The 2022 stories that moved. . or will move death care into the future
I enjoy following the Death Care profession for this blog. Doing so means that I read and research lots of articles on all subjects in spaces that hover around funeral service in general. I think I get a pretty good perspective on what’s happening in that “world” and understand, at least somewhat, what some of those happenings mean to the future of the Death Care profession.
Here’s some stories, or events that happened in 2022 that I see will have profound effects on not only the profession as a whole, but on individual funeral homes and other death care operatives. I rank them in an order of affecting the general funeral home operator moving forward. .
1) The Federal Trade Commission votes to “Retain the Funeral Rule”. The “funeral rule” has been in place since the 1980’s and, in general, requires funeral homes to itemize and share their price lists with potential clientele. There’s been a lot of discussion as to when and if the rule might be given a “Sunset” provision. . . meaning it is not necessary any more.
However, in October of 2022, the Federal Trade Commission voted to retain the funeral rule. The commission also decided to look at how it relates to the death care business and funeral home’s intersection with the consumer going forward. It now appears that the funeral rule will not only be retained but strengthened with the inclusion of funeral home pricing being required to be available to the consumer from every funeral home’s website.
There will continue to be hearings in January 2023 as to how the FTC will modify the funeral rule going forward. Funeral Director Daily has rated this the #1 Death Care news of 2022 simply because of the wide ramifications that it will impose of individual funeral home operators going forward. We believe that not only will funeral homes have to put this information on their websites, but they will have to do so in a format that is easily navigated by the consumer. . .or risk losing business to competitors who do that better.
Here’s an article from the Federal Trade Commission on the ruling.
2) Batesville Casket Sold. It was eventually inevitable that Batesville would become a smaller and smaller portion of Hillenbrand Industries and not be a “good fit” for the new direction that Hillenbrand would be moving. However, one of the largest players in the profession for the past century being sold is news and significant.
The sale of Batesville signifies that nothing is stagnant. I know that from operating our funeral home into the 4th generation. I’ve often told friends that when my great-grandfather started building caskets in 1872 he would have never believed that his entrepreneurship and work ethic as a new American immigrant would provide income for his family for 150 years and into the 4th generation.
I think the sale of Batesville might help lift that responsibility of “I’ve got to do this, because my forefathers did it” for many funeral homes. Some funeral homes have done well for generations, but some should not have been put in the hands of generations who either were not capable of or didn’t care for leading the business.
Batesville will continue on. . owned by new people. I’m guessing that they will continue to be a force in the casket business but I’m also guessing that they will be free to explore other avenues of the death care business which may even bring them to greater heights over time.
Here’s an article on the divestiture of Batesville by Hillenbrand Industries
3) The Greening of Death Care. So, I’ve argued that everybody wants renewable energy. It’s just a matter of how fast and how evolutionary we evolve into it. I think it is the same with death care. . . .we all want a better environment. However, not all people will change at once and the change will be slow and methodical. . . but death care will change.
It’s amazing if you read the articles that you can see the trends already happening. Green burials, alkaline hydrolysis, fireless cremation, natural organic reduction. . . . Those dispositions methods are all gaining some type of traction and those losing out, to some extent, are flame cremation and casketed earth burial.
Funeral service will not change overnight, but every time a death occurs where a casket is placed in the ground it signals that there will be less and less of those services going forward because the younger lives replacing that deceased person will probably have a bent more to the environmental side.
The Greening of Death Care will continuously affect the way consumers choose their disposition methods.
4) The New Services. New providers are popping up everyday in death care. In the last year the ones that I’ve seen the most are the providers of Direct Cremation with No Services and those that are event planners, including celebrants and death doulas. And, it is interesting because these services somewhat go together.
A consumer can choose a disposition of Direct Cremation with No Services and pay a low fee for that disposition. However, if they want a professionally operated memorial or celebration service these providers somewhat leave them in the cold. That’s where the event planners, celebrants, and doulas come in to help.
My take is that as long as consumers continue to choose a provider offering direct cremation with no services there will also be an opening for these event planners, celebrants, and doulas to thrive. Traditional funeral homes have to find a way to compete with these services to move forward.
5) Inflation and Employees. There is no doubt that inflation has hit death care. Virtually all of the supplies used by funeral homes and crematories have went up in cost over the past 12 months. Many funeral homes have held their costs down, but I think that has to change.
And, I think costs need to change because your employees are going to be expecting higher wages for the work that they are doing. This will be a tough balancing act by owners and operators because as costs go up consumers may pick less expensive choices. . . . yet, even though that happens, employees will be expecting more competitive wages. . . and that will put a squeeze on profits.
Those are what I see as the Top Five stories of Death Care in 2022. However, it is not an exhaustive list. I easily could have put the movement into more and more technology by funeral homes which includes the almost universally necessary live streaming of services at this time. I could have put that acquisitions are continuing and will continue as more and more individual funeral home owners reach retirement age.. . . .and, there is always more. . . some changes to come may surprise us.
Funeral Director Daily Note: I hope that 2022 was a wonderful year for all of you and I sincerely wish that 2023 will be even better. I don’t really know any employment other than the Death Care profession. But, that employment world has been wonderful to me over my lifetime. I’ve been able to be seen as a respected member of my local community and, for the most part, I enjoyed taking care of families when I was needed.
I always found it an honor that many times during funeral arrangements family’s would entrust me to be in that inner circle of family in listening to and suggesting options in how they should and would memorialize their loved ones. I can’t think of a more solemn time for a family than that. . . .and an honor to be a part of it.
I almost gave up my license this year because it has been a couple of years since I have performed any duty which would require licensure. However, at the end of the day I couldn’t mentally get to the point of giving up my license and completed my 15 hours of continuing education credits and sent in my $200 as required in Minnesota for the ability to hold that license 2 more years.
Thank you for continuing to read Funeral Director Daily. We are in the process of a slight cosmetic update to the website to give it what I call “easier readability”. I hope you enjoy what I tell the technical people is a “crisper site”. Bear with us as we will be looking to continuously improve the site and its interaction with our subscribers.
I can’t thank you readers enough. . . .From 4 original daily subscribers (which included my two sons simply to make sure that the articles went to Twitter which I don’t have a personal account with) we now have went over the 3,000 level of daily subscribers and from about 100 monthly page views from when I started, we have just turned out a monthly page-view number of 17,808 as of this writing on December 28. I remain incredibly humbled that you enjoy reading the information I turn out. Thank you!!
Thanks again!!! . . .and, Happy New Year!!!
More news from the world of Death Care:
- Jim Bradshaw, St. Paul mortician who put focus on “Celebration of Life” dies at 78. St. Paul Pioneer Press (MS)
- Obituary: Jim Bradshaw, age 78. St. Paul (MN)
- Call to allow reuse of graves as burial plots run low in England and Wales. The Guardian (Great Britain)
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This was a great overview of the year! Like you said, everything changes and funeral service is no exception.
Well done Tom!
Your insightful approach to our profession is always informative and makes us think forward. Best wishes to you in 2023 and thank you for keeping us all well educated on a daily basis.
Well done Tom as you provide both personal and professional insights into the deathcare profession that has helped many realize growth opportunities that they would otherwise not know of. I can tell you that your name and that of the Funeral Director Daily comes up quite often in conversations I have with funeral homes, combos, manufacturers and service providers. People are listening to what you have to say and that will help the profession move forward in this ever-evolving consumer marketplace. Looking forward to another year of thoughts, insights and industry news. Happy New Year!
I look forward to reading the funeral director daily every morning, I also have sold my business, and still an active consultant. Thank you for the timely articles you write.
Happy New Year