Being a funeral director can be both emotionally and physically challenging – and sometimes stressful. But it’s also incredibly rewarding. It takes a special type of person to listen to a family’s needs, understand their emotions and, through conversations with the family, get to know the person who has died.
Here Dale Maroney, CEO at Walter Carter Funerals, shares her thoughts about the important role funeral directors play in our community and talks about some of the critical aspects of the job.
We’ve all heard the comments.
Funeral directors are profiting from people’s grief. Our pricing practices are predatory. What we do amounts to nothing more than paper pushing.
When I hear or read these sort of statements, I find myself dismayed, disappointed and, yes, sometimes defensive.
There are few services that are as sensitive or as personal as those provided by a funeral director. And few people truly understand the full extent of our role.
It starts from the moment we’re called and doesn’t end until the wishes and needs of the family are fully met. At every stage of the process, the wishes of the family are paramount and we’re focused on providing a service that meets the family’s needs and best honours the life of their loved one.
Our role is unique. Our skills are wide ranging. And I, for one, am extremely proud of what we do.
We’re emergency responders
When someone dies, certain people are inevitably called upon to help. Doctors, ambulance officers, sometimes the police – and us. Yet while these other professionals are respected and venerated, funeral directors are all too often maligned. I can’t help but wonder why.
Like them, we play a pivotal role in facilitating the after-death process and helping families navigate their way through this most difficult time. And, like them, we work long hours, late nights, early mornings and weekends. We’re on call – always.
We’re service specialists
We’re in the business of providing a service that best fits our clients’ needs. It’s not our role to tell a family how to best honour their loved one. But it is our role to guide them through the process and ensure they’re aware of their full range of options. Every funeral service is unique and is planned to meet the needs of the family.
But more than just providing a service, we’re in the business of relationships. Arranging a funeral is not just about getting the information we need from families. It’s about building a rapport. Everyone has a story to tell and letting our client families share their story allows us to get to know them and build trust.
We’re logistical experts
Death comes with its fair share of paperwork. Death certificates. Cremation certificates. Registration of the death. Arrangement forms and notes. Pricing advice. Booking forms. Orders of service. The sheer volume of paperwork and administration we undertake every day is staggering.
And it’s not like we’re only working on one funeral at a time. Multiple funerals each day, each week, create a logistical cobweb for a funeral home. Who is working which funeral? How are transfers being timed? When are families coming in for arrangement meetings? Which funeral notices are appearing where and on what day? The list goes on and on. As funeral directors, we’re masters of logistics.
We’re event managers
People spend weeks, months and sometimes even years planning special life celebrations like weddings, anniversaries and birthdays. But when it comes to a funeral, it’s all done in a matter of days.
From venues and transportation to music, flowers, presentations and a myriad of other things, we’re able to pull together one of life’s most poignant events within a time frame that would leave the average event planners’ head spinning.
We meet people at a very sad and vulnerable time, and we’re on-hand to offer care and support to family members in the days and weeks after the death of their loved one. We support grieving families through the toughest of times.
As funeral directors, we lend an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on and a hand to hold on to while navigating the unfamiliar pathway of grieving a loss and creating a pivotal event in the grieving process.
We’re committed professionals
Always remember: we’re not just glorified chauffeurs and paper pushers. Far from it.
We’re professional service providers who bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table. It’s not an easy role and it’s not for everyone. It requires openness, honesty and transparency at every touchpoint. Day in and day out, we’re working with people who are going through one of the hardest times of their lives.
Our industry is not about profiting from grief. We’re professionals providing a much-needed service. And for the vast majority of us, it’s not just a job. It’s not just a business. It’s a calling. We’re dedicated professionals who are committed to serving and honouring our client families, and providing some of life’s most poignant moments – and we do it with compassion, care, skill and experience.
Funerals serve an important purpose
It should never be forgotten that a funeral is an important ritual – and rituals are symbolic, because they help us express our deepest thoughts and feelings about important events in our lives.
Baptisms and christenings celebrate the birth of a child and their acceptance into a religious family. Birthday parties honour the passing of another year in the life of someone we love. Weddings publicly acknowledge the love shared by two people.
A funeral is a ritual too. It’s a public, traditional and symbolic means of expressing our thoughts and feelings about the death of someone important to us. Funerals help us to acknowledge the reality of death, express our grief and mutually support those around us. They help us to acknowledge the reality that someone in our life has died.
Just as there’s no such thing as a ‘typical wedding’, there’s no such thing as a ‘typical funeral’. Different families want different things.
For many families, it’s not about dispatching the body of their loved one in the quickest and cheapest way possible. The funeral is about honouring the person they’ve lost and creating lasting memories. It’s our job to make that happen.
Choosing a funeral director
Every funeral home is different, so here are some questions you should ask yourself when you’re making the decision:
- Where is the funeral home located? A local funeral home will likely be more convenient when making arrangements and may cut down on some costs (such as transfer charges).
- What is the range and cost of services available? A funeral is a very personal thing, so you need to be sure that the funeral home you select will be able to cater for your choices and will be transparent regarding costs.
- Does the funeral home come highly recommended? Recommendations from doctors, clergy, family and friends can be a good yardstick when making your choice.
- Does the funeral home’s style fit with that of you and your family? The quality of service and amount of information provided is important when selecting a funeral home. So it’s helpful to look at the funeral home’s website and their other resources when making your decision.
- Is the funeral home a member of the Australian Funeral Directors Association? The AFDA is the only national professional association for funeral directors. Members adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and Practice designed to meet both community needs and expectations in all aspects of service delivery.
At every stage of the process, the wishes of the family should be paramount. At Walter Carter Funerals, we’re committed to providing the service that meets the requirements of each of our client families and best honours the life of your love one.
Want to know more?
For more information about choosing a funeral director, please contact the Walter Carter Funerals team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.