be off on Saturday, March 25th in order to attend a reunion of the cast of “The Waltons” television show in Schuyler, VA. All but one of the “children” will be there, as well as the actress who portrayed the mother on the series. That particular show rarely had cliffhangers, but it’ll certainly be one for me to see if I can sneak off on a Saturday in two weeks!