Three Ways to Prevent Compassion Fatigue and Burnout in Funeral Professionals

July 21, 2018 | | Comments 0

While there are plenty of aspects of the funeral business that are physically demanding, it’s a job that is especially taxing when it comes to emotional and mental health.  Interacting with, supporting and helping people on the worst day of their lives requires a huge amount of emotional and mental energy.  After all, coping with death is hard enough in general, when it’s your daily job it’s even more challenging.  Funeral professionals often have a hard time dealing with burnout, known more often these days as ‘Compassion Fatigue’.

1. Look for Early Red Flags

One of the biggest reasons why burnout becomes such a big problem is that professional tend to ignore the early signs. Many people see the act of acknowledging the problem or seeking help as a sign of weakness. In reality, the opposite is true. Recognizing burnout and taking steps to prevent it has become a vital topic for men and women in first responder positions, law enforcement, the military and crisis counselors. Addressing the problem head on and right from the start will make it easier to deal with overall. If left unchecked, burnout can lead to more than simply wanting to leave the industry and walk away from the career you’ve spend years – decades, in some cases – building. In some cases, the burnout associated with jobs such as these can lead to severe depression which can have a devastating effect on every aspect of a person’s life.

If you’re not sure whether or not you’re experiencing burnout, consider these three red flags:

  • Problems With Empathy – Funeral professionals need to emotionally disassociate in order to do their job effectively. This emotional manipulation is draining and, over time, it can lead to problems with feeling emotions in your personal life. If you find you can’t shake your work persona when you are with family and friends, it can be an early warning sign.
  • Trouble Focusing – Stress makes it difficult to concentrate and even harder to commit yourself fully to projects. While we all have problems focusing on things from time to time, a sharp change in your ability to focus in order to do your job or keep up with your personal life signals a problem.
  • Cynicism – Funeral professionals are often privy to a family’s intimately personal lives when dealing with a large funeral. Trying to handle clashing personalities and raw emotions burns up emotional reserves that are difficult to replenish. Over time, this leads to a complete exhaustion of those reserves and often a short fuse when it comes to seeing the bigger picture. Feelings that nothing matters and the inability to feel a sense of pride or accomplishment is a huge red flag.

2. Schedule Time to Renew Your Resources

Culturally we often laugh and joke about the concept of “needing some Me Time” but it’s a concept rooted in some serious science. Burnout is an issue that’s been studied by neuroscientists, doctors and researchers from all over the world.

Taking time every day – even just a few minutes – to refresh your energy can go a long way in preventing burnout. You can do literally anything that improves the way you feel

  • Take a walk
  • Read a book
  • Listen to a favorite playlist
  • Sit and meditate
  • Get outside
  • Declutter your desk
  • Have your lunch AWAY from the office

3. Set Yourself Up For Long-Term Success

Beating burnout is about more than mitigating the problem – it’s about finding long-term solutions. That means implementing structure and support now to allow long-term changes to come into effect. There are a number of things you can do to help prevent burnout from becoming an issue for you as well as others working in your funeral home.

  • Spring for Healthy Snacks – Stock up the shared kitchen with plenty of fruit, nuts and other healthy snacks. Make it easy for everyone in your funeral home to fuel their bodies with clean, whole foods.
    Flex Time Where Possible – The schedule demands of a funeral home are difficult to schedule around much of the time. But making too many demands on time is a key to burnout since people eventually feel like they can never relax if they’re worried about being called in. Set up a schedule that includes dedicated time off for everyone – including yourself.
    Get Involved Locally – Community involvement is a great PR tool but it’s also a great way to get outside for some exercise and engage with others – two huge keys when it comes to combating burnout and easing depression.

Dedicating yourself to making changes in your own life and improving the way your funeral home operates yields benefits for everyone involved. Not only will you be able to avoid professional burnout, you’ll also make your funeral home a healthier place to work and a more inviting place for those in need.


Filed Under: FeaturedFuneral Industry


About the Author: AC Jones does mostly service and parts articles. He also does a lot of the finance stuff. In addition to this, AC Jones announces some of the special events, contests, giveaways, etc. He has his own Facebook account which you can click to from his profile on

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