What’s it like to be a funeral director?

Kate BucklandBlog

When I tell people that I work for a funeral director, I’m always fascinated by the different responses I get. Your job is something that comes up in conversation frequently and so I have had a lot of time to ponder how people react and why. Recently I went to a new hairdresser. She asked me, “So, what do you do for a living?”. Me: “I work for a funeral director.” Her: “Oh…” There is no one typical response when you tell someone you work in the funeral business. Some people, like my new hairdresser, fall into an awkward silence before trying desperately to change the subject. Others crack jokes, some of which are actually pretty funny, and some I have heard a million times before (like working in the ‘dead centre’ of town). Other people are genuinely interested about what I do and why, while others ask questions about death and the supernatural, or what my beliefs are about what happens when we die (I try to navigate around the latter question as tactfully as possible). On the whole, people are fascinated, even if it makes them feel a bit awkward. A lot of people think that making a living out of death is a bit morbid, but honestly, most people I talk to have an immense curiosity about what it is like to be a funeral director, too. The thing is, death is a part of life. We all die. Now, I’m not a funeral director. Yes, I work for a funeral business, but I’m the marketing manager! That’s not to say that I don’t deal with the death side of the business – I do. I occasionally attend funerals, speak with grieving families, hand over the ashes of lost loved ones who have been cremated, and being involved in funeral arrangements is not out of the question if needed. Of course, I could just tell people that I work in marketing, but I find the different responses I get fascinating, and it often leads to me wondering why people are so uncomfortable with the idea of an individual or company that makes a living out of death when so many of them are curious about what it is we do. A question that we get asked a lot is how do we cope with death all day, every day? It goes without saying that working as a funeral director can be emotionally challenging, and serving small, regional communities undoubtedly plays a role in this. Everyone knows everyone else in small towns, so it’s inevitable that sometimes we will have personal relationships in some form or another with the deceased people that come into our care. There are times where we are forced to confront our own mortality, too, particularly when we are caring for someone who has died in very tragic circumstances and their loved ones. There is a flipside, though. As funeral directors, our whole team feels deeply privileged to do what we do. To be … Read More