Meet Singapore’s all female embalming team

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Every once in a while I come across an article which reminds me how much the actual inner workings of a funeral business has changed.  And sometimes paradoxically, the same article or articles can point out that what I’m looking at is not so much a change as it is an evolution.

Today I will highlight two articles on female funeral directors.  The first one, about a group of female funeral directors at Singapore’s Serenity Casket & Funerals seems to show us a new element in funeral service — an all female staff.  However, the second article highlights the 100th birthday party of Tulsa’s Mary Helen Stanley, who contends that her funeral directors license is still active after serving as a funeral director for over 60 years. . . . By the way, she admits to retiring from active funeral directing at age 99.

So, sometimes what we think is so new. . . is more of that evolutionary process.

I also noticed that there was somewhat of a necessity on how Sarah Ang of Serenity Casket and Funerals and Mary Helen Stanley first got into the funeral business.  Both, like I did, took up the business after the death of a family member in the business. . . in Ang’s case, her father and in Stanley’s case, her husband.  Ang give her mother credit for being the “pioneer woman” of funeral service in Singapore.  In spite of her mother’s objections, Ang also decided to join the funeral industry.

The two articles are an exceptional read and somewhat highlight a dedication to service that these women, and many others like them, had to join the death care profession in what was once dominated by the male gender.  I think back to my graduating Mortuary Science class at the University of Minnesota in 1980.  I think we had about 40 graduates with one being a female.

Here are a couple highlights from the Singapore embalming team article:

  • Ang says she enjoys the embalming room because “The living are more scary than dead people”
  • Young people seem to have more interest in the funeral profession than ever before in Singapore
  • Women are about 30% of the death care workforce in Singapore
  • “Motherhood has not stopped the team from working, even when pregnant.  All members of the team pull dual roles as embalmers as well as funeral directors or customer service, which helps them have a more well-rounded understanding of the business.”
  • The younger generation in Singapore seems to see funeral director jobs as “cool” rather than one to be abhorred”
  • The female funeral directors believe that their position has made them treasure life a little more. . . especially when it comes to spending time with their children and loved ones.
  • 2nd career funeral directors at Serenity Casket & Funerals come from the nursing and dental professions
  • 27-year old Nicole Chong, who has seven years of embalming experience, jokes the the team’s husbands are “the sensitive kind and we (female embalmers) are more YOLO (you only live once)

You can read the complete articles:

These women prefer to work with the dead than the living.  Asia One

Life becomes her:  Mary Helen Stanley, longtime Tulsa funeral director, marks 100th birthday in style. Tulsa World

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