Working in the funeral business isn’t for everyone. It has a high burnout rate and coping with the emotions the job brings is, quite simply, a huge undertaking. Still, it’s a calling that needs professional, compassionate people and so every year thousands of people join the ranks. After a while, though, many start to feel the stress and that’s when coping strategies come into play.
The funeral business doesn’t keep traditional hours. The old saying “death waits for no man” is more than just an insight into the fleeting nature of life – it also says a lot about the schedule funeral directors and other professionals keep. With a profession that can have you working at all hours and throughout weekends and holidays, taking time away is more than a suggestion – it’s an absolute must.
Commit to time off and actually get away. That doesn’t mean you have to get away for days or weeks on end. Studies show that getting outside and connecting with nature can reduce depression, boost your immune system and enhance cognitive abilities.
Make a Mix Tape
Okay, maybe that’s a bit old school, but creating a playlist of your favorite songs and listening to it regularly offers a number of health benefits. Like connecting with nature, listening to music has been shown to do everything from improve circulatory health and alleviate symptoms of depression to increase your physical endurance and improve the quality of your sleep.
Working in the funeral business can be a bit isolating. As a result, many people in the business are reluctant to ask for help even from colleagues. Reach out to people you work with and other professionals in your area through websites like Meet Up or local professional organizations. Not only can this help you keep up to date on funeral trends and issues, it also gives you a circle of people who truly understand your career and the unique challenges it presents.
Focus on the Altruism of the Work
When funeral professionals meet with the family and friends of someone who has died, it’s natural to take on some of that grief, so it’s important to focus on the good moments. Every funeral experience is peppered with beautiful moments. Maybe it’s when you help a widow select the perfect music to play for her husband or when you help a daughter decide on which dress her mother should wear.
These moments may seem small and insignificant but, in reality, they are at the heart of this profession. Working in the funeral business is all about helping people and that kind of service oriented work carries with it a special kind of burden. Finding ways to deal with that stress – and those emotions – will not only help you to do a better job, it will also ensure your sanity remains intact.