Every career path has its stressors and can cause burnout, but for funeral directors, burnout and stress are more prevalent. Funeral director burnout, commonly known as compassion fatigue, can happen to even the most dedicated individuals. Whether you’ve been helping families bury their loved ones for many years or have just started, it’s important to find ways to keep stress at bay and reduce your chances of burnout/compassion fatigue.
So what exactly is compassion fatigue? It is known as funeral director fatigue syndrome by some, and is the more medical or formal term for burnout. It can be characterized by these symptoms:
- Irritability & impatience
- Energy loss & exhaustion
- Depression & physical complaints
- Detachment & cynicism
Battling Compassion Fatigue
How do you combat burnout? First, take time for you. In any high-stress situation, neglecting yourself over a long period of time to give to others will eventually take a toll on you. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including diet, rest, and exercise will go a long way toward keeping equilibrium in your life.
Make your time off count. In a family-run funeral home, the atmosphere is generally more laid back. If you’re not busy and your family is nearby, take a little break to spend time with them, like a few minutes hiking/walking and enjoying the outdoors, or a mini-date with your spouse. The little things you make time for will keep you grounded and balanced with work/family life.
Set some boundaries for work. Funeral directors have been expected to be in a 24/7 on-call position for years, but with technological advances, it’s easier to pull away a little and still ensure your responsibilities are handled without losing the personal touch you’re accustomed to giving. Call answering services, remains removal services, and paperwork and filing assistance are a few of the services available to funeral directors. You’ll gain more time away from the funeral home and can handle some situations remotely, making it easier to take a vacation or rest at home.
No matter how long you have been a funeral director, the stress can get to you and cause burnout. In order to reduce your chances of experiencing compassion fatigue, review some of these stress-inhibiting actions that can do a great deal to keep burnout from taking over and ruining your happy life or cause you to rethink your choice as a funeral director.