Whether driven by biology or stronger health-awareness, women tend to outlive men in terms of their average life expectancies. Does gender also make a difference in the way they deal with end of life events? Apparently, it does! We spoke with Cheryl Buscemi, Family Service Counselor with Cadillac Memorial Gardens East in Michigan, as part of our Conversations with Funeral Directors series. Apart from looking at experiences from a gender lens, Cheryl also shared ideas on funeral services including funeral costs and pre-planning and where she’s observing changing behaviors across generations.

Funeral Services: Women Ask Questions While Men Sign the Checks

Key Trends In Funeral Services

Burials Versus Cremations

Everdays: What are some of the trends you observe in how families plan for funerals?

Cheryl: I see there being an equal 50/50 split in people choosing to have a burial versus a cremation in the US. Cremation is typically chosen for cost or minimalism. Women don’t value themselves like men, so they tend to minimize the effort on them. They die later so they have to plan later.

Gender Differences

Everdays: How do women deal with funerals differently?

Cheryl: Women ask more questions, such as: “Is there a better way?” or “Is there another option available?” They tend to be more practical and have the ability to deal with it. Men sign checks and are emotionally more vulnerable. Losing a spouse makes men less at ease and has a stronger impact on them.

Generational Changes

Everdays: What is the difference you see in our generation today versus the previous generation?

Cheryl: One generation ahead, our grandparents usually made all plans beforehand because men in that generation had an acute sense of responsibility. They would buy a plot of land between getting married and having kids. They also bought land for their girls, should they end up as old maids (unmarried). Men now do not want to preplan because they tend to believe their wives (who live longer) will handle it. Usually because spouses inherit the insurance money. But, it’s not that simple, unless the money has been kept in a trust.

The cost of a funeral doubles every twelve years. When younger people die, families are not prepared. With older people, they may completely be underestimating the effort and cost involved for funeral services. I always recommend that families pre-plan and decide on how they’d like their end of life services to be like.

We’d like to thank Cheryl for her insights about trends she’s noticed and how the funeral industry is evolving.

Cheryl BuscemiCheryl Buscemi is a family service counselor at Cadillac Memorial Gardens East.