What Your Funeral Director Wishes They Could Tell You About COVID-19

Oh, to be a funeral director in the face of a pandemic!

Although I’m not a funeral director myself, I read about, write about, and chat with funeral directors day in and day out.

And if there is one thing I know to be true about funeral directors right now, it’s that they are overwhelmed and under supported.

That doesn’t sit quite right with me, and I want to do my part to help support the frontline workers that help keep us safe and served during a time of chaos.

With that being said, on their behalf, I’d like to share with you a few insights that your local funeral director would just love to tell you. However, most of them don’t have the time or emotional capacity to do so right now.

So here we go, here’s 7 things your funeral director probably wishes they could tell you right now, about COVID-19:


#1: Funeral directors risk their lives every time they show up to work

Did you know that funeral professionals were the last front line workers to receive protective gear to stay safe during this pandemic? In countries like Italy, many funeral workers who went to work without this gear got sick, and even died. Can you imagine working 12 hour days, non-stop, unprotected, all in the name of service? That takes IMMENSE bravery, courage, and certainly involves a huge risk. Remember that the next time you see a funeral director. Remember how they risked their lives without a break, and without receiving much in return. 


#2: They’re learning as they go, and are open to your ideas

No one could have never guessed that there would come a day when families could not gather to celebrate their loved one, or that cemeteries would be closed to the public, or that we’d be limited to virtually celebrating life in these times. With no preparation or time to waste, funeral directors are out there creating mock gravesites, virtual funeral experiences, and even drive-thru funerals

Remember: they’ve never done any of this before. That means there is a great deal of not knowing in this process. But know that they’re doing this all for you, for your loved one, and for our country. Why? Because they know how important it is to have a good death. It’s just as important as having a good life. So, if you have an idea in the name of a good death, by all means, share it with them!


#3: Overwhelm is an understatement, and patience is a virtue.

Funeral directors are taking a big hit of the suffering our nation is experiencing due to this pandemic.  Suddenly, many of the funeral homes of our nation have been called on to do as many funerals in one week as they do in one year (in some regions). And, they’re doing this within a great deal of limitations, delays, and uncertain circumstances. So please, be patient and remember that they are only human.


#4: A virtual funeral can actually be a blessing in disguise.

Chances are, your local funeral director would love to be with you in person, catering your loved one’s favorite BBQ dinner as you celebrate a life well lived. Yet, here we are, having to keep our life celebrations virtual for now. Thankfully, though, funeral professionals around the globe are coming up with pretty amazing ways to turn your favorite traditions into virtual experiences

Thanks to tools like funeral webcasting, social memorial websites, and tribute videos, you can still celebrate life pretty darn well. And, many funeral directors have reported that these online experiences have the potential to bring even more people together than they would in person.

In fact, one funeral director did a Facebook Live service for a family and had nearly 4,800 attendees! Now that is what I call community grief support! So don’t knock off the idea of a virtual funeral just yet. Try talking about it with your local funeral director and seeing if it’s a right fit for you.


#5: Even in the midst of chaos, service still reigns.

You might have read about some of the chaos the funeral profession has faced during this pandemic, like traffic jams in crematories and families waiting weeks to get their loved one’s remains. But remember that behind every horror story you read, is a funeral professional doing their best to serve their families to the utmost. 

Once, for example, while transporting the body of a COVID-19 victim, one funeral director took a detour and drove slowly past the deceased’s house, so that their relatives, who were in quarantine, could have one final memory of him. There’s also stories about funeral directors driving to hospitals and all around town to retrieve phones, clothing, mementos… all out of the kindness of their heart. Talk about putting the service in “funeral service”!


#6: No one knows what’s next, and that’s scary sometimes.

No one – not me, not you – knows what’s next. No one knows what the “right” direction is. I wish we had answers. But we’re all in this great mystery together, so please remember this when your funeral director might not know the answers. In the moments of the great unknown, we cannot find certainty within each other. We must simply relax into not knowing, and show compassion for each other as we make our way through this mystery.


#7: Your gratitude and appreciation means everything.

The reason why funeral directors got into this business in the first place is because they are natural caregivers. They will go to the ends of the Earth to make their client families feel taken care of. And they’re willing to do this while they jump through hoops and face obstacles that are unspeakable. You can only imagine! And yet they still stand strong in their compassion and love and offer all the support they can muster. A thank you for their resilience and service will go a long way. Please, thank your local funeral director. 


If you’re a funeral director, please share anything else you’d like your families and community to know about this time in the comments below!

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  1. Sheelagh Tittle

    This is a wonderfully written piece that touched my heart and really opens up a new thought channel in relationship to how dedicated and talented our Funeral Directors are. It’s eye opening for those of us that are on our way to becoming Funeral Directors as to what our future will look like . Thank you so much .

  2. Krystal Penrose

    Thanks for reading this Sheelagh I’m glad it resonated! Take care please!

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  4. Levi Armstrong

    I find it helpful that you said that families can still celebrate a deceased person’s life despite the strict quarantine measure due to COVID-19 through funeral webcasting. My grandma recently passed away due to heart failure. Because of the mass gathering restrictions, we can’t have a full-fledged funeral for Grandma Ellen. I’ll share this with my mom, so they can look for a funeral webcasting service. Thanks!

  5. Krystal Penrose

    Thanks Levi I’m glad this has helped you in some way! Blessings to you.