What Does a Funeral Director Do? - Part 1

By: Nathan McKinlay
Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Throughout the year, our team leads tours and presentations for  numerous Victim Services Groups, PSWs, DSWs and nursing students. We cover a number of subjects, which may include the different stages of grief, complicated grief,  funeral rites, estate planning, government benefits,  as well as my personal favourite (and often the most engaging): “What does a Funeral Director do for families?” People are often surprised by the extent of the job. Despite common belief, we do not simply stand around in the lobby all day.

I thought I would dedicate a little time to let you know what is involved in what I like to think of as one of the most rewarding, meaningful careers a person can have.  

What does a Funeral Director do for Families?

1)     Attempt to draw meaning and healing from an otherwise surreal, horrible event – death.

Death is not always expected. In fact, as you might expect, it can come as a real shock to those loved ones left behind. Sometimes death is so sudden that the family is outright blindsided. 911 is called. Police, fire trucks and ambulances fly to the scene. Attempts at resuscitation may ensue. Lots of noise and commotion. The death may have taken place in the bedroom, bathroom or living room – a room that may never be the same for the surviving family.

As funeral directors, it is our objective to be a benevolent source of calm. When we enter the home, our actions are slow, gentle, and deliberate. Our objective is to bring respect and ritual to this space: to try to curve this traumatic experience into a dignified farewell. It is our aim to protect your loved one’s dignity at all costs. This person may have passed away on the floor, in the shower, or in their easy chair watching a movie. They may have passed away on the upper floor of the home or in the basement. We bring all of the equipment, including sheets, quilts and pillows to ensure that your loved one is cared for in the manner they should be as we take them into our care. Often at a time like this - once we have placed their loved one on our stretcher, draped in a quilt, and we have had time to tidy things up, we can now offer the family a proper good-bye. Finding the dignity in the chaos is an art form more than a science, and it is integral to what we do. 

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