Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Improper focus on funeral home articles
TO THE EDITORS:
I grew up in the Sheetz Funeral Home, Mount Joy. Even though I do not work in the business, my family does. At the same time, I am deeply affected by public opinion regarding this service industry.
I am offended when news about the profession turns to the macabre and sensationalism. Obviously, Benjamin Siar Jr. has many difficulties -- but to sensationalize his crimes also reflects on the work of many funeral directors in the county. This kind of reporting is unacceptable. Lancaster Newspapers needs to be more sensitive to its constituents, especially when we consider the amount of money funeral directors spend on obituaries, service announcements and advertisements.
It seems to me that Lancaster Newspapers should make amends -- an apology to respectable funeral directors who work 365 days of the year to meet the needs of grieving families, by making a point that this is a very rare case, and falls in the category of a bizarre, rather than under the rubric of "news about funeral directors."
In fact, the press should focus on the criminality of the action, not the profession.
I think the best part of the reporting was as follows:
"Conestoga residents expressed sadness over the state of their town's funeral home -- an institution dating to the 1800s, according to Tom Grassel, the unofficial 'mayor of Conestoga.'
" 'I have a heavy heart for the place,' " said Grassel, who officiated at numerous funeral services at the home over the years. " 'I sure don't want the establishment to leave Conestoga. It's a very small town, and it was one of the landmarks.' "
Jessica A. Sheetz-Nguyen Ph.D.
Associate Professor of History
University of Central Oklahoma