I am… a funeral director
Mark Mason tells the funeral director’s story
I got into funeral directing because I wanted something to do while the girls were at nursery. I was at home looking after the children while my wife was working and needed something to keep my brain going. So I walked round and knocked on the door of the local funeral director. And that’s how it started: bearing coffins at funerals, washing the hearse, and sweeping up, then driving. It fitted around the childcare, but I also began to think: I quite like this.
It’s all about the family. When you go to see them for the first time, they may want to share things about the deceased person, or the last weeks of their life. There’s a lot of listening. It’s a kind of pastoral care, and some of my family used to say: ‘You’re just right for that.’ Before this, I’d been a farm worker, and then a picture framer.
I took the Diploma in Funeral Directing but was still sweeping up and driving, not visiting people very much or arranging funerals myself. I wanted to be able to express my own ethos and values, which are very much about intertwining faith and work. I took someone’s advice and started my own business. I sat in my office without any jobs for the first three months, but the business grows by word of mouth.
People come to you thinking it’s going to be difficult – often, it will be the first time they’ve done this. They’ve got so much else to deal with, maybe a house to clear out, and the first thing they say is: ‘I’ve been worried about coming to see you.’ They expect us to be professional – do all the paperwork, fill in all the forms – but we hope we’ll also offer comforting words and set them at ease. We’re trying to take the burden off their shoulders. People sometimes think our offices are going to be dark, cold and gloomy – maybe they’re thinking of old images of ‘undertakers’ (we don’t use that word nowadays). We try to be the opposite of all those things and be ourselves…
Mark Mason is the owner of Mason’s Independent Funeral Directors in Weston-super-Mare
This is an extract from an article published in the February 2022 edition of Reform