So , what does one discuss with a funeral director while waiting for a Celebration of Life to start? Or what does one discuss while driving in hearse? You’d be surprised!
This week, I was asked to conduct a ceremony with the first part at the funeral home followed by a burial – it was very short notice (less than 48 hours between initial phone call and actual burial)….. but, being the kind of person I am, I managed to help out. Within 90 mins of receiving the phone call, I was with the family. Then up til 3am writing the funeral….. There was only one snag – my car was booked in for it’s MOT, as my diary was clear. So, the funeral director said they would take me from the funeral home to the graveyard, in the hearse!
Now, for those of you who know me well, you won’t be surprised to hear that riding in a hearse, and remembering it, is on my bucket list!! Call me Morticia if you will, but you know, once I retire, I’m going to buy an old hearse and do it up in style to drive about in it –dressed as the grim reaper, waving to folk out the window and shouting ‘I’ll be seeing you soon’….. so this offer was like a dream come true (no, seriously!)
First part of the celebration of life over, and the funeral procession made its way to the cemetery. Now you may notice that when carrying coffins, hearses tend to drive slowly, so it was quite a drive to the Cemetery which is in a beautiful location, on the top of a hill, in the back of beyond. I got to sit in the back – and to be honest, until now, I’d never even noticed that hearse’s have back seats!! So off we set.
I don’t often have the opportunity to sit and chat to Funeral Directors. A quick ‘how you doing’ on the phone when they call, and maybe a few minutes before / after a service. There are a few that I will drop in on, bearing a fine piece for a cuppie, but I’d never really had the chance to engage with these 2 before.
So, what does one chat about in a hearse? Death – the obvious one, how long have you been in the job, what did you do before etc etc or so you’d expect! Well, if I tell you, we covered everything from how the funeral director got the nickname and his tattoo, to being chased by HUGE huntsman spiders, the difference in the education system between Scotland & England, age gaps between siblings, man caves, growing up with a parent in the army, the new style kia sportage, how you take the step from being a labourer to a Funeral Director, being a first time buyer, rude drivers and how long it takes to fill a 10 litre de-humidifier! I kid you not….. I hasten to add that this was all on the journey back, when the hearse was empty – so nothing inappropriate.
I love a yap, think it goes with the territory. I even discovered that the funeral director had always wanted to be a nurse, but didn’t think he had the stomach for it, so became a Funeral Director instead – go figure! But what does all this tell you? It tells you that Funeral Directors are normal people. Yes, there, I’ve said it! Folk often expect the stereotypical grim, stoney faced, older gentleman, who speak nothing but doom and gloom, but nothing could be further from the truth.
I am often amazed at how many women FD’s there are, and women Funeral Arrangers too – and I can honestly say they are all lovely, easy to get on with people. And, I’m also surprised at the age of some. Gone are the days of ‘male, stale and pale’ ….. The funeral business is one that seems to be attracting the younger generation, who are ‘dying’ to get into it (pardon the pun!)
So, the next time you engage with a funeral director, obviously not at the time of bereavement, take the time to have a normal chat, that doesn’t involve death – you’ll be surprised at where the conversation can lead.
Oh, and thank you guys, for dropping me off afterwards. The look on the garage owner’s face was a picture, as I stepped out of a hearse…..