Lauren LeRoy is a young funeral director in her mid-twenties who started the Little Miss Funeral blog several years ago to share her thoughts and ideas on the funeral industry. Check out her Facebook and follow her on Twitter @LttleMissFunerl!
I don’t really look the part.
That’s something that I’ve come to accept over the past few years. When I introduce myself to families as the funeral director, I see the confusion in their eyes as they look me up and down trying to calculate how I could possibly be the person who is going to be handling the arrangements for their loved one. It’s as if they’re trying to solve a mathematical equation and "young + female" just doesn’t add up to funeral director.
I honestly don’t blame them. If I were an outsider looking in I would be thinking the exact same thing. And yet, here I am.
Being young can be a disadvantage in many careers. I’ll be the first to admit that I would not want to be the first patient that a young doctor had to do surgery on. Give me someone with years of experience, right? Because of this, I have to work harder to gain the trust of those I serve.
Being female is only a disadvantage in the sense that it’s not the ‘norm’. History shows us that traditionally, funeral service has been a man’s field. So when I greet a family at the door of the funeral home and introduce myself, I can understand why they may be taken aback.
The thing of it is though, that when you have a passion for something, it does not matter your age, race or gender. I am a good funeral director and although it is safe to say that my skills do indeed improve the longer I practice, the passion that is in my heart to serve others has been there all along.
Many people say that being a funeral director is a calling. It is certainly a difficult career choice for many reasons. Long hours, unpredictability and constantly being surrounded by death does not always make for the easiest working environment. Those are just a few reasons why burn out rates are so high in the field. But the thing that keeps me going, is the satisfaction that I receive from helping people during a time when they could not help themselves. Funeral directors may work with families for a few short days, but those precious hours can seem like years to families who have just lost a loved one. The confusion and grief can be so overbearing at times that families have no idea what to do and that’s where the funeral professional comes in. I want to be the guide during such a dark time. I may not have as many years in the business as others, but I have the dedication, drive and compassion to work my hardest at making a death of a loved one a little bit easier.
I’ve had numerous families over the years confide in me and tell me how comforting it was to work with a female funeral director. Whatever the reasons may be, I am always happy to ease such a difficult time for others. Whether it be directing them on what to do next, sitting down and offering a listening ear, or just giving a hug, I honestly feel like I was born to be a funeral director. So maybe it is a calling after all. Regardless, helping people is something that makes me feel like my life has purpose. I receive questions about my career all the time, but more than anything else, I hear one statement being repeated over and over. Simply, it’s people just stating that they’re not sure how I do it.
But working in the death care industry is a gift. Although it does take a lot of hard work and dedication, if you let it, this industry can give you so much. I appreciate every second that I have with my own loved ones, because you never know what tomorrow holds. We all know that one day we will die. I think about my own death quite a bit, and although I hope that I will live a long and healthy life, I know that nothing is guaranteed. Because of this, I try to be the best person that I can be everyday. I don’t like to go to bed mad. I always say I love you to my family and friends and my husband is not allowed to leave the house without giving me a kiss goodbye.
Yes, being a funeral director is hard, but it’s a job that I am proud to do. Being able to serve my community and helping people during one of the darkest times of their lives has given me so much to be grateful for in my own life.
Being a young female funeral director is something that I am immensely proud of. I will take all of the weird looks and uncertainty from families, because I know that I will do the best job for them. And once the funeral service ends, they will be able to look back and know in their hearts that they were in the best of hands as well.
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