Let’s face it. Most jobs have their fair share of over generalizations and stereotypes. All firefighters spend their time responding to calls about a cat in a tree – that is, when they aren’t too busy cooking chilli. I’m sure we have all heard more than a few jokes about funeral directors.
Most jobs are portrayed through stereotypes so often, it becomes second nature to think about them that way (no matter how inaccurate those stereotypes might be).
What about funeral directors? Let’s take a look at some common misconceptions about the profession.
Funeral Directors Are Depressing Grim Reapers – Let’s start off with the most common misconception. Anyone willing to make a career revolving around death is morbidly obsessed with the dead, right?
This is an unfair as accusing all police officers of pasty addiction. It has more to do with how we as a society, especially in the UK, view death. It is something of a taboo, and so it’s reflected in our ideas about funeral directors. Those who work with the dead get sucked into that mindset. That’s how we get the Grim Reaper image – that black-suited, clammy-handed perception. Of course, this just isn’t true.
Funeral directors are as normal as the rest of us, with a slightly grislier job than most. Their work is noble and their primary focus is on the family and helping them through one of the toughest points in their lives. They are caring and compassionate people.
Funeral Directors Spend Their Day Surrounded by Bodies – Does a firefighter spend all his time just putting out fires? As mentioned, funeral directors focus first and foremost on the families they serve. They do everything in their power to provide some degree of comfort and peace as these families mourn their loved ones. Funeral directors also spend a great deal of their time in their communities, serving as trusted leaders and resources. Otherwise, they might spend some time on the same tedious tasks as everyone else: preparation, planning and paperwork – and even less time still in hospitals, cemeteries and morgues.
It’s All About the Money – Most jobs share one universal trait; they allow someone to earn a living. Funeral directors typically don’t earn much more than £25,000, on average. And if a sizable income was your goal, there are many other career paths that would be much less demanding. This isn’t a nine-to-five gig. A death can occur at any time, including weekends and holidays. There is little flexibility for a funeral director on call. They have to drop everything to respond to a call, day or night. The work of a funeral director can be rewarding, but it also can be emotionally taxing and exhausting.
The Funeral Profession is a Boy’s Club – Many family owned funeral homes would pass the business down from father to son in times gone by, lately, however, there has been a surge of women entering the profession. As these women make their way into the profession, they help shatter the perceptions of a once male-dominated industry.
Funeral Directing Is a Recent Thing – While a modern funeral might not resemble funerals of the past, death is nothing new. Humans have always practiced ceremonies to mourn their loved ones. And somebody has always been needed to orchestrate such ceremonies. The job might not have looked the same a thousand years ago, and it won’t look the same in a thousand years from now, but the job has always been (and will always be) profoundly meaningful and important.
It’s easy for people to fall into the trap and make unfair generalizations about funeral directors, but hopefully, a little education and good information can aid in combating these unfair stereotypes. The very nature of funeral directing – to help, guide and assist families in a great time of need – is an inherently human thing. Funeral directors are emotionally invested and passionate about their profession.
Article by Jacob Terranova