Often referred to as an undertaker, the funeral director is a professional that provides competent and sympathetic support during the arrangement of funeral rites and the respectful disposition of the body of a loved one. He or she also ensures that the body is ready for the funeral and makes practical arrangements for the funeral itself.
One of the main functions of a funeral director has to do with preparing the body for disposition. In larger funeral homes, he or she may oversee the activities of several morticians and undertakers. While the actual definition of the mortician, undertaker, and funeral director are all different, the reality is that in family owned funeral homes it is not unusual for one person to provide all three services. This means director will often arrange to pick up the body from the home or morgue, oversee the embalming process according to local regulations, and work with loved ones to make the proper final preparations.
The actual preparations with loved ones can depend on the individual preferences associated with the final arrangements. In some cases, persons choose to make their own arrangements ahead of time, which greatly simplifies the process. At other times, the funeral director will discreetly work with loved ones to ascertain their wishes. This may include drafting the obituary for the local newspapers, arranging space at the funeral home or house of worship for a funeral or memorial service, and also making arrangements for the cremation or digging of the grave and sinking of the vault.
Funerals often take place at funeral homes and then proceed to a burial ground for the final interment. Generally, a funeral director will make arrangements for what is referred to as a viewing or visitation. This often takes place the day before the actual funeral service, and provides family and friends the chance to gather together at the funeral home to pay respects to the deceased and also offer comfort to one another. During the visitation, the director remains discreetly in the background, ready to offer assistance if needed. One the day of the funeral, the director will also make arrangements to transport the body and casket to the final resting place, as well as oversee the proper sealing of the grave.
The funeral director is often a great comfort during a time when loved ones often find that grief makes handling all the details associated with death a difficult task. With quiet dignity and a firm understanding of how to assist persons in grief, he or she gently guides loved ones through a rough period, allowing them to honor the deceased in a way that is proper and respectful.