More Than A Mason

Let’s Talk

There’s no denying that this year and the last few months, especially, has been particularly hard for many of us.  We were thrust into a world which seemed almost surreal as we were told to “stay safe, stay at home” and the weekly norm was no longer a visit to Church, drink down the pub or day out to some beauty spot with the kids but Thursday evenings stood outside our house clapping for keyworkers.

Those who lost loved ones during this period were especially affected with the introduction of very much reduced numbers of mourners permissible at funerals, Churches closed and the advent of graveside services with no music and less than 10 family members allowed to attend. Crematoriums, where they stayed open, were stricter still, all this compounding grief and the need to be able to mourn those who had passed away.

At funeral services, family members were told that they should not touch one another, no holding hands, no hugs, no nothing.  For many, they went home from the funeral to an empty house which, without the family, no longer felt like home.  All of this affected people massively and many struggled to cope with their loss.

More Than A Mason

Sharon, from Emersons Memorials in York, with the company phones diverted to her home during the lockdown period, realised that there was a need to help those whom she served which went way beyond creating the memorial. Finding herself answering the phone to some deeply distressed clients, many of whom had no-one else to turn to in their hour of need she rapidly became part of their support network, the friendly voice on the other end of the phone with the listening ear.  Some of the callers worried Sharon when she realised that not only had they lost a loved one but they also had no-one else to support them, for those people Sharon took it upon herself to call them each week to make sure they were OK. Nutrition advice from Sabine Horner, Asana NutritionMaking keepsakes

Realising that this was quite a big issue, Sharon decided that there was a need to try to bring together further support to offer her bereaved clients and the concept of the first “Let’s Talk” days was born.  Sharon liaised with the bereavement and mental health specialists to which she normally signposted people through her work and arranged to get them together for an afternoon to help those who needed it.

Pritchett Chapel, York Cemetery

On her doorstep in the beautiful York Cemetery is the Pritchett Chapel – the perfect place to enable a get together with plenty of space for “social distancing”. Whilst all this was going on in York, Anna Buckley, Managing Director of Emerson’s parent company J Rotherham and Mindful Memorials was forming a new partnership with Jacqui Gunn from the charity “Talking About Loss” (TAL) and was in the process of arranging different activities at other branches and also Rossmoor Park – the beautiful family home of the Rotherham Family.

Jacqui works very closely with a range of trained volunteers and bereavement specialist and she was only too happy to get TAL involved with Emerson’s “Let’s Talk” afternoon.  York Cemetery and their “Friends of York Cemetery” volunteers were also very supportive and offered to help with guided walks around the scented walk at the Cemetery.   So what started out to be an afternoon where people could pop in and have a cuppa and a chat rapidly developed into an afternoon of activities including crafting keepsakes, nutrition advice and demonstrations, live music, counselling, meditation and guided walks.Friends of York Cemetery Guided Walk Teasels!

Basically there was something for everyone.

Did it help anyone to feel better?  One person said to one of the counsellors: “Thank you – that’s the first time I’ve smiled or felt able to laugh since Dad died.”  It was worthwhile just for that one comment but he was one of many similar comments, so we feel that Emersons really did make a difference to many of the families they serve this weekend.  Flower Keepsakes courtesy of Ducks & Daffodils

Emerson’s memorials – more than a mason.

You can see some of the range of memorials Emerson’s offer here:, if you’d like to speak to Sharon directly please call 01904 640258 or email

© text: images: Andy Hopkinson, FNS Photography


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