“You’re winning the battle!”

Mark Porteous

The mental strain on staff worried about the families we care for – and the health of their own families – was obvious from the very start of this unprecedented health emergency.

I noticed early on the strain on my staff their face told the story. As a funeral director and business owner I knew immediately I had a responsibility to keep all my team safe. I was torn between this and making sure families could still receive a caring and professional service. For me personally not to be able to carry out a funeral in the normal way was going against everything I had built my reputation on.

I wanted to make sure I could carry out funerals not just in a professional and caring way, but I wanted to keep them as normal as I could.

I was overwhelmed by all the information coming my direction from Government, SAIF, media and Local Resilient Groups. The first few weeks I tried to follow all the guidance to the letter, but I soon came to the decision the guidance given, although helpful, did not consider regional variations or my funeral home facilities or my staff’s determination to keep helping and caring for families in their time of need.

From that point I decided to put in place procedures which would be suitable for my business but also kept the safety of my staff at the forefront of everything we would do for our families.

In the main we have managed to keep funerals as normal as possible all be it adhering to the restrictions on numbers attending. The majority of our funerals have been attended services with very few of our families choosing direct cremation.

Most of the families who have opted for direct cremations have actually asked us to arrange memorial or celebration of life services at a later date.

Obviously, this may vary in other regions, but I see this as a positive, many Local Authorities and Governments have viewed direct cremation as the answer to funeral poverty. One thing this pandemic has shown me is this is clearly not the case.

There is no doubt we are all on a very emotional journey and when this journey comes to an end, independent funeral directors will have shown their true worth which will be recognised not only within our communities but by Government and others.

I have never been in doubt that you would rise to the challenge. I recognise that you cannot train someone to be passionate, it’s either in your DNA or it is not, and SAIF members have it in spades.

Remember, stay strong… you’re winning the battle.

In the next edition of SAIFInsight I will be looking at technology and how it will influence all our businesses in the future and give you some exciting news on my chosen charity, Winston’s Wish.

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