Article by Krystal Penrose, of Funeral One
I have to admit, when I first entered the funeral service world three years ago, I was a little weary of funeral directors.
After all, everything I read and saw about them shined a negative light on them. But after spending the last three years getting to know them personally, I can easily say that funeral directors are some of the friendliest, most caring people I’ve ever met on this planet. The sad thing is funeral directors can’t be everywhere at all times to defend themselves when people refer to them in a negative way. And that’s why I’m here today to shed some light on that negative stigma surrounding the funeral profession and the amazing people who work in it.
Here are 6 things I’ve learned about funeral directors after getting to know them, and what you can learn if you get to know them, too:
#1: First off, they aren’t who you think we are.
Funeral directors aren’t like the bad apples you read about in the newspaper or the vampire-like characters you see on TV. They aren’t trying to steal your money, scam you, or throw your loved one’s remains into a creepy looking freezer full of mutated limbs. They are normal (whatever that means) people just like you, with families, lives, and yes – even feelings, too.
#2: They aren’t rich, either.
Every time people say they work in the funeral profession, someone always say something along the lines of “at least you’ll never have to worry about going out of business” or “everyone’s dying to get into your funeral home”. As strange as it sounds, this is far from the truth. Many funeral homes lose money everyday. In fact, recent studies from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics list embalming as one of the 15 disappearing middle class jobs.
So don’t think your local funeral director is sitting behind his desk, rubbing his hands together behind a huge pile of money. In fact, the funeral professionals whose businesses are on a decline are trying with all their might to adapt to the changing needs of people today in hopes of saving it. Do them a favor and try and connect with them. You’ll be surprised. And it will be worth it.
#3: What they do is not easy.
You may think a job in the death industry is just like another 9-to-5 job, but it’s not. In fact, it’s far from it. Funeral directors have to make themselves available to work all hours of the day – whether its 4am or 11pm. It doesn’t matter if they’re at their daughters dance recital or at their own family funeral, they still have to drop everything they’re doing to help families who just lost a loved one. Oh, and let’s not forget that their five senses experience smells, sounds and sights you could never and will never imagine. A career in the funeral profession is not for the faint of heart, and certainly not for people who aren’t willing to put everyone and everything before themselves.
#4: They not only care, they care too much.
Even though funeral directors deal with death all day, everyday, they are people, too. When you share your feelings of grief with them, they not only recognize them, but they often take them on. When you cry, they want to cry too. When you really miss your loved one and want them back here, they want that, too. Their own emotional needs often get swept under the rug so they can better serve you. This is what often leads them to suffer from depression and isolation (most funeral directors do), but that’s okay because every true life passion has a bad side to it. And they’re willing to take the hit, because they’re caring creatures who truly want the best for you.
#5: Your genuine appreciation makes their job completely worth it.
Just like teachers, funeral directors efforts are always remembered, but seldom expressed. Their satisfaction comes from knowing that they did the right thing, and in a (near) perfect way. With that being said, something as simple as a “thank you” is what makes their day. It’s what helps them know that they’re doing this for a bigger cause than money. It’s what makes them get out of bed every morning. So next time you are grateful and happy with your funeral home’s service, give your funeral director a big hug and a thank you. Trust me, they’ll appreciate (and hope) for it.
#6: They are morticians, but not magicians.
But don’t get me wrong, with a little elbow grease, funeral directors can make some magic happen. They’ll do everything in their power to see that the loved one’s service is as special as they want it to be. Even if it means traveling across the state to pick up your dog so they can attend the viewing, too. They truly try to do their best every time, but sometimes things don’t work out exactly the way you want them to. They will, however, find a way to make you happy, because that’s what they were put on this earth to do.
One last thing…
Unlike any other job in the service industry, a funeral director sees their job as their calling. It’s what defines them. In fact most funeral directors will tell you that they didn’t chose the funeral profession; the funeral profession chose them. Sure, it involves taking on the deep sorrow of others and putting themselves last, but you can’t deny the heart of what it loves.
So next time you talk to a funeral director, remember this message. Remember that they are just like you. Remember that they have the best intentions. And if you choose a funeral director to help you honor your loved one, know that they’ll offer you more love, care and support than you ever thought possible… if you let them.