Meet Sharon, a funeral arranger at Fosters Ayr.
Sharon talks about working with bereaved families, making your wishes known, and why New York is calling her.
What made you choose a career as a funeral arranger?
I’ve always enjoyed working in customer service roles and I like meeting new people. I worked for Morrison’s for 33 years and in my spare time I volunteered as a bereavement counsellor at the Ayrshire Hospice. I found helping people who were at the end of their life, and their bereaved families, incredibly rewarding. So, when the role was advertised for Fosters it seemed like a natural fit for my skill set. I’ve been based in Fosters Ayr for 2.5 years now and I really enjoy my job.
What’s the best part of your role?
The best part is being there for families when they need us the most. Grief can be exhausting and for the next of kin the responsibility of organising a funeral can weigh heavy on their shoulders. It’s my role to reassure and support them. I take care of all the arrangements to ensure the funeral service runs smoothly.
Can you tell us about a personalised funeral?
Yes, there is one lady in particular that springs to mind. She came to the parlour with her son to take out a pre-paid funeral plan and was keen that her wishes were noted down. Her funeral is the perfect example of personalising a funeral. The lady loved butterflies and one of her final wishes was that butterfly stickers adorned her coffin to carry her on her final journey. She also requested that no-one wore black to her funeral as she wanted every colour of the rainbow reflected at her service, even choosing rainbow roses. Our funeral staff have a selection of ties and she chose a bright colour for them to wear too. It looked so smart with their uniforms.
We followed her requests to the letter which was a great comfort to her family and friends.
I’d encourage more families to make their wishes known to their next of kin. It definitely makes it easier for those you leave behind.
What are the questions you get asked the most?
I regularly get asked “How do you do this job?” I think that’s because so many people find it difficult to talk about death. People have a fear of the unknown but when you step into Fosters Ayr our parlour is a bright, comfortable, and welcoming space. People are surprised to see that it’s more like a living room than what they expect a funeral home to look like. Families can take as long as they need to chat and to make arrangements, and the kettle is always on.
What songs are most popular at funerals in your area?
The two songs that I get asked for the most at Fosters Ayr are ‘In The Arms of An Angel’ by Sarah McLachlan and the hymn ‘How Great Thou Art’ by Carrie Underwood.
Personally, I’d choose ‘Bring Me Sunshine’ by Morecambe and Wise. It’d raise people’s spirits and hopefully give them a laugh too.
When you’re not working how do you like to spend your time?
I find it very relaxing to be by the sea. We’re lucky in Ayrshire to have a beautiful coastline with lots of nearby places to walk and enjoy the scenery. And I like spending time with my family, I’ve been married for almost 30 years and have a son who is 18 and a daughter aged 21.
My favourite thing is going away for weekends either in the UK or abroad. Obviously, lockdown put a stop to my travel plans but it hasn’t stopped me daydreaming about them! My daughter and I celebrated ‘big birthdays’ last year, so hopefully our postponed trip to New York can go ahead soon.