Dear Funeral Director:
I often wonder about your line of work and how funeral directors are able to be surrounded by death and grieving people a lot of the time. I wanted to ask you about what you’ve learned in your time working in the funeral business and how has it changed your outlook on life.
Thanks in advance for taking my question.
Thank you for sending in such an excellent question.
While I understand the majority of folks consider a profession in funeral service to be a very depressing career track, believe it or not working at a funeral home is not at all sad, depressing or creepy. At least it isn’t to me. I find my work to be helpful, meaningful and cathartic to the families I serve.
I find that the time I’ve worked in the profession has altered my outlook on life in four very profound ways.
REALITY – We all have to face it at some point, and most of us try to avoid it until we find ourselves on our death beds or worse – six feet under. There is no denying reality when you work in funeral service. Until you are around death on a daily basis you can’t really understand its meaning or how the grief process works or the toll it takes on those it leaves behind. While medical professionals certainly share these experiences, they also have the benefit of seeing successful outcomes.
FAITH – While I’m far from being an atheist, I was never a very religious person either. I was born and raised Catholic and received the sacraments, but it didn’t really resonate with me as I grew into adulthood. And while having my children and raising them in the faith definitely brought me back to the church, again I felt it I did it more out of obligation and familiarity than for spirituality. I felt this way until I became a funeral professional. God has now become a part of me and my life whether I wanted Him to or not. It just happened. It’s not because I listen to priests, pastors, reverends and ministers preaching God’s word sometimes 12 times a week. It’s because I see the comfort that faith provides the anguished. I see the strength that God’s word can bring to those who grieve. I witness the calm that a member of the clergy can offer a grieving family member. I’ve found that because of my work, my relationship with God has been both strengthened and reinvigorated.
EMPATHY – The definition of empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. The ability to empathize with other people is a critical skill when working in the funeral service industry. Empathy is difficult to fake – it just comes from a person’s heart naturally. As a funeral director, I strive to place the emotions and feelings of those I serve before my own.
YOLO – YOLO is an acronym for “you only live once”. Its meaning is synonymous with “Carpe Diem” or “live each day as it’s your last”. Basically – cherish life because it’s fleeting. When you work in the funeral service industry you are reminded of this on a daily basis… life is short and our time in this world is limited. With that said – go out and get on with living your life. Go big and go bold without worry… live a life having said “oops!” many more times than saying “what if?”.
Thanks again for submitting your question.
Leonard W. Santora, LFD