Coming from a family of Funeral Directors, I have been brought up surrounded by death and grief. It soon became a way of life. From a very early age, I can remember living above the Funeral Parlour that my dad was the manager of in South Wales. I knew little back then of what went on downstairs other thanthat my dad looked after people who had died.
People often ask if it was creepy growing up living above a Funeral Home. No it wasn't. I was just like any other child growing up. The only difference was that my dad was the local Funeral Director.
The next question that many utter when I tell them I'm a Funeral Director is "Isn't that depressing?" No it isn't. I focus on my own ability and that of our staff to help a family through the worst time of their life.
Yes we do feel great sadness about the tragic deaths, any caring person would, but we also see our role as one of support to help the relatives. We know that with our help, the bereaved family members will be able to work through their grief and begin to rebuild their lives. We know that the service we provide helps the family draw valuable support from the community.
The thanks we often receive when we have completed the services support our own emotions. It makes it much easier to go to the aid of the next family who calls in the middle of the night because some tragedy has taken a member of their family.
And yes every death is a tragedy. Even the ageing grandparent that has succumbed to a lengthy illness. That is a tragedy to their family. The magnitude of the tragedy varies for each family and their circumstances.
So what is life like for a small town Funeral Director?
It varies. Some days we can be in the office at 6.30am and not get home until 9pm. We can get home, sit down to watch television and be called out to assist a family that has lost someone close.
Other days can be quiet where the telephone rings less that 6 times all day and nobody comes into the office.
The fact is that no two days are ever the same in the funeral profession. Likewise no two funerals are the same. One family may want just the hearse to go straight to the crematorium with their loved one, another family may want three or four limousines, a white or silver hearse or even a horse-drawn carriage. We will always take the time with each family to ensure that their loved one receives a personalised send off that will reflect their life.
Being a small town funeral director makes the service we offer even more personal as we often know the deceased and their family. This, we have been told, makes it easier for the relatives. People sometimes ask 'does it affect you?'. The simple answer is yes. Although we are Funeral Directors, we are still human and we still have feelings, despite what some may think !!!