Citing several cases where families have clashed over music selection at their loved ones’ funeral, at least one funeral association has been advising members to seriously reconsider accepting requests to play secular music during such a solemn occasion.
President of the eastern chapter of the Independent Funeral Directors Association, Michael Archer, said there have been concerns about the type of music that is heard blaring from hearses transporting bodies for burial in recent times.
“Part of our mandate is to make sure that funerals are what they are supposed to be. Not that we are going to the old-time traditional days, but at the same time, we must treat it with a level of respect and dignity,” said Archer, who believes that gospel, revival and “soul or soft” music should be the preferred music selection for funerals.
The Independent Funeral Directors Association was formed last year May. The eastern branch of the association currently has about 34 funeral directors and providers of funeral services, while the western branch has 19.
“When people are grieving … and to know that the funeral director is doing a funeral and playing certain music from their hearse, it seems like we are no longer in the grieving process. Even though the Bible says that when one dies, we must rejoice, still, when people [are] grieving, you must be very sympathetic to them. It can’t just be about the hype and the excitement,” said Archer, who operates Archer’s Funeral Home and Supplies Limited in Spanish Town, St Catherine.
REFUSED TO PLAY
He said he personally refuses to play “certain music” from his hearses and has lost out on business as a result. He said one family who brought a CD to him decided to take their loved one elsewhere after he refused to play the type of music they wanted.
“I tell them on that day, I am so sorry, but it will not be played, and the family decided that if I am not going to play it, they are going to remove their loved one and I let them have the option of removing their loved one,” he told The Gleaner.
“We must maintain some level of dignity when people are grieving, despite the fact that the uncle or cousin might want certain music. What about the mommy, daddy, sister? Mommy attends a certain church and that church accommodates her loved one’s body for the funeral. Now when pastor hears what is being played, pastor is going to wonder if Mary is really living up to God’s will or if she is just pretending,” he said.
Archer said oftentimes, the persons who are giving the CDs to the hearse drivers are not the ones paying for the funeral, further amplifying the conflict.
He said the association was formed after warning from Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton that the long-promised regulations to enforce best practices in the industry will soon be introduced. Tufton had expressed concerns about the absence of standards in the industry while addressing several funeral directors during a function last year.
“It comes across almost as a free-for-all, where every and anybody can be a funeral director. [There are] very little rules of engagement and in all of this, there are public health concerns,” he said.
When contacted, Dr Tufton assured that the regulations will be tabled at the end of this month.
Archer said the association has several plans to improve the industry and is encouraging funeral directors to ensure that they fulfil their obligations to their clients.
“Our aim is to ensure that we are following the rules, the guidelines and the systems that are in place, and then we would want to ensure that once we are following those, any new regulations that the Government comes with, at least we would have gotten certain things in place that we can fit in,” he said.