The most difficult subject

AS professional people, we are all met with topics and situations which on a day to day basis are dealt with without hesitation, without fear or trepidation and we are able to analyse our answers, responses and actions in a rational and calm way. Yet there is one subject out there that fills most of us with dread – I speak of course about death, whether it be the death of a close family member, a friend or a colleague.

What happens next, who do we call, what kind of funeral will we have, should we have a minister, should the service be in church and do we opt for burial or cremation, these are just some of the things that have to be thought about. All too often – because of our own fear of the unknown, we never speak about this to our family, mainly because we don't want to upset anyone. However, by not speaking about our own demise or what kind of funeral we would want, we upset our family all the more - by putting additional upset onto them at their time of grief. What additional grief you might ask, the simple answer to that question is; leaving our loved ones to make extremely difficult decisions about the funeral.

Funeral directors - in our role, we meet bereaved families who have no idea about the kind of service they should have for their recently deceased loved one, the lack of conversation about death has left many unanswered questions which are almost impossible to second guess. The task now set out before them is to meet with the funeral director and piece together a befitting final farewell. This is where the professionalism and experience of the funeral director comes to the fore, it is our job to ensure that the family are looked after and given choices, choices about the options available to them. Without trying to emotionally overload our clients, we talk them through the process of funeral arranging, we will complete the legal documentation required to allow the funeral service to proceed, but our role is more than just that of an administrator, we are advisors, confidante, friendly face, caregivers, masters of ceremony and most importantly – caretakers of the deceased. Our utmost responsibility is to care for each and every deceased with the dignity and respect they deserve and it is our privilege to help at such a vulnerable time.

Please don't think for one second that by not discussing death, you are being criticised, this is purely an observation made over many years in the funeral profession. Part of our role is to dispel the myths surrounding death, to alleviate any fears you may have and to openly and honestly discuss what happens during the funeral preparation if you wish to know. We are also on hand to speak to anyone who may be faced with a terminal illness and has expressed a wish to organise their own service in advance, a very selfless act, one which takes a great deal of courage and compassion shown to those who will be left behind.

If this small article made you stop and think about your own demise, then my words have touched you, so my only advice would be, try if you can to have some discussion with those you love about death, even if it is only to determine whether your preference is for burial or cremation. You can of course speak to a funeral director and put together a pre paid funeral plan which would ease both the emotional and financial burden of those whom you care about most – your loving family.

Annette MacDonald Dip.Fd BIFD, business manager, Aberdeen /