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Permission to Grieve



Permission to Grieve


When the Funeral Director needs a Funeral Director.


I am proud of my profession. At the end of every day I go home with an acute awareness of the fragility of life, life is a gift and life is precious. I am reminded daily to be grateful, thankful and never to take friends or family for granted. I am reminded daily that each moment in time is precious, to laugh freely, shed a tear when needed, to never hold grudges and to love shamelessly.

The Swanborough Family farewelled our Mother, Mother-In-Law and precious Grandma recently. My husband took time off work and along with his two sisters nursed his mother at home until her passing. It was an intimate and precious but exhausting experience for them. The caring role had come full circle beginning with their mother caring for her children to her dearly loved children caring for their mother as she transitioned into eternity.

There was that realisation too, that no matter how hard you try, nothing can prepare you for death. Initially Fay was given 2 weeks to live – as Fay’s partner John reflected, “I was given an extra nine months of priceless time with my Lady”.
The Swanborough family had the knowledge, the expertise and the ability to conduct the funeral for Fay ourselves. We have lovingly and professionally cared for thousands of grieving families over our nearly 20 years in the funeral industry. Our children have grown up in and around the funeral profession. Prior to Mum’s passing we made an insightful choice of which we are so grateful for now. We chose to employ the services of another funeral professional to care for our mother. We gave ourselves permission to be cared for by another and we gave ourselves permission to grieve.

Once Fay had passed into eternity we rang the chosen funeral director who came out when the family were ready and took Mum into their care. They prepared her, dressed her and organised all the services required for Mum’s funeral care.

On the day of the service we arrived at the chapel, the funeral directors had arrived earlier to ensure everything was in order and all those finer details were in place. They were there ready to care for us and for Mum. We were not the funeral directors this time we were the grieving family. We gave ourselves and our children permission to grieve. I was able to be present as a wife and mother to comfort my husband and my children. It is difficult to put into words what this meant to me and to my family, especially to be with my children, to hold them and comfort them as they said “Farewell and till we meet again, Grandma”.

Of recent times I have read a number of articles and listened to some say there is no need for a Funeral Director and to belittle the service and profession. I am, by no means in objection to home funeral care or natural funeral care. In fact, I advocate those professionals who offer this service to families. If that is what families require we are there in the background to assist them through the process. I am highly aware of the need for education and assistance around these choices.

I know how hard we funeral directors work behind the scenes to ensure a successful funeral. I have put in the long hours and sleepless nights, missing out on Christmas, weekends and other significant events because I have dedicated that time into caring for someone’s loved one. This is the sacrifice made by the Funeral Professional. My team have worked tirelessly for hours providing mortuary care preparing a loved one that needed that specialist care due to the circumstance of death and finally achieved the result that I was satisfied with so the family could view and spend the time needed with their precious loved one. I cannot comprehend expecting families to provide their own mortuary care in some of the circumstances presented to us, where we the professionals need to debrief our team to ensure they do not experience trauma. I have experienced the stress first hand of making sure all details are in place, all bookings match, liaising with clergy, celebrants, chapels and cemeteries to make ensure this. I know the expertise and hours required by my fellow funeral professionals to conduct a funeral service. I am personally grateful to my funeral directors for the way they cared for my mother-in-law. I do not take their service for granted. Our family were happy to pay the funeral director’s account for their professional care because we have an acute understanding of the hours behind the scenes required to prepare a funeral service.

The funeral industry needs well educated, qualified and compassionate individuals to care for the deceased, who do not lose sight of the personal touch required to ensure families are able to grieve and farewell their loved one with dignity and respect for culture, belief and individual needs. My desire is that in years to come the funeral industry will look back and be proud of our achievements within our profession, the way we have cared for and our greater community in and around death.