In most cases when people think of funeral service, they imagine all of the acts of caring for the dead: embalming, dressing up the deceased, and more. But one aspect of the funeral service industry that many people may not consider is the importance of compassion in funeral services.

How Funeral Directors Help Families

Funeral professionals assist the loved ones of a deceased person in tremendous ways. Simply caring for the deceased and being assured that their body is in safe hands alone can be comforting to many of those who are grieving. 

Funeral directors will make arrangements with the family to prepare the body for either burial or cremation. They’ll also ensure that the family is covered on the legal side of things by assisting them with the proper permits and certificates. And lastly, they’ll arrange all parts of the funeral service, communicating with all of the florists, musicians, or caterers that will be associated with the service.

All of this assistance lifts the weight off the shoulders of the deceased’s family. When they are struggling with grief, it can be daunting to imagine making all of these arrangements themselves. 

The Importance of Compassion

Providing grieving families with emotional support and compassion is a crucial part of the job. These families seek out funeral directors for guidance during this difficult time. This emotional support and guidance will build a strong relationship between funeral directors and families. 

When they feel comfortable around a funeral director, they are more likely to easily communicate their wishes regarding the service, which makes the process much smoother in the long run. 

It will also build a strong positive reputation for the funeral director as the families share the experiences they had during the difficult time.

Tips for Being Compassionate, Yet Professional

It’s important that funeral directors are both compassionate, yet professional throughout the whole process. If they show too much compassion, it can be difficult to be surrounded by all the grief and suffering. But if they are too professional, they will come off as cold and insensitive. Here are some ways that funeral directors can maintain the balance.


  • Listen to the family of the deceased attentively. When families know that they are really being heard, they will feel at ease.
  • Never make any assumptions about what the family wants. Always ask for clarification if you are unsure about something.
  • Don’t rush the family into any decisions. Everyone grieves differently, and some families may become slow with any decisions they make during the funeral process. You should always be at the family’s pace. If they are rushed, they’ll feel as if their wants and feelings don’t matter.

Addressing Compassion Fatigue

Many funeral professionals may end up developing compassion fatigue over time. Compassion fatigue is very similar to burn out, except compassion fatigue stems from emotionally helping others too often. 

Between using so much empathy on the job, and being on the clock rather than having a traditional work schedule, it can come quickly. Some signs of compassion fatigue include feeling hopeless, feeling numb, being physically, emotionally, or psychologically exhausted, loss of pleasure, and more. 

Some ways that you can reduce your chances of developing compassion fatigue include:


  • Set boundaries between your work and home life. As mentioned, working in funeral service means being on the clock more often than you are off it. To give yourself a break, find a way to give yourself time off; whether that’s using an answering service or recruiting someone to manage your duties and phone calls when you’re off the clock.
  • Ensuring that you have time for self care. Funeral professionals often spend so much time taking care of others that they forget to take care of themselves. Try to give yourself time for your favorite hobby or way to relax.
  • Talking to a professional. While it is important to have a support system with your friends and family, it is also beneficial to talk to a professional as well. They often have an unbiased and non-judgemental approach.

Final Thoughts

Being able to express compassion and empathy is a crucial part of choosing a career in funeral service. If you think you have what it takes to be a funeral director yourself, we’d love to help you get started on your journey. Learn more about enrolling in classes here.