Funeral Homes are a relatively new concept that didn’t originate until during the Civil War with the introduction of embalming.
Prior to the Civil War, families cared for their dead relatives and hosted funerals in their homes. The families would prepare, dress and display their loved ones in the front rooms of their homes. The finest possessions, quality furniture, portraits, and often a piano filled these rooms, known as parlors. They were very clean, formal and closed off. Families only opened up the parlor when someone died as a place to display the body and allow for visits. In addition, people were typically buried on family property.
The Rise of the Funeral Industry
This began to change during the Civil War as hundreds of soldiers died away from home. Families wanted their deceased relatives to be sent home and embalming aided in preserving the bodies until they could be transported for burial. The rise of embalming directly led to the transition of deathcare from a job in the home to an industry.
As communities grew and became more established, people were no longer buried on family property and instead buried in a common piece of land, which we know today as the cemetery. Families began choosing various options to have a single space for the community to gather. These open spaces acted as common ground for sharing respects for the loved ones.
The Funeral Home is Born
As time went on and the population became more centered in developing cities, new needs emerged:
- Public places to gather and honor the dead.
- Individuals with specialized skills to help people care for their loved ones.
Thus, the funeral home and a funeral director were born.
The funeral director typically lived at the funeral home. While funerals were mostly held at churches, with time a trend to hold the service in the funeral home for convenience sake. This also helped if the deceased was not affiliated with a local church.
The Modern Day Funeral Home
As the industry continues to grow, most funeral homes remain family-owned businesses that are passed down from generation to generation. Today, there are more than 22,000 funeral homes in the United States.
While the way we honor our loved ones may have changed over time, what matters most is the focus on families, and a community that cares. Bringing together the community in support is a role undertaken by families, friends aided by funeral directors. As technology has permeated our lives, the funeral directors are also using intuitive tools to make things easier for them. Sharing more effectively while keeping the focus firmly on the family is an unmet need that is deservedly getting attention now.