Working Funerals - Handy Tools of the Trade

Over the year I have found some surprising tools useful as an undertaker.  Something to remember is never keep anything above your waist that has a chance of slipping off when you bend.  I have seen a mourner drop petals into the grave, as he bent over his glasses fell out of his top pocket and down the grave.  There are other numerous stories about dropping phones into decaying bodies on transfers.  Either way, anything above the waist should have little to no chance of falling out or not be missed if it is lost.
  • Elastic bands - keeping about four elastic bands in a pocket is always handy.  You can bind papers together, tie flowers to the top of coffins, etc.
  • Gloves - a pair of gloves is great to keep.  And I keep a whole box in the vehicle.  Gloves are just so handy in all aspects of this industry.  For example on a funeral family may want the coffin opened and something changed, and the deceased may have an infectious disease.  Or you may have to do something dirty, like change a tire.  Either way keeping a pair on your person so they are quickly and subtly accessible is always good.
  • Sunscreen - funeral directors spend a surprising amount of time in the sun. Sure, we wear a three piece suit, but it does not cover our faces or hands. I personally saw three people get melanomas removed while I was at W.N.Bull. And I was only there for one year.
  • Lighter - a lighter is perhaps the most surprisingly useful tool.  not only can you light candles but you can use it to melt wax off your suit or burn lose threads off.  It may sound odd, to burn lose threads off, but it is quicker and easier than scissors and will do a better job.  Same with removing wax, it is the best way to get it off without too much fuss.
  • Pen - one to two pens is useful for obvious reasons. Make sure they work and look nice. This way if a pen on the condolence book fails you can replace it quickly and easily.
  • Tissues - these are incredibly handy, such as using them to clean and/or dry your hands. I recommend small sealed packets of tissues. This stops them breaking appart in your pocket and you can just give people the packet if they ask for a tissue. It looks good and is nicer than giving them a lose tissue from your pocket.
  • Paper clips - not all that useful but good little tools. Not only can you keep papers together but you can bend them to any shape and use them for other things if needed. One or two should be enough.
  • Mints - a few mints, Tic Tac’s, Menthos or whatever, are very nice to keep.  Not only are they good for keeping your breath fresh but the sugar hit is also nice after a long day with no food.
  • Snacks - you can easily find yourself on the road all day in this industry.  And often with no time to stop for anything.  This means you may often miss lunch.  Some biscuits, lollies or other such snacks are great for long days.  Only thing is to make sure it is something you can keep in a pocket quietly and discreetly and that it will not be affected by heat.
  • Water - much like the food you will need this on those days where you for a long periods without breaks. And not just in hot weather. Driving in air-conditioned cars for a while is really de-hydrating and can leave you with a headache. So keep a small 250ml bottle of water hidden somewhere.

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