Carole talks about why a little kindness goes a long way, how to personalise a funeral and why family always comes first.
What made you choose a career as a funeral arranger?
I’ve been a funeral arranger for 6 years now and I love my job. I’ve always worked in customer service roles, and I really enjoy looking after people. I used to be a manager in a family bakery working in shops across Ayrshire. Before becoming a funeral arranger, I was a support worker for people with learning difficulties.
It is so important to me that families are treated with kindness, compassion, and the utmost respect. I’m friendly and find it easy to talk to people and I’m very organised so I’m well suited to this role. I live and work in Kilmarnock so I’m a ‘well-kent face’ as they say. I think families like that, to see a familiar face when they come in to plan a funeral.
What’s the best part of your role?
When people call in here, they are often lost in the initial stages of grief. For a family it’s a very sad time, especially if the death was unexpected. People really want to ‘get it right’ for their loved one and my role is to gently guide them through everything that needs to be done. So, I’d say the best part of my job is when you see the weight lifting off the family’s shoulders. Yes, they might shed a tear but it’s okay to have a wee laugh or smile too as they share a story about the person who has passed away.
One bereaved gentleman said to me the other week ‘I just needed someone to listen, hen’. That’s what we’re here for, the kettle is always on, and families can take as long as they need. It’s true that a little kindness goes a long way.
What are the questions you get asked the most?
The questions that spring to mind are completely different. The first is about music, people wonder what’s appropriate. My answer is to choose something that has sentimental value or was a favourite of the person who has passed away.
The other question is ‘What can go in the coffin?’ People sometimes want to place mementos in the coffin, a cap or a pipe, a teddy bear or photographs. There are different guidelines dependent on if the funeral is a burial or a cremation.
What songs are most popular at Fosters Kilmarnock?
Marie Osmond singing Paper Roses, Dancing in the Sky by Dani and Lizzy,
and Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ are popular choices. Personally, I’d choose ‘Angels’ by Robbie Williams, I love the lyrics.
How can a family personalise their loved one’s funeral?
There are lots of ways we can help a family personalise a funeral. It could be something subtle like the funeral conductors wearing a tie in a specific colour, or something more unique. I once organised a funeral for a lovely lady who had been a ‘biker babe’. Escorting her on her final journey were 250 bikers, all driving behind the hearse to the crematorium. It was quite a sight to see and a very touching tribute. Everyone attending the service was given a packet of sunflower seeds to plant in her memory too.
When you’re not working how do you like to spend your time?
On my days off I spend as much time as possible with my family and my wee dog Carmel. I’m a very proud Gran to my grandson Jaxon, he’s 8 months old now and is my world. I look after him one day a week and love our time together. My husband and I are very sociable and we like having barbeques and get-togethers. I can’t wait until we can travel somewhere sunny again!