I have to admit, when we first started work on our range of funeral stationery, I was a little wary of the prospect of dealing with funeral directors.
Admittedly, I have been fortunate enough to have never needed to speak to one before. I hoped it would stay this way for obvious reasons! But that aside, it’s not that I’ve heard people talk negatively about funeral directors or that I expected them to be unfriendly – but I’m sure many of you will know what I mean when I say there is a certain air of mystery which shrouds the funeral profession and just makes them feel a little… best avoided. Perhaps it’s just the fear of death and unwillingness to talk about it? Whatever the reason, I certainly felt very uneasy about this aspect of launching our orders of service. But how did I get on? Here are 5 things I’ve learnt about that untouchable stigma surrounding the funeral profession and, it turns out, the amazing people who work in it:
1. Funeral directors are some of the nicest people on the planet.
Genuinely. My pre-conceptions could not have been further from the truth. Far from being scary or unapproachable, funeral directors are by any standards, some of the friendliest, most caring and welcoming people I’ve ever met. Not because it’s their job to be – but because it’s natural to them. As a profession I can honestly say they have a level of genuine warmth and kindness that I’ve not experienced many times before.
2. There are so many women.
Hands up who, like me, thought that funeral directors were all men? Dressed head to toe in top hats and tails, without a woman in sight. Well how wrong we were. At almost every visit I was either met or greeted by a woman, holding positions from receptionists right up to directorships. They were, without exception, friendly, welcoming and put me immediately at ease.
3. They work incredibly hard.
Most of us know what it’s like to work late into the night – whether due to shifts, a deadline, or being on call. But when a funeral director is needed, a funeral director is needed. At any time of day, on any day of the year – when someone needs them, they are there. And as most funeral directors are either small or family run teams, there is not a huge staffing pool to share a rota between. They are there for you at 3am, they are there for you at 11am and they are still there for you at 9:00pm.
4. Their clients genuinely come first.
We may not like it, but the hard truth is that for all privately owned businesses, the bottom line is profit. Right? Wrong. Not in the world of funerals. Of course, they need to make a living and they have bills to pay, but that certainly doesn’t seem to be their driving force. I went to my visits ready for questions about mark-ups, commissions, or kick-backs. But how often did this question arise? Not once. Their thoughts and questions revolved solely around giving their clients the best service, the best choice and to ultimately make this very difficult time in their lives that little bit easier.
5. They are human!
When dealing with death every day, I think we all assume that funeral directors must become somewhat hardened to it. But no. Of course, they are hugely professional and run their operations seamlessly – but funeral directors are human just like you and me. And all of that warmth and kindness I experienced means that they share your emotions and your grief and they genuinely care about your loss.
So now I know all of this, how do I feel about the prospect of dealing with funeral directors now? Quite simply, I feel lucky. I am so glad that our funeral stationery has given me the opportunity to discover this world of incredible professionals. I truly hope that they will choose to offer our Orders of Service to their clients, so that we can work alongside them and learn from them – not only professionally, but also in our quest to better ourselves as individuals.