New Funeral Professional Continuing Education Presentations

Mar 17, 2015 | 0 comments

The Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice ( approves thousands of hours of continuing education programs for all states. The Academy recently approved four new programs from A Good Goodbye for funeral director CEUs that are entertaining as well as educational.

May and June are typically busy months for funeral directors attending state association conventions and earning continuing education credits to keep certifications up to date. I’ve prepared these two-hour presentations and stand ready to step in should a convention organizer have a last-minute speaker vacancy this summer.

These CEU presentations all incorporate film clips, many from comedies. They cover the history of the funeral business, how to use funny films to encourage pre-need funeral planning, an in-depth look at Jewish funeral traditions, and ways to understand different grief and mourning reactions. Consider how funny film clips enhance the learning experience!

The Funeral Director on Film


Liberace plays a casket salesman in The Loved One

Refresh your knowledge about the evolution of the funeral industry through Hollywood portrayals of funeral directors in dramas and comedies. From the advent of embalming and industry associations to the rise in cremation and industry consolidation, learn key milestones in the development of the U.S. funeral industry.

We’ll discuss the public perception of funeral directors as portrayed in films including The Shootist, The Loved One, About Schmidt, Get Low, Bernie and the TV series Six Feet Under. We’ll also examine how one funeral home used social media and humorous TV commercials to change perceptions.

Attendees will learn:

  • When and how embalming was invented
  • Changes in society that led to the rise of 20th century undertaking
  • What The Funeral Rule dictates and how it came about
  • The impact of cremation trends and funeral industry consolidation
  • The public perception of the funeral director as portrayed in popular culture and how to use social media to alter preconceptions

Funny Films for Funeral Planning

Star Trek Funeral from Undertaking Betty

Star Trek Funeral from the film, Undertaking Betty

Only about 25-30% of American adults do pre-need planning due to fear of discussing death. Aversion to addressing end-of-life issues can be circumvented with humor and funny films. Laughter releases feel-good endorphins, helps people relax about a stress-inducing topic and allows potential clients to start the pre-need planning conversation.

Movie presentations can generate solid pre-need leads and sales. Watch film clip examples and learn how to put together your own film clip presentations, get warm pre-need leads, and open a new avenue for community outreach.

The topics covered include why most people avoid discussing end-of-life issues (The Mary Tyler Moore Show – “Chuckles Bites the Dust” episode); what’s at stake when people don’t plan ahead (The Six Wives of Henry Lefay); how to pay for a funeral (Death at a Funeral); how to ensure one’s arrangements (Carpet Kingdom); personalizing funerals and the celebrant movement (Undertaking Betty); cremation versus burial and mourning reactions (Elizabethtown); lessons in eulogies and ash scattering (The Big Lebowski); and how storytelling is an important component of funerals (Big Fish).

Attendees will learn:

  • How funny film presentations make friendly prospects
  • Appropriate films to attract audiences
  • The licensing and software needed to make film clip presentations
  • Where and how to schedule and promote film presentations
  • How to entice attendees to give you their contact information

Understanding Grief and Mourning Through Films

Susan Sarandon in Elizabethtown

Susan Sarandon in Elizabethtown

Grief is painful, and mourners in the midst of pain may feel as though it will never end. Each individual’s grief journey is unique in its emotional depth and duration. Films provide a way to examine grief and mourning reactions and consider healing activities. Elements examined include intuitive and instrumental mourning styles, complicated grief, and ways to move past loss toward acceptance and growth.

Attendees will learn:

  • How to identify different mourning styles and complicated grief
  • Ways the bereaved can move toward acceptance and growth
  • How to utilize different after-care programs to help mourners and enhance pre-need and at-need sales opportunities

Concepts related to grief and mourning will be illustrated through scenes from films such as Gravity, Elizabethtown, Walk the Line, This is Where I Leave You, The Big Lebowski, The Jane Austen Book Club and other sources.

Jewish Funeral Traditions on Film

A scene from Nora's Will

A scene from Nora’s Will

While they are a small minority, Jews can be found throughout the United States. With a Jewish intermarriage rate that averages 47%, funeral directors may be put in the position of educating less-than-observant Jews on their own religion’s funeral traditions.

This session provides the background on what Jewish funeral and burial traditions entail, why Jews have traditionally avoided cremation, how Jewish burial equals green burial, and how this knowledge can be used to appeal to both Jewish and non-Jewish populations. This session will be illustrated with clips from comedy films including Nora’s Will, My Mexican Shivah, This Is Where I Leave You, The Cemetery Club and This Is Sodom.

Attendees will learn:

  • The origin of Jewish funeral and burial traditions
  • The wide variation of Jewish observances
  • Why cremation and embalming are avoided by traditional Jews
  • How Jewish burial equals green burial
  • The rituals held before, during and after Jewish funerals

As a member of the Chevra Kaddisha, the Jewish burial society, I have washed, dressed and casketed bodies for burial. I help run the historic cemetery of Congregation Albert in Albuquerque, NM. As the President of the Jewish-Christian Dialogue of New Mexico, I also facilitate conversations across religions.

More film clip-illustrated presentations are available on other topics, including business succession and estate planning, cremation and cemetery trends, a quick and funny history of funerals on film, lessons contained in the HBO cable TV series, Six Feet Under, and other topics. Any one of them will make a great addition to your funeral director convention programming.

Gail Rubin, funeral expert and Celebrant

Gail Rubin, CT, The Doyenne of Death®

Need a speaker? Let’s talk! Visit to learn more, or call me at 505.265.7215.

Gail Rubin, CT, The Doyenne of Death®, is the award-winning host and author of A GOOD GOODBYE: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die (the book, a TV/DVD interview series and an Internet radio show). A Certified Thanatologist (a death educator) and Certified Funeral Celebrant, she uses humor and funny films to attract audiences and educate people about end-of-life issues. She is one of the pioneers of the Death Café movement in the U.S. Her website is

A Good Goodbye