Becoming a Funeral Director
By George Inggs
Iain Potts joined Traditional Funerals as a Funeral Assistant in July 2014, and has since become one of our company’s key Funeral Directors. Here, in his words, is the story of how he came to be where he is today.
As a young kid growing up, the only Undertaker that I knew of was 7 feet tall, weighed 300 pounds, wore a black hat and purple gloves … and was wrestling Hulk Hogan for a Championship belt.
The first time I met a real “Undertaker” or, as we refer to them, Funeral Director, was when my Uncle passed away. Although I was very young at the time, I remember that my Grandparents’ house was filled with police and ambulance officers, confusion, disbelief, sadness, tears and a heartbroken family. I recall being confused about why the Ambulance hadn’t taken my Uncle with them and my Mum telling me that the funeral people were coming to get my Uncle. It was a job that I had never heard of before, but looking back now and after speaking with Mum about the events of that day, I realise just how special these people were to our family at that point in time. A few years later, my Grandad passed away in hospital and the choice was made that the same Funeral Directors would be called to look after him and the family, since we felt somehow familiar with them. Grandad’s funeral service was special and is a fond memory that will always remain with me. I remember that a Scottish Piper stood beside Grandad’s coffin and played Amazing Grace, and then led the Hearse away while playing Flower of Scotland. Even though it was at the saddest moment of his life’s journey, I feel fortunate to have walked away with that final memory of Grandad.
It was around 2 years ago that a guest of the restaurant I worked in asked me if I would ever consider pursuing a career as a Funeral Director. I had never really considered that question, and was caught off guard, mostly because of my total unawareness of what the job would entail. Nevertheless, the idea had been planted in my mind, and while I would not act on it until about a year later, I started asking myself questions I had no answer for. I eventually began researching the role, including the qualifications and personal qualities required to pursue a career as a Funeral Director and finally came to to decision that I could definitely see myself in that role. My next step was to contact Traditional Funerals, who, it turns out, had been the company who looked after my family years before. I enquired about work experience on my days off and was granted a 2 day work experience trial. From that trial, I was lucky enough to be offered a job after my second day. My first year would involve learning many different aspects of the funeral industry, including coffin trimming, hearse driving, assisting on funeral services, assisting at cemeteries, assisting with mortuary care and visiting hospitals and nursing homes. The hardest duty I felt, during that time, was going to a family home and taking their loved one away from them. It really became clear to me then just how much trust and faith a family have in us at what is an exceptionally difficult time.
After a year of experience and personal growth I was given the opportunity to become a Funeral Director. In all honesty, being the person that can help a family at their time of need, especially with personalising their loved one’s funeral to make it as special as possible, is an absolute privilege. Knowing that I could help a family take away a comforting memory from a funeral, just like the one I have of my Grandad’s funeral, is the reason why I love what I do. Being a Funeral Director leaves me with a strong sense of job (and personal) satisfaction. I am surrounded by like-minded colleagues who are all working towards one end goal. Everyday is different because every family is different and every time I listen to a person’s eulogy, I am reminded just how interesting, entertaining, humbling and loving people can really be.