It seems like zombies are all the rage right now. From hit television shows to blockbuster movies, everyone is fascinated with the undead. While most people enjoy their fix of the undead and then turn off the television or leave the theater, for a small group of people, when it comes to death there is no escape.
The funeral service industry isn’t a glamorous career, but it’s a necessary one and can be most rewarding helping people through a difficult part of life. So how do those that deal with death on a daily basis handle the popularity of zombies? For a funeral director, a zombie infestation is a nightmare for several reasons. It’s the absolute worst possible situation in your industry and watching Zombies in action can conflict with job performance. Just like an airline pilot wouldn’t want to watch a films about a plane crashes, a cruise ship captain wouldn’t want to watch Titanic and a foodie wouldn’t want to watch Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, it’s just not good for your overall health!
Let’s face it – zombies are bad enough on the general population. It’s a messy affair with the dead ambling around, blood gushing everywhere and just lots of general gore. But zombies are even worse on the funeral directors and embalmers. Why? Let’s take a look. All Zombies start out as dead people. Funeral Directors work hard to make the dead look peaceful and then BAM!. Freaking Zombies mess up all our hard work. Not knowing when they will change just keeps us on edge all the time. Some complain that Zombies are driving the cremation rate even higher!. Progressive funeral director in Pennsylvania, Caleb Wilde now ties the deceased shoes together, making them even slower when the change comes while providing a more entertaining Zombie experience.
Outside of a cemetery, a funeral home or mortuary has the highest concentration of deceased bodies. So should zombies start rising from the dead, you’re at an immediate disadvantage because you’re outnumbered.
How’s this for nightmare fuel for a mortician: imagine your working with the dead and then one starts that irritating moaning from inside a casket you just positioned perfectly! Then you hear it from the one next to it. Then, the one beside it. When the locks start breaking and bodies start crawling out, that job at Home Depot is looking good.
Or imagine a family is having a service for a loved one when the dearly departed sputters to life, shuffles out of their casket and starts terrorizing the family? I’d imagine that family member screaming and running out of your funeral home in terror isn’t exactly the image you’re looking to project. Can you say lawsuit!. It’s just not good for business.
But aside from just the “nightmare” scenarios, there are actually practical reasons a zombie apocalypse would be a death knell for the funeral industry. “But you’d still need funerals once the zombies are killed!” you say. That’s just not the same – for several reasons!
First off, the whole “viewing” part of a funeral couldn’t happen. Often times, people at a funeral will say, “He looks so peaceful” or “She looks so natural”? But the fact that you have to kill zombies with a head shot or decapitation pretty much renders that useless. It can look “just like her” with a pair of holes in her head!
Embalming does not kill Zombies and that’s a problem!. Since zombies keep moving around, normal embalming becomes a pain in the ass. Embalmers for the first time are having to implore restraining straps. One skilled embalmer told me she has been adding a step of cutting the trac and removing the voice box. This has completely stop purge from the mouth and nose as well as stopped all that annoying moaning!. This triggered me to consider teeth removal to inhibit all that messy biting! Without preservation, a zombie’s body (which as mentioned in the last paragraph, probably isn’t in good shape) would deteriorate far too quickly to have any sort of service. Of course, that assumes you’d provide services to a zombie in the first place! No restoration and no preservation? Another strike for funeral homes.
And since you’ve got several layers of “death” in the zombie universe (the initial person’s death, the death of a zombie, etc.), how do you handle a situation where someone passes away, but the becomes a zombie? They don’t exactly need their casket, and your services were useless, so can the family ask for a refund?
As anyone who works in a funeral home knows, we don’t like it when bodies start to twitch or make a sounds. With the resurgence of zombies in popular culture recently, I’m sure it’s given more than one person a brief heart attack. Josh Slocum of the Funeral Consumers Alliance has been warning the public that funeral directors should avoid the whole zombie phenomenon because Zombies don’t need funerals and have no known negative effects on the public.
So if you someone in the industry does choose to partake in a little undead entertainment, how do they deal with it? For starters, know that since zombies are (hopefully) relegated to the small screen, your industry is going to be around for a long, long time. Also, be happy that people are fascinated with death. That’s good for business. And as I mentioned above, if you institute a “no refunds” policy, you’ll get to double dip. You’ll have a service for the initial passing, and then another one when they take a shotgun blast as they’re trying to gnaw on a cousin’s leg. I recommend Cremation services and a nice urn as a zombie solution!
But what’s the best thing someone in the funeral industry can take away from the zombie resurgence? I’m sure The Walking Dead can offer you some pretty good survival tips, should…. well, you know.
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