A funeral director (called a mortician or undertaker in the past) is someone who manages a funeral home and arranges the details of a funeral. Funeral directors work mostly in funeral homes and crematories. The funeral industry is by no means an easy career option, however it can be very fulfilling and rewarding.
A funeral director will typically do the following:
Most funeral directors arrange the details and handle the logistics of funerals. Together with the family, funeral directors establish the locations, dates, and times of wakes, memorial services, and burials. They handle other details as well, such as determining whether the body should be buried, entombed, or cremated. This decision is critical because funeral practices vary among cultures and religions.
Although family members or others may handle some details, funeral directors must be able to assist family members in preparing obituary notices and arranging for pallbearers (people who carry the coffin) and clergy. They may decorate and prepare the sites of services, arrange for flowers, and provide transportation for the deceased and mourners.
Most funeral directors handle paperwork involved with the person’s death, including submitting papers to state officials to get a formal death certificate. Some help resolve insurance claims or apply for veterans’ funeral benefits on behalf of the family. They also may notify the appropriate federal insurance agencies of the death.
In many settings, funeral directors embalm the deceased. Embalming is a sanitary and cosmetic process through which the body is prepared for burial, usually in a casket. Funeral services may take place in a home, house of worship, funeral home, or at the gravesite or crematory.
A growing number of funeral directors work with clients who wish to plan their own funerals in advance to ensure that their needs are met. Many funeral directors also help prepare and ship bodies if the person dies in one place and is to be buried or cremated elsewhere.
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Funeral directors work mostly in funeral homes and crematories. The work environment for a funeral director can be both physically and emotionally challenging and sometimes stressful. They have to arrange the many details of a funeral within 24 to 72 hours of death. They also may be responsible for more than one funeral on the same day. Although funeral directors handle corpses, the health risk is minimal. Still, they must follow safety and health regulations. Funeral directors work irregular hours including evenings and weekends. They are often on call and need to be available when their clients need them.