From my book “Living and Dying”
Today as a funeral director, not only do I need to care, but I am often called upon to help coordinate scheduling and travel plans, and to help facilitate payment plans. I coordinate and staff gatherings at funeral homes, personal homes, and country clubs. I plan, and in some cases provide food service for receptions. I order flowers, prepare newspaper notices, and I also provide web-based connections to Facebook through our websites and other social media. We offer videotape services. At times I even preside over a service or graveside. If you can think of it, we do it. Then I make it all happen seamlessly and flawlessly in a matter of a couple of days.
We also provide resource materials and speaking programs for our community. We offer before death pre-arrangement opportunities, and after death support services. What other profession does this? While wedding or event planners may have the most similar job description, they have months, if not years, to accomplish these things. We have days. The fact we are dealing with someone’s death can be a very anxious and difficult time for most people and it puts additional stress on our work. If you are ever going to witness distress, fighting, dysfunction, and irrational behavior within a family, you are going to see it here. Being a moderator, coach, editor and guide is an everyday role that we perform as funeral directors.
Perhaps one of the most important elements the funeral professional brings to a grieving family’s world at the time of a death is “normalcy.” I live in a world where I am constantly reminded that we all die. In fact, I get that call every day. When it is your turn to call, you need that personal and emotional connection with normalcy. You need someone who has been there to listen and advise you as you navigate a journey you’ve possibly never experienced. You need someone who is comfortable with the death experience that brings a strong presence and calm to an otherwise anxious and often unfamiliar time. You need someone who has asked themselves the hard questions, and who sees death as a normal part of life.
The old way of funeral directing has changed. We are being called to perform superhuman functions in a time of distress and questioning. We are being required to develop new paradigms as the old ones no longer work. We are a profession reinventing itself, re-connecting to a new normal. Not an enviable task but one demanded of us. Those who are successful will remain in this time honored profession. Those who do not will be gone.
“Blessings on you journey”