Meet Joseph, a funeral arranger in Glasgow and Ayrshire. Joseph talks about why his job is so rewarding and his love of football and family.
What made you choose this as a career?
When I was a wee boy, I liked watching wrestling on TV. There was a wrestler called ‘The Undertaker’ who was a favourite of mine even though he was an intimidating character. When my Grandad died, I remember being told that the undertaker was coming round, and I was quite surprised to see a smartly dressed man with a kind face and gentle manner. Perhaps that piqued my interest, ever since then I’ve thought working in the funeral industry would be rewarding. I’m glad we’re called funeral arrangers these days, it seems a friendlier title.
What is the best part of your job?
The reason I come into work each day is purely to look after the families that walk through our door. Having personal experience of bereavement, I understand the impact of grief and the importance of having the right support when you need it the most. It means a lot when a family member says thank you. I think it’s very generous of them to take the time to do that when they are dealing with their loss.
My colleague John once said to me that ‘your last impression is someone else’s first impression’ and I remember that in every task I do. It’s important to me that everything is perfect for the families who trust us to give their loved one a fitting send off.
What questions do you get asked the most?
Honestly, the question I am asked the most is ‘What would you choose?’ Understandably when a family is grieving, they may feel overwhelmed. My role is to guide them through the process and remind them to think about what their relative would have wanted. After all, a final farewell is about honouring that person’s life. There are lots of small things we can include to make it a true reflection and bring comfort to the mourners during the service.
We often shy away from talking about death but making your wishes known really does make it easier for your next of kin when the time comes.
What special requests have you had lately?
Obviously 2020 has been an unusual year with lockdown impacting the number of people who can attend a funeral. So, we have had to consider other ways to allow people to say goodbye. For example setting up a route for the hearse so it passes more places – a football club, a place of work or a favourite pub. We’ve seen more people coming out to bow their head or in some cases applaud as the hearse goes by.
Technology plays a big role in today’s funerals too. We can live stream services and friends and family around the world can join the service.
What songs are most popular at the funerals you host?
This really depends on the age of the person. I’d say ‘My Way’ by Frank Sinatra. ‘Unforgettable’ Nat King Cole. And ‘Time to Say Goodbye’ by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman would be in the top three.
I’m a Coldplay fan so my personal choice would be ‘Fix You.’
When you’re not working how do you like to spend your time?
Family is everything to me, my partner and I have got two wee boys aged 4 and 5. Kicking a football about with them or watching football on TV is how I spend most of my free time. I’m always happy to have a sociable night out too. I’m looking forward to a time when we can go down the pub without a mask on!