Without funeral directors, modern funerals wouldn't happen as they do. Yet most people have no idea how comprehensive a funeral director job description can be. Even if you think you know everything that goes into being a successful funeral director, you might be surprised at all the responsibilities involved. Funeral directing is a multi-faceted job and a 24/7/365 time demand.
Let's start by talking about what happens when someone dies to better understand the day-to-day life of a funeral director.
Dealing With Dying: A Funeral Director's On-Call Lifestyle
It's very difficult to predict when death will occur. Even in hospice situations, people may die sooner or later than expected. And with fatal tragedies, like car accidents, death comes suddenly.
As such, funeral directors may be asked to pick up bodies from anywhere anytime. This means they could end up coming to a nursing home on a Sunday afternoon or a private residence in the wee hours of the morning on a Thursday. Funeral directors tend to be on call round-the-clock. To keep them from losing too much sleep or hindering work-life balance, several funeral directors will usually work as a team and share evening, overnight, and weekend shifts to get breaks.
Preparing Remains: The Science of Funeral Directing
After bringing a deceased individual back to a nursing home, a funeral director will need to prepare the remains. This could include performing cremation services onsite or partnering with a nearby crematorium to handle the responsibility. Funeral directors may also be asked or expected to embalm the body.
Learning how to embalm remains in a safe, sanitary way takes time. It's a scientific process and one that can be misunderstood. The goal of the funeral director is to keep the body clean and preserved for viewing (if desired) and casket burial within a few days after embalming takes place. During and after embalming, the funeral director will dress the deceased individual's body and, if necessary, apply cosmetics or prosthetics to make the person look more lifelike and peaceful.
Working With Grieving Loved Ones: Adapting and Listening
Funeral directors don't just deal with people who have died. They deal with loved ones of the deceased who are still living — and grieving. Therefore, funeral directors have to be excellent and empathetic listeners.
Plenty of families that have lost a loved one are new to making funeral arrangements. Even if the deceased shared their last wishes with them, they may be confused about how to proceed. A funeral director must know exactly how to plan a funeral to help them create a funeral arrangements checklist so everyone's on the same page.
Once the funeral director and the grieving loved ones have constructed an agreed-upon plan for a visitation, funeral, and/or burial, they can take care of all the other little things that go into funeral arrangements. For instance, funeral directors generally help write the personalized obituary and send the obituary to the appropriate newspapers. Funeral homes normally list obituaries on their websites, too. Funeral directors may also call florists, set up visits for the family to explore local cemeteries, and make suggestions for the visitation and funeral setup.
Being There: The Director's Role During the Funeral
A funeral director typically spends a lot of time being aware of what's happening during the visitation and funeral. From explaining to pallbearers what's expected of them to moving flower arrangements around the room, the funeral director will remain active and alert. His or her main goal is for the funeral to run as smoothly as possible. That way, grieving relatives and friends of the deceased can concentrate on remembering the person they cared about and not worry about anything else.
It should be noted that funeral directors can't control the weather. Consequently, they may wind up driving a hearse to a gravesite in falling snow or making sure a casket stays dry when being transported to and from different locations.
Solving Problems with Insight and Compassion: A Funeral Director's Hallmark
Above all else, the most well-respected funeral directors don't just understand how to transport the deceased or make recommendations for caskets or urns. They must be dedicated, talented, and constantly compassionate to do their jobs. It takes talent to know how to care for the deceased and to know how to plan a funeral, but it takes care to do it well.
It takes a special type of person to be a funeral director. At Shields Professional Vehicles, we're lucky to work with talented and compassionate funeral directors every day. To learn more about how we work together to ensure grieving families have the support they need when their loved ones pass, get in touch today.