What Do Morticians Do? and What's the Difference Between a Mortician, Funeral Director and an Undertaker?

Posted by: Erin Ward in Funeral Planning Resources, Funeral Homes | July 8, 2021
There are many misconceptions about the people whom we trust with the care of our dead. Though the emergence of the death positivity movement has begun to change the way society relates to it, death is still a somewhat taboo subject. So great is our collective fear of death, that those who work in close proximity to the dead are often treated with as much discomfort as the bodies themselves.

In this article we're exploring the duties of a mortician, and the types of people that take on this occupation.

Mortician, Funeral Director, or Undertaker?


Though mortician, undertaker, and funeral director are interchangeable terms, some larger funeral homes may differentiate between these roles. A large funeral home with many morticians will often use the term "funeral director" for the owner of the business, and "mortician" for the person who handles the body and embalming process. The title of undertaker applies to both, and is euphemistic in its reference to one who undertakes the duty of corpse care. But at smaller funeral homes, these titles are often used interchangeably.

What Duties Do Morticians Undertake?


Morticians are responsible for care of the dead. Their job begins when the family first calls to enlist their services, and ends at some point after the funeral. Duties include:

  • Transportation of the body to the funeral home
  • Paperwork pertaining to the death certificate
  • Arranging notary services
  • Assisting families in planning a memorial
  • Cleaning and dressing the body
  • Embalming
  • Help families make decisions about burial and cremation
  • Cremation, if the funeral home has its own crematory
  • Transportation to and from the crematory if there is no on-site crematory
  • Grief support for the bereaved
  • Assisting with selection of burial plots
  • Permanent memorialization
  • Officiating funeral ceremonies
  • Creating funeral programs and memorial cards
  • Assisting with video or slideshow equipment for the funeral service
  • Obituary writing
  • Hearse transportation to the funeral service
  • Grief aftercare
  • Death care education
Morticians spend a lot of time taking care of the dead, but even more time caring for the living. Assisting the bereaved is a main part of being a funeral director. Most people have little to no experience in handling the death of a loved one. When it comes to planning a funeral, morticians are able to assist survivors who are forced by tragedy to rise to the responsibility of burying their dead with dignity.

From handling the body, to preparing the ceremony, to assisting the grieving family with paperwork, morticians handle all aspects related to the funeral.

Using the Services of a Mortician


Morticians ensure funeral rites are conducted respectfully, support grieving families, and handle the bodily remains of the person who has died. It is a highly skilled occupation for those who have the fortitude to work with the recently departed.

Even if you entrust a licensed mortician to handle your loved one's final arrangements, the funeral planning process is draining and difficult. However, a professional death care provider will take a lot of unnecessary anguish off your plate as your family begins the mourning process. If you are planning a funeral, let a qualified mortician lead you through the process of memorialization so that you can focus on grieving with those you love.

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