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The Funeral Industry

A good ole boy's club?

What’s a woman’s role in the funeral industry? From my view, nothing of any respect.

That probably sounds a little harsh, and granted, I am speaking from my own personal experiences (which are many and varied)—but from what I’ve witnessed, the funeral industry is one of the last bastions of ‘Good ole boy’ chauvinism.

It’s no secret that I’ve always wanted to be a funeral director, but for me, that’s simply not possible, so I’ve always sought to work in other venues of the funeral world—yes, even as a secretary—if it meant that I’d get to work in a funeral home.

Maybe, when I was younger, it was age that kept me from getting hired. Maybe the Good Ole Boys didn’t think such a young woman could handle the very nature of the job...you know, grieving, crying family members, having to help them pick out the coffin for their loved one, etc.

Now, that’s merely an assumption, but needless to say, my foray into working in, at least the atmosphere of my dream, never panned out. So I took office jobs and spent thirty years in corporate America...my dream always in the back of my mind.

But...I kept up with the funeral industry and noticed there was always a constant.

It remained male dominated.

At forty-nine years old, I just recently found a local crematorium owned by a woman. It appears (from viewing the website) that it’s a family owned business...husband and wife.

I’ve continuously looked for advancements in the funeral world, and I’ve seen...some.

In today’s modern and always-evolving world, there’s all sorts of eco-type burials, alternative burials and cremations, pet burials, and the manner of handling pet deaths has really advanced!

But remember the ‘constant’ I mentioned earlier? The constant and unchanged fact remains that...funeral directors, and in particular, funeral attendants, remain...men.

I’ve applied for numerous jobs as a funeral attendant (which really appeals to me) and not even given the courtesy of a call back.

The most recent reminder I had, that women aren’t welcome in this last haven of testosterone, was when I found a job listed for a funeral attendant that was titled…”Retirees welcome.”

Well, having taken a few months off to care for my husband after his heart attack and pacemaker surgery, I considered myself retired.

If an older person can do the job, I’m still relatively young; why can’t I do this job? I can. So I eagerly applied.

Going on almost a month now (and no way to follow up...they made sure of that. There was a way to contact them to show your interest in the position, but no way to follow up after the initial contact, etc) I’ve heard...nothing.

I wonder if the ‘Andrea Dean Van Scoyoc’ that comes up in my emails had something to do with the lack of response? Can you blame me for thinking so, after the experiences I’ve had?

The sad thing is, I’ve experienced this male dominated lunk fest even within my own family.

When my maternal grandmother died, not a lot of people attended her funeral. She lived in a town of maybe thirty people. The only attendees at her service was immediate family...maybe ten people.

My mother’s family is small.

So, with such a small attendance, there were not enough pallbearers, so I volunteered.

All they needed was one more.

My mother told my uncle (her brother) that I could be a pallbearer. I spoke up myself...and somehow, another pallbearer was found.

A man...one of my mother's cousins (from what my mother said, my grandmother was always more of a mother to him than his own mother, really) who was so distraught he didn’t really want to do it (I was standing right there...I heard the entire conversation), but agreed.

God forbid they let a woman do it.

Same thing happened when my dad died. I wanted to be a pallbearer for him. Nope.

Second cousins I’d never met until my dad’s service got to be pallbearers...but not me.

Wake up, funeral industry. It’s not just a man’s world any longer, and women aren’t going back to the kitchen.

We’re here to stay, and at least as far as the funeral industry is concerned, we can do more than get your coffee for you.