Yes, I’m the funeral director.

I remember standing in the hallway of the funeral home, a little anxious. I always get a little anxious before I meet with a family. You never know what you’re going to get. A lone person may walk through the front door, or a crowd of twenty. Tears may be steadily flowing from eyes, or smiles may be given freely. It makes me nervous – the uncertainty – but it keeps the job interesting.

I saw the car pull into the funeral home’s driveway. I snuck one final look into the mirror in the hallway and fixed a stray hair that somehow managed to escape. I counted four people getting out of the car. Four is a good number. Four I could manage easily. I shook everyone’s hands as they walked through the front door while informing them that, “I’m Lauren, the funeral director and I’ll be making the arrangements with you this morning.”

And then it happened. One of the children replied, “You’re the funeral director?”

I’m telling you if I had a quarter for every time someone asked me that I could have paid for my entire college education, seriously.

I’m not the funeral director you’re looking for

I’m not surprised, though. In fact, I become taken aback if a family does not question my status within the funeral home, because I’m a little different from your normal funeral director. As Obi-Wan Kenobi would say, “I’m not the funeral director they are looking for.”

You see, I’m quite young when it comes to working in the funeral industry. At 24 years old, most of my peers have not even attended a funeral service, let alone conducted one. In fact, I’ve assisted in more than 400 funerals over the past few years. That’s something that most people don’t expect, especially since I don’t even look old enough to have graduated from high school. This can be difficult, since a lot of people associate being young with immaturity, but I’ve found that I can quickly kick that stereotype to the curb by answering family’s questions and guiding them through the funeral arrangement.

A woman in a man’s world

Besides being young, one of the biggest challenges that I’m faced with is the fact that I’m not a man… but not for the reasons you may think. I’m little.  I’ve always been little and it can be difficult for me to lift as much as a man. I’m just not built the same way they are. When I first started my apprenticeship I lived by the motto, “anything a man can do I can do better”, until one house call changed my opinion. The deceased (who never missed a meal) passed away on the second floor of his home, with about twenty stairs going straight down to the bottom level. I will always remember this removal as more of a ‘controlled’ crash; mainly with me hanging on for dear life as I tried my hardest not to let go of the stretcher and kill my co-worker who, honestly, was doing most of the work. I realized I had limitations that day.

But I’ve also learned my strengths…

I have this ability to connect with families and make them feel comfortable. I can get families to share stories and to laugh during their grief. And I think this is why, after the arrangement conference, the same child who questioned my status as funeral director gave me a hugged and thanked me. They told me I made the entire process much easier on their family.

And as I walked them out to their car and said goodbye, I felt that feeling bubble up inside me. That feeling that you get when you help someone in need. That feeling you get when you do good.

That feeling makes this job worthwhile.

It makes me feel alive.


Lauren Polanski, also known as Little Miss Funeral, is a twenty four year old licensed funeral director in New York State. Little Miss Funeral was started in March 2012 as a platform for Lauren to share her thoughts and ideas on the funeral industry.

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  1. Frank Falk

    Just a brief comment from an “experienced” (not old) funeral director: This great little story could be the one every one of has told or can tell of our first years in funeral service. I started at age 22, managing a small funeral home in a community that was nearly brand new to me. As recently as one year prior to starting, I had never even heard the name of that small town. I was scared, honored, proud, determined, etc. Now I’ve been here for 32 years! The town has changed, funeral service has changed, I’ve changed, the world has changed. Is it really different? I don’t think so, I am still scared, honored, proud, determined, etc. And the families I serve are still sad, mad, scared, stunned, and all of the other words for grieving. Is the experience of helping some in grief different in 2014 than it was in 1982, NO. All of us use the same pragmatic, “would do anything that will help the bereaved” attitude that has been used by caring people since humans first saw death. So what’s a “professional” funeral director? Lauren and all those who care are…
    (ok so it wasn’t so brief)

  2. Denise

    Thank you so much for sharing.

  3. akika

    Im starting mortuary science school this summer im 37 and taking a new career path. This time im following my heart. Please share more with me!

  4. J.L.Weaver sr

    For ever and ever amen.
    Live like your dying.