Ask Amy

August 18, 2014

Ask Amy: Funeral director can't bury job frustration

Dear Amy: I work as a funeral director and embalmer in a small, family run funeral home. I take a lot of pride in my work. I spend countless hours and tons of energy ensuring that every detail of my clients' funerals goes off without a hitch.

Dear Amy: I work as a funeral director and embalmer in a small, family run funeral home. I take a lot of pride in my work. I spend countless hours and tons of energy ensuring that every detail of my clients' funerals goes off without a hitch.

You can imagine the stress that this entails, dealing with clergy, caterers, newspapers, the government, etc.

I was taught in college that everyone grieves differently, and sometimes aggression will be misplaced. I do my best to be understanding and patient, because these poor people are going through a lot. However, after I've worked for hours past quitting time and answered phones far past my bedtime, my patience wears thin.

Every once in awhile, one of the family members will find a small detail that I've somehow neglected, had no control over or just plain screwed up.

I've been verbally abused, criticized and just plain treated rudely. I take it very personally and am often reduced to tears.

How can I learn to take these things in stride?

— Losing patience

Dear Losing: I assume that for every disgruntled client, there are many families who are very satisfied with your service. If clients have written to you in gratitude, post these cards and notes in a place where you can see them during your workday.

It is not fair to you or your clients to let your frustrations overwhelm you.

The most successful professionals apologize quickly for mistakes and do everything necessary to make things right. They also take criticism as an opportunity to learn and improve. They don't take things personally. And they learn to move on.

Your profession is extremely emotionally taxing. You are dealing with people at their most vulnerable. You must pace yourself in terms of your own workload. You can't serve people well if you are exhausted or overwhelmed.

Seek the counsel of someone who is more seasoned in your business. Attend professional development workshops for additional training.

Find outlets that take you far outside your work and feed your mind and body. Yoga, swimming or bike riding, or karaoke with a friend, could help.

 

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About Amy Dickinson

Amy Dickinson

@AskingAmy

Amy Dickinson is a syndicated columnist. Email: askamy@tribune.com.

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