An Interview with Funeral Director, Julie Found

What is your connection to Found and Sons? How long have you been a Funeral Director?

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. 

An Interview with Funeral Director, Ray Rhodes

How long have you been a funeral director? What were you before you became a funeral director? 

I have been a funeral director for about 8 years. I worked for Coca-Cola as a Sales Manager.

What led you to this profession?

I started out part time working for Found and Sons and liked the business. Sam Found asked me if I wanted to become a Director. I really liked what I was doing and felt like I was helping people, so I decided to go for it.

What is the most rewarding part of doing what you do?

Helping families that are having the most difficult time in their lives.

What does a typical work day look like for you?

Every morning I view all the cases we have in our care to make sure every individual is being cared for appropriately. After that, it’s emails, giving out work assignments for the day to my staff, checking on the services that are scheduled to make sure we have completed any tasks that are needed (confirming ministers, church availability, staffing, etc..), transporting individuals for cremation, embalming as needed, and reviewing building maintenance.

What is one misconception that you think people have about funeral directors?

That funeral directors don’t care about their loved one and that we are only interested in selling the most expensive services to them. With every family, I try to provide them with the best information available for them to make decisions that they are comfortable and satisfied with.

If there is one thing that you could inform people about in regard to this industry, what would it be?

Start planning now! We will all eventually need the services of a funeral home, whether it is for ourselves or for a loved one. It is much easier to make decisions about what services you will want before someone passes away. Making those decisions after someone has passed is inherently more difficult when you are in a difficult emotional situation.

What advice would you give someone who is considering becoming a Funeral Director?

Work in the field first, even part time. Yes the industry is interesting, but it is not for everyone. Most directors have a preference on the types of duties they enjoy, and some that are difficult for them. Without hands-on experience, it is difficult to fully understand what this vocation requires of an individual.

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?

Being a funeral director does not always leave a lot of time and energy for personal time. Take the time when you can. You will spend many days dealing with other people’s personal crisis’s, but it is important to separate your personal life from this. This is not difficult for me; however, it can be very taxing on some people.

What do you enjoy most about living and working in the Fredericksburg area? 

Fredericksburg is a great place to work and bring up a family. There is a huge amount of history here, and many things to do as well. Of course, this area is growing, but it still has the home town feel about it.

Who is one person that inspires you?

The person that inspires me most would be Jesus Christ. Without forcing my religious views on anyone, he is my pick because he preached love and caring for all people. I think we all should take time to look at ourselves and strive to overcome our faults and help others to overcome theirs.

When You Lose the Love of Your Life – Is it Too Soon to Move On?

There is an old German proverb that says, “The death of a friend is equivalent to the loss of a limb.” If that’s true, how much more so is the pain after you lose a spouse or partner? The pain is so intense, there is a confirmed phenomenon called the “widowhood effect,” although it applies to both genders. Research done by the Harvard School of Public Health shows there is an increased chance of dying after a spouse dies. The risk is highest within the first three months after their passing – at 66%. Through our work at Found & Sons Funeral Chapels & Cremation Service with the families of Culpeper and Fredericksburg, we know that those who have lost a wife or husband certainly do not need to see any research to understand the kind of pain they have experienced.


This time of year can be especially hard on those who have lost a love. Restaurants crowded with romantic couples and pink boxes of chocolate lining store shelves can serve as a painful reminder of their death, and feelings of intense loneliness can ensue.

Is it too soon to move on?



Loneliness can often lead to asking whether you can, or should, move on with life and find another mate. This decision is as highly personal and individual as the grief process itself. Men tend to remarry more often and earlier than their female counterparts. Some grief experts recommend that you wait one year before making any big, life-changing decisions, whether it’s getting married again, selling a home, etc.


The most important thing is that you feel ready and that your heart is healed. While you will most likely always miss your spouse, and perhaps love them, it’s important to ask yourself if your heart has room for a new love. If your heart hasn’t healed from your loss, overwhelming feelings of grief and sadness can stand in the way of happiness with your new mate. On the other hand, pursuing a new relationship could be used as a distraction from your pain, but that is never a good foundation for a solid future and will stunt your healing.


While this is a decision that you must make yourself, you could perhaps decide to seek the counsel of family, friends, or a trusted counselor or advisor. Many times, those who are closest to you will have unique insights into where you might be on your grief journey. On the other hand, you do need to tread carefully. Some people, especially children, if you and your spouse had any, can have very strong feelings on the topic. They may feel protective of their parent’s memory, and not want you to fully “move on.”


At the end of the day, you will be the one who needs to decide whether you want to start a new relationship with someone else after the death of a spouse or partner. If you decide you don’t want to begin another relationship, that’s okay! Often, well-meaning friends and family will be concerned that you’re lonely, or not healing, because you choose to remain single. This could not be further from the truth. Many people decide to go solo for their remaining years and are still able to find meaning and purpose through friendships, relationships with family and grandchildren, and civic or religious activities.


At Found & Sons Funeral Chapels & Cremation Service, we want you to know that our caring team is always here for you throughout your grief process – whether it’s two weeks after your loved one’s funeral service, or two years. We can help connect you with local support groups and community programs that can help you process your feelings and perhaps even help you determine if it’s time to move on. We also offer counseling services, a grief library, and our online, interactive grief support, Guiding Grief.  Reach out to us, or access our online grief resource to get started.

Tips for Writing a Meaningful Obituary

American playwright and novelist Thornton Wilder once said, “The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude.” Of course, grief is inescapable, and a part of the normal human experience after death occurs. One way we can express our gratitude to our loved ones is by preparing a farewell that captures their essence and communicates what they meant to us and to the world. The team at ­­­­Found and Sons Funeral Chapels & Cremation Service has been honored to do that for our neighbors in Culpeper and Fredericksburg for more than 80 years.


One of the oldest forms of paying tribute to a loved one is the obituary, which can be traced historically back to the time of the ancient Romans. While it has been called a number of different things throughout the centuries, the modern death announcement became known as an “obituary” around the 18th century. Obituaries have undergone a lot of changes throughout the years. For example, 20 years ago we would primarily read obituaries in the local newspaper, whereas now, online memorials are more popular. Publishing online is preferred because loved ones can edit content, including video and photo slideshows, and share easily and widely on social media networks. Families use obituaries to tell their loved one’s unique life story and to communicate key information about the visitation, service, or reception. Friends and family members can also leave online condolences that appear instantly.

The ability to share a loved one’s obituary so widely increases the importance of creating a tribute that is accurate, vivid, and compelling. It’s a significant responsibility, but at ­­­­Found and Sons Funeral Chapels & Cremation Service, our caring staff has the knowledge and experience to help you with this. We realize writing an obituary can seem daunting, especially while dealing with the numerous decisions and tasks that must be made in connection to the funeral service. At a time when grief can overwhelm, we are here to help you find the words you want to say.


As you’re preparing to write an obituary, consider these tips to help you get started:


Keep it simple

An obituary can be many things: a notice of death, a story of life, a family record, a request for memorial donations, a source of information about funeral service, and a thank you to special people, institutions or groups who provided help and comfort. It is also a defining statement about the person who has died, so accuracy is crucial. If you are struggling with what information to include, we can offer step-by-step guidance, so you convey your loved one’s personality and contributions in a meaningful way.

Tips for Writing a Meaningful Obituary



Review the obituary to catch misspellings and verify facts

Too often, errors slip by – names are misspelled, dates are incorrect, specifics are overlooked – which is why it is essential to have a number of people proofread before publication. Our caring team, available at our locations in Culpeper County, will make sure to choose appropriate phrasing and confirm correct information.


Take care when selecting what to highlight

Key points in an obituary include childhood, education, career, military service, hobbies and accomplishments. These details serve as a reflection of your loved one and present an opportunity to let his or her personality shine on paper. In many cases, an obituary is the only article ever written about a person’s life and may be the only record of existence that remains centuries later. We realize how important this is, and that’s why we post obituaries on our website free of charge for families we serve. Our online obituaries also provide links to send sympathy flowers and the ability to light a memory candle.


During this difficult time, please remember that our compassionate staff Found and Sons Funeral Chapels & Cremation Service and is here for you with advice, comfort and expertise. Reach out to us today.


There is good news to share on the current health of our country: Americans are living longer than ever before. With that news comes a caveat, in that longer life spans confront us with new, and often daunting, challenges…especially when it comes to caring for an aging family member.

Sometimes, crisis strikes suddenly and responsibility for a loved one is thrust onto your shoulders. Your mother falls and breaks a hip. Dad experiences a side effect of his medication. Other times, the weight of becoming a caregiver comes gradually giving you time to plan and make arrangements for your parents. When this happens, what do you do? What steps can you take? As we watch our parents age and face the challenges that inevitably follow, there are four steps that our team at Found and Sons Funeral Chapels & Cremation Service recommend our neighbors in Culpeper and Fredericksburg take to prepare for your family.


  1. Arm yourself with knowledge.

Today, we have the astounding advantage of the Internet and the wealth of information that it can pour right onto our desktop.  Sites like Aging Parents and Elder Care offer enormous amounts of excellent information about problems your parents may encounter.


When the Parent becomes the Child



  1. Watch for warning signs.

Keep an eye out for early symptoms like difficulty walking, unsteadiness, or falling.  Often, older people neglect their grooming and hygiene, lose their appetite, or change their eating habits.  They may begin to leave spoiled food in the refrigerator or unopened mail on the table. Forgetfulness can lead to mishandling of medication, which can lead to additional, more dangerous complications.


  1. Assess the situation.

What challenge is your loved one facing? How will you address the problems? Some of the issues may be correctable. Elderly people often take several types of drugs that can interact negatively and cause damage. You can look up information on prescription drug interactions, but always contact a doctor if you have serious concerns about medication.

Aging loved ones are also susceptible to vitamin deficiencies, which can cause symptoms similar to age dementia. Consult a doctor to test for deficiencies and to learn if they can be resolved by changes in medication or routine. Unfortunately, many problems are a natural consequence of aging and not easily corrected and you will need to decide what kind of assistance your loved one needs. Think carefully about living arrangements, whether the person can remain in his or her own home, or if you must take the jarring step of moving to a facility.


  1. Prepare before the problem.

While some elderly people have the wisdom to make plans for their inevitable health and living problems, others may not.  It is all too common for a person in declining health to deny the situation, and not provide the documents and other information you will need. It may be a difficult conversation to have, but you should ask your parents about their wishes, medical history, and financial history so that you can help them receive the best care down the road. You can also take steps to help them preplan and save for their funeral service, so you both have one less thing to worry about. Furthermore, many adults with aging parents never see the inside of an assisted living facility until a parent needs one and there is little time to consider options. It’s always better to do preemptive research about resources here in Culpeper County, to ensure you’re informed when facing a decision.


The biggest challenge when you switch roles and become the caregiver for your parent is to provide the type of care and compassion they require while still maintaining a life of your own. It’s not easy, but it’s possible. We are always available to assist you with questions or concerns about how to best care for your loved one. You are welcome to visit us at our location in Culpeper or Fredericksburg to discuss preplanning a funeral service with your loved ones, keeping them involved and ensuring their final wishes are seen through.


Contact us today for additional resources and support.