Laughing in the face of death: Behind the scenes of the funeral home

This post is an entry for our $25,000 scholarship contest. The post was created by Kristin H. Williams and may not always reflect the views of JW Surety Bonds.

There was a young widow, sitting by her husband’s side. With a puzzled look on her face she asked her mother, ”How am I supposed to honor his last request?” “Well, what is it dear?” her mother softly replied. “He wanted to be buried with all of our money! I can’t do that!” she exclaimed. Her mother said with a smile, “Yes you can baby, write him a check!”

How about those “odd requests”? Funeral Director A. Powell of North Carolina recalls a time where the family wanted to funeral to start late. See, the deceased had a tendency to run behind, so the family only thought it fitting for her to arrive at her own funeral late. So, they had the viewing and then removed her from the sanctuary. 15 minutes into the service, they burst through the doors and rolled her in! She made a “grand entrance” like she always had.


When people think of funeral homes, most often thoughts are of sadness and bad music. In fact, funeral homes, like we know them, came to be just after the Civil War. This is when embalming became a common practice. As of 2012, there were 22,000 modern funeral homes!

The average funeral is around $7,045! I bet you’re thinking,  “The casket better be made of gold!” Not really. So, what are you getting? What you are getting is a certified professional to assist and guide you and your family through the process. A mortician, also known as a funeral director will prepare a body for burial or cremation, they also handle paperwork like the death certificate and the obituary. The funeral director will also help plan the details of the funeral, to include, music, minister, slide shows, and special tributes. They even fill in as grief counselors when needed.

With so many choices to make, it is good to have an experienced professional on your side. Like, burial for example. There are caskets, with or without a liner. Cremation, or a pine box in a natural burial ground? To embalm or not to embalm? A two day service or one day service? These are some things we may not think about, but they do.


Every job has its moments. Even in the saddest of situations, laughter can still be found. Here’s what happened in a small, quiet town. A local businessman, call him “Bob”, passed away. He was known for keeping up with the trends. The latest trend was for people to be buried with their cell phones (on silent of course). So, that is what his family did.  Half way through the services, the floor was opened for anyone who wanted to say something. Suddenly, when out from the coffin rang, ”Stayin’ alive! Stayin’ Alive! Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah, Stayin’ Alive!!” Obviously, they forgot one important factor! The room erupted with laughter! This fit “Bob” perfectly!

So you see, what goes on in the funeral world is more than carnations and strange music. They are caring, talented individuals that are there for you and your family in your time of need. From the first call to the staff bringing the flowers to your house, the funeral staff will be by your side until the end.

Photography Taken By: Kristin H. Williams