Because That’s the Way We’ve Always Done It

Yesterday, I was chatting with a colleague I had not seen in some time. She comes from a long line of funeral directors, one of which was her grandmother, and was married to a popular funeral director for many years until his death. She’s a busy funeral director, and rarely uses social media. But she is active in several funeral service organizations and interacts with many of our colleagues and their staffs.

At one funeral home, she met a young woman working as floor help while attending mortuary school online. My colleague asked her what her future goals were. “I’m going to revolutionize the industry,” the woman told her.

I laughed out loud at that statement for not long ago another woman in a similar situation told me she was going to “open a modern funeral home.”

While such statements appear vacuous, naïve and, frankly, laughable to experienced funeral directors, they are being bandied about with some frequency. However, they point to a bigger question: why are people looking to enter a field they clearly do not approve of and want to change?

I asked her where the girl is now.

“Gone,” she said.

Same with the one I spoke with.

That speaks volumes.

Traditions create a sense of belonging, a feeling of security, and they link us to the bigger picture. What’s more, they connect us to the people who have come before.

Time-honored and time-tested, traditional funeral traditions have served the bereaved for many generations. In the words of author Henry James, “It takes a tremendous amount of history to make even a little tradition.”

Or, put another way, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

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