The funeral director, also known as an undertaker, is a professional who provides competent and sympathetic support during the planning of funeral rites and the respectful disposition of a loved one’s body. He or she also ensures that the body is prepared for the funeral and makes the necessary funeral arrangements.
The preparation of the body for disposition is one of the main functions of a funeral director. He or she may supervise the work of several morticians and undertakers in larger funeral homes. While the definitions of mortician, undertaker, and funeral director are all different, it is not uncommon for one person to provide all three services in a family-owned funeral home. This usually entails the director arranging for the body to be picked up from the home or morgue, overseeing the embalming process in accordance with local regulations, and working with loved ones to make the proper final arrangements.
Individual preferences associated with the final arrangements may influence the actual preparations with loved ones. Some people prefer to make their own arrangements ahead of time, which makes the process much easier. Other times, the funeral director will work quietly with family members to determine their wishes. This could include writing an obituary for the local newspaper, reserving space at the funeral home or place of worship for a funeral or memorial service, and arranging for cremation or grave digging and vault sinking.
Funerals are frequently held in funeral homes before being transported to a cemetery for final interment. In most cases, a funeral director will arrange for a viewing, also known as a visitation. This usually takes place the day before the funeral service and allows family and friends to gather at the funeral home to pay their respects to the deceased as well as offer each other comfort. Throughout the visitation, the director remains in the background, ready to assist if necessary. The director will also make arrangements for transportation of the body and casket to the final resting place on the day of the funeral, as well as oversee the proper sealing of the grave.
The funeral director can be a great source of comfort during a time when grief makes it difficult to deal with all of the details associated with death. He or she gently guides loved ones through a difficult period, allowing them to honor the deceased in a proper and respectful manner, with quiet dignity and a firm understanding of how to assist persons in grief.