National Funeral Director and Mortician Recognition Day – March 11, 2022

Posted on March 10, 2022 by Rev. Pam Reidy under Funeral Etiquette
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The funeral director is the professional that no one wants to engage with, but with whom we willingly share one of the most intimate times of our lives, the death of someone we dearly loved. Whether expected or not, death can pull even the strongest among us into a tailspin. Some of us panic, some shut down emotionally, at the very least most experience a brain fog, at the worst some lose control of their feelings and their words. No matter our disposition, how tragic or painful the loss, funeral directors walk with us through our most difficult days. Tomorrow, March 11th is National Funeral Director and Mortician Recognition Day, a great time to reflect on this noble profession and to show appreciation to those who serve us in this way.

Formerly referred to as “undertakers,” the term dates back to medieval times when it described anyone “undertaking” a responsibility. Woodworkers were the first funeral undertakers.  Because families cared for their own deceased members until the mid-1800’s, undertakers were typically those who had both carpentry skills and a horse and cart, thus the preliminary caretaking duties, crafting a casket and transporting the body were performed by carpenters, woodworkers, or family members.  Until the mid-1900’s the family prepared the body and their home for visitation, those “undertaking” the responsibility for the casket and transporting, later began assisting with the home arrangements. The most significant evolution in undertaking came around the turn of the century when in the 1890s, embalming became popular. From there, the profession catapulted into a service role, what today is sometimes described as an “event planner.”

Over the years, the undertaking tasks expanded to a vocational calling to accompany the bereaved through the days immediately after a loss. Today, funeral directors must have advanced communication skills, knowledge of various customs and traditions, counseling skills, creativity, and a collaborative working relationship with florists, restauranters, churches, musicians and other vendors. Most of all, funeral directors must have at their core, a heart for the bereaved, realizing that each loss is unique, and every loss is important.

When talking about their professional role, these Funeral Directors capture the most common responses:

  • Timothy S. McNeaney: “Being a Funeral Director is not a career, it is a calling. I take pride in providing excellent service, empathy and compassion to families who have entrusted their loved ones to our care.”
  • Dalilah-Rain Gilmartin, Apprentice: “I am humbled and in awe of the strength of the human spirit in the face of loss where an indescribable sacred space emerges. I have a deep calling to hold and create that space for however a family wishes to begin their healing journey.
  • Philip G. Haddad Jr:I realize a family does not get a second chance to say good-bye to their loved one, and it is my responsibility to see to every exacting detail in the funeral process on behalf of the family.”

We are proud of the work the Mile’s funeral directors perform each day as they live our mission to honor lives, celebrate memories and help heal those who have experienced loss.  To our directors, we say thank you, we celebrate you and we honor your professional undertaking.

Happy National Funeral Director and Mortician Recognition Day!

To learn about our directors read their biographies here:


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