Aside from it being her first case, new funeral director Lori Davis was faced with the task of embalming her own father. Just after becoming a funeral director at the Rock of Ages Funeral Chapel in Opa-Locka, Florida, her 68-year-old father, Emory Hadley Jr., was stabbed in his bed on July 5. She said that her first embalming was made extremely difficult by it being her father, and she had to leave the room more than once and go for a drive to calm down.

Hadley’s nephew has been charged with first degree murder of his uncle. The two men were said to have had a fight before Hadley was stabbed.

Aside from rare cases like this, funeral directors generally enjoy their job and take the task very seriously and professionally. They have not only the responsibility of planning and carrying out funerals, but they must also fill out the necessary paperwork associated with one’s death and comfort the grieving loved ones. Their specific tasks include, removing the deceased to a mortuary, prepare the remains, help the family plan the funeral, address the spiritual needs of the family including burial or destruction of the remains, establish locations, dates, and times of wakes, memorial services, and burials, arrange for a hearse to transport the body to these places, prepare obituary notices, arrange for pallbearers and clergy, and schedule the opening and closing of a grave with the cemetery.

In certain cases, they need to prepare and ship the remains for out-of-State burial, handle paperwork involved with the deceased including submitting papers to obtain a formal death certificate, help families apply for benefits, notify the Social Security Administration of the death, and transfer pensions, insurance policies, or annuities to survivors.

There were about 28,000 funeral directors in 1998. About 10 percent of them were self-employed. To become a funeral director, every state except Colorado demands that they be licensed. To obtain a license, applicants must generally be about 21 years old, have two years of formal education including studies in mortuary science, serve a one-year apprenticeship, and pass a qualifying exam.

Embalmers must be licensed in every state. The job of the embalmer is to wash the body down with germicidal soap, replace the blood with embalming fluid to preserve the body, reshape disfigured or damaged body parts, apply cosmetics to the skin, and place the body in a casket. This helps to maintain a sanitary and lifelike state of the deceased.

The average income for funeral directors was about $35,040 in 1998. They are often always on-call so that they are available to remove remains at any and all hours. They dress professionally and are there for the constant support of strangers in their darkest times.

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