A Day in the Life of a Funeral Director

day in the life of funeral director

What does it take to be a funeral director? There is no other job like a funeral director. In celebration of National Funeral Director and Morticians Recognition Day on March 11th, we would like to honor what funeral directors do for us. You don’t want just anyone to care for your loved one when they have passed on, you want someone empathetic, reverent, kind, and reliable to be there for you and your family.

National Funeral Director and Morticians Recognition Day on Mar 11, 2022
Funeral directors don’t receive enough praise or recognition for what they do. They provide one of the most important jobs in a community, yet consistently fade into the background, whilst paying attention to details and orchestrating everything to run smoothly. In honor of this day, let’s celebrate all the tasks that are done behind the scenes. Let’s celebrate the men and women who consistently show empathy and care for the bereaved. Let’s appreciate all that funeral directors do for us, our loved ones, and our communities. Let’s encourage them to make time to rejuvenate spiritually, physically, and emotionally, to take care of themselves so they can continue taking such great care of us.

Check out the PODCAST:
O’Connell Funeral Home’s staff talks about what it’s like to be a funeral director – Listen Now!

Funeral directors are real people that need to take care of themselves too. When away from work, John enjoys spending time with his family (Jennifer, his wife, Alex, his son, and Lauren, his daughter), listening to all types of music (preferably on vinyl), attempting home improvement projects, and catching an occasional Gopher football game.   – John



Regardless of what tasks a funeral director is performing, showing care and support for community members is the first priority. With such an unpredictable schedule, a funeral director shows their dedication through strong character and work ethic. This job doesn’t just happen within a typical Monday-Friday work week. A funeral director is available at odd hours of the day and is committed to the families in their community.

As the saying goes, “We doze but we don’t close.” Yes, I’m available 24/7. In some ways my day never really starts or ends. If you call me at 2:00AM, I’ll likely be there to pick up the phone. I’m fortunate that we all rotate our on-call schedule, but I always give families my cellphone number in case they need me. I’ve gotten calls on vacation, on my weekends off, and on holidays. I have a very understanding wife – love you honey!   – Mike


Funeral directors help the loved ones of the departed to emotionally cope with grief. Services are personalized based on the loved one’s wishes, as well as familial customs and traditions. The funeral directors at O’Connell Family Funeral Homes are sensitive to religious and cultural practices and cater the details of the visitation, service, and burial to what is important to the family.

Amber takes great joy in helping families honor their loved one and being part of their grief journey following their significant loss. Through her education and professional experience, she enjoys sharing the importance funerals have on grief work, and especially cherishes walking side by side with families to create meaningful services that celebrate the life of the person they loved so dearly.   – Amber



Arrangement of Services

The funeral director consults with family members to discuss their loved one’s wishes. There are many options and details that need to be discussed: visitation, services, and the opening and closing of the grave at the cemetery. Dates, times, food, flowers and transportation details are discussed with the family in advance to make sure everything goes smoothly.

It is very common for people to pre-plan for their own funeral. Funeral directors are expert resources and are able to answer your questions and assist in making a plan for what you would like your funeral to look like. Pre-planning alleviates potential financial burdens on your family and assures you will be remembered in the manner of your choice.

She got her inspiration to go into funeral service from her aunt, who she grew up admiring. Abbie takes great pride and honor in helping families during the most difficult times in their lives.   – Abbie




Betsy is very excited to serve the St. Croix and Pierce County communities. She is passionate about helping families honor their loved one in a personal and meaningful way. She believes every individual has a unique story that should be celebrated and shared with friends and family, in order to start the process of healing.   – Betsy



Preparation of the Body

Most funeral directors are licensed and trained to handle the embalming of the body, if this is indeed the wish of the departed.

“There’s a Dutch phrase, “En dood doet leven” which translates to, “Where there’s death, there’s life. I also think about it as “death makes life,” which is the outlook I choose.   – Lilly




Burial Preferences

Funeral directors treat the deceased, and those left behind, with reverence and dignity. They are able to manage stressful, emotionally charged situations with sensitivity and grace. Funeral directors will talk to you and/or your family about a burial or cremation preference. If you would choose to pre-plan, you can leave instructions for how you would like your body to be taken care of. The funeral director would then respect your wishes after you have passed on. However, if there are no prior instructions, the family of the loved one would determine this.

O’Connell Family Funeral Home has a crematory onsite at their Baldwin location, so if this option would be preferred, offsite transportation would not be needed.

“When I learned that it’s not necessary to be embalmed before being cremated, I knew that I personally wanted to be cremated. I also vaguely remember my mother saying that at some point the earth is going to run out of burial space, so cremation is friendlier to the environment.”   – Austin




The transfer of the remains to the funeral home is the responsibility of the funeral director, even if the remains are coming from out of state. They also need to plan for how mourners will transition from the visitation to the service, and then to the cemetery (if applicable,) as well as transporting the floral arrangements from the visitation to the service.

Administrative Duties

In order to run a business with efficiency and sensitivity, funeral home directors must be detail oriented and organized. Knowledge of laws relating to funeral arrangements is also of great importance. The funeral director maintains financial records for the funeral home, and also keeps track of sales and marketing. They must oversee the issuance of death notices, post obituaries and media releases, and keep track of government paperwork. Funeral directors also keep record of prearranged contracts made by people in advance. Finally, a funeral director oversees employees including their performance evaluations, scheduling, and payroll. Many hats need to be worn in order to run the funeral home efficiently and reverently.

I’m typically the first point of contact for many families, and I have always enjoyed helping people. I admire the people that I get to work with, as they are very caring and patient. The staff at the funeral home is like my second family.   – Cindy

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