The Importance of Ethics in the Funeral Service Profession

By: Ian Elliott
Monday, December 28, 2015

At Arbutus Funeral Service, we take our responsibility to our clients very seriously, and with good reason. Unlike many other services that people will enter into, we understand that for many, they are coming to engage in our experience and understanding during what is one of the lowest and most emotionally vulnerable points of their lives. The loss of a loved one is an extremely trying time, and no one can be expected to be in top psychological form during such a difficult period.

This is why conducting a compassionate and ethical business practice is the absolute cornerstone of any responsible funeral service. We sympathize with the fact that our clients are in a nearly impossible situation; they need to conduct a comprehensive and detail oriented task that involves both finances and management at a time when they are experiencing tremendous emotional upheaval.

When Trust Is Abused

For less scrupulous, more opportunistic business operators, this can be a time to take advantage of vulnerable consumers, and victimize them for increased profit. Sometimes these actions are deceptive, such as charging premium pricing for services while taking shortcuts or using inferior products. Other times, the breach in ethics can be far more serious involving theft, or even trafficking body parts.

It’s unfortunate, but no matter which industry you turn to, there’s always at least one example of greed overtaking responsibility. In 2005 a mid-western Canadian funeral home General Manager was found to have switched out the coffins clients paid for with cheap substitutions during the cremation in order to resell the premium coffins to future clients. He was also found to have raised the prices on services when dealing specifically with Asian clients. Thankfully for the aggrieved parties, Canadian law has little tolerance for unethical and disrespectful treatment of the deceased and their survivors. The offending manager was fired by his superiors, taken to court, and found guilty by law of taking advantage of his position and his clients.

This was one rare instance of practices that were both unethical and illegal, but it had a profound effect on the local community. Many were reluctant to trust that business with their own funeral requirements when the time came. It’s not hard to see why. When someone betrays trust during the most vulnerable and emotional period of people’s lives, it’s difficult to forgive and forget.

A Solemn Duty

Arbutus Funeral Service feels both a sense of duty and responsibility towards the deceased and the bereaved that come to us in these difficult times. We know that just one bad incident can tarnish the name and reputation of a business in this field for good. And we are proud to be able to say that I have been in the lower mainland for 25 years and bring my ethics as the corner stone of Arbutus Funeral Service. We offer a honest, compassionate and dedicated service to those that have come through our doors needing our help.

A funeral is one of the most important experiences a family goes through, not just as a final gesture to the deceased, but as a way for the bereaved to accept, grow and move on with their lives. We take it upon ourselves to act as stewards during this transition period, helping not just with the details and logistics, but the grief, adjustment and acceptance that must come with this experience. Our responsibility and your emotional welfare at this trying time are one and the same.

 

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