Funeral directors are traditionally male. Correction. Were. The women are coming and it’s a welcome sight.
When it was the custom to keep dead people at home it was women, often midwives, who laid them out, talked to the family, told them what they needed to know and offered a sympathetic shoulder to cry on. They counted for much more than the undertaker. But as more and more people died in hospital, and fewer families wanted a corpse brought home to their front room, the layers-out lost their role.
Male dominance relegated women to lesser roles. This lives on. Today, many funeral directors employ female arrangers to interview families and deal with the admin.
The male funeral director may not see the family at all until the day of the funeral, and the arranger, the person you have spent all your time with, if she wants to attend the funeral, will most likely be told she can’t.
The growing influence of women is tending to dissolve the focus on the material side of funerals – the limos, the top hats, the rigid formalities, the reverence for tradition.
Women are not necessarily emotionally more intelligent than men but they usually are and they often present a welcome softer side. Theirs is a complementary influence and it’s badly needed.