Frazer Blog

Surviving the holiday season stress

by | Nov 16, 2016 | Remembrance Programs

A man with his head in his hands

It’s coming. The holiday season.

For many, it’s the season of joy. But for funeral directors, the season of joy can quickly become the season of stress.

Beyond the normal unpredictability of a funeral director’s job, the holidays can bring extra stress that can lead to burnout. Funeral director Caleb Wilde notes that “Being that funeral directors are susceptible to compassion fatigue AND have an uncontrolled work environment, we are especially vulnerable to burnout.”

Don’t let stress and burnout take the happy out of your holidays. Here are some tips for beating burnout and surviving the holiday season:

Confront Unrealistic Expectations

Everyone has hopes for what the holidays will be like, but all too often, reality and our expectations don’t line up. You know better than anyone that death doesn’t stop on the holidays. On top of the already never-ending duties a funeral director performs, the holiday season adds extra responsibilities like visiting family and friends, attending holiday parties, and hosting your own parties or remembrance program.

There’s only so much time in the holiday season, and not everything we want will get done. This means missing out on some of the fun things the holidays bring.

Jan Bruce, CEO of the online stress management system, recommends that “Maybe you don’t accept every party invite, but choose one or two that mean the most. Rather than blaze through one cocktail hour before heading to another one, spend quality time there, connect with people you know and some you don’t, and enjoy where you are. When you can do that, the holidays feel different, because you’re always where you’re supposed to be.”

Delegate the Work

Trying to tackle everything yourself over the holiday season is a noble effort — especially when picking up extra work so other staff can enjoy some time off. But unfortunately, trying to take on too much too fast only leads to burning out quicker.

Delegate the work so it’s split evenly. If you’re planning to host a holiday event this year, consider partnering with another organization in the community to split the work needed to plan and promote the event.

Don’t forget that technology can be your best friend this holiday season. Use it to save yourself time and work. For example, here’s a guide on how your funeral home can use Facebook’s free event tool to plan and promote a holiday program.

Make a Difference

If burnout and compassion fatigue starts to sink in, it can leave a person feeling cynical. To combat these feelings, try taking a moment to make a small difference in someone’s life.

It could be something as simple as:

  • Making donations to a food pantry/clothing drive.
  • Sending a small gift or card to client families you’ve served in the past.
  • Volunteering to share a meal with seniors in the community through a Meals on Wheels campaign.

Studies have found that giving back to others lights up our pleasure receptors in the brain, giving us a surge of energy and a much-needed jolt of joy — the perfect cure for holiday stress.

Mentally Escape Once a Day

It can be hard to get away from work, but setting aside just 15 minutes a day to escape from the holiday stress has enormous benefits. Take those 15 minutes to get away — turn off the TV, put down the phone, and just breathe. A daily meditation or moment of reflection not only improves mental health but also improves your overall physical health.

Leslie Davenport, author of Healing and Transformation Through Self-Guided Imagery, suggests breaking meditation into three categories: body, heart, and soul. Her meditation instructions are brief, yet allow for deep insight that will make us more appreciative of the holiday season. Click here to try her 10-minute exercise.

Enjoy the Little Things

The holidays can be tough, but you’re a funeral director. You’re tougher. As the holiday season approaches, remember to enjoy the little things — the first snowfall, a warm cup of hot cocoa on a cold day, or a holiday dinner with the family. It can make all the difference.


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