The funeral industry is built with rituals and consistency. Funeral rites are as old as the human race itself. But today, the funeral industry is one of constant change and trends. An exciting trend happening is women entering the field to become funeral directors. Several decades ago, it was very uncommon for women to be active in this heavily male-dominated industry. Today, woman account for 60% of the students entering the funeral industry! In early America, it was the responsibility of the women in a community to prepare bodies for final rites by cleaning, dressing, and “laying out the dead” for viewing; usually in the front rooms of the family home. As embalming became necessary to preserve bodies for transport during the Civil War, and carpenters and cabinet-makers shifted to casket making, the industry became more male-dominated. For years, the trade was led by men who often lived at the funeral home with their families.
Yesterday’s stereotype that the funeral industry is too strenuous and demanding for women has been dispelled. Industry’s focus on psychology, grief dynamics, and bereavement in addition to anatomy and business management, has created a perfect opportunity for women as a career. The funeral industry is extraordinarily stressful and time-consuming. It requires a great deal of patience, maturity, and self-confidence. One needs to be a good listener, empathetic, and able to ease others when in distress while remaining calm and composed.
My mother Janet taught me so many life lessons that I use today as an adult. O’Connell Family Funeral Homes wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for her commitment, support, and leadership alongside my dad, Tom.
I can’t imagine O’Connell’s without our amazing team. I feel blessed to work with such wonderful employees. They are terrific communicators, natural caretakers, and creative thinkers that are detail-oriented, and excel at multi-tasking. The future of the funeral industry is great, especially with this fantastic trend helping lead the way!