- Age at interview:
- Carole is an NHS employee. She is married and has 2 children (1 died). Ethnic background/nationality: White British.
He [the funeral director] was marvelous and compassionate. The Military chose him at, it was when they came to see us and they saw funeral directors round the corner and they asked if we had any preferences, and we said, “No”, because they sorted everything out, and he was a very, very good, very sensitive, because he had to drive a long way to collect our son, and he informed us of every move that was being made. And when he was brought back to our city, a family friend asked if they could see our son, and he [the funeral director] did advise him not to, because after this length of time, obviously it probably wasn’t wise, and yes he was very sensitive, and since then he has actually donated a memorial book to SAMM. [Support after Murder and Manslaughter], for our memorial service, to have…
Oh that’s nice.
…something written in every year and that was from the funeral director that we had. But I just visited him to ask him if he knew where we could get a large memorial book, and he said, “I’d like to donate that.”
- Age at interview:
- Terri is a Health professional. She is married and has 3 children and 1 who died. Ethnic background/nationality: White British.
What about the role of the funeral director, the undertaker?
He was lovely. Had a young man who was probably in his late 30s, he’d had two sons himself, he had a lot of empathy. He was lovely.
And he cried with me. And they were very, very good at, letting me go, just ringing up and letting me go and see Ben. And the service, everything, I couldn’t fault them they were fantastic. Yes.
Did they help you organise the service then?
Yes. They, they did everything really because I couldn’t really, I, I’d never planned a funeral before and it’s very difficult when you’re in such a distressed state. So they just asked me what music Ben liked, did a [service] sheet for him, asked me if it was OK. And they did everything.
Yes, yes, which was very good.
So was his funeral held at the crematorium or….?
It was at the local Catholic Church.
Oh how lovely.
So the funeral directors helped you find that, the church?
Yes, sorted out the church. The priest came round to see me. They were, they were very good, and what day I wanted. I wanted it on a Friday. Yes, great.
So did the funeral director then go and collect Ben’s body from the hospital?
Yes, they did. They collected the body from the hospital. Then they came round to see me and I filled in all the paperwork. Which was quite, you don’t realise how there’s so much involved. Because then you’ve got to choose your plot and you’ve to apply to the council for your plot of land where you want the burial. Gravestone, they did everything. Even where to get a gravestone from, because I didn’t know. And, and, you know, help you with the wordage and what do you think you want on it. And things that you want to put in the paper. So he, they were very good.
Do you mind me asking how much it all cost? Because some people might not realise how much…
Yes, the funeral director and everything that he did to help you.
The bill was just under £3000. But that, that’s reimbursed because, because Ben was murdered, the criminal injuries pay for that. We, we outlayed it at the time obviously and they reimbursed us about a year after.
- Age at interview:
- William is a Health and Safety advisor, for the fire service. He has 2 children (1 died). Ethnic background/nationality: White British.
And as a result of the post mortem activities, the face tends to have the appearance of bruising, which I wasn’t really prepared for until I saw her. So I asked the undertaker to put a wee bit more make up on her, and I figured you know cover what appeared to be bruises, then we’d be able to have the open coffin. So she was lying in her bedroom and then when it came for the time for the funeral, the undertaker arrived and we placed a few of her wee favourite nick nacks, her favourite CD, stuff like that in the coffin. And then they put the lid on the coffin and took it out to the hearse and we walked behind it.
- Age at interview:
- Sally is a Chef. She has a partner and has 3 children. Ethnic background/nationality' White British.
What does the funeral director have to do exactly? In case somebody’s thinking, you know, what is a good funeral director? How did you? Why did you say he’s so good?
Well I think he’s good because I think, he was just, he said, “You have to understand because every, everyone’s different on a, on a death of someone that dies, and so you have to get, try and get to know the person they leave, pretty quick, to work out what’s the right things,” but again he was on the phone, just saying, “Don’t worry about anything. Don’t worry, just get on with your life I’ll ring you whenever I need anything,” He just rung me at every step of the way really, saying obviously things that I didn’t think about then is, your coffin. And then, “What colour do you want the inside of the coffin?” “Oh, I don’t know what colour,” …so, I went along there and he’s got all his silks out, and he’s just, he was just fine, he was not pushy with anything, he just said, “You know, just take your time, and don’t worry about anything, I’ll sort this out, I’ll sort that out.” And he done all that he could really, that was capable for his doing, but he just said, “You know your Mum’s safe, she’s here, we’re looking after her.” I don’t know, he was just, I just think that they were all really good people. The funeral directors.
And then what else did the funeral director have to do? Did he come here on the day of the funeral? Or did you meet there, did you go down there?
Yes we went up there, yes the day of the funeral, and again there’s a lot of respect there, when they pulled out, they walked for half a mile in front of the funeral car, which, which I thought was really nice, you know everything stopped, and just half a mile, that was all, and then we all got in our cars and which I thought was really nice, but we met him up there, and then he came and had a drink with us afterwards as well, at the wake, it was just all the way through, they just seemed, the support really.
- Age at interview:
- Rachel is a senior social worker. She is married and has 2 children (1 died). Ethnic background/nationality: White British.
And did they dress him in any particular way [for his funeral], or did you have a chance to dress him as you wanted him?
Yes, yes. I don’t, I don’t know what day it was, I was obviously given the clothes that he was obviously brought home in, and I was asked, did I want them? Obviously I was told that they were, there was a lot of blood, and they obviously had to be cut off, they could get rid of them, there wouldn’t be a problem, they would get rid of them for me, or did I want them? And I chose I wanted them. And so they were all wrapped up, neatly, and put in a bag for me, and the clothes I took in were the clothes that, his Arsenal shirt because he was a keen Arsenal supporter, and I put the clothes in that I know he wanted to be, to be dressed in.
And so did the people at the funeral parlour dress him for you?
Yes, they dressed him.
Were they, were they helpful?
Very helpful. Very very helpful. They, and they took some cuttings of his hair for me, they were very, very helpful, for all his friends that went up there, because there was lots of items that went in the coffin, including cider and keys to the local pub that he always drank in. They went in there, and there was lots of things went in there. Yeah, lots of gifts went in with him.
So the role of the funeral director, or the people who worked there is quite important isn’t it?
How would you sum up what makes a good funeral director or, the person that runs the funeral parlour?
…well obviously we could, very caring people and very genuine people with a job that I would wish not to do.
But you, you felt that they would always, even you might be thinking things, I think they sometimes knew what you’d be thinking, would answer your question before you asked the question. You know they, like the hair for instance. I would probably wouldn’t have thought about even that, but they asked me, “Would you like,” you know, and that’s something I wouldn’t have probably, you know I wouldn’t have even have dreamt of, wouldn’t have gone through my head at the time. I might have thought of it afterwards.
They said, “Would you like a lock of his hair?”
That’s a nice idea.
Yes, and how many did I like, how many did I want. You know because I got, I got several. And they were just really, really helpful.