No day is the same, so maybe we should say a week, a month, a year, or 20 years in the life of a funeral director.
Times have changed and from 20 years ago when families were almost told what they would have when they walked in the door, families are now expecting more personalised funerals. Maybe the term Funeral Director is becoming outdated, maybe Funeral Planner is a more modern way of looking at it.
It is probably in the early 20th century that undertakers started calling themselves Funeral Directors. The title reflects the public ceremonial role played on the big day itself. Maybe that glosses over the work that is done before arriving at the funeral. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes to ensure everything is ready and goes smoothly on the day.
After meeting the relatives and finding out what type of funeral they want the funeral arrangements need to be co-ordinated. At this stage though it is so important to ask the family about the person that has died. Looking at some photos, getting to know them so that they can be remembered in a meaningful way and involvement from the family is key.
Then there is the paperwork to prepare and submit, venues and celebrants or ministers to be booked, a coffin to be ordered, collecting and caring for the deceased until the day of the funeral. Supporting the bereaved relatives during this time is so important and making sure, during this often emotional time, you are there to listen to them. You can’t change that somebody has died, but you can make a difference to the families.
Some families gain comfort from the traditional funeral but gaining in popularity is a more relaxed approach and celebrating the life of the person that has died. The internet has given families more control and the Funeral Director a more consultative role.
Inevitably on the day unforeseen circumstances can occur but most families are very understanding.
The very first burial I attended for Opals Funerals the grave collapsed. The Funeral Director who was working alongside me on the day said that had never happened to him before in 20 years. He calmly explained to the family and they decided to go and have a cup of tea while the problem was fixed.
Families at the last minute have changed their choice of music or decided they would like to speak during the service. It is the job of the Funeral Director to facilitate these changes if possible and make sure the funeral runs smoothly and to time.
It is truly a rewarding job and there is nothing more satisfying to know that everything went right for the family as they say their farewell. On a day to day basis it offers amazing variety. It is a multi-faceted role and rich and meaningful work.