Common Misconceptions About Funeral Directors

By: Myles O'Riordan
Friday, February 26, 2016

Many people have preconceptions of those involved in funeral arrangements. Between a combination of misinformation and horror figures in pop culture, many believe that funeral directors are either ghouls, shadowy figures emerging only at night, or relentlessly morbid nihilists. Nothing could be further from the truth, and we want to break these preconceptions today.

Undertaking is an Emotional Job

One thing many people do not realize is that the funeral director usually knows the deceased or the family. Taking care of the deceased is rarely a personal thing for the director. They see it from an outsiders’ perspective, detached and without judgment. Yes, there will be times when it is personal to the funeral director especially if they were connected to the deceased or it is a particularly violent death, but this is rare. This is a job that requires a certain degree of detachment, and although empathy is important, you need to be able to draw a line between the job and yourself. Funeral directors do not deal in death, just its aftermath.

The Funeral Industry is Morbid or 'Dark'

Many funeral directors either laugh or sigh when asked this. Sometimes, people join the industry because they are of the belief that it is morbid, or creepy. They usually leave when they realize how mundane the job really is. You are providing a service that everyone will need at least once, like working with the postal service or in a retail store. Undertakers are rarely morbid people, rather the opposite. Daily reminders of the sanctity of life usually inspire you to enjoy and share your time on this Earth.

Funeral Directors are Experts About Everything to do with Death and Dying

While it is important to appear knowledgeable of your position, regardless of your chosen career path, to work as a funeral director or in a funeral home rarely requires specialized training. While there are exceptions, in many countries you will rarely require anything more substantial than the equivalent of a high school diploma to work in a funeral home. Although there are some positions that do require specific training, such as embalmer, all you really need is empathy and respect for the dead and their mourners.

The Smell

Given that they deal with the recently deceased, many people believe that funeral directors and their employees carry a strong odor. This varies depending on a massive amount of factors, such as the state of the body, the chemicals used in embalming, and what equipment is used. Yes, there is the occasional body that is in worse condition than others, or that has leaked, or that perhaps has even begun to decompose, but the most common odor that people detect is of the chemicals used to preserve or clean the body, not the body itself.

At the end of day, funeral directors are simply people who provide a universal service that everyone needs. Yes, there are some who live up to the stereotypes, but the majority are there to offer a sympathetic ear to mourners and a respectful goodbye to the departed.

If after reading this blog you have any questions, please do not hesitate to Ask a Funeral Director.


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