My family started Found and Sons shortly before I was born, so I’ve been around the business my entire life. I have been a licensed funeral director since 2015.
Do you have any early memories of growing up around a funeral home? Any funny stories?
Our first funeral home in Culpeper was in an old manor and we lived on the top floor. As my mother’s favorite story goes, it was one quiet afternoon. My mom and I were in our apartment above the funeral home and Mom had to answer the phone. When she’s done with the call, she turns to look for me, and I had disappeared. I was under 2 years old at the time and my young mother started to panic a little bit. I had somehow gotten out of the apartment, went downstairs to the funeral home, and my mom found me taking a nap in a casket. We played hide and seek a lot in the funeral home, so I guess I was comfortable enough to walk in and take a nap. My mom still loves to tell people that story and it always starts: “I knew Julie was going to be a funeral director when….”
What led you to becoming a funeral director?
Growing up with two funeral director parents, I couldn’t understand why they would want to do this line of work. They actually discouraged me from getting into it because it really is a dedication more than a job. I didn’t really consider it until college. I had spent a few years working part-time for my dad, and I realized I liked to help families. So my sophomore year of college, I switched my major to business and started on this path. My dad wouldn’t let me do my apprenticeship at our business, so I worked for a much larger family-owned firm in Richmond and really learned a lot. I also realized there that I could handle all aspects of the business and I really loved it.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
No two days in this business are exactly alike, because everything is so unpredictable. Typically, when I get into the office, I check my email and other messages, see what needs to happen for the day. Next, I’ll start making my phone calls. Sometimes that means calling a preacher for a service, sometimes touching base with a family who has lost a loved, or following up on things from the day before. Later in the morning, we usually have our first appointment, so I will sit with a family and make arrangements for services, which can take anywhere from an hour to two hours. When I am finished with the family, I have to do all the tasks associated with that family. Sometimes that means embalming their loved one, sometimes it means calling and ordering our flowers, casket/urn, etc. The last thing we typically do is go over the plan for the next day.
What is the most rewarding part of doing what you do?
When we exceed families’ expectations. For most people, coming in to make funeral arrangements or seeing their loved one is the worst day of the their lives. If I can make that time a little more comforting or peaceful, I feel like I’ve done my job. The best part is when a family says “I thought this was going to be horrible, and you made it wonderful”. That really touches my heart and
What is one misconception that you think people may have about funeral directors?
People seem to think that funeral directors are like you see on TV – morbid, dark, kind of scary, but I don’t think we are like that at all. Funeral directors come in all different forms, just like any other job. We are actually quite compassionate, caring and dedicated people.
If there is one thing that you could inform people about in this field, what would it be?
How rewarding it really is to be a funeral director. Most days I feel like I’ve made a person’s awful day a little better, and that feels very good.
Typically, Funeral Directors have been a male dominated field, what’s it like being a female in the industry?
Even though it is 2019 and we have females in every workforce imaginable, it is still a little difficult to be a funeral director in this field. Especially being young, I will sometimes be looked as the assistant or the secretary, not the funeral director. Many times, people will ask one of the gentleman assisting me a question, and they will have to answer “I’m sorry, I do not know, you’ll have to ask that young lady there – she’s the director.” It’s not anyone’s fault by any means, it’s just what people are used to.
How does being a funeral director play into your life compared to having a “normal” job? How do you manage to keep a good balance of work life and personal life?
The work life/personal life of a funeral director can get complicated. We can get wrapped up in the families we are serving so much that we can neglect our own families. As long as you have a strong family support system that understands and cares about what you are doing, everything will turn out just fine.
What do you enjoy most about working and living in the Fredericksburg area? What are some things that you enjoy doing in the area?
I love downtown Fredericksburg. The restaurants, coffee shops and little stores are fun to visit and I can’t wait to be able to move down there and walk everywhere. I also love how close we are to Lake Anna. I enjoy water sports and boating, so that is always a fun, quick getaway. Fredericksburg is also the perfect spot between two bigger cities so if you want to go to a concert, catch a flight, or see a professional sports game – it’s all still very close.