No day is the same in the life of a funeral arranger. Here, Adam, funeral arranger at Neville Funerals in Bedford, talks about taking pride in helping families through their bereavement.
My day starts at around 8.30 in the office, when I contact any families whose loved ones may have come into our care overnight, or during the weekend if it’s a Monday. Neville Funerals takes calls 24 hours a day. I then make plans to see the family as soon as possible to discuss their wishes, sending an email to confirm an appointment. I try to prepare the family, as much as I can. I share details on what will be discussed so the family can take some time, at home, to think about what they and their loved one, would want.
On a normal day, I can expect to see one or two families, but sometimes if we are busy, it can be up to four families in a day. When a family comes in, I try to make them feel comfortable. The appointments are as informal as possible. I tend to think that I’m the ‘face’ of the funeral in the eyes of the family. I’m the contact that they can come to with any worries or questions, and so it’s very important to me that I build a connection to help them feel at ease and trust me.
During the appointment we run through a series of important questions to help me understand the family wishes. The initial call has usually told me if the family want a cremation or burial, so at the appointment we discuss questions such as whether the family would like a limousine, where is the service to take place, is the loved one to be dressed in their own clothes. During my time as a funeral arranger, I’ve learnt that every family has different requests. No family is the same. We also go through coffin choices. Today, more and more people are choosing ‘green’ options – banana leaf, willow or water hyacinth coffins for example. Families are definitely starting to think about the environment. I’m also seeing more families opt for green burial sites where the coffin has to made out of natural material and the person isn’t embalmed. There are some wonderful eco-friendly burial grounds that are so peaceful and beautiful.
Once the appointment is finished, I’ll go to the upstairs office, arrange the dates for the funeral and get back to the family. I then order the coffin as agreed. I try to get it ready as quick as I can so the family get spend time with their loved one. Speed is important in this job. I also give options for orders of service and look after sending these off to the printers once the family have seen a proof.
I haven’t always been a funeral arranger. I used to work in retail until five years ago when I decided I wanted a change. It’s very different to any other job. I think you have to be very organised and of course, compassionate and approachable. But it’s important not to be too over the top. I just want families to feel as though they can come to me if they have a question, I don’t want them to be worried. It is an emotional job, I always look forward to seeing my family at the end of the day, but in a small way I feel like I’m helping the family through their bereavement. Often families haven’t been through the process before and I like knowing that I’ve helped.