Common Misconceptions About Funeral Directors

By: Ian Elliott
Friday, November 6, 2015

Many funeral directors struggle with a variety of assumptions, misconceptions, and stereotypical generalizations about their line of work and their role at a funeral home. Below are some of the most common myths and misconceptions about funeral directors:

Funeral directors are only in it for the money

While this is partially true for anyone who is gainfully employed, most funeral directors make only a reasonable salary compared to other professions. In fact, generally it takes a deep level of commitment and compassion in order to do what they do, which often includes working long hours and working on public and spiritual holidays. Like firefighters, doctors, nurses, and many other professionals, funeral directors have to work while others are paid to have a day of rest. For example, when someone dies on Christmas Day or Easter Sunday, we expect there to be someone available at the funeral home to answer the phone and assist us.

This, in addition to the fact that funeral directors are often dealing with emotional and grieving family members, means that their work not only requires a significant sacrifice of their time, but also of their mental and emotional capacity as well.

Funeral directors prey on people’s vulnerability

The assumption that funeral home directors take advantage of emotionally distraught family members as they struggle to make final arrangements, and attempt to manipulate individuals into spending more than they ought to, is a false one. In fact, many funeral directors insist that the principal mourner not be alone when making important financial decisions, such as casket purchases and funeral and burial arrangements. Most encourage other family members or close friends to assist the principal mourner in order to avoid making unwise or emotionally-driven decisions in the moment.

Funeral directors are as aggressive as salespeople

If funeral directors wanted to go into sales, they would have chosen a different profession. By and large, funeral directors serve as care givers and are there simply to assist and facilitate the wishes of the family. If funeral directors behaved in a manner of "selling" on a regular basis they wouldn’t stay in business very long, as word would travel and they would be forced to close their doors and move to a more suitable profession, like selling cars instead of caskets.

Funeral directors feign their emotions

Most of us do not expect funeral directors to mourn for our families as we do, and by and large they do their best to be compassionate, but also to do their jobs and assist with the appropriate arrangements after a loved one dies.

The most important thing that a funeral director needs to be is professional. A good funeral director won’t joke or laugh during important moments, such as the service or during the burial. The worst thing for a family is to see their funeral director joking with a colleague while at the gravesite.

Funeral directors are experts on death

While many funeral directors have university degrees and have studied subjects pertaining to their profession, generally they don’t know much more about death and dying than the average person. A license to become a funeral director entitles them to embalm bodies and to sell and make funeral arrangements as needed. This does not make them the authority on grief counseling, financial and estate planning, or other issues. Their job is to assist you as best they can in the professional ways that they have been trained to do.

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