The holiday season can be especially stressful for funeral directors. You may not get time off like everyone else, or you may live far away from your family. Often, due to the demands of your profession, you can’t travel to be with your own loved ones.
When a death occurs during the holiday season, it can be especially difficult for the families you serve. As a result, the family may take out their anger, along with other negative emotions associated with the passing, on you. As a funeral director, you have no choice but to let them vent.
Sacrificing time with your loved ones and dealing with the misplaced distress of families happen year-round. However, these issues become more pronounced during the holiday season.
December brings some of the coldest, darkest days of the year, yet people use this time to spread joy and make happy memories. In the spirit of this wonderful season, let’s take a moment to find the bright side.
Appreciate the People in Your Life: If you are unable to be with our loved ones during this time, look around for the people with whom you can spend time. Laine Phillips, OGR’s Member Resource Director and a licensed funeral director, spent a few years living far away from his family when he worked at a funeral home. His friends would invite him to dinner during the holiday season. Occasionally, some of the families he helped would invite him to their homes as well.
Although family is extremely important, the holiday season can help you appreciate the significance of other people in your life. Relationships are an invaluable part of the human experience. You may not be with your family, but that doesn’t mean you’re alone. There will always be people around you who care. Don’t hesitate to reach out. Look around you to find people to spend the holidays with.
Bond with Your Coworkers: The spirit of generosity is in the air. Why not use it to strengthen your relationships at work? When he was still single, Laine volunteered to be on-call during some holidays so coworkers with families could be with their loved ones. Are there other ways you can help those out you work with? Why not lift the heavy end of the cot to spare your coworker some strain? Or maybe when another funeral director is busy working with families, help by making calls to the clergy or begin working on the obituary process, just to “get the ball rolling,” as Laine says.
Research shows that helping those you work with makes you happier (or more jolly) to be at work. ‘Tis the season, after all.
Last year, we gave you some ideas on how you can provide a helping hand during the holidays. This year, consider how volunteering may impact your life. As an example, Laine has helped Meals On Wheels deliver meals to senior shut-ins, served food at the local food kitchen, and helped children at the orphanage.
When he ran his own funeral home, he adopted a few families recommended by the local church. The adopted families received Christmas trees, holiday decorations, gifts for the children, and a full turkey dinner. While it only cost three to four hundred dollars to help each family, their gratitude was priceless. Throughout the year, these families even shared special occasions like their children’s’ birthdays with the funeral home. Laine’s funeral home built a lasting relationship with those they helped and strengthened its relationship with the community as a whole.
Do you have similar opportunities in your town where you can give back? Consider finding a Meals on Wheels program near you or adopting a family in need. The holiday season provides abundant opportunities to volunteer. Charity work can have a positive impact on your work, health, relationships, and community- so get out there and give back.
The holiday season provides a unique set of obstacles for funeral directors, but with these obstacles come a lot of opportunities. Open your eyes and look at the bright side.
By Rachana Gadi,
OGR Social Media & Research Intern