The secret life of a funeral director and why loads of people in Hull want to become one
The courses are run by Carl himself (Image: Simon Renilson)
By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 26 Mar 2018
It is a career few will have thought about doing, never mind openly aspiring and studying towards.
But while a career as a funeral director may seem grim to some, there are a dedicated few in Hull silently carrying out their duties by preparing and burying our loved ones, as well as caring for those left behind.
A course teaching people the ropes of the funeral industry in Hull has become a sell-out and has had up to 80 applicants already.
The courses take place at Jones Funeral Directors on County Road South (Image: Simon Renilson)
The classes are taught by funeral director, Carl Jones, who owns and Jones Funeral Director on Country Road South, west Hull. He aims to help people understand how a funeral is planned and carried out.
It also allows an “in” for those wishing to become involved in the industry themselves and a bit more of an insight into the mysterious, murky and often heart-breaking world funeral directors live and work in.
During the hour-and-a-half long seminars Carl takes his students from start to finish of a funeral plan and tells them that working in the industry means being available to families for 24 hours a day, 365 days a week.
He said: “We’ve had calls on Christmas morning, which of course is very distressing for the family. We usually get a call from the police, collect the body and bring them here or take them to the mortuary.”
Families and their experiences with Jones Funeral Directors are constantly at the forefront of Carl’s mind.
The courses are run by owner, Carl Jones
He said: “You’ve got to be empathetic and sympathetic and there is so much stuff to look after while you’re there and of course you’ve got the mourners who need that guidance.
"It’s not something they do every day, usually the average person attends two or three funerals in a lifetime.
“Sometimes, you do get very close to the families, especially when they visit the chapel you do end up talking to them and comforting them. I’ve known families pop back to see us after the funeral which is always lovely.
"I always tell people we are always here.”
Carl says some of the most difficult experiences in his career include comforting parents who have just lost children.
He said: “Grief is a natural process but that situation where a mother loses her child, it’s not natural.
"You just have to listen, there is no right answer.
"There are five definite stages of grief - denial, anger, bargaining, emptiness and acceptance. Acceptance isn’t admitting that they’ve gone but realising this reality is not permanent.
“You learn to live with the death but you never get over it, you just learn to live with a different situation.”
Carl provides many products to give people the freedom of choice when planning a funeral
During the course, which is predominantly a way for carers to get to know the industry so they feel confident answering questions families might have when a loved one has passed away, Carl also talks his students through some facts of the industry and did his best to dispel some myths that have cropped up throughout time.
He said: “People always ask whether bodies get mixed up but that is never an option. At every stage, identification is checked and verified. We have deceased tracking records so we have their name, where they passed away and their date of birth so from the first point of contact we know we have the right person.
“When we check them into the mortuary we register them, have their jewellery written down and other things that are irreplaceable. We have to be really careful.”
Carl told how the identification of each person is checked every time they are signed in and out of the chapel. The identification is checked again on the coffin before the funeral and while it is being taken out of the car, meaning there is no chance of anything going wrong.
Carl said: “We get at least one in three families asking whether people are cremated together, meaning ashes are mixed in but it never happens.
"For carers to know this and pass it on it would be a great way to give families that piece of mind. Once the funeral is over, the cremation starts and the identification starts again.
“The funeral director comes and checks the identification to make sure it is the right person.”
Up to last year, Hull Crematorium could only cremate coffins up to 30cm wide but that has now changed to 38cm, meaning larger people can be accommodated.
Carl said: “People who were larger used to have to be taken to Essex to be cremated, but because people are living longer and lifestyles have changed, they need to be accommodated.”
Among his students is 18-year-old Corina Thompson who is interested in becoming a funeral director.
Corina, who has been doing work experience in the industry since she was 15, said: “I was first intrigued when I was about six when I was learning about Egyptians at school.
"I went to my first funeral when I was eight, my family didn’t want me to go, and I was intrigued but thought it was weird.
“My great nan passed away when I was 11 and soon after I began asking for work experience but I had to wait until I was 15. I wasn’t too fussed or scared about anything really.”
Carl himself was a care home manager before accidentally falling into the funeral industry,
He said: “I wanted to do something a bit different and not just the usual run-of-the-mill job, I sent in my CV for a position, I didn’t get it but sent my CV out again, got an interview and started the next week, two weeks in I thought, ‘I’m not doing anything else,’ that was when I was about 28 or 29. I got my wife Julie on board and that was it. We make a really good team.”
The next three courses are already booked up but Carl is taking courses for the next date, Saturday June 2 and is now looking at running monthly seminars. Ring the funeral directors on 01482 504501 for more details.
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