My wall was made of bullet proof glass, which I hit so hard I left a perfect face print while breaking my nose. In some ways I feel it was karma smacking me literally in the face. I was in the local bank making a deposit and from where I stood I could see someone that I know as an infuriating nuisance make his way into the bank. My not so flattering Irish whisper referencing my friend made the teller laugh. As I hurried out of the bank hoping to avoid any and all contact I face-planted a rock-solid glass window immediately bouncing my head backwards. Thinking for a split second the door had malfunctioned I gave the offending glass a dirty look, which made me realize I had not thumped the door at all but the very small panel of glass next to it. I was like a stunned mullet trying to recoup my thoughts; Damn, that karma thing can be a b…..!!

Finding the door and stepping outside I realized my entire face hurt. Taking a deep breath, I put my hand up to my nose and mouth checking for blood and or missing or cracked teeth. Walking to my car holding my breath I opened the door, just missing my face; What the crap, I pulled down my visor and stared into the mirror. I could see a fair amount of blood dripping from a small gash on my nose and fortunately my teeth appeared to be intact. As I released the breath I was holding and inhaled deeply, I realized I was breathing better than I had in years. The new crack in my nose had somehow opened my nasal passages to allow me to breath better — bonus!!

What the hell had just happened? Replaying it in my head had me embarrassed and amused at the same time. I needed to get a copy of the bank video and watch it in slow motion, fast motion, rewind, slow motion, and fast motion again. The thought had me wetting my pants with laughter. Okay so I know what you are thinking; Funny story but what is my point? Besides thinking it was funny enough to share, it had me thinking about how many of us must actually hit the wall in order to open our eyes to making changes. Just to clarify when I talk about “hitting the wall” I am referring to encountering an object that impedes our progress, whether it be a person, place or thing. Apparently, there is a slang meaning for this phrase, so I just wanted to be crystal clear as to which definition to which I was referring; Thank you!!

Why are we as funeral professionals surprised by the fact that nothing changes even though we do the same thing over and over and over again? How can we expect different results if we never make any changes? The world around us changes every day. Why do we think we are immune to having to change with it? We as a group are so slow to change it is a standing joke among our profession. The part of this that makes me sad is when funeral directors become so frustrated with the changes around them they feel like throwing in the towel or unfortunately stop caring. To help this situation, rethink as to whether you want to surrender or breathe more life into your business. I have come up with ten signs that may help you reflect upon your decision.

1. Dancing in the street when you sell your business then banging your head on a wall when they don’t keep running it the way you did.

2. Offering only what you feel is a traditional funeral to the families you serve.

3. Calling price shoppers “cheap” when they call to see what you offer.

4. Laughing at a family who asks to see your cremation jewelry display; Adding, I suppose you want to see non-traditional urns too.
5. Learning something new and hanging around other people in the death care industry just ain’t your cup of tea. Who in their right mind wants to hang around anyone that could take your business to the next level; Your basement level is just fine.

6. Rolling your eyes when families ask for extra boxes of tissues during calling/visiting hours; Don’t they know tissues don’t grow on trees.

7. Racing your Hennessey Venom GT at 270 mph as you lead a funeral procession to the cemetery; Hey, they asked for an experience to remember.

8. Buying a new hearse just seems ridiculous; Who gets buried anymore?

9. Hiring people older than yourself because what do those young whipper snappers know anyways?

10. Arresting a family member for videotaping their mother’s funeral for their brother who couldn’t make the service from Russia, it just honestly seemed creepy.

I realize that some of these may seem a little extreme. However, while using humor I am just trying to point out that you need to find that one thing that helps breathe life into what you do and start enjoying your awesomeness as a funeral director, embalmer, and/or death care professional once again. Yes, our industry is changing, and we collectively as a group need to find a way to change with it. Don’t fight it because trust me, bouncing your head off any rock-hard surface, clear or otherwise, hurts. All I ask is just try making some changes. Two black eyes—along with a video that will someday surface when I least expect— it has me slowing down while going through any door, along with being more conscious of my sassy “Irish whisper.” I didn’t say I completely ceased my Irish whisper; I’m just more aware of it —baby steps!! FBA

Ann Marie St. George, CPC, a first-generation funeral director has worked for the past 20 years as a Regional Manager for Cooperative Funeral Fund, a preneed and cemetery care fund management company. Thriving in the industry for over 35 years as a funeral director/embalmer she was pulled into the world of national disasters starting with 9/11 where she lived 11 blocks north of the World Trade Center. She is a Mortuary Officer for both DMORT Region II and Kenyon International Emergency Services. The devastation and grief she has been exposed to has contributed to her unique sense of humor which she does admit may also be due to genetics. She encourages anyone reading her articles to reach out by email at [email protected] Suggestions for topics are always encouraged. You can can speak to anna by calling (800) 336-1102 or visit her website at