Recently, I came across an article that referenced the prerequisites to be a funeral director. Besides the educational and technical requirements, additional key skills included time-management, interpersonal skills and compassion. Two of the three latter skills relate to working directly with people. This is the human touch of the business that is so important. It reminded me of what makes this career so unique and special - what funeral directors do every day, how hard it can be and the skills that are required to be successful.
In order to embrace the responsibilities of the position, one must consider the necessary requirements of other jobs:
Social Worker – The desire to help people is an important component to this job – especially when those who are experiencing death of someone close to them. Since every individual or family responds differently and you can't pick and choose who will come in the door, it’s important to understand each situation. You must navigate between what preconceptions they may have and the realities of what really is.
Psychologist – One must possess the ability to listen, console and guide someone who is experiencing possibly the worst time of their life. Some people just have it, others develop it – while many simply can’t do it day-in and day-out.
Counselor – The family make-up can be as varied as the colors of the rainbow. Too often we’ve all heard the stories of or personally experienced distraught, dysfunctional, fragmented and feuding families. I’m sure there are literally hundreds of articles, blogs and books related to this but the one thing you must understand is - there is no cookie-cutter approach.
Financial Advisor – The value of a funeral varies from family to family. Knowing what they want and what they can afford is important in making this a positive experience.
Educator (Marketer/Salesman/Promoter) – When introducing services or other options to families that cost, I don’t like to think of it as selling something but rather informing and educating the families of something they might not otherwise be aware. If presented correctly, this is an educational process that allows them to make an informed decision without the pressures of being ‘sold’ something. This can be an easy skill to have when you truly believe in what you are saying and want what’s best for the family.
Events Planner – With the array of responsibilities associated with the job, planning and organizing are extremely important. Now days, with the growing demand for personalization options, it doesn’t get any easier. Knowing what to do, and how to do it, can be challenging, especially under a short window of time typically available.
“The human touch is that little snippet of physical affection that brings a bit of comfort, support, and kindness. It doesn’t take much from the one who gives it but can make a huge difference in the one who receives it.”
― Mya Robarts, The V Girl
There is a plethora of other jobs that fall under the title of funeral director but few relate directly to the value of providing the human touch of interaction, connection and compassion like these do.