Compassion fatigue in the funeral industry

Learn to mitigate stress, and achieve a better work-life balance.

Death is a daily occurrence for funeral professionals. It’s more than a job—it’s a calling that takes a special heart. While death is the foundation of the funeral industry, it’s the repeat exposure to disturbing deaths—suicides, homicides, accidental deaths, mass casualties—that poses compassion fatigue as an industry danger.

In addition to the rise in traumatic deaths, the number of annual deaths in the U.S. has jumped from 2.4 million in 2010, to over 3.3 million in 2020 (CDC, April 2021). Over the same time, the number of funeral homes servicing those deaths declined by over a thousand (, meaning higher workload for those in today’s industry.


Anyone who cares for others as part of their professional responsibilities is someone who has a higher risk of suffering from compassion fatigue. By the numbers (Gaille, 2017):

  • 87% of emergency responders have reported symptoms of compassion fatigue
  • 70% of mental health professionals have experienced compassion fatigue
  • 1 in 2 child welfare workers experience symptoms of compassion fatigue in the severe range
  • Very little information is available on how funeral professionals—the oldest caregiving profession in the world—are impacted by compassion fatigue


When funeral professionals are unable to recharge while juggling families in crisis, the emotional residue of secondary traumatic stress can erode one’s mental and physical health. Common feelings include irritability, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, and worse—clinical errors. Without mitigation, it can even lead to career-ending burnout.

To fully understand how it develops and how to protect against it, we must be aware of our own stressors, examine our work-life balance, and cultivate positive connections.

Proactively developing—and regularly practicing—positive stress-buffering habits can help offset stress and restore a sense of control before it impacts performance, disrupts quality of care, or worse—lead to career burnout.


  • How compassion fatigue applies to funeral professionals
  • Cognitive, emotional and physical signs of compassion fatigue
  • Complementary roles of stress management, resilience, and career longevity
  • Evidence-based techniques that mitigate negative work-related effects
  • How to protect employee assets

For information on providing Compassion Fatigue in the Funeral Industry at your event, contact Lynda Cheldelin Fell at 360-510-8590 or [email protected]
International Grief Institute


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Compassion Fatigue