Caring for bereaved families

by Ian Begley

MANAGING a funeral home can be quite an undertaking, but with thousands of people depending on their service each day there is no doubt that the funeral business is a vital amenity in our society.
This week, The Gazette caught up with Ann Bradley, manager of Massey Bros funeral home in Crumlin – The Haven, to see what a day in her life is like.
Bradley has been working in the funeral business for the past 30 years and became the one of Ireland’s first female funeral directors over 20 years ago.
“I came into the business straight from school. When I first started the funeral service was very male dominated and at the time I worked behind the scenes writing death notices and booking churches for funerals.
“Then in the early 90s one of the funeral directors retired and I was offered his position, which I gratefully accepted.
“Most mornings I would attend a funeral that we’d arrange a couple of days before hand. When a person dies the remains would either be in the funeral home or in the house where they died. I would then travel to where the remains are and would meet the family.
“I would tell them all the procedures of the funeral because many people have never been to a funeral so it is my job to guide them along the way and give them the opportunity to pay their last respects and say a few prayers.
“I would then show them into their cars and after the mass I’d guide them to the cemetery or the crematorium. Then around lunchtime by the time the funeral is over I would come back to the office and deal with other queries and funeral arrangements.”
When asked what her favourite part of her job was Bradley said that meeting the deceased’s family and comforting them.
“I come into contact with many lovely people. Some people think that this isn’t a nice job, but I get great satisfaction helping people when they’re most vulnerable and looking after them. It is a great feeling when you know that they’re okay.
“The biggest challenge of my job is making sure it’s done correctly as you can’t afford to make mistakes because the deceased’s family members and friends want everything to go perfectly.”
What advice would Bradley give to anyone interested in going into her field of work?
“They have to have a nice, caring and warm personality. You have to be very understanding and patient and allow people to grieve. I also think female funeral directors can seem more sensitive and understanding than the men.”

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