A day in the life of... A funeral director: What exactly do they do?

What it means to be a funeral director. Pictured is Alex Block

What it means to be a funeral director. Pictured is Alex Block - Credit: Picture: Danielle Booden

From supporting a family following the loss of a loved one, to embalming and caring for the deceased – the working life of a funeral director is like no other.

And yet many misconceptions remain when it comes to the role.

So, what is it exactly that draws an individual into an industry where they are faced with mortality on a day-to-day basis? 

Thirty-one-year-old Alex Block may have some of the answers. 

Alex Block, funeral director at Peter Taylor Funeralcare on Unthank Road in Norwich. Picture: Daniel

Alex Block, funeral director at Peter Taylor Funeralcare on Unthank Road in Norwich - Credit: Archant 2022 / Picture: Danielle Booden

How it all started 

It was the need for meaningful connections that first persuaded Mr Block to sign up. 

Originally joining Co-op Funeralcare as a funeral service operative, within three years he became a full-time funeral director.   

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Reflecting on his career thus far, he said he struggled to identify the precise moment he made the conscious decision to join the sector.

Instead, he remembers how, as a young graduate working in retail, he longed for a more meaningful role than he had at the time. 

Peter Taylor Funeralcare on Unthank Road in Norwich. Picture: Danielle Booden

Peter Taylor Funeralcare on Unthank Road in Norwich - Credit: Archant 2022 / Picture: Danielle Booden

“Often, funeral care comes as an epiphany, especially to those wishing to help others, but who do not know where to go in their career,” he said.  

“I’d always had a feeling I might be interested in joining the industry, despite knowing very little about it. 

“Despite having considered applying for a role with a local funeral home as early as the age of 18, it took seven more years before I landed my first job. 

“I was 25 years old when I arrived at a point in my life where I wanted a more meaningful career, having worked in retail up until that point.” 

Alex Block, funeral director at Peter Taylor Funeralcare on Unthank Road in Norwich, taking phone ca

Alex Block, funeral director at Peter Taylor Funeralcare on Unthank Road in Norwich, taking phone calls - Credit: Archant 2022 / Picture: Danielle Booden

What changed at that moment? 

The son of healthcare professionals – both of his parents are nurses – Mr Block explained how he had been inspired by their careers to find a job where he could help people when they really need it. 

He said: “Working in funeral care has allowed me to help and support families at one of the most difficult times in their lives. 

Alex Block, funeral director at Peter Taylor Funeralcare on Unthank Road in Norwich, furnishing a co

Alex Block, funeral director at Peter Taylor Funeralcare on Unthank Road in Norwich, furnishing a coffin - Credit: Picture: Danielle Booden

“I have always loved how unique funerals can be, especially in these modern times. The personalisation offered is wonderful; from rainbow coffins to motorcycle and bicycle hearses, funerals can now be extremely personal, with endless choices when it comes to nearly all aspects.  

“I truly take pride in being able to offer families so many options to make the final send off a true reflection of their loved one and the life they lived.”  

A traditional oak coffin at Peter Taylor Funeralcare on Unthank Road in Norwich. Picture: Danielle B

A traditional oak coffin at Peter Taylor Funeralcare on Unthank Road in Norwich - Credit: Archant 2022 / Picture: Danielle Booden

It took Mr Block less than three years to be appointed as a full-time funeral director with the Peter Taylor Funeral Home based on Unthank Road, Norwich. 

What it is really like working as a funeral director? 

And reflecting on his perception of the sector now compared with when he was a teenager, he admits there are still many misconceptions about what it’s like working in a funeral home. Although he is encouraged that other young people are joining. 

Describing what he would like young people to know about potentially joining the industry, he said: “It is a people-focused job that requires compassion and exceptional communication skills, because supporting bereaved families and caring for their loved ones is at the heart of what we do. 

A funeral arranging room at Peter Taylor Funeralcare on Unthank Road in Norwich. Picture: Danielle B

A funeral arranging room at Peter Taylor Funeralcare on Unthank Road in Norwich - Credit: Archant 2022 / Picture: Danielle Booden

“A big part of the job is advising and empathising with families, and simply listening is just as important and shows loved ones that their thoughts and wishes are being heard.

“We also host events, such as coffee mornings and fundraisers, so that we can support our local area and build relationships with members of the community.  

Alex Block, funeral director at Peter Taylor Funeralcare on Unthank Road in Norwich, working in the

Alex Block, funeral director at Peter Taylor Funeralcare on Unthank Road in Norwich, working in the reception - Credit: Archant 2022 / Picture: Danielle Booden

“To be able to make a difference truly is a great honour. 

“As long as you can listen, empathise, work well in a close-knit team and work hard, then you’re off to a great start.  

  • For more information about becoming a funeral director, visit the UK governing body the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) or https://jobs.coop.co.uk/funeralcare. 
Alex Block, funeral director at Peter Taylor Funeralcare on Unthank Road in Norwich. Picture: Daniel

Alex Block, funeral director at Peter Taylor Funeralcare on Unthank Road in Norwich - Credit: Archant 2022 / Picture: Danielle Booden

A typical day in the life of a funeral director 

7.30am: Catch up on emails. Respond to urgent queries. Organise handling the deceased brought in overnight. Obtain relevant information before beginning arrangements. 

Alex Block, funeral director at Peter Taylor Funeralcare on Unthank Road in Norwich. Picture: Daniel

Alex Block, funeral director at Peter Taylor Funeralcare on Unthank Road in Norwich - Credit: Archant 2022 / Picture: Danielle Booden

9am: Open Peter Taylor funeral home. 

10am: Contact families whose loved ones passed away overnight, offering support face-to-face or via phone. 

11am: Work with the back-of-house team to prepare for upcoming service.  

Alex Block, funeral director at Peter Taylor Funeralcare on Unthank Road in Norwich, polishing the h

Alex Block, funeral director at Peter Taylor Funeralcare on Unthank Road in Norwich, polishing the hearse - Credit: Archant 2022 / Picture: Danielle Booden

Noon: Begin preparing for 1pm funeral service. Ensure final checks are carried out. Brief team on next action. 

1pm: Conduct funeral. 

2.30pm: Meet with family to begin funeral arrangements. Take care of legal paperwork. 

Alex Block, funeral director at Peter Taylor Funeralcare on Unthank Road in Norwich, driving the hea

Alex Block, funeral director at Peter Taylor Funeralcare on Unthank Road in Norwich, driving the hearse - Credit: Archant 2022 / Picture: Danielle Booden

4pm: Call families for funerals taking place the next working day to assure everything is in place and answer any final questions they may have. 

5pm: Catch up on admin before finishing for the day. 

Alex Block, funeral director at Peter Taylor Funeralcare on Unthank Road in Norwich. Picture: Daniel

Alex Block, funeral director at Peter Taylor Funeralcare on Unthank Road in Norwich - Credit: Archant 2022 / Picture: Danielle Booden

Peter Taylor Funeralcare on Unthank Road in Norwich. Picture: Danielle Booden

Peter Taylor Funeralcare on Unthank Road in Norwich - Credit: Archant 2022 / Picture: Danielle Booden