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The History of the Funeral Home

Funeral homes today may be modern with aquamation services in Shelby, NC, but they have a long history. They really didn’t emerge in the United States until after the Civil War. Before the mid 1800s, the dead were never that far from home when they passed. So, their bodies were often displayed in the family home’s front room, or the parlor, immediately after death and right before burial because there were not very many accepted methods for prolonging decomposition. This all changed when, in 1865, President Lincoln’s body was embalmed after his assassination to prevent decomposition during the nationwide funeral train.

Read also: Tips for Talking to Your Loved Ones About Preplanning | Funeral Homes

As a result, people around the country began to accept the idea of embalming bodies as not only commonplace but encouraged. If it was good enough for Lincoln, it is good enough for the average American. As embalming became more popular, families were able to expand the funeral beyond the home. And, as the bodies were able to be transported and displayed, more neutral settings grew in popularity as families could invite more people to celebrate the deceased and host more formal events.

Formal cemeteries were also becoming more widespread in lieu of home burials, as the United States government formed military cemeteries for fallen soldiers after the war. The Bucktrout family in Virginia saw potential in a growing market and rose to the occasion. Originally coffin and cabinet manufacturers, the family grew their business to include funeral home services similar to those we have today, becoming the country’s first funeral home.

The funeral home industry grew, and businesses continued to expand. However, they were still all family owned and operated. In fact, most undertakers (as they were called then) used their home to run their funeral business. This is most likely where the term “funeral home” comes from. More and more funeral homes were established in the 1900s all across the country. With this expansion, formal training for undertakers became very important for consumer protection and industry standardization. As a result, the National Funeral Directors Association was formed in the early 1900s to help consumers view the members as professionals. Coffin makers, florists, life insurance agencies and other connected fields followed suit, and the funeral home business continued to blossom into what it is today. By 1920, there were around 24,469 funeral homes in the United States, showing a 100% growth in just under 80 years.

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Like other United States institutions, funeral homes grew out of Christian backgrounds. However, with the relaxation of immigration laws in the 1960s, there was an influx of new beliefs and cultures. Funeral homes rose to the occasion and began offering services for other ethnic and religious groups from Vietnamese and Eastern European to Buddhism and Hinduism.

Read also: How to Write an Obituary | Aquamation Services

Why Funerals Are Important

A funeral is a ceremony associated with the final disposition of a corpse, such as burial or cremation. Funerary customs comprise the complex set of beliefs and practices used by cultures to remember and respect dead loved ones. Funeral ceremonies provide closure as well as comfort in knowing that their spirit will always live on through those memories shared of this person during his or her funeral service.

Funeral rites and ceremonies have been around for many centuries. They are not just a last goodbye, but also an opportunity to celebrate the life that has come before it. Funerals offer supporters of the deceased comfort in their time of need with loved ones gathering one final time to say farewell as well as mournfully remember all those things they will never get back again.

Purpose of The Funeral

Funerals provide the opportunity to say goodbye, which can be both cathartic and healing for those left behind. They also make way for new beginnings by allowing us to move on with our lives even in the face of immense sadness.

  • Funerals are a way for us to acknowledge the death of someone we love. They give people who share an emotional bond with that person, as well as those at the funeral, closure and understanding.
  • Funerals are about saying goodbye to someone who has passed. It is a solemn occasion, but it’s also an opportunity for the deceased loved ones to say their final goodbyes and remember them fondly.
  • Funerals serve to bring the community together in mourning. It can also provide hope and continuity for those left behind, by allowing them to say goodbye or reflect on their own mortality while they mourn with others who have experienced similar losses.
  • Funerals offer a haven for those who are grieving the loss of their loved ones. The family and friends at my mom’s funeral helped me feel better during this difficult time, knowing that I have such wonderful support is something to be grateful for in life.
  • Funerals are a solemn occasion of reflection on the meaning of life and death. They allow us to take time out of our busy lives for contemplation, remembrance, and sadness but also remind us that we need not fear those things because they make up an integral part in the cycle of human existence.

What Are the Different Types of Funerals?

  • Traditional funeral – this is the most common type of funeral service, and it’s usually a ceremony that takes place in a church or other location. The deceased is typically buried or cremated following the ceremony.
  • Military funeral – these are funerals for military members who have died as well as their spouses and children.
  • Memorial service – memorial services can take place at any time after someone passes away, and they often take place at cemeteries with graveside services.
  • Funeral procession – these are processions held to honor people who have passed away; they’re most seen in cultures where religion plays an important role.
  • Cremation service – this is when someone has been cremated following death, but there’s no formal ceremony involved.
  • Green burial service- green burials involve burying the body without embalming chemicals or putting anything synthetic into the ground (i.e., plastic coffins). They also don’t use grave markers because they want to preserve natural habitats around them so animals can live on top of them too.
  • Private family viewing- this happens before a traditional funeral, where friends and relatives view the body privately before it goes off to be prepared.

What Is the Alternative to A Funeral?

Recently the death care industry has undergone some significant changes and what many of us thought to be traditional American funerals are maybe something on their way out. Although I believe there will always have a place in America for full-service, conventional funeral services, more options seem available now that people are making different choices:

Human Aquamation

This new alternative to cremation is heralded as a greener, more environmentally friendly option by some. The process involves submerging the body in water and lye before subjecting it to intense heat until dissolved into liquid form. The remaining green-brown fluid is flushed away with bones replaced by ashes that are crumbled like those from combustion or cremation; for this reason, it’s often referred to as “Green Cremation” or Water Cremation!

Funeral Pyre

A funeral pyre is a pile of wood that is lit on fire and used to cremate a dead body. The process of cremation removes all the organic material from the body, leaving only bone fragments which are turned into ash. Funeral pyres have been practiced throughout history in many different cultures with differing customs and beliefs about what happens afterwards. Some people believe that after cremation they will reincarnate as new life while others say it’s just a final resting place for them to move onto whatever comes next.

Sea burial

A sea burial can be the perfect way to say goodbye. The water is calm, peaceful, and tranquil–all things that make a good funeral seem like an even better idea for some people than they might have been before. It’s simple, cost-effective and environmentally friendly too! A “sea burial” could mean nothing more than an urn containing cremated remains being scattered into the water or it may include conducting full-body burials on land which will then transport them out onto dry dock before lowering them down overboard for final resting place amongst fish friends below.

Norse or Viking Funeral

The viking ship burial is a fascinating tradition that provides an opportunity to explore the rich culture of these ancient people. The ship burial is a tradition that has been around for decades. Vikings would bury their most high-ranking individuals in ships, using the boat as sarcophagus to contain them and all of their belongings.

A Life Celebration

A ‘life celebration’ is a new trend and alternative to the traditional funeral. Typically, these are uplifting events that focus on being happy instead of sad or somber as opposed to traditional funeral services and can be hosted by a celebrant who may not have any affiliation with the deceased’s faith but still fills the role that clergy would at an event like this.

Clay-Barnette Funeral Home is a funeral home that offers a range of services including Shelby, NC aquamation services. We are continuing the long tradition of compassionate and expert funeral home services. Please give us a call to learn more about us, and what we can do for you in your time of loss.