6 Things Funeral Directors Are Dying To Tell You (But Never Will)

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I have to admit, when I first entered the funeral service world three years ago, I was a little weary of funeral directors.

After all, everything I read and saw about them shined a negative light on them. But after spending the last three years getting to know them personally, I can easily say that funeral directors are some of the friendliest, most caring people I’ve ever met on this planet. The sad thing is funeral directors can’t be everywhere at all times to defend themselves when people refer to them in a negative way. And that’s why I’m here today to shed some light on that negative stigma surrounding the funeral profession and the amazing people who work in it.

Here are 6 things I’ve learned about funeral directors after getting to know them, and what you can learn if you get to know them, too:


#1: First off, they aren’t who you think we are.

Funeral directors aren’t like the bad apples you read about in the newspaper or the vampire-like characters you see on TV. They aren’t trying to steal your money, scam you, or throw your loved one’s remains into a creepy looking freezer full of mutated limbs. They are normal (whatever that means) people just like you, with families, lives, and yes – even feelings, too.


#2: They aren’t rich, either.

Every time people say they work in the funeral profession, someone always say something along the lines of “at least you’ll never have to worry about going out of business” or “everyone’s dying to get into your funeral home”. As strange as it sounds, this is far from the truth. Many funeral homes lose money everyday.  In fact, recent studies from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics list embalming as one of the 15 disappearing middle class jobs.

So don’t think your local funeral director is sitting behind his desk, rubbing his hands together behind a huge pile of money. In fact, the funeral professionals whose businesses are on a decline are trying with all their might to adapt to the changing needs of people today in hopes of saving it. Do them a favor and try and connect with them. You’ll be surprised. And it will be worth it.


#3: What they do is not easy.

You may think a job in the death industry is just like another 9-to-5  job, but it’s not. In fact, it’s far from it. Funeral directors have to make themselves available to work all hours of the day – whether its 4am or 11pm. It doesn’t matter if they’re at their daughters dance recital or at their own family funeral, they still have to drop everything they’re doing to help families who just lost a loved one. Oh, and let’s not forget that their five senses experience smells, sounds and sights you could never and will never imagine. A career in the funeral profession is not for the faint of heart, and certainly not for people who aren’t willing to put everyone and everything before themselves.


#4: They not only care, they care too much.

Even though funeral directors deal with death all day, everyday, they are people, too. When you share your feelings of grief with them, they not only recognize them, but they often take them on. When you cry, they want to cry too. When you really miss your loved one and want them back here, they want that, too. Their own emotional needs often get swept under the rug so they can better serve you. This is what often leads them to suffer from depression and isolation (most funeral directors do), but that’s okay because every true life passion has a bad side to it. And they’re willing to take the hit, because they’re caring creatures who truly want the best for you.

#5: Your genuine appreciation makes their job completely worth it.

Just like teachers, funeral directors efforts are always remembered, but seldom expressed. Their satisfaction comes from knowing that they did the right thing, and in a (near) perfect way. With that being said, something as simple as a “thank you” is what makes their day. It’s what helps them know that they’re doing this for a bigger cause than money. It’s what makes them get out of bed every morning. So next time you are grateful and happy with your funeral home’s service, give your funeral director a big hug and a thank you. Trust me, they’ll appreciate (and hope) for it.


#6: They are morticians, but not magicians.

But don’t get me wrong, with a little elbow grease, funeral directors can make some magic happen. They’ll do everything in their power to see that the loved one’s service is as special as they want it to be. Even if it means traveling across the state to pick up your dog so they can attend the viewing, too. They truly try to do their best every time, but sometimes things don’t work out exactly the way you want them to. They will, however, find a way to make you happy, because that’s what they were put on this earth to do.


One last thing…

Unlike any other job in the service industry, a funeral director sees their job as their calling. It’s what defines them. In fact most funeral directors will tell you that they didn’t chose the funeral profession; the funeral profession chose them. Sure, it involves taking on the deep sorrow of others and putting themselves last, but you can’t deny the heart of what it loves.

So next time you talk to a funeral director, remember this message. Remember that they are just like you. Remember that they have the best intentions. And if you choose a funeral director to help you honor your loved one, know that they’ll offer you more love, care and support than you ever thought possible… if you let them.

NOTE: This is a follow-up piece to the blog: 6 Things Your Families Are Dying To Tell You (But Never Will).

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  1. Anne Marty

    Thanks for this thoughtful explanation of the service our funeral directors due in every community.

  2. Randy Moran

    Thankyou for the post
    Been a FD and Embalmer for 35 years
    nice to hear some upside truth for a change

    Thanks for the post

  3. jay church

    I can’t even begin to imagine…

  4. James c Mitchell

    we appreciate you and your family living in and serving our community keep up the good work,GOD Bless

  5. James Menne

    Mary Sue, are you in the funeral business in Joliet, if so which one?

  6. kay sed

    Well, said for all od us working in the profession , we have feelings and families that we sacrifice for ever day just to help families. THE girls go out of their way to help families even week-ends

  7. evelyn smith

    I would recommend Burges Funeral Home to anyone that needs the service of a funeral Director, They are professional and caring people! They do an excellent job of taking care of family and the love one that has died.

  8. Claudia Calypoole

    Quite interesting and informative. I have always looked at nursing, for me, as a calling. Just like other professions there are people in some of these positions who go into them for the wrong reason, they definitely were not “called”. Thank you for sharing this post.

  9. Ben

    Great, to the point and honest.

  10. larry stuck

    I really believe that this document shares the feeling we have at one time or another felt. The ones I know, care very much about the person lost. But just as well, care for those who are left behind to grieve.

  11. Suzanne

    Wow, you hit the nail on the head! I remember growing up: my dad always borrowed my new CD player to play a family’s special song, because his funeral home didn’t yet have the capability to play a cd on the stereo system. He never told a family no; he just made it happen.

    May your career bring you many blessings! And I want to read your book one day! I always told my dad he should write a book with all the stories! He hasn’t yet 🙁

  12. Anthony T

    I truly didn’t learn a thing about funeral directors from reading this article.

  13. Laurie Lozeau

    My daughter is amazing! She truly gives everything she has to people entrusted to her. It’s amazing to me how she can make someone presentable so their families can say goodbye when others say they aren’t viewable. She will literally do whatever it takes for the families. She’s a remarkable person and I’m very proud of her!

  14. Robert

    Well said! I spent 36 years in the profession and I can’t possibly count the number of lasting friendships that I enjoyed by serving those people at the time of need. We had less that one half of one percent of unsatisfied families. I met some of the best people in the world who dedicated themselves to the profession. Your words are well taken!

  15. Elaine MIlls

    This is one service no one wants to take advantage of, but, of necessity, we have to. David, you did a wonderful job in explaining something that most people don’t really want to know about. Just get it behind us. Working in it with you and others, we did realize what a wonderful service it is. I must say you are the “perfect” director. You have just the right amount of humor (some never thought would be a part of this job) and love and compassion for those needing it so desperately, but yet doing a fantastic job serving others. Continue to do your best.

  16. Louis Parks

    Thanks to all the Funeral Directors. You go over and above your duties. Don’t think it’s not appreciated by all the families you serve. They keep their heart’s on the loss of their loved one. They may fell to say thanks for all you have done. Know I appreciate you for who you are. Not just anyone can do what you do. Just don’t have the word’s to express Thanks enough!! Bless you all for the good service you do for the public and friends.

  17. Doug Jardine

    Thank you, Dwayne, for sending out something positive about our industry. Makes us even more proud to be involved and to be part of it.

    Too east to be critical and this is unfortunate

    Doug

  18. Lucille Ripley

    Jeff is the most caring director at work and life outside of his profession.

  19. Shirley Platta

    PAT,I have knowen you all your life,you had a good heart then and you still have a big heart

  20. Sharon Grindstaff

    I’ve only had one horrible experience with a funeral director and that’s so long ago it’s ridiculous. EVERY OTHER ONE HAS BEEN POSITIVE. I’m pretty old now so, in advance, I want to apologize to whatever funeral director gets me because in my purse is a signed contract, donating my remains to science. BUT I STILL APPRECIATE WHAT YOU DO!

  21. Barbara Corkum

    not only are they our funeral directors but our friends in the most personal way. Hugging Krista and Robert today and their families and letting you know you are cared about and loved. Merry Christmas

  22. LIN Rongxiang

    “Smile just one smile.” – zen teacher Adam ‘Genkaku’ Fisher

  23. Irene V. Day

    I highly love and respect my funeral director,but do have a question. I know for a fact that people can purchase a casket that has been used by a showing and then is cremeted. Why do some refuse to resell them? I’m a single Sr. live on SS and I’m trying my best to save $ for my children the cost of a pricy funeral. I’ve been told even changing to cremation ( which I do not want) it would not make any or little change in the cost. My children don’t have the income some suspect with children and college expenses.

    I have take out a $5,000.policy and cannot afford more. Any suggestions? Short of dumping me overboard???

  24. Nola Ritter

    Just read comments regarding funeral directors, etc.. SCHUBERT’S IS THE BEST.. Billy Glen is a second Wayne Solomon… who has helped so many people, in more ways, than any of us know.. Each mortician, funeral director at Schubert’s.. has a heart filled with love and compassion for everyone who has lost a loved one… and they make this difficult time, easier.. for all of us.. I have heard so much about how RICH THE BOYS ARE… .. . When in essence, they work their job/profession, just like all of us.. hour by hour, day by day, EXCEPT 24/7…. So thankful for Billy Glen, Jim, David and Randy.. how blessed we are to have them…

  25. Loretta Flerlage

    Since I was 12, I have been attending funerals. This includes my mother’s funeral when I was just 20. The funeral directors I have come to know and love are personal friends and have been a big part of my life. Watching them gave me a chance to see compassion and caring in times of very tragic moments. When my sisters and my brother were planning my dad’s funeral, we sat at the table and reminisced about his life and all of our relatives that had been at this funeral home. Sometimes, going to the viewings was almost a party atmosphere because we had not seen each other since the last funeral! I have always said, these gatherings are not for the person who has died, but for the living. We come together to remember and support the family that is left. Thank you all for doing a great job and giving us this opportunity to say good bye. Your job is not creepy, it’s courageous and very touching.

  26. Len Cabana

    Each sentence you read above is very true and exact. We are compassionate people and understand groef. Humans are very importand to all fineral directors. You can rest your head upon our shoulders and we will help to comfort and try to ease the pain due to the lost of a love one.. Don,t forget that death is also a part of life and not the end of a life,

  27. Paul Grosse

    Over many years I have attended many funerals. I have also found two bodies. One of which had been locked in his bedroom for about 5 days during the summer heat. As you may well know, the smell was awful.
    I have always been treated with the utmost respect when I was at my lowest. I thank and honour you all for the dedicated professionals you are.

    God bless and keep you.

  28. melina

    loved the article……always was interested in funeral arangements and caring for the dead……

  29. Weldon Long

    Last year I had the privilege of working with SCI/Dignity Memorial at their annual event in Washington DC. I can tell you without a doubt I have never worked with a more professional, compassionate group of professionals in my career. Their level of honesty and heartfelt caring for the families they serve was a truly wonderful experience. It gave me an entirely new perspective on the industry and the people who make it their profession.

  30. sissy jenkins

    I hug my funeral directors every time I get the opportunity. Davis Funeral Home in Harriman Tn. THEY ARE SUCH A WONDERFUL BUNCH OF PEOPLE. They have helped me in 2 very hard times with the deaths of 2 of my children who died 5 years apart. Plus they have served many of my family members and friends. They are caring young men who have families bur are always available before during and after the death. They are my boys and my picks…they already have my plans for my death which is a funny story but I won’t put it on here…see boys..I do love you all. God Bless all funeral directors. Mine are just that special to me….

  31. Helen M Davis

    I have many close friends in my past who are and were funeral directors. Everyone one of them had a kind heart doing above what we could ever imagine. (Only once did one make me uncomfortable and that was when my husband died). One time one gave us a better casket than what we picked out and to lending us articificial grass for a float. I am glad they have a wonderful sense of humor. We have laughed and cried together. They have to be special people and God led people to deal with death every day.

  32. sandra beardmore

    perfect x says it all

  33. Patty DeFils

    Thanks for this information. It’s very informative and hopefully persons will be polite and realize that funeral directors are HUMAN TOO.

  34. Mary

    As the wife of a funeral director I see the countless hours put in by my husband and others. I can’t tell you how many Christmas celebrations, Thanksgiving dinners, Valentine’s Day dates, birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, graduations, and concerts that my husband has had to leave early, postpone, or miss entirely because of his job. The profession can be very taxing on families and relationships. Often I feel like a single parent trying to raise our children on my own. If you are looking to get rich, don’t count on it. The only wealthy funeral directors I know own their own firm or are a big wig in a firm like SCI. I agree, it IS a calling, only certain people can be a funeral director. So next time give your funeral director a big hug and thank him for his HOURS of service to you and your family all the while as he has to neglect his own.

  35. Faye Bond

    I am sorry I haven’t been over to set up my funeral, but I need to do that, but can’t let go of the funds right now. I still want you to do the service, Mike, and I will work toward getting over there. You are like a son to me, and I really appreciate you. Faye

  36. DEBBY CICCHETTO

    And people donot know that how many people do not pay .so the funeral home has to lose that money.Libba did my husband brother, Mark Cicchetto.she did a wonderful job.She showed so much understanding. and love.Thank you so Libba.

  37. Wendy

    The funeral director I dealt with was awesome. He and his secretary went above and beyond to make a difficult situation easy and they stayed in touch afterwards, even inviting me to a Christmas tree lighting ceremony where I could have had an ornament with my loved one’s name on it placed on the tree. They are truly remarkable people.

  38. Bill Wells

    Thanks so much for this article. Michael R Gray Funeral Home in Morehead KY, is an excellent example of individuals truly caring for the families they serve.

  39. Douglas MacGregor

    I am a retired Funeral Director and I must say it was a relief to retire. Dealing with grieving people drains you. Dealing with angry people and people who think their dead jokes are funny is also draining.

    The dead are just what they are so that had no impact on me.

    May God bless you all.

  40. Kenneth Rahal

    I agree with all that you have said. I am a Chaplain for a funeral home here in the Sandhills of North Carolina and have had many heart warming and yes sorrowfull experiences. Thank you for your comment.

  41. Randy Lisauskas

    I read this and said, “they NAILED it!!” Good job explaining to people why we do this. I am an EXTREMELY PROUD FD of 20 years– I do this, because I love it. I have friends who make more money, but they have to GO TO WORK. I GET to go help families. There’s a huge difference.

  42. Laura Johnston

    Being in the funeral industry just 3 years myself and now working as a Trainee Funeral Director for the last 1 and a half I love what has been written here. Thank you so much for sharing this and I will share also. I couldn’t have said better myself! 🙂

  43. Helen

    Useful article, but I think you need to change your first sentence. “weary” – tired of, “wary” – unsure, cautious, guarded.

    You were tired of funeral directors, or you were suspicious of them? I predict it was the latter and you need to remove the “e”.

  44. Carrie

    My goodness!! I am 51 and have been in many other professions. College Professor, CPR Instructor, All Sports Coach, Official, Mother and Wife. 3 years ago I never dreamed I would be a Funeral Director! I am one and IT IS A CALLING!!! The business keeps pulling me in! You are not wealthy financially! BUT other then getting to be a Mom, being able to help families in their time of need is the BEST FEELING in the world!

  45. Gayle

    Brent, you are God’s gift to the Funeral Home industry.
    Thank you for all you do

  46. Bob Marlowe

    An especially challenging moment is – actual example – when 10 members of a family join me in a 10′ x 10′ room and I soon realize that they don’t agree as to 1) Who is in charge 2) What disposition method is to be utilized and 3) Who’s paying for it.
    “He told me last year that he wanted to be cremated!”
    “Yeah, well, he told me 6 months ago that he wanted to be buried on a hillside slope!”
    “Yeah, well”………
    There comes a time when the professional must exert his/her knowledge-authority. The law dictates who is in charge. Period. End of argument (I wish).
    Being able to use a firm tone while expressing a caring demeanor is a truly professional accomplishment.

  47. Greg R

    I have worked in the funeral industry for about 8 years. There was never a day went by that I didn’t enjoy it. I was task with doing the crime scenes, suicide’s, vechile accident’s. Once I had the deceased in the car I used to talk to them all the way to the hospital or our work place. I used to dress the deceased place them in there casket ready for the families to view. One night I had, a dear lady come in to see her husband and immediately put her arms around my neck and started crying. After a while I said I would go a make her a cup of coffee, she sat and talked for a bit, then she said to me would I be able to bring in there dog’s I said I didn’t have a problem with, I just said to her to give me a couple of seconds so I could set up some chairs with towels so the dogs didn’t mark the casket. Came back out and started talking to her the next minute the dogs were gone I said to her we would give them a couple of minute’s, then I took the wife thru to see her husband and the dogs were both in the casket on each side. I also said that see could bring the dogs to the funeral as well. She cried tears of joy. Had I not had an accident I would still be working in the industry.