For those of you that don't know, I was working on an inclusivity and cultural sensitivity course for death workers because even upon entering into this field of work I noticed the diversity issue. Scratch that. I noticed a huge discrimination issue that very few of my privileged peers were willing to address with their entire chest and the loudest of their voices. I worked on this project for several months and was supposed to have it available at the beginning of this year.
Unfortunately, I had to pause the creation of that course indefinitely due to life circumstances. I also had to stop my Cultural Bias Consulting because people were not taking advantage of the education.
That does not mean my activism ended there.
Please read the following images. Alt text is available.
For the sake of politeness, I'll censor this person's name. Nothing else about this post will be polite because respectability politics does nothing when addressing something like this. Because apparently manners, human decency, and basic respect do not matter.
So...to my fellow death workers, let me make one thing abundantly fucking very clear.
As a death worker, it's none of your fucking business how someone wishes to die. It's none of your business. Period. Point. Blank.
Your job -- your ONLY job -- is to serve your clients and patients in a way that's comfortable to THEM. Not you. You are not their boss. You are not there to judge them. You are there to make sure their wishes are respected and to advocate for them. You are not there to degrade, talk down on, damn, or abuse them because you have a personal problem with what they want to do for themselves, or their beliefs do not line up with yours. Someone does not have to be an expert to know how to be a decent person.
Their deaths are not about you, and it never will be.
This death worker, a Chaplin no less, thought it was appropriate to post this on a public, all-inclusive death care page where people from all walks of life have their own preferences and desires to carry out their end-of-life care.
This death worker posted their personal opinion on cremation and was consistently condescending, judgmental, and unaccepting of other methods of body disposition that what they personally deemed appropriate. Any pushback was met with venom and condescending vitriol. That is unacceptable.
In some cultures, fire is seen as a purifying and holy element. Cremations have been happening far longer than any of us have been alive. To say cremation is a signifyer of moral failing and then immediately mention other cultures that hold fire in reverence is a symptom of xenophobia, whether this person sees it or not. Even their tone when mentioning pagans was entirely inappropriate as the only people that use pagan in a derogatory way are extremist Catholics and Christians that are unable to grasp that there were cultures and customs outside of those specific religions existed LONG before Christ was even born.
By all means, have whatever opinion you want to have. Be passionate about it. But also, be aware that your views are not the end-all-be-all and that your personal morals are yours and no one else's. If you are not comfortable with certain elements of what your client wants, tough luck. You just aren't a match, and that's okay. There's nothing wrong with turning down a client politely on the basis of your personal views not matching up. You'll find someone you connect with.
However, death is a universal event. Death is all-inclusive. Death has many faces. Death care has many aspects. Death shows up in different ways in all walks of life. Death is multifaceted and broad. If you can't accept that, you're in the wrong line of work. If you're so arrogant to post something this hateful and not want any pushback or criticism, post it on your own fucking platform where no one that doesn't want to see it has to see it.
To death workers that see this behavior and do nothing to address it, feel like it's not your problem, or have a case of bystander syndrome: you're part of the problem as well. Because it's not enough to disagree. It's not productive to our space to be performative and virtue signal, either. You need to be proactive in snuffing this behavior out and making sure it doesn't spread because the more this is allowed to go on, the less work you'll have because people have no reason to trust us if they feel like they're going to be berated and talked down on like this. You wouldn't want someone to treat you or your loved one like this, would you?
To any non-death workers, do not let a death worker treat you like this. When your death worker -- whether that be a funeral director, a death doula, a mortician, a nurse or doctor, or a holistic healer -- starts pushing their beliefs onto you, stand up for yourself. If they keep persisting, drop them. Go somewhere else. Death is already a touchy subject and you're already in a vulnerable position. Do not let someone speak to you like this. Do not let a person with this much audacity and inconsideration be in charge of how you or your loved ones leave this earth. Run.
Wanting to be cremated is okay.
Wanting to donate your body to science is okay.
Wanting a traditional cultural burial is okay.
Wanting a natural, sustainable burial is okay.
Wanting a religious burial is okay.
Literally as long as you're not causing harm, you can be buried however you want.
I will never stop advocating for people to have their death care the way they want it to be. I will never stop calling this insidious behavior out for what it is.
And a big 'fuck you' to anyone that disrespects death care, and people, like this.