This Is Not Your Father’s Funeral

Job Journal:

Check out the new book, “Remember Me: A Lively Tour of the New American Way of Death”, by Lisa Takeuchi Cullen.

The book is filled with characters like Lou Stellato, a sort of futurist among funeral directors, who declares, “Funeral service as we know it is over.”

Cullen’s book explains the issues of the shifting funeral industry and, incidentally, the process that individuals take to shift their careers so as not to get left behind.

This is a great lesson in specializing, because the funeral information is hilarious (for example, Costco broke the casket monopoly) and shocking (people turning their loved ones into diamonds — yes, there’s a new process.)

The biggest problem for funeral directors is that by 2025 most funerals will not involve caskets. This means no big profit from the panic of a last-minute, overpriced casket. No profit from renting a room for the viewing. In fact, there is the possibility that most funerals could bypass the funeral home altogether.

Something extraordinary happened after 9/11. People needed to hold funerals without having any part of the body to bury. And, since many of the dead were very young and well-connected in the community, the funerals included literally thousands of people. So funeral directors became event planners.

And then, the smart funeral directors noticed that if they honed their event planning skills, that knowledge would be useful even as the industry shifts away from casket-centered funerals.

Your industry is like that. Whatever industry you’re in is shifting, because all aspects of culture and business are shifting.

Those funeral directors are not happy about having to change, but they face the need head-on and they figure out, in the funeral world, how they can be specialists in a way that will keep them relevant to their customers.

Photo by MSDesigns.

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