In a context where death is often taboo, invisible and professionalized, the funeral professions demand great emotional strength. Faced with death on a daily basis, these professionals have developed mechanisms for managing the emotions associated with their work. In this latest Death Chronicles article, we tackle this complex issue, while highlighting the crucial role these professions play in our society.
Death: a difficult professional reality
Death is not just an abstract notion for funeral professionals: it’s an integral part of their daily work. They are confronted with the raw reality of death, and the emotional distress of the deceased’s loved ones. They have to learn to deal with these delicate situations, as well as with their own emotions. It’s not a job for the faint of heart, but it’s a necessary and respected profession.
Training to cope with the reality of death
Professional training plays a crucial role in helping these professionals cope with death. These courses are designed to prepare funeral professionals not only to deal with their own emotions in the face of death, but also to support the bereaved in their grief. Training courses are generally composed of theoretical modules on death and funeral rituals, as well as practical internships to enable future professionals to come to grips with the realities of the field.
Working on oneself to deal with the emotions associated with death
Working on oneself is an integral part of professional practice in the funeral industry. Professionals must learn to manage their own emotions if they are to carry out their work effectively. They must also learn to distance themselves from death, so as not to be overwhelmed by emotion. This often involves personal mourning, as well as stress and emotion management techniques.
Defense mechanisms in the face of death
Faced with death, funeral professionals develop defense mechanisms to protect themselves. They may, for example, use black humor to play down the situation, or adopt a depersonalized attitude towards the body of the deceased. These mechanisms may sometimes seem cold or insensitive, but they are necessary to enable professionals to do their job without being overwhelmed by emotion.
Peer and hierarchical support
Funeral professionals are not alone in the face of death: they can count on the support of their peers and hierarchy. This support is crucial in enabling them to deal with the emotions associated with their work. For example, they can talk about their experiences, share their emotions and doubts, and receive advice from more experienced colleagues.
The role of law and government
Finally, the law and the state play an important role in regulating the work of funeral professionals. They establish precise rules for the treatment of corpses, to guarantee their respect and dignity. They also introduce measures to protect the health and well-being of funeral professionals, such as mandatory rest periods and stress management training. In addition, the state can implement preventive policies to limit the psychosocial risks associated with this work.
In this context, it is essential to understand that, just like health professionals, funeral professionals are confronted with emotionally-charged situations.
Professional recognition for death-related professions
It’s vital to highlight the crucial role played by funeral professionals, often overlooked by the general public. These professions require great emotional strength and the ability to face up to difficult situations on a daily basis. These professionals are the masters of ceremony for the last stage of life. They are responsible for paying tribute to the individual, but also for accompanying and supporting bereaved loved ones.
Professional recognition of these professions has increased over time, but many challenges remain. New proposals are under consideration to strengthen the training of funeral professionals, including a national diploma in bereavement management, in addition to existing training courses. This additional training would comprise a first cycle focusing on theory, followed by a more practical second cycle. The aim would be to better prepare these professionals to manage their own emotions and those of the bereaved.
Furthermore, the relationship of trust between the professional and the family of the deceased is an essential aspect of the profession. To achieve this, professionals must maintain a professional distance while remaining empathetic and caring.
The law relating to death professions
The law governing the death trade is an essential pillar of the practice of these professions. This law provides a rigorous framework for the application of these professions, ensuring the dignity of the deceased and respect for families. It contains precise provisions concerning the treatment of corpses, the observance of funeral rites, the management of burial sites and the maintenance of tombstones.
In addition, a bill is currently being drafted to reinforce the existing law. In particular, it aims to introduce additional protective measures for funeral professionals. It provides for mandatory rest periods, stress management and palliative care training, as well as measures to prevent psychosocial risks. This is a significant step forward for the professional recognition of these professions and the well-being of professionals.
The funeral director is the guarantor of compliance with this law within his establishment. He or she ensures that teams are trained and comply with the regulations in place.
The business of death, though often invisible to many, is an integral part of our society. Funeral directors, masters of ceremonies and all those who work in this field face major emotional challenges on a daily basis. Not only do they have to deal with their own emotions, they also have to support the bereaved.
Professional training, self-help, support from peers and superiors, defense mechanisms and legal frameworks are all tools that enable them to overcome these challenges. Despite the difficulties, these professionals continue to provide an essential public service that respects the dignity of the deceased.
Recognizing and valuing these professions also means paying tribute to those who, every day, help us face death with empathy and professionalism.