The Negatives of the American Funeral

     In this pervious post I discussed at the definition of the American funeral, the five key points which make up our understanding of this concept as the Australian industry uses it.

    Just the idea, the notion and nothing more, of American funerals is a source of anxiety and concern with those in the Australian funeral industry.  I have found an actual and ever present worry that the Australian industry will "slip" into American styles.  So let's look at what is so bad about the American funeral as viewed by the Australian industry.

Previous posts:

    Those within the Australian industry have many concerns or issues about the American funeral; however, there are two primary concerns which I will focus on.  These two concerns are at the heart of the other issues many have with the American funeral.  So I will not chase up each one individually, rather I will keep it simple and get right to the heart of the matter.

Negative Thing
    Firstly it is negative in and of itself; the American funeral is without doubt a bad thing as anyone who knows the funeral industry is concerned.  As it involves a more corporate and profit driven system with less diversity and no focus on quality.  Basically the fear is that both the mourner and deceased are disadvantaged due to the impersonal and profit driven nature of the American funeral.

    As we looked at with the definition in the last post many key aspects are rather 'bad' in a few ways.  Such as the impersonal nature, the American funeral is a false facade of impersonal and mass produced funerals.  This loss of connection to the deceased and grieving (through personalisation) and authenticity is seen as harmful on an emotional level.  Grief and mourning processes will be hindered by this, either by prolonging the process or by not giving it a real place to be facilitated.

    Another common negative aspect is the loss of diversity and profit focus; the American funeral reduces the variety of the Australian industry itself.  The American funeral leads to less differences between the funeral companies, and less funeral companies within the industry.  Which overall harms the health of the industry as there is less competition, less options, and so on.

Infectious Thing
    Secondly it is an infectious thing; the American funeral poses a danger to the Australian funeral, the two are mutually exclusive and the American one will win out.  Many have described the 1990s arrival of American funeral homes in Australia as an "invasion", called them "foreign raiders" or used other similar language.  This creates the perception of an external influence forcing itself upon the Australian industry.  In other words the American system has the potential and ability to displace or even completely replace the current Australian funeral industry.

    Some might doubt this, but basically the efficiency, simplicity, and higher profits of the American system is too tempting and powerful for Australian companies.  The American funeral is not smarter, but more deliberate and planned in how it operates when seeking profits.  It will use subtle mechanisms such as theming, or overt mechanisms such as add ons.  Either way, it will make more money and thus in time overtake the Australian system.

    This concern is not completely legitimate, which I will go into more detail on in another post.  Yet for now this is unimportant, here we are concerned with the way the Australian industry perceives the American funeral to be infectious.  We are not looking at whether or not it is infectious here, simply the idea that it is.

    So these are the two main negatives as I have found them to be; the American funeral is a bad thing and it is an infectious thing.  However, there is also an element of 'Australian' and foreign mixed in with this.  The Australian funeral is a good thing, it is symbolic of the Australian way of life, of us and our society.  While the American funeral is a change from that, it is a corrosion of the Australian way, it is a loss of our culture and heritage.

    The American funeral is representative of a change and modernising of the Australian funeral, this is more the reason for a lot of negativity than either of the previous points.  It is not unreasonable or uncommon for people to romanticise the past, one lecturer defined nostalgia as "longing for a time and place that never was".  We come to think highly of the past, of our noble and honorable funeral ways and traditions.  Then as we watch it modernise, it evolve and change over time (as it naturally should) we can develop a concern about these changes and the possible future.  The American funeral represents a (natural) shift to a more modern funeral industry, this change is what causes concern with many and they label this evolution as a move towards an American funeral.

    In other words the American funeral is not seen as negative simply because it is bad or because it is infectious even though these are both big factors.  The changing of Australian culture and life is also a big factor.

Previous posts:


No comments:

Post a Comment

Never hesitate to ask a question or comment on something, this is an open minded and free space.

If you want to contact me privately do so at: theothersideoffunerals@gmail.com