• MHCC Department of Funeral Service Education Invites Community to Take Part in Mock Funeral Arrangements

    Program Helps Students & Community Members Prepare for the Future

    Gresham, Ore. – For Trish Lockhart, finding a career in the funeral services industry has been a lifelong goal. She always saw herself working in a rewarding career in which she could help people during some of their most trying times, so serving as a funeral director seemed a natural fit.

    “It’s just one of those few jobs in which you get to help people on the worst day of their lives,” she said. “I’ve never had a job where a ‘Thank you’ meant so much.”

    On Tuesday, February 14, Lockhart and about 20 of her cohorts in the Mt. Hood Community College Department of Funeral Service Education program will practice helping families through the funeral arrangements process during the annual Mock Funeral Arrangements day. The event will take place in the MHCC Town and Gown room on the Gresham campus. Members of the public are encouraged to participate.

    The event gives both students and community members a “gentler” way to go through the funeral arrangement process. For community members, it shows them what to expect for arrangement selections, including their options for cremation and burial, and encourages them to discuss with their own family members what they would prefer when that day arrives. The service can be especially helpful for community members caring for elderly or terminally ill family as it gives them a chance to better prepare for the future.

    The mock funerals also help soften the image of the funeral services industry by connecting the public to real funeral directors and directors-in-training in their communities, and demonstrating the compassion and care that these professionals truly exhibit. 

    For students, it offers them a hands-on opportunity to apply their education by arranging funerals and working with family members – all without the emotional stress present in real-life funeral arranging situations. However, still knowing how to properly interact with a grieving family is especially important, Lockhart adds.

    “If you’re a funeral director and you say the wrong thing, that person will likely remember what you said for the rest of their lives,” she said. “There’s not a lot of room for error when you’re dealing with people that are grieving.”

    Over the last decade, the need for qualified professionals in the funeral services field within the Pacific Northwest has risen dramatically, especially as the baby boomer generation ages and retires. Job security and a reasonable salary compared with educational requirements also make careers in funeral directing and funeral home management especially in-demand.

    The Funeral Service Education program at MHCC started in 1970. The American Board of Funeral Service Education-accredited program helps prepare students to pass the rigorous National Board Examination, a license required for funeral directors and embalmers to operate in the United States. In Oregon, funeral service professionals must also earn an associate degree and complete a one-year apprenticeship before they can legally practice. As one of only two Funeral Service Education program providers in the Northwest, Mt. Hood graduates between 20 and 30 students every year in this field.

    Members of the community interested in participating in Mock Funeral Arrangements day (held 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.) should secure a specific time slot in advance. Walk-ins are also welcome, however, scheduling an appointment guarantees a meeting with a student. Complimentary refreshments will be available throughout the day. To schedule a time, contact Trish Lockhart 503-367-4948 or email mockarrangements2017@hotmail.com.