While researching technology trends in the funeral and cemetery profession I came across a company that provides an application to support bereaved families, Empathy. Their goal is to help a family with every loss related task associated with handling the loss of a loved one. This support is provided online or via a downloadable app.
What caught my eye while perusing their website is a report, they released in March 2022 exploring the impact of bereavement in America beyond the financial cost of disposition and any memorialization. The report is based on a survey of over 2,000 families who took part in winding down their loved one’s affairs in the last five years.
In summary, this study details the expense of a death for American families not just in monetary terms, but also in time, in emotional and physical health, in lost work productivity, and more. This survey, titled The Cost of Dying Report 2022, was done in collaboration with Goldman Sachs.
Some of the eye-opening data reported include:
- The average total expense of a loved one’s death is $12,702
- This includes $7,267 for a funeral and,
- $5,846 for additional professionals such as lawyers, financial advisors, or realtors
- 79% of respondents used funds from their own checking or savings accounts to cover expenses
- Only 14% used dedicated funds from insurance, will bequests or prepaid arrangements
- Of those surveyed, 52% said dealing with loss harmed their work performance
- 80% said they did not know what to do, lacked guidance or were afraid of making mistakes
- 57% experienced clinical physical or psychological symptoms of stress
- 55% of people reported that the funeral was a very time-consuming task
- 35% of families found planning the funeral one of the most stressful undertakings
The conclusion by Empathy and Goldman Sachs is that families need help, more flexibility and support from their employers and society following the loss of a loved one. The whole process is more than any one person can handle. I commend Empathy for shining a light on these challenges that many funeral home owners and managers navigate daily while serving families in their communities. As you know all too well, these are important conversations about loss that are rarely held ahead of time.
Grief is a fundamental human experience and these statistics support that more collaboration is needed between funeral providers, insurance companies, lawyers, accountants and even employers. For more on understanding the importance of supporting those dealing with a loss and how we may be able to do it better, click on the link below to download this report and share with your staff.
Source: The Cost of Dying Report 2022