A day in the life of... A funeral arranger
MOST preconceived judgements about funeral directors, or funeral arrangers, have something to do with death, so it is no wonder people think the job is a little bit morbid, but funeral arranger, Josephine Fava wants to set the record straight.
Understandably there are some common misconceptions and misunderstandings about what a funeral director’s job entitles, but arranging funerals isn’t as grim and bleak as you’d expect, says Ms Fava.
“I don’t think it as morbid, I look at it as a loved one now being in a beautiful place. I see that they’ve moved onto another beautiful place, they’re finally at peace. The morbid part comes from watching too many horror films and crime shows,” she says.
Josephine Fava has been working as a funeral arranger for the last four years, a career change she made after running her own cafe for nine years prior. She made the change because she wanted a job that would offer her more fulfilment.
“You become very cynical working for 9 years, 7 days a week, 14 hours a day without any rewards, so I thought I wanted to do something different,” she said. On an average day Ms Fava gets into work around 8:00, answers some emails and messages from families, and then she might meet with a family or help coordinate a funeral. Families who are in need and are grieving are always a priority.
“If we have a family coming in we spend two hours with them arranging the funeral. Sometimes we get a lunch break, but if families need to see someone we will always see them when they need to be seen,” she said.
Even though the job of a funeral arranger might seem very personal and warm, behind it all there is a large mountain of paperwork. Ms Fava suggests at least 60 per cent of her job is administrative tasks.
“People underestimate the amount of paperwork involved in arranging a funeral. Really there is a lot of admin work. Making sure that the coroner is aware we are taking the loved one, making sure the hospital or the nursing home is aware,” she said.
Working with families at what is often a difficult and traumatic time can take a mental toll, Ms Fava said. Though like every job, she said, it is important to share the mental strains with your colleagues.
“I’ve personally heard a lot of horrible stories, we deal with murders and violent crimes and suicides, and they’re the ones that affect me the most, and they’re the ones we need to debrief on.
“I tend to shut down a little bit, I try to ground myself. I’ll debrief with my colleagues, and they’ll lighten the mood, because this work isn’t something you can go home and talk to your family or your relatives about because it is very confronting,” she said.
Despite the paperwork and the mental strains, Ms Fava says she loves her job and suggests anyone looking for a rewarding and supportive career should consider funeral arranging.
“It’s not the job for everyone but if someone has an overload of empathy and compassion and they feel that is not being utilised they need to look at the quality of their working life. Not many people go home from their jobs and feel like they’ve done something rewarding, but I do,” she said.