Funeral directors hold a unique position in the community as a specialist upon whom bereaved people can call upon for help. Consequently, they have certain responsibilities in terms of ethical behaviour, confidentiality and public health issues.
There are a number of attributes which can be ascribed to funeral directors, all of equal and interrelated importance:
- The funeral director should be technically competent in all aspects of funeral service to enable him or her to meet the needs of bereaved people, not only those of a technical nature but of general operational and people management skills. To help achieve this, advantage should be taken of funeral directing qualifications and professional training, such as those offered by the NAFD.
- Funeral directors must have good interpersonal skills. Funerals focus on the needs of people, many of whom will be distressed and some of whom may be vulnerable. The funeral director must be able to relate to those who call upon them in their time of bereavement.
- The funeral director must be flexible in style of approach and manner as people react to loss in different ways. This calls for tact, calmness and patience on the part of the funeral director in order that provide the best possible support to each bereaved family.
- As one of the primary caregivers to the newly bereaved person, it is essential that the funeral director expresses the qualities of empathy rather than sympathy, along with sensitivity. By showing empathy to the family, the funeral director is showing that they appreciate the sense of loss being experienced. By demonstrating sensitivity, respect for the feelings of the bereaved person is shown.