Funeral Director

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Funeral Director


Death is inevitable. Try as we might to keep it at bay, the facts about life and its end are undeniable. While many of us are nervous about the thought of dying, there are a number of us who are comfortable with death. That's lucky, because funeral directors are the people we turn to in the event of the death of a loved one.

Funeral directors are ready for anything, at any time. They keep the funeral home clean, and well-stocked with flowers, caskets, and tissues. There are some people who pre-arrange their own funerals, to save their grieving family members time and pain. However, death often strikes when no one expects it to, and at these times, the families rely on the funeral director to support them and help during this difficult time. Funeral directors look after any paperwork, contact newspapers, arrange for the clergy, embalm and dress the body, and arrange for transport to and from funeral services. They even pick up bodies from the place of death, and transport them to the morgue. They attend many funerals, and support the family until their loved one is finally laid to rest.

Funeral directors must have a positive outlook toward mortality. Because they deal with grieving people and the deceased each and every day, they must be optimists who recognize the importance of the work they do. By treating the deceased and the family respectfully, and by creating a sensitive presentation of the body, the funeral director can bring a sense of healing and peace to those left behind.
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  Interests and Skills  
Funeral directors are empathetic, sensitive, and calm. They must be flexible and emotionally stable. They must also be mature, as well as have an peaceful relationship with death and human mortality. Funeral directors have a tendency to be methodical, organized, tactful, compassionate, and are good communicators with many types of people.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Meet with newly bereaved families, terminally ill clients, and healthy people looking to plan ahead
  • Provide information on funeral service options, products, and merchandise
  • Maintain a display area for caskets
  • Arrange religious and secular funeral services
  • Assist bereaved families with legal, social and emotional concerns
  • Arrange for funeral location
  • Arrange for clergy, file death certificates, obtain burial permits, contact the cemetery and prepare obituary notices
  • Arrange transportation for those involved
  • Oversee the funeral services
  • May embalm and prepare the body for burial (makeup, hair, clothing)
  • May cremate the body
  • Tend to any administrative and financial duties that arise
  • Supervise assistants
  • The typical day for a funeral director involves meeting with families before and after the death of a loved one. They treat each client sensitively, and try to create a memorable and respectful funeral that reflects the deceased's personality and wishes. They spend each day doing everything from selling caskets to cremating bodies, but the most common tasks will be arranging for all the details to fall into place when the time comes. They may work outdoors when supervising funeral services, but spend the majority of their time indoors. They travel throughout the community when overseeing funerals, attending receptions, or picking up bodies.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Funeral directors work in funeral homes (many of which are family businesses), or are involved with funeral services offered by cemeteries. They work in comfortable, and comforting, offices, where they meet with grieving families. They also work outdoors in cemeteries, in all kinds of weather. They also work in hospitals, retirement centers, and private homes, where they greet families and collect bodies. They also work in embalming studios, as well as attend funeral services. They work long hours, often on weekends and in the evenings. They work alongside other directors, assistants, and embalmers.

  Long Term Career Potential  
With their experience coordinating events, funeral directors that wish to enter a different line of work may decide to work as event planners, wedding consultants, or business managers. With additional training and experience they may choose to become counselors, and assist people in their grieving and bereavement process.

  Educational Paths  
Funeral directors generally pursue a diploma in funeral service or funeral direction from a college. This usually takes two to three years of in-class and on-the-job training, culminating in a licensing exam. Licensing requirements vary from region to region, so contact a local funeral home to find out the requirements for a specific area.

Complementary education would be university or college courses in social work, psychology, business, management, accounting, communications, cosmetology, and biology.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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