Working Funerals - Turning the coffin mistakes

    A while ago I wrote a post on how to turn the coffin after a service.  Just a basic guide for those who have limited experience with this.

    Since then I have been asked about mistakes that are made when turning the coffin.  What mistakes are made and how to avoid them.  Here are the four most common mistakes I have seen and how to prevent them.

    These are just a few mistakes, the ones that are noticeable and common.  However, they are not that common, just happen more than any others I have seen.  I have also noticed both funeral staff and mourners make these mistakes.  Although mourners are much less likely to turn a coffin.

1Too far to the side
    Taking the coffin to the side rather than turning on the spot, this is not too common but I have seen it at a few funerals.  It is most likely to happen when there is little room to turn the coffin.  One person will worry, and rather than doing a 3-point turn will take it down the side at the front.  The image below is an extreme example of this (which I actually saw happen on a funeral).

How to avoid it - do a 3-point or 4-point turn with the coffin if there is not enough room to turn on the spot.  Like you would with a car.  But most importantly keep in mind where everything is.  Before turning mentally work out a rough line to not pass.

2Off center
    This is actually quite common, and the fault of the person on the foot end.  It is the person at the foot end who should line up the coffin on the final movement.  But we should not blame them too much, it is easy to do this.

How to avoid it - The person on the foot end should use a reference point in the middle of the stage to aline the coffin.  As they finish turning it this person should pull the coffin towards them to make it straight.  However they should not pull too far, as illustrated below.

3Too far
    Sometimes the coffin might end up too far down the aisle.  This is not a good start to taking the coffin out.  But it is not as bad as other mistakes.

How to avoid it - Do not take it too far down the aisle, as obvious as that sounds.  Before going up work out a mental line to not cross and do your best not to cross it.  Again the person at the foot end is mostly responsible for this.

4Too sudden
    I can't make a diagram of this, but basically it is when the coffin is turned in a start-stop or sudden way.  Turning the coffin should be smooth and steady, like a slow dance.

How to avoid it - A time someone told me recently is to count.  A rhythmic and even counting (eg: "one Mississippi, two Mississippi, and so on) will help one keep pace.  Think of it not as turning a box, but performing a dance.


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