Ask Your Funeral Director: Do you find your job creepy?
By Jason Meidl, Funeral Director at Creston Valley Funeral Services
This past week we celebrated my daughter’s eighth birthday party. We had a great day of sledding and hot chocolate. As always, I took a lot of pictures not just of my daughter but all the family members who were there. As a funeral director, I am often tasked with creating photo tributes for families to show at their loved one’s funerals. Because of this, I often joke with my family, especially my father-in-law, that he needs to be in the photos because I am taking them for a funeral. This often brings a chuckle and the occasional dirty look! In our digital age, it’s important to remember that photos really do tell a story and they are powerful. I encourage everyone to turn the camera away from yourself and focus on those around you, we never know when someone’s time might come and that candid photo you took of dad might just be what you need to get through some hard times.
“Do you find your job creepy?” – Shane
This is a question I get more often than I can count. Often when we think of a funeral director, we think of a dreary and creepy man in a dark suit flitting around in the shadows. Or at least that’s how we have often been portrayed in pop culture. Oftentimes as funeral directors, I will admit we do develop a sort of dark humour. I believe this is due to the type of work we do, and I know for myself and many of my colleagues we can use this as a coping mechanism to deal with death. I literally deal with death daily, and it can be difficult without different ways to cope. Now… do I find my job creepy? Not at all. I see my job as a caregiver. I care for families at their most vulnerable times, and I feel privileged to be able to do that. I think it’s interesting to note that historically the death industry, for the most part, has been predominantly male. In 2021, the National Funeral Directors Association conducted a survey that showed that 60 per cent of mortuary students are female now. I think this shows that the end-of-life experience is changing with the growth of the “death positive” movement and the gradual move away from the stereotypical “old guy in a crusty suit and no smile”. Many of our new funeral directors, male and female, have discovered that they are attracted to the skills and traits needed for the job, which include communication skills, compassion, a desire to comfort those coping with a death, as well as organizational and event-planning skills.
Everyone knows what cremains or ashes are. They are the end result of cremation. Often these cremains are interred or scattered by the family. But what happens when we don’t inter or scatter? Often then these cremains are just kept by the family at home. I recently came across a company called Parting Stones that takes cremains and solidifies them. Their solidification service for an adult returns the full-amount of remains as 40-60 solids depending on the amount of ash provided. The appearance of each set will vary naturally in shape, color, and texture making each collection of solidified remains uniquely beautiful. Solidified remains are alternative to conventional ash. I find this very exciting because it provides an alternative way to just keeping the cremains and provides a tangible item for a family to keep and hold. This process can happen with any set of cremains no matter how old they are. We are excited to now be partnered with Parting Stones to provide this service to the Creston Valley!
Until next time, keep the questions coming to firstname.lastname@example.org!