September 2023

Page A18 september 2023 FUNERAL HOME & CEMETERY NEWS Section A Order Direct at 1-800-782-8249 Free UPS Ground Shipping School is back in session. The students and their backpacks filled with books, stress and worry are roaming the college halls. Or maybe they are sitting in front of a computer with their spouse, dog or child vying for their attention while trying to cram definitions into their brain. I am assuming we all vividly remember those days. My time was challenging, stressful, fun, terrifying, frustrating…full of ups and downs. It was worth it for me to get where I was going, and I learned a lot. I liked sitting in a classroom studying things about my passion, which made up for the daily life or death feeling. While my time had challenges, I had a much gentler time than many students these days. Students deserve to be taught in a healthy, educational, supportive environment by good people and good directors. While I am certain my state has some professors who emulate all those wonderful traits, there are enough who do not. Being someone who has become the confidant of students, I’ve heard a lot. I’ve seen success and I’ve watched, with blood boiling, why some don’t succeed. These students are met with flaming hoop after incident after flaming hoop. It’s a miracle any of them become licensed directors. We make it difficult for them in such unnecessary ways. I have a file cabinet in my brain of stories from students and it’s being consistently added to. Allow me to share with you what I can, without breaking their confidence. College is easier if you’ve already had a chance to shadow or work in the funeral industry. Enough funeral homes aren’t opening their doors to students. tion may not be one simple change but being cognizant of what’s happening in the schools around you is a good start. The next step is being a mentor. Make a point to go to the schools and be a confidant, listen, watch, and support. Be inspired when a student walks in holding up their new license. The commitment, passion and perseverance that went into becoming licensed shows exponential potential for their future. Students reading this: It’s insanity, but please just get through. I promise no one will ever ask your GPA. Just get your license. The world opens to you then. It seems daunting but you CAN do it. I’m so impressed that you’ve made it this far. If you’re graduating from a problematic school, be the voice and report it. Your career won’t suffer. We’re proud of you for being brave. FUNERAL HOME & CEMETERY NEWS Monthly Columnsonline at Marika McMeans is a first-generation Licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer, born and raised in the Midwest. She began her career in the industry at the age of fifteen and was managing a firm by age twenty-two. In 2015, she relocated to Rochester, New York. She is a graduate of the New York State Funeral Directors Association Leadership Academy, a member of their Bridge Commission and a past member of several Task Forces and Committees. She is the current President and Continuing Education Coordinator of Rochester Genesee Valley Funeral Directors Association. Her goal, now and always, is to help support and guide the next generation of funeral directors. College is expensive. Many students are already working, have a family, or are brand new to the work force. The amount of money it takes to get through school is an insane burden. Once in school, things can get worse. While there are professors who care deeply and are experts in their field, in contrast and in a shadow over our industry, there are professors who harass and abuse students. Students are having to live in defense or survival mode. They have teachers who speak confidently about things they’ve never experienced. They are yelled at, belittled, insulted, ignored or worse. It is insane the things I’ve seen and heard. What’s wild to me, everyone knows. Anyone in power at the colleges or state levels knows. Why does everyone feel so helpless to change anything? Assuming the students survive school, they are met with more obstacles to be “permitted” to take their National Board. If they manage to pass, they are then tossed into the industry without much support to find a residency. They may get into a firm that feels like home. They may find a firm that shows them how toxic this industry can be. I have listened as so many students tell me with heartbreak that they are not going to stay in death care. They have worked so hard and tackled so much and that piece is their final straw. None of this is conjecture. I have written statements from scared students. It’s shown in the statistics of graduation rates. It’s shown in ongoing investigations at colleges. I’ve heard recordings that students have made of their teachers saying vile things. It’s shown on Facebook when a student asks a question in a funeral directors group and gets beaten down by judgment, harsh criticism, and insult. The soluBy Marika McMeans Musings with Marika STEELMANTOWN,NJ— Ed Bixby, owner of Destination Destiny, a developer of multiple natural burial preserves across the United States, has taken the helm of an undertaking created to support a new era of natural death care. The Global Green Burial Alliance (GGBA) launched in the early summer as a networking organization focusing on global, eco-friendly funeral practices by providing an international global green services directory that is free to all. This new organization is open to all providers and individuals who are supporters of the green burial movement and/or interested in learning more about eco-friendly deathcare. Everyone is encouraged to become a friend of the GGBA, an alliance of eco-friendly funeral professionals who provide and promote sustainable funeral services. By signing the GGBA Consumer Pledge, they can help motivate the funeral industry to make more eco-friendly momentum. Bixby noted, “we create quality conversations and educational opportunities, inviting anyone and everyone to be a part of a worldwide shift in deathcare. By becoming a pledge member, you will receive access to social media networking opportunities, our newsletter, forums, and event postings.” In return for signing the eco-conscious pledge, individuals will receive access to a free directory of eco-friendly funeral experts and specialists, providing resources to discover and create personal alliances. Green providers can New Network Organization of Eco-friendly Funeral Professionals Launched Ed Bixby be found among the directory to meet all needs, whether arranging final wishes or seeking information for research purposes. The GGBA mantra is advocating for education and acceptance of greener deathcare options on a whole. A global conversation is needed for ideas and customs to be shared. These ideas, cultural rites, and practices allow for critical growth. By joining, you can help bring better deathcare to the world as a community. The GGBA has assembled an advisory committee, featuring leaders in the green death care spectrum, including Ed Bixby: owner/operator of Destination Destiny, Steelmantown, NJ; Elizabeth Fournier: owner/undertaker of Cornerstone Funeral Services, Boring, OR; Gretchen Spetzler: funeral home guide and funeral services student; Walt Patrick: owner/lead steward of Herland Forest Natural Cemetery, Wahkiacus, WA; Bob Fertig: owner/funeral director of Fertig Funeral Home, Mullica Hill, NJ; Steve Berkoff: managing member of Memorial Reefs International LLC; Laura Boehm: co-founder and general manager at Memorial Reefs International and Pet Reefs. Reuben Houston: managing partner for Colma Cremation and Funeral Services, Colma, CA; Melissa Meadow: founder of The End Green Funeral Care for People and Pets, Ilwaco, WA; Mark Thomas: Eco Warriors Funeral Supplies International, Australia; Rich Wong: technical advisor for Destination Destiny Memorials and the Better Death Collective; Matt Connell: co-owner of Loving Earth Memorial Gardens, a green burial preserve in Barnum, MN; Helena Bixby: administrative assistant for Destination Destiny Memorials; Mina Bixby: founder of Bixby Films and director of Imagination Theater; and Ava Bixby: head content creator for the Better Death Collective and the social media manager for Destination Destiny Memorials. The GGBA is proud to announce the upcoming Green Burial Forum, an event designed to nurture and develop the next generation of green leaders in the funeral service industry. “Green Burial: Options, Growth, the Future” will be presented by the members of the GGBA advisory committee. The GGBA Forum will be held Thursday, September 4th, 2023, at 4pm Pacific. The GGBA warmly welcomes participation from all who are interested. For more information and to register, visit www.