Saturday, June 25, 2016

Magazines for funeral directors, and related information

Notes on what is contained in some of the magazines published for funeral directors and/or funeral homes. And some other stuff related to the industry.

Other material covered:

American Funeral Director claims to be "the leading independent trade magazine for funeral directors and other funeral service professionals." It has been running for 134 years and is published monthly.

A one-year subscription is $59; a two-year subscription is $99. A classified ad costs $85 for the first 50 words, $0.85/word for every word over 50, and $50 to incorporate a photo or logo.

It features "content pertaining to cremation, preneed, funeral business topics, professional vehicles, computers/software, insurance, funeral service history, business tips/tools, and other content of specific interest to those working inside and allied to the profession."

The December issue 2015 has:
  • Funeral Director of the Year, recognizing "Gregory B. Levett Sr.... for his steadfast dedication to the profession and the families he serves." 
  • Year in Review: "No doubt about it, 2015 was a big news year for the death-care industry. Here is a snapshot of the stories that had funeral service talking." 
  • Make Your Funeral Home Feel Like Home
  • The retirement of Wilson H. Beebe Jr. as executive director of the New Jersey State Funeral Directors Association.
  • Book Review (book is of photographs of cemeteries)
  • The Plight of the Funeral Home Owner
  • Story of someone who wanted to be a funeral director as a child.
  • Raging Storm: "Funeral directors never know what to expect when responding to a removal call. Randy Garner shares one chilling experience." 
  • Industry Roundtable -- Preneed: "Preneed continues to be one of the most important issues for funeral service. Our experts weigh in on the state of preneed--past, present, and future." 
Every issue has: 
  • Association News
  • Calendar
  • Classifieds
  • Editor's Message
  • AFD Vault
  • Products
  • Ad Index
  • Supplier News
Mortuary Management is a "trade publication for funeral directors and others related to the funeral service industry, including manufacturers, suppliers and dealers of funeral merchandise and equipment, embalmers, cemeteries, and mortuary science students and colleges." It has been running since  1914. 

Subscriptions are $43 for one year, $68 for two years, and $93 for three years. 

The October 2015 issue has: 
  • Colleague Wisdom, apparently a regular feature. 
  • "Interesting cases and the twists and turns involved" in the career of Richard Callahan.
  • Nature's Elegant Dispersal Solution: An ash scattering method involving bees. 
  • Something on the railroad industry. 
  • CANA Shares latest Cremation Statistics
  • Story about the loss of a "very special black Lab, Shadow." 
  • A Product Your Families Need: Are You Offering It?: About "Heaven's Gain, a company specializing in burial products for pregnancy loss."
Issues cover: 
  • "Strategies and tactics to help you increase productivity and reduce overhead.
  • "The only news briefs section that contains actual news and not just press releases.
  • "Latest news on preneed insurance policies and trust accounts.
  • "Reliable legal advice to help reduce your firm's liability.
  • "Coverage of the ever-increasing state and federal government regulations.
  • "Techniques to effectively market your business.
  • "Computer use, technology and the booming Internet.
  • "Thought-provoking commentary on continuing education.
  • "Significant trends in cremation, low-cost funeral providers and retail casket sales."
Funeral Director Monthly is the "official journal of the National Association of Funeral Directors." It is an "A4-size, 80 page glossy magazine with a design that takes its reference from modern business publications, in the aim that Funeral Director Monthly would not look out of place on the shelves of WH Smith." It has been running since 1921 and claim to be the only funeral publication audited by the Audit Bureau of Circulation.  

A one-year subscription costs £60-130, depending on whether you're in the UK, the EU, or elsewhere.

Advertising on the cover costs £795 on the outside back cover, £825 on the inside front cover, and £725 on the inside back cover. Loose inserts cost £215 per thousand up to 10gms. An eighth page ad costs £122/138, a quarter page £205/230, a third page £275/315, a half page£315/375, a full page £490/625, and a double page spread £890/1,025. The first value is for monochrome and the second for full color. 

The November issue has: 
  • Mexico's Rave from the Grave - The growing global fascination with Dia De Los Muertos
  • NAFD to support Infant Cremation Review
  • Member's News
  • CEO Viewpoint
  • President's Perspective
  • "A major feature on the return of funeral costs and funeral poverty to the headlines... and how to prepare your funeral business for winter." 
  • "There are also a host of regular new features including essential business guidance, tailored to the needs of the funeral sector and updates on NAFD campaigning in all four UK parliaments and assemblies. Each issue also carries features on UK, European and International funeral issues and news from around the industry... [and] is also packed with information on the products and services available in an increasingly competitive marketplace, providing suppliers to the profession with the ideal platform to highlight innovations and reach key decision makers." 
Funeral Business Advisor is a "business solutions magazine that LOOKS LIKE a business magazine." Issues contain "12-15 editorials designed solely around this purpose, along with Funeral Home Success Stories, Industry News and Alerts, Vendor Products and Company Spotlights, Industry Related Books Reviews... and much, much more." [ellipsis original]

Subscription costs are unavailable. 

Advertising costs $12,990 on the front cover. $3,590 on the inside front cover, $4,090 on the outside back cover, and $3,490 on the inside front cover. A sixth page ad costs $790, a quarter page $1,190, a third page $1,390, a half page $1,890, a full page $2,690, and a two page spread $4,890." 

The September/October issue includes: 
  • Making the Grade: Five Quick Tips to Improve Public Perception
  • Updating Preneed Clients: An Opportunity Hiding in Your Filing Cabinet
  • Four Questions to Ask Your Trustee
  • Preplanning is for Pets Too!
  • 3 Essential Tasks of the New Year
  • Encouraging Community Awareness
  • Putting the Care into Aftercare
  • Growing the Goodness - Memorial Donations
  • Indicators of Overstaffing
Each issue also has a "Success Story" (Sep/Oct features the Pelham Funeral Home) and "Featured Reading." 

Funeraire Magazine is "for the funeral professionals (undertakers, funeral masons, etc.), territorial governments and various research environments (academic, scientific, sociological, medical, historical, etc.). Its editorial content addresses all the professional, legal, economic, social and cultural news... [and is] a true forum in the heart of business, across multiple sources and infomration exchanges." 

10 issues per year. A year-subscription appears to cost 80 euros. 

I'm having to get this translated from French, so I'm not going any further. But it has a mausoleum issue out right now, looks like. 

"How to Become a Morgue Attendant"
  • "Tasks performed by mortuary assistants include preparing the deceased for a funeral, moving the boy from the hospital to the funeral home, or preparing paperwork."
  • "Another name for mortuary assistant is mortuary technician." 
  • "Mortuary assistants work at funeral homes, crematoriums, city and county morgues, and hospital morgues under the direction of licensed funeral directors or pathologists." 
  • "Mortuary assistants should have at minimum a high school diploma or GED. However, employees require at least a two-year associates degree in Mortuary Science. If you plan to become a Funeral Director or Mortician, you will need a four-year degree in Mortuary Science." 
  • "Mortuary science degrees are not typically available through distance learning programs, but students can complete certification requirements in some states such as South Carolina through distance learning programs." 
  • "Mortuary assistants... may assist the pathologist during an autopsy, handing him instruments, preparing and sealing samples, and recording details. Mortuary assistants are usually the ones moving bodies from storage units to autopsy tables, and transferring bodies from the morgue to the funeral home. At funeral homes, mortuary assistants may perform light housekeeping duties as well as assist the funeral director during embalming and preparation of the body." 
  • "A typical day for a mortuary attendant may include the following tasks: 
    • "Housekeeping and cleaning duties
    • "Admitting and releasing cadavers to and from the morgue.
    • "Assisting the pathologist at an autopsy, including handling tools and specimens.
    • "Transferring bodies from hospital floors to the morgue.
    • "Transferring bodies from storage units to the autopsy table.
    • "Completing routine paperwork under the direction of the pathologist or mortician.
    • "Confirming details about the deceased, such as identity.
    • "Recording details about the deceased when the body is transferred out of the morgue to a funeral home."
  • "Mortuary employees are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week... You'll have a set schedule, plus 'on call' hours to come in for overtime when needed. You must be able to work evenings, nights, weekends and holidays, since many people prefer to inter the deceased within 24 to 72 hours of their passing." 
  • "Explore a part time job at a funeral home. Even if you're just answering the phones or doing the filing, you'll be in the job environment where you'll work eventually and can tell if you'd like it or not." 
  • "The job market is growing at about 11% per year for the mortuary industry, slightly faster than the overall job market. The average entry level salary is around $30,000 per year, with the average salary nationwide $30,000- - $50,000."
"I Can't Encourage You to Become a Mortician"
  • "Embalming is on its way out... Recent numbers from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics list embalming as one of the 15 disappearing middle class jobs. Our national cremation rate rises every day and shows no signs of stopping." 
  • "Here's the issue: embalming is what mortuary science schools teach. They have pretenses towards other subjects (we got about two hours over the course [of] two years on cremation) but really it's embalming. The first mortuary schools were founded by embalming chemical companies. The North American death industry has a whole system in place to support embalming. Except the public no longer wants the service."
  • "The embalming we've seen lately, like the guy who was hyper-preserved and buried in a glass case propped up on his Harley, has a sort of crumbling-of-the-Roman-Empire feel to it. The bizarre decadence that shows up historically at the end of eras or civilizations." 
  • However, "the market for 'alt death' hasn't caught up yet to the people who want to serve the market."
  • "Jerry Seinfeld was talking to Louis CK, about the people who ask him 'how do you make it in stand up comedy?' His answer: 'if you have to ask, you'll probably never make it.'"
  • "The people who will have careers are the people who will do whatever it takes: knocking on funeral home doors, apprenticing, figuring out how to innovate and learn and discover where the industry is going." 
  • "And if you have to do this, it's a calling, you can't not do this? Then welcome to death, we've been waiting for you." 
"Life in a Disaster Morgue"
  • DMORT means "Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team." 
  • "Senn, a veteran forensic DMORT odontologist, was to report to a temporary morgue was being set up in an empty brick warehouse in nearby St. Gabriel, a Louisiana town of 6,000, once home to a leper colony. There would be bodies to identify. Seen altered his plans, caught the next plane home back to San Antonio, cleared his teaching schedule, collected his DMORT grab-and-go bag containing enough gear, clothing, and personal items to last about two weeks, and was in Dallas on Sunday..." 
  • Section heading "Last Responders" is used. Right now, I'm thinking of people heading out to a disaster zone which turns out to be the result of something Horrible And Supernatural, like if an elder god had walked through the area. Looks like a storm-wrecked place, but there are things that don't fit the story, in the ruins.  
  • "The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) is credited with conceiving the concept of DMORT in the early 1980s. NFDA was concerned at the time about lack of standards handling the dead in mass casualty events. Protocols needed to be imposed on a process that had none... The NFDA subsequently purchased the components of the first portable morgue, called a Disaster Portable Morgue (DPMU)." 
  • "In 1998, a DMORT team specializing in bio-chemical fatalities was created in response to increasing concern for the release of weapons of mass destruction by terrorists." Now thinking that a bio-chemical team is sent in. They're very confused, since the story is that a natural disaster hit. Maybe it's also the story that some sort of lab was hit? Hm...
  • "A small group of DMORT members is now routinely deployed in advance of situations where mass fatalities might result from terror attack, such as presidential state-of-the-union addresses, papal visits, or Olympic Games." 
  • "Since their 1993 formation, DMORTs have responded to about twenty incidents, from cemetery floods and plane crashes to train derailments and terror attacks... DMORTs usually cover disaster incidents in their own area..." 
  • "During emergency response, DMORTs work under the direction of local authorities, providing technical assistance in recovering, identifying, and processing the dead. DMORTs are truly traveling morgues--composed of medical examiners, coroners, pathologists, forensic anthropologists, funeral directors, medical records technicians and transcribers, fingerprint specialists, forensic odontologists, dental assistants, X-ray technicians, mental health specialists, as well as computer professionals, administrative support staff, and security and[ ]investigative officers." 
  • "When teams are activated customary regional licensing issues are suspended and all professional licenses and certification are legally valid in all 50 states. Team members are compensated for duty time by the federal government as temporary federal employees... Like National Guard personnel, DMORT members are given job security." 
  • "DPMUs can be dispatched by rail, truck, or air. Each unit contains over 10,000 individual items, ranging from exam tables, forceps, scalpels, and hemostats to high tech digital X-ray devices and full body X-ray machines, as well as a complement of office computers, faxes, and forms--all accompanied by a team of experts called Red Shirts." 
  • David R. Seen: "All DMORT members are cross-trained to help quell the initial chaos when setting up and getting started." 
  • Brian Chrz: "We preferred teams of four so one person can take a break for an hour or two without interrupting the identification process." 
  • "Inside, morgue operations are controlled by a regimented protocol, capable of processing up to 140 bodies a day." 
  • "The remains, which have been stored in body bags in refrigerated trucks, are first cleaned and decontaminated with a chlorine solution, assigned a number, folder, and escort, before being moved to forensic stations. A forensic pathologist then examines, photographs, and X-rays the body at the first station. Fingerprints are taken when the condition of the body permits. When prints are not on file, FBI agents or local law enforcement may obtain latent prints from personal belongings in victims' homes... Pathologists also look for other potential identifiers like tattoos, scars, orthopedic devices, and surgical implants. Pacemakers and orthopedic devices are particularly useful; newer units have serial numbers that can be tracked through manufacturer's [punc. sic] records." 
  • "DMORT autopsies are different than routine forensic proceedings because the primary focus is not on determining cause of death but rather on finding positive identification." 
  • Dennis Dirkmaat: "This is more like a MASH unit--the remains come to your table and you have to be quick. In ten to fifteen minutes, you're moving the body on to the next station." 
  • "When adjustment becomes a little more difficult, every DMORT has mental health professionals available to deal with special problems that arise, and every team member has an exit interview with the mental health unit... Psychiatrists and psychologists are not only on duty at the site, they keep in regular contact with DMORT members for up to a year following an incident, looking for signs of unhealthy coping mechanisms." 
"Necrophilia & Misconduct"
  • "Necrophilia does not happen in the funeral industry, generally it is very, very rare. Incredibly rare to the point that nobody I talked with in the industry had encountered it or really heard of it." 
  • "People outside the funeral industry often ask me if I have ever heard of it or seen it, or how common it is. In their mind it might not be regular but it obviously happens."
  • "I remember back in the early 2000s a certain medical union in Sydney was in panic mode. They had found one of their members, a respected person in the field, had been a necrophiliac for years. So it does happen, of that there is no doubt. But it would be very rare, once in a decade if that." 
  • "Med students [however] are famous for miss handling [sic] of cadavers, it appears to be part of the rights [sic] of passage for some places. However again this would be very rare and uncommon. And I doubt the motive would be sexually based." 
  • "In the interview [The Unrepentant Necrophile] the necrophiliac says that it is common in the funeral industry, how it happens a lot but is not talked about. I have to completely disagree. The interview is sensationalised and appears inaccurate to the point where I start to think it is a hoax... [From the report] it all to me looks as though she is trying to, not justify, but make it appear more common. To make herself and her actions not part of a minority." 
  • "I am not saying misconduct does not happen with bodies, companies have been known to quite literally steal bodies from hospitals to get the funeral work. Other companies have had a flare of thefts from bodies... Other times individual employees have done bad things, like one person who use[d] to leave a mark on bodies he prepared." 
"The Unrepentant Necrophile"
  • Questions are in red. Responses are indented. 
  • "There seems to be a strong camaraderie between morticians. Almost like a secret society." 
    • "Very much so. Morticians are very tight with each other because most people won't have anything to do with them... A lot of people are under the misconception that morticians are very straight, very somber. If they ever went back into the prep room and heard all the jokes that are cracked it would blow that theory right out the window." 
  • "Necrophilia is more prevalent than most people imagine. Funeral homes just don't report it. There was one place that I broke into, and I know that they knew something was wrong. They actually caught me in the act and let me get away." 
  • Karen mentions the "American Association of Necrophilic Research and Enlightenment," which... doesn't appear to exist. There are only 1,750 results on Google. She doesn't seem to be incredibly credible here, although I think the more effective means of discounting the idea would be to somehow find statistics for the prevalence of necrophilia in general and then overlay that onto the number of morgue workers. Necrophilia will almost certainly be proportionately uncommon in that context, although, it should be remembered that the rate of child abusers in the Catholic clergy compared to the total number of Catholic clergy is also not as high as media reports might lead us to think.
    • This paper discusses the phenomenon and also suggests that necrophiles would be more prone to finding occupations conducive to their interests (53% of the individuals examined had "occupational access to corpses"). 
  • Southern Funeral Director Magazine has a 2016 Professional Car Issue with "specialty vehicle profiles." 
  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for funeral service workers is $51,600 per year or $24.81 per hour. 
    • "The median annual wage for funeral service managers was $66,720 in May 2012. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $38,420, and the top 10 percent earned more than $140,740." 
    • "Employment growth reflects an increase in the number of expected deaths among the largest segment of the population, aging baby boomers." 
  • According to Job Monkey, the "technical and artistic" occupation of embalming will earn you an "average of $50,000 per year". "Embalmbers can plan on 40 hours a week, but often the hours are irregular." 
  • "Thanatourism" is apparently the practice of going around to cemeteries, at least according to one source. Googling it, however, I turned up "Dark tourism" (AKA black tourism, grief tourism), which "has been defined as tourism involving travel to places historically associated with death and tragedy" and, in the same article, "Thanatourism... refers more speiifcally to violent death... The main attraction to dark locations is their historical value rather than their associations with death and suffering." 
    • "His typology of death-related tourist sites consists of seven different types, ordered from light to dark: dark fun factories, dark exhibitions, dark dungeons, dark resting places, dark shrines, dark conflict sites and dark camps of genocide." 
    • "The same author hypothesized in 2012 that 'dark tourism could be a mechanism of resiliency helping society to recover after a disaster or catastrophe, a form of domesticating death in a secularized world.'"
    • Another site I found mentions it in connection to "sky burials in Tibet," giving the idea of people going from place to place to watch the disposal of the dead.

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