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Student Testimonial

Guy P.

Why did you choose Humber?

Humber College was my first choice for the Funeral Services Education. There were several reasons why I selected Humber. At the time I was living in Toronto and it was close to where I lived. When I was researching I discovered Humber’s reputation which was well regarded in the community of Funeral Director’s that I know. My dad was amongst the first students to enrol in the 1960’s and although much has changed since then, Humber has kept pace. From the latest in health sciences and technological advancement, adapting to cultural changes and emerging new business practices the program offered it all. It was not a difficult choice to make.

What are your career aspirations?

Providing meaningful and exceptional care to families who are grieving the loss of a family member is where my journey as a funeral director begins. As a funeral director there are many opportunities to develop specialities as you progress through your career. I can't say that I have made up my mind on what speciality I want to pursue quite yet. My plan is to spend my first 5 years as a licensed funeral director working on the floor, making arrangements, directing funerals and honing my preparation skills. Further I hope to expand my knowledge by serving a community with different cultures and traditions. In this setting I hope to learn as much as I can on how to best provide a broad range of funeral services that reflects the needs of our uniquely Canadian cultural landscape. It's an exciting time of change in our industry and I hope to play my part in that as the role of a funeral director evolves.

How have the faculty helped you on your road to reaching your goals?

First off, the faculty in my program are something very special. It didn’t take very long to get the sense that they were very engaged at every level to support my success in this program. There was never a time when I felt that I couldn’t reach out to any faculty member for additional instruction, clarification or general advice. In fact in my experience there were several times that I reached out for extra help and the response was always immediate and beyond my expectations. I knew I was in good hands from the very beginning.

Each member of the faculty possesses unique specialized skills that they were always very generous to share when called upon. Not only did the faculty assist in the school setting, but also provided a tremendous support when it came to finding a good fit for the work placement/internship and beyond. The faculty cares deeply for the success of their students and they have made my journey into this career so much smoother thanks to their guidance. I am deeply grateful to them all and will always regard them highly.

What would you say has been the single best learning experience in the program you are in?

I’m fascinated with the concept of habits, how we form them, why we form them and how they can both provide positive and negative outcomes depending on the circumstances. In the context of funeral services I learned that it is very easy to form habits in the way we present options to families, the pre-determined types of services we offer and even in the methods we use in embalming. It’s natural to find a path that “works” and stick to it because it’s proven to have good outcomes in the past. Humber has taught me to think long and hard on identifying these habits and thinking outside of the box with how I can approach each and every family. An emphasis on honing my listening skills allows me to provide meaningful ideas on how to meet them at their level of need. Although there will always be families that prefer traditional religious services my ears and my eyes are always working on creative and thoughtful ways to enhance the funeral experience. This has now become my mantra, that there is no such thing as a one-size funeral fits all.

What elements of the program are best preparing you for your career?

That’s a difficult question to answer because once you graduate the education becomes a sum of parts that form into a repertoire of skills that I do use routinely on the job. The most obvious I suppose are the technical skills I’ve acquired. From proper embalming techniques to accurate and complete filing of government forms to conducting myself through first calls to house calls and arrangements these skills are all vital. A large portion of our studies include a broad grasp of the legislation that governs our practice including privacy laws. These laws are very important and are called upon frequently in my daily practice and help me do my job as best as possible. 

It’s also worth noting that there were several “soft skills” that I learned that I am surprised how frequently I call upon. Communication skills that employ mindful body language and use of plain language for clear communication is something that takes practice but it plays a vital role in my day-to-day work. This applies to both working with the funeral home team and the families we serve.

Although it’s a finer point there are times when ethical debates comes up with our work. I’ve learned through my studies the virtues of speaking with colleagues of differing opinions and standpoints to help gain broader perspective and to draw upon the collective wisdom of the team. Humber also provided me with good case studies and reference points when challenged with complex issues and work around strategies. Families are complex. The more you are prepared for the better you can overcome the difficult cases.

As funeral directors we carry an important responsibility to provide families with as much information as we can so that they can make informed choices. Humber certainly left me with a lasting impression of the importance of providing informed consent and the merits of being both knowledgeable and receptive at the same time. I want to ensure is that every family I serve is given ample opportunity to consider their options and to provide them with all the tools I have to best support them on their bereavement journey.

Would you recommend this program to others, and why?

Yes I would recommend the Funeral Service Education at Humber but with some qualification. This isn’t a job for everyone as you can imagine. However for those special few that feel the calling, for those that understand and embrace the sacrifices that come with bereavement care I salute you. I would highly recommend this program to them. There is no higher calling in this life than to help others at their time of greatest need. 

I think I am in good company when I say that there is no greater reward then when a family lets you know how pleased they are with the service. Those hugs, cards, whispered thank you’s, all make the sacrifice worth it. We are making a meaningful difference with families when they are in their darkest time. There aren’t many jobs out there that will give you this kind of feeling to truly connect with your community and to make a difference one family at time. For those that can, I believe you should be a funeral director. Humber will get you on the right path.

Guy Poter headhot