Funeral Industry News

?Well-behaved women seldom make history.? – The AWFD Comes Into Its Own

December 9, 2009

?Well-behaved women seldom make history.? – The AWFD Comes Into Its Own

imageLaurel Thatcher Ulrich first penned the phrase, ?Well-behaved women seldom make history.? She wrote several books about the lives of women in colonial New England, including A Midwife?s Tale (1990), which won the Pulitzer Prize for history. And back when she was a graduate student, she wrote an obscure academic article about Puritan funeral services, and she included this now famous sentence.

She was saying that nobody paid much attention to ordinary law-abiding Puritan women, the ?good wives,? because everyone was focused on the small number of women accused of witchcraft in Salem. But, as is often the case, her quote was taken out of context and reprinted on T-shirts, bumper stickers, mugs, and tote bags.

I was one of those women who had that bumper sticker on my Volvo wagon. I saw it every time I got into the car, and it reminded me that I was less than I could be. Certainly raising my wonderful sons was an achievement ? but was that all I wanted in life?

The answer was ?no.? I wanted to soar; to set goals higher than I thought to dare ? and forming this organization is another step in soaring high ? a step in making a difference in the lives of others.

And, as I?ve met many women funeral service professionals through my copywriting services, I?ve listened to their concerns, heard where they struggle, and rejoiced in their successes. Each and every one I?ve met has so much brilliance to share with the world; and each changed lives with the work they do. Knowing them has made me proud; made me a better person. I thank them for that.

Through the inception of the AWFD, I intend to gather these wonderful women together; to launch a robust network of brilliant, compassionate women who wish to stretch their limits, to expand?to exceed our own expectations ? and those of our society.

The Association is new. Our Advisory Board met for the first time during the second week in August, and together we?re charting the course of the association. The launch event was also held in August, so we?re truly a fledgling organization. But I know one thing; we?re on the right track ? and we?ll grow. Just watch us.

We?re not Misbehaving?Not Really

Ok. So I took it to an extreme. As we grow, our members won?t be out in the streets, burning our bras and yelling at men. I promise. What the Association will do is to inspire women funeral service professionals to live their best professional and personal lives, through outreach and education; networking, mentoring, and promotion.

The benefits of membership include a listing in the Women in Funeral Service Locator, as well as professional and personal enrichment teleseminars. The Advisory Board and I are putting together an agenda of events for the final months of 2009 and into 2010. If you?re interested in presenting to the members, in a teleseminar format, I encourage you to write me at [email protected], to start the conversation.

A Few Voices Have Been Heard?

I put together a very short survey for women professionals, which can be accessed through the Benefits page of the Web site. Responses are slow in coming ? but this is what the numbers tell us so far about what they?re thinking:

What is one area in your career in which you need support?

My relationships with male employees 16.7%

Balancing my domestic responsibilities and my career 33.3%

Finding time for self-care 16.7%

Finding time for Professional Development 33.3%

If you?re a woman in the field, or a female mortuary college student or intern, and you?d like to add your thoughts to the survey, I invite you to do so. Go to, and click on Benefits. The link to the survey is in the right-hand column. While you?re there, read through the benefits, and take that next step: join us!

Can We Change Perceptions?

One of the respondents from the survey mentioned, ?I have found that many people are glad to have a female funeral director, yet many male funeral home owners think of us as not as good as them.? This sentiment was echoed in our Advisory Board meeting; that the profession is still a ?men?s club.?

So, we?re putting it on the record: more women are entering funeral service every year, and they will excel in the field. Why? Because, as another survey respondent said, women bring ?compassion, sincerity, genuiness, passion, the ability to make dead people look good and make living people feel special, important and cared for; patience, the ability to multi-task, and the ability to comfort and put people at ease.?

Women Funeral Service Professionals ? Unite!

My feminist background is rising to the fore; after all, I was in University during the 1970s and 1980s. Being ?uppity? was expected. But, I?m 55 now; and who has the energy to be a rabble-rouser? Not me. Yet, I?ve found my calling: to be a catalyst and facilitator for a group of women I have enormous respect for. So, I?ll stand here, and shout this invitation:

?Let your voice be heard. Come misbehave with us!?

If you?re a woman in funeral service, the members of the Advisory Board and I invite you to join us in this endeavor. Our goal is to have over 500 members by the end of December, 2009. To learn more about the Association of Women Funeral Directors, or to join, visit the Web site,

And, to all the men in funeral service, let me say this: having female directors on your staff simply makes sense. There are those families who would prefer working with a woman; why not ensure their satisfaction? Should you wish to discuss or debate the point, please do so; I?d love to hear from you.

About The Author

Kim Stacey is the founder of the Association of Women Funeral Directors, and a freelance copywriter for funeral service professionals. You can learn more about the association at, or visit to read about her perspectives and approach to writing funeral home Web site and offline marketing copy. Contact her directly at [email protected].