At a national convention of Compassionate Friends, someone said words that I’ll never forget: “Sometimes when just one person is missing the whole world seems so empty.”

This is precisely when you, the funeral director, are called. Death has struck the family like a tidal wave. They are cut loose from their moorings and are all but drowning in the sea of their turbulent sorrow. As the bereaved are empty, so is the world around them.

At precisely this moment, many funeral directors are searching for their role-identity. “I’m a funeral director, not a counselor”— familiar words that both Dr. Alan Wolfelt and I have heard on too many occasions. We want to scream, “Look at the bereaved sitting before you. Part of them is being buried with ...

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