Technology disrupts every industry, and we’ve all been witnesses to it — old GPS systems, replaced by Apple Maps and Google Maps.
Production and fulfillment workers, replaced by robotic systems.
Old cameras, replaced by iPhones. Blockbuster, replaced by streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.
Taxis, replaced by Uber.
The golden question stands — will funeral directors ever be replaced?
No, and we’ll explain to you why.
Funeral directors are far more than just people who take care of the deceased. They play an important role in helping families process the loss of a loved one. As a result, funeral directors also play the role of helping people learn how to grieve in moments of loss.
According to a study that was reported by Amerispeak, WebMD, and our friends over at Eterneva, around 57% of Americans are grieving the loss of someone close to them 3 years later.
The moral of the story? Grieving is not finite. It doesn’t ever really just end. Instead, we learn how to navigate grief over time.
There are a few important factors that technology will never be able to truly automate or pin down:
The only people who are able to manage these different dynamics are funeral directors.
Funeral directors are the people that hold the hands of grieving family members to provide comfort. Funeral directors are the ones who choose to be physically present, offer support, and guide families through the process of loss when no one else wants to.
Emma Seminoff, one of our licensed funeral directors on staff, said it best with this concept:
“My favorite part about being a funeral director was the first calls. It’s the family’s first interaction with you and the intimacy of going into a stranger’s home in the middle of the night into people’s bedrooms is something they never forget.
Families become very attached to the first person they encounter in this process because they have seen them at their most vulnerable [moments], in their home, and it’s the first person to tell them that they’ll take good care of their loved one. That moment never gets a redo, and it’s a core memory for so many. I think that’s another thing that technology can never do.”
Bottom line, most funeral directors didn’t get into the profession for the money. These people are passionate about helping others through some of the worst moments in their lives.
Plus, according to the NFDA, nearly 90% of all funeral homes in the U.S. are family-owned. These funeral homes and funeral directors have built long-standing legacies and have been heavily involved with their communities for hundreds of years.
These locally owned and operated funeral homes take the time to help create obituaries that will serve as personal, intimate keepsakes that live forever in the memory of their loved ones.
While technology can aid the arrangement process, it cannot simply replicate the physical, emotional, and meaningful experiences that funeral directors provide to families.
Yes, consumer preferences change every day. We can even see that in our industry with more people opting in for cremation nowadays.
We can also see that trickle into many other industries — people are engaged with technology more now than ever before.
But it goes a step further than that. What really provides more comfort to people is education:
In the deathcare industry, families are looking for a supporter, a guide, and an educator to help them navigate their journey of losing a loved one.
More times than not, families will appreciate and remember real interactions that they have with a funeral director — not the e-commerce platform that lets them self-checkout to complete their loved one’s cremation.
Education, education, education. That’s where the real value is.
People want the best, most intimate experience possible in anything they do. How do funeral directors help deliver that? Trust, reputation, and honest connection.
Trust and reputation for funeral directors and funeral services are built through genuine connections and relationships.
Families want to trust that:
In a lot of ways, an automated, 100% digitalized solution can’t meet these experiential needs for families.
But funeral directors can. Funeral directors serve an invaluable role in helping provide peace of mind to families in one of the most difficult experiences in their life.
No matter how fast the pace of technology marches on, one thing will never change: when you lose a loved one, you need another human to help you navigate the difficult days ahead.