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Family owned and operated funeral home breaks gender stereotypes

O’Sullivan Funeral Home is changing the way people think about funeral directors with their all-female team
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Lisa Damignani (top left); Christina Damignani (top right); Riely Strachan (bottom left); Jules Campbell (bottom right)

Grieving the loss of a loved one can be an intensely painful experience for many people. Thankfully, caring and compassionate funeral directors are available to help families through these incredibly difficult times.

O’Sullivan Funeral Home has been serving Sault Ste. Marie and the surrounding area since 1950. These days, their team of Licensed Funeral Directors is made up of four highly skilled women who are breaking the gender stereotypes that exist in the industry. I was fortunate enough to talk with the funeral directors at O’Sullivan Funeral Home to find out more about them and their profession.

Lisa Damignani, owner of O’Sullivan Funeral Home and Licensed Funeral Director, started her career in 2005 and purchased the funeral home in 2014. She is motivated by the families that she serves. “We are able to help families at the worst time in their lives and we can bring them some comfort,” she says.

In 2014, Lisa was joined by her daughter, then Funeral Director Assistant Christina Damignani, now a licensed Funeral Director.

“People thought that women were too emotional or weak to deal with this job and with death. That is why men mostly dominated the funeral industry,” she says.

“In fact, women can be extremely caring, compassionate, and empathetic when dealing with grief and death. More women want to join this field just to show people and the older generations that we are not weak, and we can deal with this job.”

Christina also says that being a locally owned, family operation is important. “We are Sault Ste. Marie’s only family-owned funeral home. We care about our community, and we are able to serve generations of local families because they trust us,” she explains.

Riely Strachan has been a Funeral Director since 2014 and joined the women at O’Sullivan Funeral Home in 2017. She understands the importance of her role in the grieving process is impactful.

“My work is meaningful to me because I am guiding families and helping them when they are at the lowest points in their lives. They trust us and need our support,” Riely says.

“They are relying on us as funeral directors to help them to say goodbye to their loved ones.”

Jules Campbell, the newest Funeral Director to join O’Sullivan Funeral Home, says that women are much more common in the industry than they used to be.

“When I went to school for what was previously a male dominated field, I was seated amongst a class full of mostly women. Since women have a nurture nature, we are able to step down to an empathetic level when dealing with families going through grief and death,” she says.

Jules goes on to explain, “Each family that comes through the funeral home has different cultures and traditions. Helping them find a way to incorporate those traditions and also say goodbye to their loved ones is one of the reasons I became a director.”

While the industry as a whole has a long way to go in order to achieve gender equality, here in Sault Ste. Marie, O’Sullivan Funeral Home is leading the way.

For more information about O’Sullivan Funeral Home, visit their website or call them at (705) 759-8456. They are located at 215 St. James Street in Sault Ste. Marie.