Grief is often a topic we'd like to not think about- until we have to. Yes, at some point in our lives, we all experience grief. The feelings associated with grief come in waves and are often unpredictable. That's why interpersonal skills are crucial for those who work in the funeral industry when working with families experiencing grief.
While funeral home job requirements often focus on hard skills, it's important to remember that a job in the funeral industry requires considerable soft skills as well. Soft skills allow you to connect with others effectively, which is necessary during the family members' grieving period.
While the below skills aren't usually listed in the descriptions for different jobs in a funeral home, they're certainly just as critical- if not more so- as hard skills.
- The Ability to Empathize
When most of your clients are in a vulnerable place due to the loss of a loved one, the ability to practice empathy will ensure that you're providing them with the services and attention that they need. While it's not your job to help your clients process the death of their friend or family member, empathy will allow you to communicate with your client to understand and be able to meet their needs.
- The Ability to Separate Home and Work Life
While it's essential to be able to empathize, the ability to separate your home and work life is just as crucial to funeral home work. Helping clients during grief is your job, but you'll burn out fast if you "take your job home," so to speak. Leaving your responsibility to others at work so that you can take care of yourself at home will ensure that you can start fresh each day. Many refer to this as "boundary setting," a skill used in various high-intensity industries to ensure longevity.
- Effective Communication Skills
Just like empathy is essential for jobs in the funeral industry, communication skills will also ensure you can convey your understanding of your clients' situation. For example, suppose your workplace offers services your client does not know are available. In that case, the ability to listen and understand your clients' desires and communicate that a specific service might be of use to them will make both your client and your manager happy.
Additionally, effective communication skills are necessary when hosting support groups and seminars for clients who have recently experienced loss, a standard option at many full-service funeral homes.
- The Ability to Listen
Like effective communication skills, listening is vital for any job in the funeral industry, as people experience grief differently. Additionally, it's hard to replicate the feeling (or feelings) that one might be experiencing after a loved one passes, so it's extra important to listen to what your client needs. Since the passing of a loved one is such a sensitive time, your clients' wishes may not be what you expect. The ability to put your own needs or judgments aside to serve your client will create a successful client relationship.
The first step for those interested in building up their listening skills is to be aware of whether or not you're listening when others are speaking. Building awareness leads to habit formation.
- The Ability to Remain Flexible
When someone is experiencing grief, their wants, needs, and desires may change daily or when presented with new information. The ability to remain flexible and offer compassion to your clients will ensure they get the right services for their families. While it may be frustrating that your client's needs can change depending on the day, remember that grief is often a complex process, and your client may not understand what they need.
While working in the funeral industry isn't easy, you get to support people experiencing grief. Additionally, the funeral industry allows employees to connect with their communities in ways that few experience. If you're interested in learning more about working within the funeral industry, be sure to contact Shields.