July 2022

Page A16 JULY 2022 FUNERAL HOME & CEMETERY NEWS Se c t i on A ©adfinity® Independently owned by licensed funeral director Dave McComb, Inman Shipping Worldwide offers unmatched integrity and expertise. We have more than 40 years of experience bringing loved ones home for ceremony. We offer: • International & domestic ship-in services • Unsurpassed attention to detail • State-of-the-art tracking software • 24/7 call center staffed by Inman employees WE GIVE YOU MORE TIME TO SERVE your families Contact us today to learn more. (800) 321-0566 • ShipInman.com At the last minute, and for a variety of reasons, I decided to change the course of this month’s article. The past year I have had the good fortune to share and lecture to several state and national conventions. Traveling to out of state conferences gives me the ability to visit with colleagues and “talk shop.” It also gives me an opportunity to sit in and listen to other presenters. At the Indiana convention this past May, we had an outstanding line-up of well known, quality presenters! An interesting side note to this: two of the presenters at some point in their lecture, presented the same message I’ve been carrying for some time. In addition, some of what I’ve seen and read…I think it’s important to share some of this information in this article. Formaldehyde (CH20) is a naturally occurring organic compound. It is present in nature, it is all around us, as well as present in all living organisms. It will naturally break down in nature. It will not accumulate in our bodies or will it contaminate our soil. The environment will break it down to its natural elements. Once formaldehyde cross-links the proteins, it no longer exists! The reports on how many gallons of formaldehyde are being buried daily in the cemeteries and the harm it does to the environment is clearly exaggerated and not true. Yes, formaldehyde is considered a carcinogen, but if you take time to review findings, very few if any embalming rooms exceeded the eight-hour TWA or STEL limits. These findings are available online. Social media platforms have become a double-bladed sword. They are a great place to learn, gain valuable knowledge, seek help with problems, network with colleagues, and the positive list goes on and on. The biggest issue is how it is being abused by many in our profession (or formally in our profession, but seemingly have an axe to grind). I’m not talking about those in funeral service attempting to sell/share information or sell products. I’ve seen and had things shared with me I find totally reprehensible, disgusting, unprofessional and unbelievable someone in funeral service would publicly share. Halftruths, vulgar language, graphic photos and videos… these people are social media “stars.” These folks are disrespecting what most of us respect and hold sacred. They have a huge following hanging on to their every word. I’m fully aware, it’s considered freedom of speech; they can do as they wish. The reason I bring social media to this article is the potential harm it can do to one’s perBy Wally Hooker, CFSP, MBIE sonal, professional, and their firm’s reputation. It can also affect your future ability to secure a position. Funeral service is a rather small profession and funeral directors network around the country…owners and managers research social media to see what’s on your sites. You may think the owner interviewing you is an old dinosaur and not technically savvy, but don’t forget about their daughter or son, who will know exactly who you are and what you share on social media. Some would never stand a chance of being hired in most job markets, yet they think the world can’t live without their vulgar rants and disgusting social commentary. You may post something in haste, take it down within a few minutes, but it’s too late, there’s been 100 screenshots and it’s out there forever. I urge you to think before your share publicly something inappropriate. It is one thing to express yourself, but a boss may not see it the way you do. Many firms have policies in place for social media interaction. Cremation and the declining of body present services is of great concern. It seems the national organizations/publications representing funeral service have lost sight of what is important – for us to work and make a living in funeral service, there must be a dead human body! Since when has embalming become a word many choose not to use with families? It seems little consideration is given in training funeral directors on how to meet with cremation families and explain ALL the options available to them. Too many untrained and incompetent arrangers are quick to accept a direct cremation and not offer the many other options available. Shame on us if we won’t step up to the plate and explain the multitude of options available, which includes body present services prior to cremation. I am continually amazed at how many folks don’t realize the options. It is incumbent on us as funeral directors to educate families. As more and more “direct disposers” and competitors lowering their price to get the call, creep into our communities…the only way we can continue to maintain our facilities, insurance, overhead, property tax, vehicles, employees, maintain our lifestyle, etc., is to offer what they can’t…service and embalming! COVIDmade it easy for families to do nothing in the way of services, and the press made them feel good about that. I’m not sure we will ever get past the harmCOVID inflicted on funeral service. Still today, I’m hearing of firms refusing a COVID death unless it is a direct cremation. This is unbelievably irresponsible! We have seen the enemy and it is us. A conversation became heated at the Indiana convention, Embalming 101 where a manger of a rather busy firm lamented, they don’t have time to reconstruct head trauma…They encourage families to simply have a closed casket or cremation. Who operates like this? If you are incompetent or don’t possess the talent or ability for restorative work, swallow your ego and call someone in! Don’t the families you serve expect or deserve that? This is not being a part of the solution; this is part of the problem. Families only have one opportunity to say goodbye. Don’t stand in their way. Be a leader. As we fight for our very survival in funeral service, we must remember our foundation has historically been rooted on the dead human body. Some in our profession have become lazy and complacent in body preparation. A bad viewing experience will make it easy for families to choose non-body present services in the future. We don’t have the luxury to idly stand by and allow direct cremation to take over. We must pull out all the stops and do a better job for the families choosing traditional services. Your firm’s well-respected standing in your community may not be enough to carry you through. Are you doing it better than the other firms, or are you complacent, riding on a presumed reputation of your firm while call volume and revenue are diminishing? My fear is, the current generation of embalmers will be telling their grandchildren, “Back in the day, we used to embalm the dead and have open casket services.” We all need to take a proverbial look in the mirror and see what the public sees and perceives about us. Yes, times are changing and we must adapt and be prepared for those changes. Be safe and be well. We will be back to technical topics next month. Wallace P. (Wally) Hooker CFSP, MBIE, is the owner, funeral director and embalmer of Family & Friends Funeral Home of Wingate, IN. He and his wife, Janet designed, established and built their funeral home in 2004. Wally is a graduate of Worsham College of Mortuary Science, where he serves on the Advisory Board. He is Past President of the Indiana Funeral Directors Association and board member of North American Division of the British Institute of Embalmers. In addition, he has served as chief deputy coroner/investigator of Fountain County, IN for the last 24 years. F U N E R A L H O M E & C E M E T E R Y N E W S w w w . N o m i s P u b l i c a t i o n s . c o m Monthly Columnsonline at Are Embalmers Going the Way of Dinosaurs? And Why? owns approximately 75% of the outstanding shares of StoneMor common stock. The agreement was entered into following receipt of a proposal in which Axar expressed an interest in pursuing discussions concerning strategic alternatives that might be beneficial to the Company and its various stakeholders. Following its Conflicts Committee’s unanimous recommendation, StoneMor’s Board of Directors approved the merger agreement and has recommended that StoneMor’s stockholders adopt and approve the merger agreement and the merger. “Our agreement with Axar delivers a significant premium for StoneMor’s stockholders and ensures a strong foundation for us to continue our expansion,” said Joe Redling, President and Chief Executive Officer. “Our Board firmly believes that this transaction is in the best interests of all of our stockholders other than Axar and its affiliates and delivers an ongoing commitment to excellence for our customers, employees and communities we serve.” Subject to satisfaction of the conditions to closing, the transaction is currently expected to close in the fall of 2022. If the transaction is completed, StoneMor will become a privately held company and its stock will no longer trade on the New York Stock Exchange. StoneMor Inc. is an owner and operator of cemeteries and funeral homes in the United States, with 304 cemeteries and 72 funeral homes in 24 states and Puerto Rico. StoneMor’s cemetery products and services include: burial lots, lawn and mausoleum crypts, burial vaults, caskets, memorials, and all services which provide for the installation of this merchandise. For additional information visit http://www.stonemor.com. StoneMor Inc. Enters into Agreement to be Acquired by Axar Capital Management, LP BENSALEM,PA— StoneMor Inc. (NYSE: STON) announced that it has entered into a definitive merger agreement under which a subsidiary of Axar Capital Management, LP will be merged with and into StoneMor and all outstanding shares of StoneMor common stock not owned by Axar as to which dissenters’ rights are not perfected will be converted into the right to receive $3.50 in cash per share. Axar currently ADS Classified Online www.nomispubl ications.com