What’s the difference between Mortuaries and Funeral Homes?
Mortuaries are for the Dead, while Funeral Homes are for the Living Dead.
Only the names (euphemisms) are different.
Technically, a morgue is also a mortuary.
Although rarely used in this sense today, the word “mortuary” originally meant a payment made by family members of the deceased to a pastor or church when a member of the congregation died. Often it carries with it the suggestion that the donors are covering any deficiency in the tithe the departed individual meant to donate or was “supposed to” donate.
My WAG is that the word came to be a synonym for “funeral home” because of its association with the word “mortician”. “Mortician” is generally identified as a 20th Century neologism based on the word “beautician”. It is essentially an advertising coinage intended to make a funeral home operator sound classier or more up-to-date than an old-fashioned undertaker.
It is also an example of the extraordinary lengths to which people in the U. S. will sometimes go to avoid using blunt words in discussing death and its aftermath. Another example is the way the word “casket” has largely replaced the word “coffin”. Originally a casket was a jewel box. Now that its use as a synonym for coffin is so well-established, it’s value as a euphemism is gone. In the city art museum in St. Louis there is a grandiose-looking jewel box made of glass and gold on display, which is identified as a “casket”. It would be interesting to know just how many patrons have walked past it and muttered “maybe it was for a baby?”
In a similar vein, a little over ten years ago my mother died in a nursing home, a few hours after I last visited her. When an employee phoned me, she said–trying, I’m sure, to be kind–that my mother had “succumbed”, and it took me a moment to be sentirely ure of what she meant.