What If Women Ran The Funeral Profession? 10 Predictions Made

Through the early Victorian era, caring for the dead was very much a role set aside for women… especially in the United States.

Back then, death was something that took place in the home. Preparing a body for a burial was a matter the family took into their own hands.

As many of you know, with the rise of war, came the rise of men in the role of death caretaking. The dead on battlefields were embalmed so their families could see them. And when more and more embalmers were needed for this new role of preserving bodies, a patriarchal-based business boomed. 

That business? The funeral profession as we’ve known it.

Now flash forward 150 years, where we see the patriarchal structures around us falling down, the funeral profession is no exception. There is a movement happening. A “matriarchal” movement, if you will.

Yes, it’s true. More and more women are signing up for the role of funeral directing. In fact, some mortuary schools are seeing up to 94% of their students signing up for this line of work are women.

Although the question of why this is happening is another topic, we wanted to ride the wave of women joining over the funeral profession, and ask “What if women ran the funeral industry?” Curious? 

Here are 10 predictions from 10 different women in funeral service:

Prediction #1: Taking the taboo out of death

 “Nobody really pays attention to what happens after death and I’m a firm believer that we need to take the taboo out of death.”

— Alyssa Komar via The Globe and Mail


Prediction #2: An economy on experience rather than products

“Preparing for a service is like being a project manager or an event planner. It’s a job that requires communication skills and the ability to multi-task, two areas where we know women excel”.

— Angela Woosley via Next Avenue


Prediction #3: More education for consumers

“Most people know really nothing about funeral service, which is disheartening, because people need to be educated and everyone is going to come across it at one point in their life.”

— Kennedy Bachar via The Globe and Mail


Prediction #4: Less coffins and chemicals

“[There are many] stereotypes about women not being strong enough to lift coffins, or worries about exposing pregnant workers to embalming chemicals.”

The Canadian Press


Prediction #5: More grief support

“Boucher likens death care to walking into a pool ‘to avoid the shock of jumping into the cold. Some people like jumping into the cold. But virtually everyone who has had a conventional funeral and later comes to me says that they wish they had more time.’”

— Heidi Boucher via The New York Times


Prediction #6: Bringing it back home

[After watching a home death documentary]: “I’m glad I’m not going to be whisked away and waxed up in a funeral home.” 

— Susan L’Heureux via The New York Times


Prediction #7: Directors will become facilitators

“Funeral directors used to perform a finite function and most funerals were pretty much done one way. Now we are facilitators. We take a client-centered approach to discover a family’s needs and to understand the story of the person who died. We bring the community together for a one-time event.”

— Angela Woosley via Next Avenue


Prediction #8: Industry perceptions will change

“I do think that women are nurturing by nature. Everybody turns to us when they have a boo-boo or need dinner, or anything, really. We turn to wives, mothers and sisters. This job is really meant for women. It’s not that we do it better than men, or men can’t do it, but for it to be such a male-dominated industry and just now making that turn is crazy to me because we are caregivers, that’s who we are.”

— Danielle Andy Belusko via Washington Times


Prediction #9: And in turn, close a big gap

“Families respond to women in that compassionate role. I can put my hand on someone’s hand or give them a hug and it won’t be misconstrued. It’s not [yet] appropriate for my male counterpart to do that,” she said. 

— Monica Torres via Next Avenue


Prediction #10: Bringing the humanity back 

“We were complicit in handing over control of this sphere of life to a profit-making industry. If we don’t like it, we can take it back.”

— Tanya Marsh via The New York Times


Finally… Men, don’t take it personally

With the rise of women in the funeral profession, we want to invite the men in the industry to feel embraced and uplifted by this shift. Is this the shift we’ve been needing, and dreaming of? Maybe. 

What we do know is what families tell us: that this profession needs more caregiving and less sales speak. More compassion and less pressure. It’s not just a matter of women taking over. It’s a matter of embracing the softer, more human aspects of death… and not just when we’re with families. But when we’re writing business plans and creating products and services. 

As we invite the more matriarchal structures back into funeral service, we invite you to do so with love, and not shame or hate. We are, after all, in this together. 

What do you think? What if women ran the funeral industry? Any predictions? Share them with us in the comments below!

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  1. Eimer Duffy

    Hi Krystal

    I found your article really interesting and the predictions all make a lot of sense. Not going to generalise but women are more empathetic than men and it would be great to see more women in the funeral industry. I live in Ireland and it is mainly men here.

    Thank you for writing this.


  2. Krystal Penrose

    Thanks for reading Eimer and for your input!