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What Does a Funeral Director Do?

Published: December 6, 2022

Funeral directors are the kind folks who guide you when you have a death in the family. They greet your friends during calling hours, organize an auto cortege to the cemetery, and hold an umbrella over mourners when the heavens open up. This, of course, is only a small fraction of their duties. Their overall range of activities and skills is rather remarkable.

Funeral directors are skilled managers. They hire and supervise staff, keep up with technology, maintain the funeral home, communicate with clients, and promote their services. Some of their responsibilities are unique: embalming bodies or preparing them for viewing with a favorite outfit and perhaps engaging a trained hairdresser or cosmetologist. Because their business is unpredictable, they have to be flexible, as when the Covid pandemic forced a massive shift in the way we mourn our loved ones.

Funeral directors, called morticians or undertakers in earlier times, still pick up your loved one’s body, transport it to the funeral home, prepare for burial or cremation, facilitate services, and provide support for the mourners. Their organizational skills must be excellent, as funeral directors write obituaries, coordinate with clergy, make sure the flowers are delivered on time, arrange for grave openings and services in many locations, indoor and out of doors. While the mourners are making their way to the funeral, the staff is setting up chairs at the cemetery or waiting to usher family and friends to their seats.

In our mobile world, death sometimes occurs during travels or far from our final resting place. Funeral directors arrange for bodies to be flown or driven sometimes thousands of miles to their homes. They schedule viewing hours and formal services in different venues, and they must be available at all hours every day, even holidays. The funeral or memorial services are not the final step for the directors. They recommend resources to preserve the loved one’s legacy and to support the mourners in their grief.

One of the mostly invisible tasks your funeral director handles is the mountain of paperwork generated when a person dies—local, state, federal, military, and more. When you are just beginning to mourn your loved one, being inundated with legal forms is an additional nightmare. The director will notify appropriate agencies and create a Death Certificate. You will need several copies in your file for insurance companies, veterans services, the registry of motor vehicles, and agencies that must be notified about the passing. Make sure that the certificates use legal names for the deceased and survivors to avoid later complications.

The funeral directors at Wheelan-Pressly Funeral Home and Crematory are available to help you preplan your final wishes, well in advance of need, which relieves the burden on your family. They also support the community through cultural, religious, military, and service organizations. And, yes, they will be there with an umbrella when the heavens open up.

Thanks for reading our blog. You can reach out to us, Wheelan-Pressly Funeral Home and Crematory anytime at 1-309-786-5421.