It is hard work- both physically and emotionally.
On any given day, we could be standing for hours (some of us in heels) or walking back and forth between churches, reception rooms, chapels, and cemeteries. We lift and move huge floral arrangements, books, albums and photo displays, urns and caskets. And then we could spend entire days sitting at desks or meeting with families. It is a surprisingly physical job.
It can be emotionally strenuous also. We meet with families during some of the most difficult times of their lives. We help shoulder grief, act as sounding boards and guides, and we truly feel and share in the sadness. We are here to offer emotional support, and are honored to do it. We also have to work hard to try to step out of that at the end of the day and not take it home with us. It’s not always possible, but we do the best we can.
It provides perspective.
No matter how long we work in the profession, we never really become immune to the fact that we see and deal with death every day. It does provide perspective, though. We are keenly aware that our time here is finite and we need to truly appreciate every minute that we have with the people we love. We know that death is natural and inevitable and that all we can do is live our lives in the best way we can. We believe that planning ahead and making sure that our families are taken care of even when we’re no longer here, is of the utmost importance.
It’s not always sad.
As is to be expected, there are a lot of tears, grief, and sadness when people lose their loved ones. There is also a lot of love and amazing memories. We get to know and hear the stories of incredible individuals. Often, those stories are heartwarming or funny. We get to hear about bravery, charity, love, secret recipes, inside jokes, and special connections. We develop relationships and friendships with the families we serve and develop our own second family with the people we work with. Sharing the full spectrum of emotions creates lasting bonds and we smile, hug, laugh as much (if not more than) as we cry.
Art, science, and hospitality are just a few skills needed.
Most people don’t realize that the schools, programs, and licensing required in most states is for mortuary sciences. Yes- sciences. We study anatomy, biology, chemistry, and more. There is a lot to learn and we take it very seriously. We use that science every day, along with a million other skills. One of the most important parts of our jobs is how we protect and present loved ones for their final viewing. We are makeup artists, hairdressers, and stylists and we take immense pride in our work.
We’re also event planners. Most other events require months and months of planning. We sometimes only have a few days to coordinate all of the elements required to make a meaningful memorial service or celebration of life – flowers, invitations, catering, theme, and so much more. We check a lot of items off our to-do lists in a very short amount of time. Our goal is always to provide the most meaningful and personalized event that we can.
It is rewarding.
If you talk to a Funeral Director long enough, you are likely to hear that they feel this profession is “a calling”. It is a difficult career, but those that do it, do it because of what they get in return. We have servant hearts – we feel good serving families in their time of need. If we can make a very difficult time just a little bit easier, we know we’ve done our job. The extra reward of being able to reach out to our community, to meet new people, and form new bonds with them, is a wonderful bonus.
We are regular people.
Another challenge that we often have to overcome is the preconceived notions some people have about Funeral Directors. Let us tell you – some of the kindest, warmest, funniest people we know work in the funeral profession. Our job can be serious and difficult, but outside of work, we love to have fun, spend time with our families, travel, enjoy hobbies, and more. Like we said before, it takes a very special person to become a Funeral Director and we would love for you to get to know just how special we are! Next time you come upon someone in the funeral profession, introduce yourself and get to know them. We know you’ll be glad you did!