A Better Way Funerals
When loved ones pass, there’s no more important time in your life to be surrounded by caring, thoughtful and considerate people. The instant responsibility to organise a fitting farewell, to communicate effectively with friends and family all over the world so they know precisely what the plan is and where they need to be and, most importantly, to properly grieve the loss of the dearly departed, it can all become incredibly overwhelming. Understanding the enormity of this entire process,
Keri, how did you become a funeral director?
When my mother passed away, I found it so distasteful how the funeral director handled the whole situation. It was perhaps at the exact point of watching this utterly disinterested chap in his ill-fitting suit flicking through a glossy catalogue of casket options while pressing the hard sell of how my mother was so amazing, she’d have deserved the coffin on the very back page, the most expensive obviously. This man had no care for my mother or I whatsoever. He wanted to flog a pricey wooden box, book the ticket and move on with his day. I thought, there has to be a better way.
Did you have any experience in the funeral industry at all before that?
None at all! No, I was a wedding celebrant, and I loved doing that, being involved with families and celebrations, that time where it’s all about love and togetherness. So, I guess I really wanted to bring that approach to funerals too, to brighten up the farewell experience, to make it a celebration of life in every sense.
What are the elements of a funeral then, in which you’re able to brighten the undertaking?I think it all starts with focusing on the celebration of life, and everything else stems from there. That means, in practical terms, I always dress casually, in lighter shades of clothing, and like to meet with people in more relaxed settings, most often in the family home, as we make the necessary plans. This ensures that every interaction with the family and those grieving isn’t amplified by dark suits or airless rooms. In terms of the language used too, it’s always focused on positives, on asking families about the elements of the deceased’s life that brought them the most joy, which in turn leads to deciding on venues too. Rather than being always in a chapel or crematorium, we can go direct to the places which the deceased loved, be it a certain beach or headland or surf club. Every element is a celebration. There will always be grief, it’s a deeply emotional time to say goodbye, but if it can be done with a lightness, the moment will be one you’ll cherish and always think of fondly in the years to come.
How has being a funeral director affected your own grasp of mortality?
It’s given me such an absolute respect and appreciation for being alive. I don’t sweat the small stuff and make sure to love what I’m doing. My work gives me a great level of fulfilment. I make sure to get down to Cabbage Tree Bay every day too, swimming, resting on the rocks in the sun at ‘Halfway’ between Shelly and South Steyne, soaking it all up, turning that into my office when the weather permits! We live in the greatest place on Earth. I make sure to revel in that fact every single moment I have.
Keri is available at all times on 0401 040 161