ELMHURST – Pedersen Ryberg Mortuary, a funeral home at 435 N. York St. in Elmhurst, celebrated its 60th anniversary with a ribbon cutting Oct. 26 in front of the business, which Tom Suh purchased Sept. 1.
Suh, who has been in the funeral industry for about 20 years, said he got involved in the business after he was impressed with the efforts a funeral service made in caring for his family at the time of his mother-in-law's death.
"I love to take care of the families who are going through hard times and have lost a loved one," he said.
That care includes keeping in touch with the relatives of the deceased by telephone and letters, Suh said. He said his staff members try to serve the loved ones in the same way they would want to be treated if they experienced a loss.
Suh said people who work in the funeral industry have to control their own emotions and focus on caring for the families. Playing golf, running and praying are some of the ways he copes.
Megan Burroughs, funeral director, embalmer and office manager for the mortuary, said she decided to go to mortuary school after she took a psychology class about death and dying as she was taking psychology classes for an associate's degree.
She said she seeks to make the grieving process easier for people going through the death of a loved one. Different parts of the grieving process affect people in different ways, with some people focusing on the practicalities involved after death and others getting "stuck" in one part or another of the emotions experienced when one of their loved ones dies, Burroughs said.
One way for people to make the process easier is to allow themselves to show their emotions, including anger, she said.
"It's a part of life. Everybody's going to have to bury somebody," Burroughs said.
Burroughs, who graduated from mortuary school in 2016, said more women are getting involved in the industry based on male-female ratios in mortuary school programs, which Craig Roman, funeral director and general manager, confirmed. Roman, who started working at the mortuary Oct. 15, graduated from mortuary school in 1996, he said.
He added funeral directors also are younger than traditionally depicted in comics, where he said they are "older and scary."
"We're not all that way," Roman said.
He described the job of a funeral director as a "calling" because of the personality and physical and mental capabilities required to do it, including long hours.
Trends in the industry have moved away in the last 10 years from traditional funerals and two-day wakes to "direct cremation" in lieu of funeral services, which has a social impact and an impact on the funeral industry, Roman said. Up until about 20 years ago, two-night wakes "used to be a thing," but they are now rare, he said.
A funeral service provides closure for the deceased's loved ones, allowing them a chance to say goodbye to the person, Roman said. But a person who is cremated can still have a service, and caskets also can be rented instead of purchased if a family wants to have a nice-looking casket at less of a cost.
Roman said he wants to be an asset to the Elmhurst community through the Elmhurst Chamber of Commerce and Industry and local clubs.
"I congratulate Tom for making the investment into Elmhurst," Roman said.
For information about Pedersen Ryberg Mortuary, go to pedersenryberg.com, call 630-834-1133 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.