Funeral Service – Our Calling, Our Profession

On March 11, 2008 the United States Congress passed a resolution naming this date as “National Funeral Directors and Morticians Day”. A day to acknowledge the important work of funeral service professionals and the care and service they provide to their communities.

Professional challenges

A recent CBC News article highlighted the passion of Funeral Director and Embalmer Sharlene MacDonald. The article notes the many challenges our profession is facing, include the recruitment and retention of qualified staff.

Research conducted for a scholarly project, points to 54% of current PEI funeral professionals reaching the age/stage of retirement within the next decade.

The Atlantic provinces and rural communities across the country cannot provide a predictable schedule for employees that larger funeral homes with more staff can offer. We are dependent on ourselves and our staff to provide the care and service required. This is a choice we have made and we are honoured to do so.

Allison Swan, in the early days of his professional calling.

Information is a necessity

It is incumbent upon our labour departments, programs that train funeral service professionals, provincial and national associations and regulatory bodies to capture the statistics concerning the retention of professionals. We also need to address the disconnect between students entering the profession, finding a place of employment, staying engaged in service or exiting the profession.

We recognize that funeral service is not a calling for each individual that participates in the academic programs and training. As mentors, we must endeavor to paint a true picture for apprentices. We need to explain the hours, and emotional and physical demands do not cease to exist because one is tired or has a family engagement.

Serving our communities

We serve when we are called to serve, not when it suits us. Our communities need us to respond in a timely fashion, in a professional manner and in a way that demonstrates true, genuine care for our fellow human beings.

“The Undertaker” by Bennett Chapple

Those of us in funeral service do not consider it a business or industry. It is a profession. It is a calling akin to ministry or medicine. We are honoured to serve our communities with care and compassion. We are funeral service professionals.

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