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Mon., June 20, 2011, 5:19 p.m.

Directing the last good-bye: education is here

Lake Washington Technical College offers a unique program for people looking for work outside the box: funeral service education.   

This program is the first one of its kind in Washington state. Seven people graduated last week with nine more scheduled to finish their program in August.  The work demands skills and education in business, psychology of grief, understanding the science of the body and art (to restore an image of likeness).

 Although Lake Washington trains its students in both aspects, a funeral director and an embalmer have separate roles in treating deaths. The funeral director arranges for disposal of the body, prepares the deceased for viewing and arranges an embalming, although 70% of Washingtonians opt for cremation.

 People need compassion and commitment as well as technical skills when caring for families at this rite of passage. Good to know we now have a much-needed education program in our own state.

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Spokesman-Review features writer Rebecca Nappi, along with writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., discuss here issues facing aging boomers, seniors and those experiencing serious illness, dying, death and other forms of loss.