Are You Passionate About Funeral Service?

January 13, 2016
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Article by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.

I always feel tremendous joy when I meet an authentically passionate funeral director. I can literally feel the commitment they have made to help families create meaningful funeral experiences. Please ask yourself: Am I passionate about funeral service?

Passion for a profession evolves from commitment. How does your commitment create passion for funeral service? It’s the conscious intent of committing yourself to something you believe in that kindles your natural excitement, enthusiasm and devotion. The passionate funeral director has a genuine awareness of the significance of meaningful funerals. “Yes, I believe in the value of using elements of ceremony to help families befriend the functions of reality, recall, support, expression, meaning, and transcendence,” vows the passionate funeral director.

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Why is it important for you to know if you are committed to funeral service? Because it is difficult to feel passionate about anything that you are not committed to. As a matter of fact, it is nearly impossible. In many ways, your commitment to funeral service determines whether you will be what I refer to as a “functionary” or a “facilitator.” Functionary funeral directors believe it their job to competently get families through the planning and process. Facilitator funeral directors, on the other hand, believe that they haven’t truly done their job unless they’ve helped families create and carry out meaningful, transformative funeral experiences. The former is about doing what’s necessary; the latter is about doing what’s essential.

What if you are struggling with your passion for funeral service? After all, with more people than ever questioning the value of funerals, it is understandably challenging to maintain your passion for this noble profession. If this is the case for you, try this simple experiment: For one day, consciously deepen your commitment to funeral service. Express this commitment through your words and your behavior. Remind yourself of what originally brought you into funeral service. Give 100 percent to everything you do. For example, if you are making an arrangement, slow down and practice the model of information-education-honoring choices in every step of your effort to help this unique family. Put your heart and soul into helping the family create not just a good funeral but an amazing funeral.

You may be astonished how the act of consciously recommitting yourself to funeral service for this one day can transform your experience and relight your passion. Yes, even the burned-out functionary may become an inspired facilitator. Families that are initially defensive in their interactions with you and question the value of funerals may in the end become your biggest advocates. Most importantly, you may unleash your own buried passion, which has been yearning to be released into your daily work life.

Are you passionate about funeral service? If your answer is yes, thank you. The world desperately needs more funeral directors like you. I hope you are using your passion to create remarkably “wow” funeral experiences for the families in your care. If your answer is no, I beg you to try to rekindle your passion. Undertake daily tasks with more intention, effort, and care in the weeks to come then watch what happens. The glowing feedback you’ll no doubt receive from families may help you make an about-face. If you were once passionate about funeral service, you can be again. And if your passion for funeral service is gone for good (or was never there in the first place)? Well then, 2016 is your year to choose a different career. You deserve to be happy and fulfilled, and the families who choose your funeral home deserve better, too.

Dr. Alan Wolfelt is the Director of the Center for Loss and Life Transition in Fort Collins, Colorado. He is the author of many bestselling books, including Funeral Home Customer Service A to Z. He also writes a regular column on customer service for The Director magazine and hosts an annual seminar on Why We Need Funerals. You can contact him at DrWolfelt@Centerforloss.com
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