There are a lot of creative people in the funeral industry. I have met a lot of artists and musicians who have had to make the difficult decision to sacrifice their hobbies in order to compensate the company they work for.
The funeral industry is inspiring. There are moments of vulnerability, self actualization, transitional states, and transformations which we witness in ourselves, the deceased and the families we serve. The issue we sometimes face, is trying to juggle work and life and creative side.
Our boundaries are crossed regularly from the desire of servitude for those in need. It can compromise the energy we once put into our hobbies. So many musicians’ have given up playing and performing. Since becoming a funeral director and I found myself using painting as an outlet less often. The juggling act can become overwhelming and hard to manage when our work takes so much from us.
The outcome is that our identity becomes solely based on our careers. So many times I have been told that this career is not a choice it is a calling. I dispute that notion. It may indeed be a calling, but we always have options. In the past, I felt I had no choice but to wear the hat of a funeral director, even if that included varying duties of tech, admin and counsellor. By the end of the day, I was so exhausted I didn't have the energy to paint. Then there was the expectation of community involvement after work hours. I did volunteer and I love volunteering but that is so many hours dedicated to not self care.
We are empathetic by nature and many of us love to solve other peoples’ problems. My problem was, that I wasn't utilizing the skills I had developed prior to funeral service. We all have something are passionate of outside of work, which we believe, couldn't possibly be portrayed in a work setting. I depleted the time I used for my outlets and disengaged all my other skills, which in my case are art based. I paint surrealism in oil. How could this possibly be useful for a family or even the community I serve? Especially since my art and sense of humor is so dark.
Where there is a will, there is a way. I wish I would have thought to take home temporaries and paint them and give them to families who couldn't afford better. I want to encourage and empower the funeral directors in my community to brainstorm ways in which they can bring their talents to the workplace. Maybe you could do a needle point cover which fits on a temporary urn for a less fortunate family. If you are a guitar player, you could write cool rock and roll tracks which you could add to a video presentation for the right person. If you knit you can make amazing hats for cancer patients, who are just having a basic identification and their family could use some extra love.
If you are into sports and fitness, you could organize group grief walks once a month. To me this is true community involvement. It is a piece of ourselves which provides an outlet for the heavy load we bear from families, and gives them a piece of our heart which they will probably not find elsewhere. This type of community involvement is what improves our quality of life while allowing us to be ourselves not just the funeral director identity. It creates the connection both we and the families we serve long for.
This should never feel like an obligation. It should be something that you do with intent to better ourselves through giving. There should be no deadlines or stress over it. The purpose it serves, is to give ourselves direction and integrate our passions into what we do daily so we can truly give ourselves to the people we serve who are in need of it.