No two days are ever quite the same in our line of work. Although the fundamentals of our job continue day to day (meeting with families and conducting funerals) each one is different and unique in their own way.
The first task of the morning is to check if anyone has been bought into our care overnight. Collecting deceased during nights/weekends is to be expected when you provide a 24 hour service. Although we all share the responsibility of being ‘on-call’, some nights can be pretty exhausting! We like to call the next of kin and reassure them that their loved one is safely in our care. It’s a good opportunity to ask if they have any question and give some gentle guidance on what they will need to think about in the following days.
Our office and chapels of rest open at 8.30am and we usually have an almost constant stream of people visiting for various different reasons throughout the day – coming in to make funeral arrangements for a loved one, collecting ashes, visiting the chapel of rest, florists dropping off tributes, dropping in charity donations or vicars and celebrants meeting with families.
As a company, we feel continuity is important when building positive working relationships with clients. With this in mind, we try to ensure that the funeral director who has initial contact with families during the first meeting, remains their main point of contact. They will handle the arrangements and planning right the way through and conduct the funeral on the day.
We have a team of 6 funeral directors who arrange and conduct funerals, an administration team who are here to meet visitors and answers the phone during the day and a team of funeral service operatives who bear on funerals and work in the mortuary and garage.
Each day takes careful planning to make sure everything gets done and is ready in time, double checking that we have the appropriate bearers and vehicles ready for each service. Our funeral service operatives have lots to do in preparation for the day ahead. First thing in the morning they will close down the coffins of those who’s funerals are taking place (this involves careful checks of identity tags and personal effects to be left in the coffins or removed and returned to the family), all of the vehicles are washed and hoovered, and flowers are gathered ready to go in the hearse. Whilst funeral directors and bearers are out doing services, the other members of the team will be out collecting deceased from hospitals/care homes/private residences and preparing them for the chapel of rest and furnishing coffins in our workshop.
During COVID, our daily routine was very different due to the restrictions put in place by the government and also our industry governing body, The National Association of Funeral Directors. Funerals were much smaller and less involved – at one point the limit for mourners at the crematorium was just 6 family members, with no option of being able to go into church or have the service many people really wanted. We arranged the majority of funerals by phone or video link which was much harder and not as personal as our usual face-to-face meetings, meaning we often didn’t get to physically meet clients until the day of the funeral. Little was known about the implications of COVID after death. We, like so many other industries, relied heavily on the use of PPE when collecting and preparing deceased, putting a lot of extra risk and pressure on our mortuary team.
When we aren’t out on funerals, a lot of work goes on ‘behind the scenes’ to ensure everything is ready for upcoming services. This involves booking churches/cemeteries/crematoriums, liaising with vicars/celebrants/doctors/the coroner, completing paperwork, submitting death notices to newspapers, putting together orders of service and processing of charitable donations. Although the funeral itself is the main focus of our job, a lot goes on beforehand to bring it all together. Being a small independent company, the team here have a strong working friendship and are always around to support each other. Given the nature of the job, some days can be really tough and emotional, even for us (we are only human!). It’s a privilege to know that we work in an environment where there is always someone back at the office to offer you support or help after a hard day, even if its just a hot cup of coffee waiting for you on your desk