Morticians, funeral service workers or funeral directors, often referred to by the old-fashioned term "undertaker," are professionals providing funeral and embalming services for the dead and their families. Although it's not a career with broad appeal, it's a stable and reliable field. Death is proverbially one of the world's few constants, and a competent funeral director with good interpersonal skills can build a substantial business.
Together with the family, funeral service workers establish the locations, dates, and times of the visitations (wakes), funerals or memorial services, burials, and cremations. They handle other details as well, such as determining whether the body should be buried, entombed, or cremated. This decision is critical because funeral practices vary among cultures and religions.
Most funeral service workers deal with paperwork pertaining to the person’s death, including submitting papers to state officials to receive a death certificate. Some help resolve insurance claims or apply for veterans’ funeral benefits on behalf of the family.
A growing number of funeral service workers collaborate with clients who wish to plan their own funerals in advance to ensure that their needs are met.
Increasingly, funeral service workers also help individuals adapt to changes in their lives following a death with support groups.
The following are examples of types of funeral service workers:
Morticians, undertakers, and funeral directors plan the details of a funeral. They often prepare obituary notices and arrange for pallbearers and clergy. If a burial is chosen, they schedule the opening and closing of a grave with a representative of the cemetery. If cremation is chosen, they coordinate the process with the crematory. They also decorate and prepare the sites of all services, and provide transportation for the deceased and mourners. They also direct the preparation and shipment of bodies’ out-of-state or out-of-country for final disposition.
Morticians, undertakers, and funeral directors also handle administrative duties. For example, they often must apply for the transfer of any pensions, insurance policies, or annuities on behalf of survivors.
Most morticians, undertakers, and funeral directors embalm bodies. Embalming is a cosmetic and temporary preservative process through which the body is prepared for a viewing of visitation by family and friends of the deceased
Funeral service managers oversee the general operations of a funeral home business. In this position, they perform a wide variety of duties, such as allocating the resources of the funeral home, managing staff, and handling the marketing and public relations.