A Day in the Life
Every year, secondary school graduates across the country are left at a crossroads of deciding whether to pursue post-secondary education or dive headfirst into a career.
While these can range from jobs like police officer, electrician, nurse or even mechanic, perhaps the most non-traditional of all occupations is that of the modern day funeral director.
Despite the unusual nature, it’s an occupation that promises never to disappear as long as mortality rates remain steady.
However, most people don’t pursue such a career without having grown up in the lineage of a family-run funeral business. Some do, but it leaves many with the question of why that job?
A professional, empathetic and compassionate approach needs to be adopted in order to gain the information to carry out the client’s wishes, whilst at the same time guiding the client through the range of services available and advising them on the costs involved.
Although there are no legal formal training requirements for becoming a funeral director, the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) runs a foundation certificate in funeral service, a diploma in funeral directing and a diploma in funeral-service management.
For Angelina Jolie, Academy Award Winner, appointed Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva and Switzerland, superstar celebrity, wife of Brad Pitt and mother of six children, being a funeral director was a backup career she flirted with long before her rise to fame.
But, as we all know, Jolie did end up taking up directing - albeit in a wildly contrasting context, following a highly successful acting career which included portrayals of Mariane Pearle in A Mighty Heart and Gia Carangi in Gia.
Whilst Angelina changed her mind about becoming a funeral director, it’s clear that her need to want to help people remained, notably so when she took on, arguably, her most important role to date.
After personally encountering the effects of a humanitarian crisis while filmingTomb Raider in war-torn Cambodia, Jolie began working for the UNHCR, the agency mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide.
Although there’s not an obvious link here, it’s worth noting the similarity in the two jobs.
The funeral directors I’ve been lucky enough to meet are some of the kindest, most genuine people I’ve ever come across and play an extremely important role, like Angelina, in helping to bind together families at their greatest time of need.
It takes a special kind of person to be a funeral director, weaving together the colourful threads of the life that has ended, expressing the true nature of the person and giving voice to the loss felt by those who loved them.