Undertakers Eating on Funerals

    A while ago I wrote this post on how to get fed for free if you're an undertaker.  Since then I have played the role of mourner more and thought I would share my perspectives on funeral staff joining mourners for food.

    As an undertaker too often I would have to leave before I had time for a morning break in order to pick the mourners up on time.  Which is not an issue really as it is part of the job, it is what I signed up for after all.  However, the issue was after the funeral service.  Mourners would have a wake and get something to eat, it was lunch time after all.  Yet I would have to stand about waiting for them, not eating as I did so.

    The mourners, who I was driving about all day and most often nice people, would not invite any of us in for food.  Instead we would stand about outside and simply wait.  Then depressingly often as the mourners came out they would exclaim with faint surprise "didn't you get anything to eat?"  I simply said "no" and thought to myself "because I'm not rude and waited for an invitation".

    Eventually I realised this was a mistake on my end, that it was not so much mourners did not want undertakers to eat with them, they simply never thought to invite the undertaker until afterwards.  The mourners are busy and distracted during a funeral, only after a social chat and relaxing do they even think about it.  So I devised a couple of different tricks to get in and get food while still being polite, which you can read here.

    After having played the role of mourner more in recent times I am able to comment on what it is like for mourners when the undertaker eats with them.  And so far none of the mourners mind, quite the opposite really as most like it.  The mourners feel a sense of 'personalisation' to have the funeral staff join them in the wake.

    The funeral staff tend to keep to themselves, to the side, as they clearly do not want to get in the way at all.  Yet the mourners like being able to talk with the staff, they can ask the undertakers questions which creates a more positive funeral experience for the mourner.

    I know a few funeral staff who would not agree, who think the mourner and undertaker should maintain a respectable distance from one another.  I completely disagree with this view, the less the divide (up to a point) the better the funeral for everyone.  Mourners do really enjoy a personal sense on the funeral, it creates a warmer and more individualised experience.  Undertakers also like it as they get to know who they are working with, it makes the funeral more relevant and interesting.

    The best way to do this is to have the undertakers go in and eat with the mourners at the wake.  It is a relaxed setting, and a social space, which creates an approachable atmosphere for everyone equally.  Personally I think arrangers should encourage the mourners to invite undertakers in when planning the funeral, for everyone's sake.


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