9 Funeral Directors Share What They Wish They Knew Before Entering The Profession

funeral profession

Unless you grew up in the family business of funerals, you probably didn’t hear a whole lot about the funeral profession while growing up. Death is just something that people don’t talk about… whether it’s because they find it creepy, they feel uncomfortable about “the unknown” that accompanies death, or maybe because they were never given the opportunity to see for themselves the value that funerals can bring.

So for many of us who entered the profession later in life, it was never totally clear what we could expect … “What kind of families will I be serving? Will I be able to stay strong in difficult situations? Do I have what it takes to deliver an amazing healing experience?” — How great would it have been to have the answers to these questions BEFORE joining the funeral profession?

We knew we couldn’t be the only ones who felt this way… so we decided to ask our followers on Facebook what they wish they knew before they entered the funeral profession. Here’s what they had to say, along with a few tips for embracing these unique industry quirks once and for all:

1. It takes hard work (and practice) to become a funeral rockstar

funeral directors

funeral directors

Not even the most talented, mind-blowingly awesome funeral professionals started out with the skills that they have today. They put in the work, the hours, the time… and above all, they made mistakes, learned from them, and never made them again. So when you’re doing your first solo embalming, or you’re making your first house call… don’t get nervous about potentially making a mistake. You just might… but mistakes are how we learn and become better at our jobs. And remember – it’s how you bounce back from that mistake that will make the real difference and will turn you into the funeral service rockstar that you were born to be.

If you want to learn more about our trade secrets for becoming a funeral service rockstar (for example, how to become a detective and solve problems before they even happen), just click here!

2. Funerals are changing… and they’re not stopping soon

funeral directors

Who would have known 20, 10 or even 5 years ago that the funeral profession would change and adapt in the way that it has? Services like green burials, funeral webcasting, ash-scattering ceremonies and social obituaries have now become normal, daily requests from families around the world… and there is no end in sight for the changes that technology will continue to bring to funerals in the future.

But change should not be something that funeral professionals fear and reject. Instead, it should be embraced as a potential way to better connect with your families, offer more valuable services, and even deliver a more complete healing experience to the people who are coming to you for help. Yes, even cremation has the potential to be a powerful (and even revenue-driving) service offering… if you embrace it and take the time to educate yourself on how cremation can bring funeral homes success.

3. There’s no such thing as a 9-5 funeral professional

funeral directors

One aspect of the funeral profession that has stayed consistent over time is the non-stop, 24/7 hours. Death, unfortunately, does not care about long vacations, sick days, family get-togethers or sleeping in… so it’s up to you to make time for yourself whenever you have the opportunity. Make mental health an important part of your work routine, so that you don’t get burned out easily by the stresses and emotions that come with this profession. Try and schedule out “mini-vacations” for yourself whenever possible – even if that just means a week night where you get take out, rent a movie, and do not cater to anyone other than yourself.

The key to a long-lasting, successful tenure in the funeral profession is caring for yourself first… so you can be there to care for your families in return.

4. Women weren’t always shaking up the profession

funeral directors

For a long time, the funeral profession was thought of as a ‘man’s business.’ But every single day, amazing, talented and hard working women are making a name for themselves in this profession, and many are even revolutionizing funerals as we know it. For example, Amy Fulton, an embalmer at SCI and an educator at AAS Dallas Institute of Funeral Service, has made it her personal mission to bring value back to embalming and the presentation of the deceased to families. (And she’s kicking butt at it so far!) Or there is Chanel Reynolds who decided to put a spin on her own personal tragedy and founded an amazingly positive, actionable website, Get Your Shit Together, which gives people the power to create their own wills, financial plans and insurance plans.

So if you are a woman who is getting started in the funeral profession (or you’re simply thinking about a future career in mortuary science), don’t be discouraged. There is a bright, bright future ahead for women in the funeral profession.

5. There is a business side to funerals

funeral directors

funeral directors

Many people join the funeral profession with the most humble and caring intentions… to offer compassion and kindness to people when they need it most, and to truly make a difference in people’s lives. And while these reasons are definitely some of the highlights and best perks of working in our profession, they are not the only roles a funeral director must fill. At the end of the day, a funeral home is a business, and that means a lot of unwelcome tasks are required to help make our business successful…. including paperwork. But just because paperwork may be the dreaded evil that keeps you up at night (a little too dramatic?), that doesn’t mean that you can pay less attention to it than the other important tasks in your day.

As the Funeral Commander himself said in his latest funeralOne guest blog, “financial stability [is] not just a subject for owners to worry about. Everyone should know ‘The Skinny.’” Click here to read more about the business essentials you need to embrace if you work in the funeral business.

6. Last but not least…

funeral directors

Not many people in the world can say that they get to go to work and make a lifelong impact in the lives of the people they talk to each day. Funeral professionals not only have the opportunity to help people celebrate and honor the people who mean the most to them, but they also help them heal, grieve, love, remember, cherish and share life’s most important moments. And that’s a role we are so lucky to fill every single day.

What do YOU wish that you knew before you joined the funeral profession? We want to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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  1. Walter L. Hatfield

    If I has been smart I would have purchased my own funeral home. When I entered the Funeral Profession I was elated that I could assist a family with the services they wanted and helped them adjust their funeral services to their budget without having to spend $7,000.00 for a funeral that was priced $3,000.00 just a few years ago. As I remember, the owners lived a comfortable life and the employee’s were treated as part of the family. The along came the Corporations. They swooped in a community paid double price for Funeral Homes then raised prices on average of 35% for less. When the business started to fail from the weight of pricing even though the employees were making less in salaries and given raises, if any, of 1% or 2%. After 47 years as a Funeral Director and losing my desire to become a salesman, I retired. The art of embalming and restorative art is lost.

  2. Fred marshall

    Am Glad i am a funeral director, but wish sometime i did not miss out on life so much

  3. Janice J. Richardson

    The hardest part of being in funeral service was the attitude of a few misogynists who undermined me, sabotaged my work and made life miserable with their sexual innuendos. That could happen in any job. With what I have learned over the years, now I would not be afraid to report them. The constant on call with the resulting lack of sleep was a challenge.

    Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. I loved being a funeral director.

  4. Mike Steen

    I have been a Funeral DirectorEmbalmer for over 50 years. I wish I had known how much I would enjoy this profession. I have loved nearly every day of the 50 years. I was lucky enough to have had interesting positions working for interesting firms. I cannot think of anything I would rather have done. I made a difference in countless families. I had a wonderful mentor in my first boss. I must have asked a thousand questions, because I wanted to know why, not just what did we do.