Burnout and the funeral director



I’ve always loved the Spring of the year.  For us in the northern climates days are getting longer, the sun feels warmer, we can be outside without multiple layers of clothes on and the golf course opens.  Ever since I was small I’ve looked forward to this time of the year and was excited to put the long days of winter behind me.


In essence, my attitude changed once the weather changed.  It was always something to look forward to and looking forward usually put me in a great state of mind.


However, have you ever wondered how one might feel if there is no looking forward to potential good times coming?  What it the seasons for me included winter following winter. . . and winter following winter again  —  with no Spring or Summer or Autumn in between to give me that get-up-and-go that I always seem to get via good weather?


Unfortunately, I sometimes think that is how some of my fellow funeral directors think when they get overly busy.  Instead of having some time to rest after a particularly difficult client family or after conducting a large stressful funeral service, they go back to the funeral home and find the next stressful situation waiting for them.  Sometimes it is just the nature of our business and we find the adrenaline to “suck it up” and move forward.  But at other times this feeling of “never being finished”  can lead to mental health stress and funeral director burnout.


When that situation happens, nobody wins.  Families we serve can get shorted on service, our employer doesn’t always get what he pays us for, and worst of all, we can get quite bitter about the profession we love.  And, it happens. . . . “Burnout” may be the biggest reason for great professionals in our profession to leave our profession.  “Burnout” doesn’t just happen with young inexperienced professionals, it can also happen to professionals with years and years of experience.


I read one article on funeral director burnout and that article opined that there are three main reasons it happens:


  1. The Long Hours —  Middle of the night death calls to early morning funeral preparedness to late evening visitations.  Sometimes it feels like you are always involved with the funeral home.
  2. Demanding Families —  Let’s face it — today’s families don’t seem to be as easy to please as the Cleaver family from “Leave it to Beaver” fame might have been.  Today’s families have unique family dynamics that some in the past didn’t seem to have.
  3. Co-Workers — This may surprise you, but some workers don’t always see eye-to-eye with their co-workers and just being at work and working with them may be stressful.



To recognize the issue of “Burnout”, the National Funeral Directors’ Association (NFDA) is hosting a webinar for all members entitled “Preventing Burnout” on Tuesday, May 16.  Here’s what a teaser from NFDA says about this webinar:


“At one time or another, almost everyone reports feeling “burned out.” But what does “burnout” really mean? What are the signs of burnout? In this seminar, participants will learn to identify the root causes of burnout, recognize which stress-inducing factors are within their control, and develop an action plan for effectively managing stress at work and at home. By learning how to take responsibility for making changes, participants will be empowered to overcome burnout and create balance in their busy lives.”


This training is designed to help you:

  • Define “burnout”
  • Identify the causes and consequences of burnout
  • Learn strategies for preventing and overcoming burnout
  • Master an effective stress management technique


The presenter for this NFDA webinar is Lamont R. Land.  Mr. Land honorably served as a United States Marine for over 22 years. He has also done other work in project management, recruiting,  suicide prevention, and substance abuse control. Lamont has a passion for facilitating leadership and personal development trainings to add value and assist in transformation.


To learn more and register for this webinar click here.


Related — CANA Peer Support Meeting via Zoom.  It just happens that Tuesday, May 16, will be the 3rd Tuesday of the month which is when the Cremation Association of North America (CANA) holds its monthly peer support meeting via Zoom for those who work in the death care profession.


Here’s what CANA says about its Peer Support meetings: “At a peer support meeting, everyone who works in a funeral home, crematory, or cemetery (including those in training or in school) is invited to share personal experiences.”


To learn more about the CANA Peer Support meetings click here.


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