Directing funerals is first a ministry

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George Schwille
Funeral director
Age: 68

Sr. Camille: Where and with whom did you grow up? 

Schwille: I grew up in Glendale with my father, mother, younger brother and two sisters.


Who are the members of your current family?

I live in Glendale with my wife, Barbara, and son, Peter. My grown sons, George and Jonathan, and daughter Allison are out of the house.

How would you describe your profession? 

I help people when they have lost loved ones.


What led you to this work?

My father was a funeral director, and I grew up in the business

You meet people at a time of loss and great sorrow. How do you comfort and serve them?

I take responsibility for all the details of the arrangements they want.

Devoting so much time to people who are grieving must take its toll. How do you avoid becoming morose?

I spend time enjoying the company of my family and friends.

What advice do you offer those who arrange funerals?

Don't impose your beliefs on the mourners.

Does the faith of the mourners make a difference in their coping ability?

People who are close to their churches seem to do better at coping with their losses.

What does your parish church and community offer you?

Not much.

Have you met any clergymen or women who are particularly helpful to the mourners?

I've met some who were very helpful and others who are less so.

What advice would you offer people who come to pay their respects?

Please don't tell the mourners their loved one 'is in a better place.' And don't tell them everything will be all right. People deal with grief differently and have to find their own way.

The family doesn't want to hear that.

What else would you like us to know?

The funeral business is a ministry. You don't do it to get rich; you do it to help people.

[Mercy Sr. Camille D'Arienzo, broadcaster and author, narrates Stories of Forgiveness, a book about people whose experiences have caused them to consider the possibilities of extending or accepting forgiveness. The audiobook, renamed Forgiveness: Stories of Redemptionis available from Now You Know Media.]

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