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A sliding hearse, frozen graves & missing ministers!

The Beast from the East has caused chaos around the country, not least for those working in the health & social care sector. Many businesses have been effected by the treacherous snow and ice but who will have given a thought to what happens when you’re planning a funeral and the whole county has come to a stand still.

Rachael Barber – Area Manager for Gordon Barbers Funeral Directors explains how they’ve managed to honour families wishes under extremely ‘beastly’ conditions.

“Now every field is clothed with grass and every tree with leaves, now the woods put forth their blossoms and the year assumes its gay attire” – Virgil

Far from it, I am writing this at home and I’m completely surrounded by white snow and cold winds. The car is blocked in the driveway and it’s been like this for the past three days. I have been trying to work and although emailing is easy, it’s been difficult to support my colleagues in the branches.

The funeral will go on

The truth is that what has ensued over the past snow falling days is chaos! I’ve received numerous phone calls from colleagues regarding the situation that they’ve been dealing with at work in order to ensure that funerals take place and loved ones are taken care of.

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We’ve experienced a parked hearse sliding into a hedge (thank you to all our staff and those at Waitrose, Eaton for helping to recover it). Three of our fleet have broken down and numerous colleagues have not been able to get into work. That said, we have pushed ahead and ensured that all of our families have been well cared for. I am very proud of our team and commend them for their efforts during this trying time.

We have contacted all the families with funerals over the coming days to see if they wanted to proceed. Some did and so of course we have obligingly carried out their wishes. Others have made the very difficult decision to postpone. It’s not just that the cars might not be able to make it, but would the flowers and the service sheets arrive on time? Also, there is the minister to consider (will he or she get there) and whether the grave could be dug in such icy and cold conditions.

Mental preparation under pressure 

It got me thinking about what mental preparation those suffering a loss must go through leading up to the day of the funeral. The date, I would assume, is etched on their minds, like if you were awaiting the anticipation of bad news, a feared appointment with a doctor or maybe your GCSE exams. Sadly some of our families have had the day of the funeral postponed by no fault of their own. How can you just think, ‘well ok, we’ll just wait another week or so’…. The period leading up to the funeral must be a poignant time, a period to work up to, an event that is completely unavoidable as it is completely necessary, not just for the practicalities but in order that those most affected can enter the next phase of grief and repair.

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Look after yourself

If you are waiting for that ‘day’ to arrive, remember to be kind to yourself, take the pressure off yourself to be anything that you think others might expect, concentrate on your needs and make sure that you eat, drink and have plenty of sleep. After the funeral, be sure to give yourself space to re-pressurize, the day itself can weigh heavily and be incredibly physically and emotionally draining.

Gordon Barber Funeral Directors are our ‘End of Life’ Section experts. They have shared with us a wide range of useful information on end of life care including – what to do when someone dies, planning a funeral and bereavement support.