Funeral Services – Who Cares for Those Who Care for The Dead?

When we hear the term “key workers” most of us automatically think of those workers from the NHS, Emergency Services, Carers, Shop Keepers, Refuse Collectors, Farmers and Supermarket workers.

Seldom do we hear any talk of those involved in funeral services – the people who care for the dead – given a mention. To the contrary, we hear phrases like “The Funeral Directors must be wringing their hands with glee.” Or “At least it must be good business for the Church/Cemetery – they’re never going to be out of work, are they?”

Maybe it is because we as a nation do not talk about death that we have not got a clue what those in the funeral workforce are facing – daily. It is not spoken about. We expect them to simply get on with it and say nothing because well that is what they are paid to do isn’t it?

But what of the mental toll this is taking on those involved in this essential service? Can you imagine how distressing it is to them to have to tell a family that they cannot attend the crematorium and have a simple service for their loved one? Many of them are crying inside but cannot show it to their clients because they know that their situation is already unbearable and well, they can’t be exposed to the pain of the Funeral Director too, can they?

So, they carry on. They face criticism from some because the funeral costs a lot, but they have the same disbursements to payout. The crematorium, Church, Celebrant, all charge the same fee but in the case of Ministers of Religion, for example, some are harder to find since many are self-isolating. Many have second services to arrange once lockdown is over for celebrations of life and memorial services, yet their years of training and experience tells them that this will indeed be causing upset to the families they are dealing with since there is no closure.

The stark reality for funeral directors and those involved in funeral services now is that the highly personalised service that they are used to giving has changed. The comforting aspect which they bring to the table is at least very difficult.

The reality of the Coronavirus is not only having the workload and stresses of those involved in funeral services increased exponentially but they are also working in conditions where they and potentially their families are “at-risk”. It is not only the health services which is experiencing the shortage of PPE.

The bottom line is we need to care for all carers. Both the National Society for Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF) and National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) is offering both emotional and well-being support to their society members during the pandemic with telephone and email support networks connecting them to organisations such as Professional Help Ltd and their trained counsellors.

So, when you are clapping for the key workers on a Thursday night please don’t forget those hidden key workers who also need your support.

26 thoughts on “Funeral Services – Who Cares for Those Who Care for The Dead?

  1. Yes you all do an amazing job many do not even mention. Sorry for that. But Thankyou all x x

    1. Thank you Leslye. I personally am not a funeral director – I just write and administer the blog but I do work very closely with them and the emotional toll on them at present is huge.

  2. Thank you…..for reminding me…..of those who, quietly go about their work….
    Personaly……I must admit, I have only been thinking, mostly of Drs…Nurses and othe ‘medical staff’…..

    1. Thanks Kay. There are such a lot of unsung heroes that we don’t always think of or “see” I think but the emotional toll on funeral directors at the moment is huge. That’s why I wrote the post.

    2. Thank you for expresssing so well the plight of these unsung heros. I hope people will become more aware of our debt to those who care for us in our loss.
      God Bless all those who care for others.

  3. I could not fault the service given by the funeral directors that arranged my late wife’s cremation.
    It was done with compassion and friendliness too.
    The y went the extra mile to look after my feelings as well and the funeral was conducted in a very dignified way.
    Thank you John Garside and son

  4. Please mention the funeral arrangers, they do most of the work and have to advise and console the families. These are the real unsung heroes of the funeral service.

  5. I loved reading all your lovely comments. I am an arranger at John Garside’s so it was really nice to here the lovely feed back of Don Bestwick. I love my job and yes it is very difficult for all at the moment but we strath to do our families and their loved ones proud. x

  6. I am an Independent Celebrant and have so much admiration and respect for all those involved in doing everything possible to ensure the bereaved are able to say a dignified farewell.
    I work alongside caring and compassionate people and everyone is feeling incredibly sad that we cannot behave normally, offer a hug, the touch of a hand, a reassuring hand on someone’s arm when a family member wants to give their own tribute.
    It hurts to see mourners sitting so far apart, in tears and looking lost/ bewildered.
    I feel when I visit people at home, in person, to talk about a loved one, I develop a wonderful rapport and I feel so very privileged to lead a fitting ceremony.
    Not being able to talk face to face is so hard. Speaking over the phone doesn’t feel right but I reassure myself that when the bereaved families still say how lovely my service was, I am grateful we are still able to help.
    The crematorium is cleaned in between services, we social distance, we still give the same care, dedication and time to finding out about a loved one and take the same care when writing the ceremony. I have adjusted my fee on occasions depending on the circumstances but we still travel, get to the venue in good time, still sit til early hours typing, and we are putting ourselves at risk like so many key workers.
    I am saddened by the fact the funeral industry doesn’t seem to get the same recognition but heartened that we are still providing comfort to people when they need it most.
    It is a privilege to share in memories and be trusted with the last act of love or friendship someone can give, a brave farewell and celebration. For the people I have conducted ceremonies for, I have offered to help with their celebrations at a later date.

  7. For all who work in the funeral business without you all who would bury our love ones, and in good times and bad your are there for everyone so thank you for that, and you all should be mentioned as key workers because that is what you are

  8. I am a Funeral Director working very long hours and in some exceptional circumstances , everyone in this industry Arrangers , Funeral Directors and Ambulance crew work very hard they are all very different jobs but no funeral would take place without any of us, so We should remember that all Funeral care staff are as much needed and should remembered equally

  9. Thanks for this open discussion – I’m an independent Celebrant like Caroline – my work is wonderful and challenging and heartbreaking all in equal measure at moment – not many want to nurture those of us in ‘death’ professions because as a society we want to speak of wellness and death is seen as an ending or failure (I feel differently by the way) however, I agree that unsung heroes work around us all the time – also those NOT affiliated with Saif or nafd- it’s the nature of our work – to be there when needed, with unspoken compassion and understanding. ✨

  10. That is so so true. My daughter is a Funeral Manager and I know that it is taking its toll on her but she always gives her best. When we first started clapping for the NHS and then for other key workers it was very noticeable that those dealing with funerals day in and day out never got a mention, so thank you for the article and pointing out what many of us are thinking.

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