What Would Funeral Service Look Like If We Weren’t Afraid?

“What would I do if I wasn’t afraid to fail?”

This is the most powerful question I’ve ever asked myself on my journey of life thus far. The answers almost always bring me to a heart-thumping, breath-shortening, anxious state.

But, let’s be honest, how often do we ask ourselves what we’d do if we weren’t afraid?

I’d be willing to bet most people don’t go there, because it’s a scary place to be. And it’s no different in our biz and career.

And if I can just drop a truth bomb right now, I believe the funeral profession is operating from a place of fear.

There, I said it.

And I think that if we weren’t so afraid, we’d have so much MORE potential. So many opportunities. So much growth. So many lessons.

All of that, and more, on the other side of the crippling fear that has kept our profession as a whole stagnant.

Now, after reading this, one of two things might be happening for you….

  1. You’re angry at me, and want to yell at your screen.
  2. You’re resonating with me, and are glad someone finally said it.


Either way, I invite you to keep reading, because this is a serious issue. It’s one worth addressing. And, I hope you contribute your opinion to the issue as well, in the comments below.

So, here’s the 5 main ways I believe we’re acting out of fear.


1. We’re TERRIFIED to fail.

Our backs are against the wall. We’re being PUSHED to transform the way we do things. And people are already innovating in our profession. But this is happening on a micro level. But what we really need is macro-level innovation. We’re talking profession-wide changes here.

Perhaps because the idea of making those leaps as a whole is far too scary for most of us, so…


2. We’re settling for what we’ve got.

And let me tell you, what we’ve got is far from what we’re capable of. For a lot of us, that might look like painful mediocrity in your business, and your revenue. Think about the newspaper industry. They’re still around, but they’re not thriving, they’re just merely surviving.

Look at it this way – nearly every other industry in existence has made a leap in the direction of innovation. You wouldn’t be reading this blog if the journalism industry didn’t leave newspapers behind and innovate. And we’re making strides. Steps. Baby ones. Just not the big leap yet. Why?


3. We’re scared of change.

When we’ve been doing things for so long, why change? People are still buying caskets. People are still choosing traditional options. But that number is getting smaller and smaller, as is the number of religious traditions used in funerals. And as long as we’re not fully addressing it….


4. We’re stuck.

We’re stuck because to be honest, I don’t believe we’ve hit our threshold where there’s no more going back. I wonder if it will have to take people picketing outside funeral homes while things are already in flames to sound a wake up call. This being stuck is paralyzing us. Choking us. There are so many ways we’re being invited to start conversations that will change the way our profession interacts with client families, yet still.


5. We’re avoiding the inevitable.

It’s happening all around us. Innovations are changing the way people think about death. The death profession as we know it will certainly not be like this ten years from now. I mean, think about ten years ago, when cremation was a huge deal. Now, people are choosing to be buried in mushroom suits.

People are hiring wedding planners to do a funeral director’s job. There’s even a revolution to bring funerals back to the home, because people are valuing what they perceive our profession has to offer less and less.


Mark my words, funeral service as we know it WILL fail.

The very thing we fear, is slowly happening right now, as you’re reading these words. And guess what? It’s beautiful.

It’s beautiful to watch what used to work, not work anymore.

It’s beautiful to see the innovation that naturally fills the old spaces of what didn’t work.

It’s beautiful to see people getting out of their comfort zone and stepping into these new roles with courage.

And it’s even more beautiful to see tears in the eyes of the client families whose lives are changed, or made better, because we’ve decided that we can do better.

This doesn’t all mean that we’re doing it wrong, death care family. It just means that it’s time to adapt.

Every human, every plant, every species, every industry, EVERYTHING, is always adapting.

If we don’t adapt, we fail. It’s so simple. So the question is… what would you do with your funeral business if you weren’t afraid? What would your services look like? Your prices? Your employees? The process?


This is the future of funerals.

Visualize it. See it, with great detail. It’s time to start dreaming it up. We’re being called to.

And we might lose some things along the way, but what we’ll gain? It’s inconceivable.

These moments are what we’re made of. How do we show up in them?

Tell us your visions, your dreams, your opinions, in the comments below!

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  1. What Would Funeral Service Look Like If We Weren’t Afraid? – American Funeral Association

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