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Helping us to help you

People working in the funeral business deal with death every day – but that doesn’t mean that we become immune to it. We all have coping mechanisms and you do learn to ‘deal with it’ but some days are more difficult than others. Like anyone, we’ll have dates and anniversaries which mean something to us, when being at work is harder than another day. Also, we are local people and, as a firm, very much part of the community here in Crowborough. This means that the people who use are services are folk we potentially already know and that can be tough.

The majority of deaths we deal with are elderly people but we do also have to support families who are coping with very traumatic events – car accidents, suicide or the death of a child. None of these are easy to deal with – but our role means we always have to remain professional and caring. Experience helps but we are still human.

In a Onepoll of 2,000 UK adults, commissioned by the Art of Dying Well, almost half of UK adults (44.9%) thought that funeral directors should have access to professional counselling.

More than a third (36.85%) thought that funeral directors must struggle with the constant theme of death and grief and 39.35% of those surveyed believed they face more sadness than many other professions; having to deal with death day-to-day.

In whatever work we do, everyone has bad days and, of course, that happens at Tester & Jones. We’re a close-knit team here and, in general, we recognise if somebody is struggling. In most cases, a cup of tea and just being there for a chat is enough to pick someone up.

However, the fact remains that we are dealing with really difficult situations. The families we support are going through grief, some are having to deal with complex family dynamics and some are simply angry. We are there for each and every one of them.

But, we aren’t immune to grief and our job can be distressing at times. As in every profession, admitting that we might not be coping is hard; we are afraid that it will be seen somehow as failing.

When new staff come onboard, we take time to talk about the different situations they might face in their daily job and we give them some tools to deal with that. We also encourage them to tell us or another colleague if they are struggling in any way.

As a member of SAIF – the organisation for independent funeral directors – we and our colleagues have access to its free and confidential emotional support for managing stress and traumatic events.

SAIF Support aims to ensure that those working in the independent funeral sector have access to high quality emotional support and counselling if and when they need it.

SAIF Support offers:

· Advice and information for principals, managers and employees on issues that are affecting their own or their colleagues’ mental health and emotional wellbeing.

· Practical and emotional support with managing stress or handling difficult issues or traumatic events.

· Up to six free sessions of telephone or face-to-face counselling provided by professionally trained counsellors.

The role of SAIF Support to is ‘help people with anything that is impacting on their ability to do their work and to support people to work well within the industry’.

As SAIF explains: "This is how seriously SAIF takes supporting the fourth emergency service across the UK, the funeral service. Remember you don’t need to be at crisis point – intervention prior to that is recommended."

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