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Millennial Morticians:The Old Souls of Funeral Service

It's no secret that there's a strange generational turf war happening in the funeral business. Anyone 50 years old and up is automatically hit with the good ole, "Okay, boomer," while someone with little to no wrinkles on their face is lumped in as "those darn millennials." Jobs, suggestions, and contributions are often ignored or missed out on due to the stigma attached to each generation. Why can't we all just get along? Why are people just brushing off the millennials instead of trying to get to know them? Better yet, what will happen to the funeral profession if this giant gap remains due to one's unwillingness to understand the other?

I've always found it interesting when older funeral directors (and part timers) sit around the break room, drinking coffee, and make little comments here and there about the younger generation. Words such as "poor work ethic," "participation trophies," "entitled," and "Tik-Tok obsession" get thrown around quite a lot. They don't understand why the "millennial" generation is so emotional, always looking for handouts, or how they're able to operate all that crazy new-age technology. Well, as a millennial myself, I am here to answer those questions with a simple explanation: You've got the wrong generation.

That's right, you've got the wrong ones. "Millennial," (born 1981-1996) has become the umbrella term for anyone that looks, acts, or is considered young. People have forgotten that there are two other generations (three if you count the baby Alpha's-born 2010-2024). There is GenX (born 1965-1980) and GenZ (born 1997-2012) whose traits and behaviors often get mixed in with their middle generation sibling. Now, this post is not an ode to "Boomer Hate." I'm also not going to comment on the GenX or GenZ characteristics or how it relates to funeral service in this article because that's outside my personal scope. It's meant to give you a very small glimpse into the millennial funeral director to hopefully shed some light and help you understand a little better.

Truth be told, we are the generation of elders in disguise. We are no longer interested in going out, partying til 4am, or draining the clock. If we had our choice between staying home or going out...most would answer that before you even got the second option out of your mouth. We're the generation who can't sit down for more than five minutes without feeling guilty or worried that someone will think we're lazy. We work more, stress more, and fear failure more than any other generation. Millennials are the generation born with one foot in the past and the other in the future. The generation who played outside until the streetlight came on and also experienced technology making its grand arrival in schools. We were taught to play the game of life by our parents only to wake up one day and realize someone changed the rules without telling us. We are the generation that's most likely to run for future board positions and mostly likely to experience burn out. Our success is determined more on impact and less on reward. We are the generation who were not taught common life tasks, but we're also the generation who won't stop until we figure it out.

Millennials are extremely hardworking because they are trying to afford life itself. In today's economy, it's almost impossible to survive on a single-income. In some places, rent alone takes 50-75% of that income. That means we are having to work multiple jobs, pray for overtime, and miss out on a lot of "adult" purchases just to make sure our car has gas, the rent is paid, and yes, even afford the occasional midnight Taco Bell or Starbucks coffee. To be fair, that Starbucks coffee everyone teases us about is a simple luxury that we often pay for with guilt and buyer's remorse thanks to a.n.x.i.e.t.y. Alas, we can't afford a vacation so it's the closest we get to treating ourselves.

So, how does this relate to funeral service? A big portion of graduates from mortuary programs are millennials (and GenZ). A lot of people have reservations about hiring or working with employees from this generation because of stereotypes. As a fellow millennial mortician who has worked along side other millennial colleagues I would like to break it down. This is what you'll get when you hire a millennial mortician:

A person with a strong work ethic that's hardwired into our DNA. With the help of anxiety, we strive for perfection and, although we know it's unattainable, we'll try to get as close as we possibly can. Emotions run deep so nothing is done without thinking about how it will be perceived or felt by the families we serve. Our passion for funeral service is often overwhelming to some, but we're constantly looking for new ways to be part of the growth, education, and success. It's not a competition but rather a collaboration. There's no desire to beat the funeral director next to us. We understand that the real winner is the family who feels seen, heard, and taken care of. There's no desire to cut down a colleague who found success in trying something new. Instead, our curiosity is more interested in how we can learn from them since they're obviously doing something right. We are not the bandwagon generation, but we are the generation that is aware of changing culture, tradition, taste, and causes, so we are more likely to research and adapt accordingly.

There is a fear of failure and disappointing others that lurks within us too. It can cause us to overwork, stress ourselves out, and become upset over negative feedback. When we become upset, it's not from the inability to take criticism itself but rather we feel as though we've let you down. Millennials are full of creativity and inspiration, but can become quiet or rebellious if we feel the group doesn't welcome our input. It's the equivalent of a child wanting to show their parents a cool new trick, but the parent tells them to sit down and be quiet. Eventually that child is conditioned to either rebel or silence their excitement altogether.

Millennials search each and everyday for purpose and fulfillment in the work that we do, and we're admirers of the little things in life. We understand that working for wealth is impossible, so we might as well work for a job that we love. Nothing will hold higher importance to us than the care of the families we serve. We will dig deeper, build stronger connections, and empathize more sincerely than any other employee. We will want more knowledge and if it's not given by owners or managers, we will search high and low for it or work endlessly to figure it out ourselves. If you show a millennial that you trust them, or you give them the space to be themselves without fear of being punished, the reward is unwavering loyalty, unique input, a new perspective, and a mighty warrior.

One of the best quotes I've heard that resonates on a deeper level comes from the movie, Fried Green Tomatoes, where Evelyn cries out, "I'm too young to be old, and I'm too old to be young." Boy, did that hit home! Millennials are tired, mentally and physically, but we won't ever give up because we know that the work still needs to be done. So, the next time you find yourself working with a millennial mortician (the right ones), remember that we too are just as ready as you are to be in bed by 8pm. We are the 80 year olds trapped inside the bodies of 30 year olds. Just like you don't want to be labeled "too old" to be in the game, we don't want to be labeled as "too young" to be taken seriously.

This profession is a calling. Instead of butting heads, we need to learn from each other. Older funeral directors have a wealth of knowledge and experience while younger funeral directors have eagerness and creative outlook. To give families and their loved ones the highest quality of service, respect, dignity, and care possible-that's the one common goal we should all have regardless of our generational title. Imagine how unstoppable we would be if that generational gap became a generational bridge.

This article is just a generalized overview based on personal opinion and feeling. It is not meant to speak for all people.

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17 mar
Obtuvo 5 de 5 estrellas.

So well written and poignant!

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Thank you! 🖤

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09 mar
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Very well written! Could not have stated anything better myself! If we collaborate instead of isolate in every aspect and field, wonders can be achieved!

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Absolutely! Two people working together is more powerful than two people working against each other. Especially in a field of service. Thank you for your input!

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