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February 2018 Newsletter
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 Issue #2, Wednesday February 14, 2018 
Sich Casket 
     A Message from Region 2 Director


This semester I get to teach one of my favorite classes: counseling. It wasn’t always my favorite, I’m more of a science-oriented instructor, and counseling deals with many psychological and behavioral aspects of grief. But one of the interesting things I have learned over the years is that the science aspect of what we do has a massive impact on the psychological well-being of the families we serve. Foremost among them being embalming.

You wouldn’t think that embalming would have much to do with counseling, but it does. I am a proponent of William J. Worden’s Tasks of Mourning. This is a wonderful theory on the mourning process, as it engenders activity vs. passivity on the part of the mourner. Activity implies that mourning is a process that people can actively work through, and they can be helped along the way by friends, family and funeral service professionals .

Worden’s first Task of Mourning is to Accept the Reality of the Loss. This is the task that we, as funeral service professionals, can impact the most. What more profound and intimate way to usher people into their new reality without the decedent being present is there than being confronted with a dead body?

But, it goes deeper than just having the decedent present. There are many twists and turns a person’s mind can take when not wanting to confront the fact that a loved one is no longer living. This is where excellent embalming comes into play.

“It just doesn’t look like them,” is a phrase that should never be heard during a visitation! I have talked to many people over the years that have stated this very thing. I would usually ask if there was some kind of trauma involved in the death, and the majority of the answers were “no”. Then what happened? Why didn’t the decedent look like themselves? And did the decedent’s appearance stymie the family members’ grief process? If so, are they willing to pay for a future funeral that will only cause them to have another poor mourning process?

This is a serious matter! The importance of the body being present, or at the very least being viewed by the family, is paramount to the survival of our profession. There has been talk for many years now, even in the mortuary schools, of de-emphasizing embalming and maybe focusing more on things like hospitality. If we want to, as a profession, become party planners, then let’s absolutely do that!

But, I am not a party planner. I am a funeral director. And the only difference between what we do and what a wedding planner does (minus the time frame of planning) is that we care for the dead. WE get to bring back a semblance of normalcy to a chaotic situation. WE get to give back to a family what a disease, accident or other traumatic event stole from them. We get to, through embalming, set the family down a path of good grieving. Wedding planners couldn’t do that with a years worth of planning….but they will try!

I’m not advocating more advanced embalming seminars. I love those, and learn new things every time I’m at one. But, I think we need to re-focus on the basics, because the basics may have changed from the time you were in mortuary school. An example is solution strength. The old rule of thumb of 8oz per gallon does not work anymore. The standard now is a minimum of 2% solution strength. This is due to advancements in medical technology. People now live longer; but, in doing so, take more medications and have a longer period of time for pathologies to change their body chemistry. Using a 30 index fluid at 8oz per gallon will only give you a 1.88 solution strength, and that’s using arterial fluids that are for “difficult cases”!

This is just one example of how embalming has changed in the last 20 years. And yet, funeral service has stayed in its rut of doing things the way we have always done them. We can’t do that anymore! To preserve our noble profession means we need to readjust our thinking, objectively look at the way we do things in the prep-room, and maybe seek out help from others. There are many of our peers who exemplify these ideas. Seek them out, talk to them, pick their brains. Mortuary schools are always more than happy to help, too!

Everything we do in funeral service should be pointed toward the goal of facilitating the mourning process of the families we serve. All is for naught if they can not accept the person is truly dead because the decedent looks different, or they didn’t get to see the body at all!

Matthew Kendall
Carl Sandburg College


February 26 - 28, 2018

IFDA Conference Room
215 South Grand Ave. West
Springfield, IL 62704


Certified Celebrant Training
Presented by Glenda Stansbury with InSight Books, Inc. and sponsored by IFDA.

Celebrant training is an intensive 3-day certification, training you on how to provide unique and personalized funerals for families, specializing in those families who do not wish to have a traditional or religious based funeral.

Who is it for?

Anyone who is interested in becoming a writer, creator and officiant at funeral services. Funeral professionals, clergy/chaplains, bereavement specialists, nurses, teachers, actors, and business people have all become Certified Celebrants.

Note: InSight Institute is approved for funeral service CE credit with the APFSP and with each state board that requires CEU’s for licensees.

You will receive a certificate from InSight Books and earn 17 FD CE Hours at the end of the training.

    Did you know that there were several types of insurance available to IFDA members? 

These options include health insurance, business owner's insurance, cyber and data breach insurance, professional liability, and an umbrella policy.

    All IFDA Members Invited to Run for Office 

The Nominating Committee is accepting applications for all open positions on the 2018-2019 Board of Directors.  All qualified candidates providing the appropriate information by March 1st will be placed on the election ballot.

    Districts 9A and 10 




On February 28, a district meeting will take place at Gift of Hope in Springfield. This is an opportunity to earn 6 continuing education credits and take care of your district dues. Additionally, former IFDA President Stephanie Deiters will speak about the Illinois Award of Funeral Service Distinction.

    Upcoming CCFDA Events 

The Cook County Funeral Directors Association would like to let everybody know about the following events:

Click the links to learn more!

    Save the Dates for NEIFDA  

Other announced NEIFDA dates for early 2018 include:

  • Wednesday, March 28 - Spring Meeting at Mickey Finn's Libertyville
  • Friday, April 13 - Continuing Education Seminar at Worsham College

    NextGen Professional of the Year Award 

Former IFDA Region 1 Director Reid Trimble has been awarded the NextGen Professional of the Year Award by Select Independent Funeral Homes. The award highlights career achievements, community involvement and achievements of funeral professionals under the age of 50. Congratulations, Reid!

    NFDA Meet the Mentors 

Congratulations to IFDA member Robert Justen for being selected to attend the 2018 NFDA Meet the Mentors program in Atlanta, GA! Meet the Mentors is for funeral professionals age 40 or below to meet, learn from, and talk with innovative and successful funeral professionals.

Fellow IFDA member Matthew Baskerville is one of the mentors that will be speaking.

    Nurse Honor Guard 

The Nurse Honor Guard is designed to celebrate nurses for their commitment to care for others. The Nurse Honor Guard would like to ask funeral directors for help identifying deceased nurses so that the volunteer program can perform its ceremony during funerary services.

    Legislative Updates from Your IFDA Lobbyist 

Click here to read about legislative updates shared by our IFDA lobbyist.


    Homesteaders Business Management Class 

Homesteaders has once again partnered with Drake University to offer the 4th annual Certificate in Strategic Business Management course for funeral professionals. The class will take place at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla, May 1-4, 2018. This new location is within convenient driving distance of Orlando, Fla.

    International Order of the Golden Rule Exemplary Service Awards 

The International Order of the Golden Rule (OGR) is proud to announce this year’s nominees for the Exemplary Service Awards. These member firms are being recognized for the outstanding customer service they provided to families during their time of loss. Each one has been selected based on comments families gave through OGR’s Family Contact Program. The winners of the Exemplary Service Award will be recognized at OGR’s Celebratory Luncheon at the Annual Conference & Solutions Center in Savannah, GA on Thursday, April 5.

    IFDA Legislative Committee Raffle 

The IFDA Legislative Committee is holding a raffle! Several prizes will be given away during the convention.

Tickets are $25 each, or 5 for $100.

There will be two drawings on June 26, and two drawings on June 27. Top prize is for $3000! You do not have to be present to win.

This effort will allow the Legislative Committee to continue working on issues that impact funeral directors and embalmers across the state of Illinois. Show your support by purchasing tickets today!

     Cook County Medical Examiner Fax Number

The Cook County Medical Examiner's office will will have a new fax number as of March 1, 2018. No old numbers will work. The new number is:


Please use this number for future cremation authorizations.

    New Director of Development for Eductional Trust

Selected Independent Funeral Homes would like to announce that Bea Pedersen has been hired as the new Director of Development for Selected Independent Funeral Homes Educational Trust.

    New Members  

The IFDA would like to extend a warm welcome to our newest members!

  • Arthur Mueller
    Mueller Funeral Homes, Inc.
    Peru, IL
  • Shawna Haywood
    Student at Malcolm X College
    Chicago, IL
  • Denise White
    Student at Malcolm X College
    Country Club Hills, IL
  • Jesse Pettway
    Student at Malcolm X College
    Chicago, IL
  • Leandra Lee
    Student at Malcolm X College
    Chicago, IL
  • Daniel Johnson
    Student at Worsham College of Mortuary Science
    Norridge, IL
  • Taerrius Boyd-Dickerson
    Student at Vincennes University
    Evansville, IN

Additionally, the IFDA has hired a new Communications Specialist. Richard Hamilton can be reached at for all things newsletter-related.

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