A Born Funeral Star? Not!

I met a young lady, recently licensed as a funeral director in the Houston area, who expressed her career frustration with me. She feels that she is not being taken as seriously as she should be. I asked her what the problem was. She said, “Look at me. I am exactly what anyone would want to see when they walk into a business.” (First red flag).

I asked to see her resume. Upon further evaluation, I noticed that within a period of two and a half years, she has had seven jobs. Six of those have been in the funeral profession. One job was in clothing retail and only lasted two weeks. Her first funeral home position was as a student, at a very prestigious firm. I asked her why she quit that position. “They wanted me to put dishes in the dishwasher, following visitations,” she said. (Second red flag).

Oh dear, let me try and explain something to you. When I began my funeral career, as a student, I can recall cleaning the break rooms (including dishes), vacuuming carpets, changing light bulbs and emptying trash containers following visitations. Later, after becoming licensed, I worked for an independent firm. On slow days, when there were no funerals to be held, I remember us mowing lawns, cleaning cars and even picking up grocery items the owner needed from the grocery store. Did I enjoy every task? Of course not, but he was paying me a salary (and a damn fine one).  In addition, I gained invaluable knowledge and experience through him. Guess what? In time, with experience, I made my way to larger opportunities. 

As much as even I wanted to, very few (if any) of us begin our careers as funeral stars. However, beginning with a willingness to learn and grow, combined with time, experience and hard work, the career can become a truly rewarding one. Once in awhile, I even find myself missing those trips to the grocery store. I have heard it said, you can’t always change your circumstances immediately, but you can change your attitude.


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