Funeral arranger May will be a familiar face to many local families as she grew up in the town, attended the Paisley Grammar School and has spent the majority of her life living in Renfrewshire.
What’s it like to be a funeral arranger?
It’s an incredibly rewarding job. I’m a ‘people person’ and have always enjoyed looking after bereaved families. Many next of kin have never organised a funeral before and don’t know where to start. There’s a lot to think about, from registering a death to creating an order of service, choosing flowers and music. My role is to support families every step of the way. I guide them through the paperwork, take the worry off their shoulders, and help them create a funeral that reflects the life of their loved one. There are so many small things we can do to personalise the service that bring great comfort to those who mourn.
What’s the best part of your role?
I like meeting lots of new people and in this job no two days are the same. I worked as a funeral arranger in Perth for a few years before moving back home to Renfrewshire. The kettle was always on and families, celebrants, ministers, priests, and florists would pop in for a chat. It will be the same at Woodside once the current restrictions lift and we can mix freely again. For now, visitors are by appointment only and I do most of my talking on the phone or video calls. I’m a good listener, which is a useful skill when helping families personalise a funeral.
What are the questions you get asked the most?
Common questions are about viewing the deceased and what clothes to bring. Some people prefer smart clothes, others go for comfy jammies and slippers. There’s no right or wrong answer, it’s whatever feels right to the family. I always ask for a recent photograph so when viewing your loved one their hair or make-up can be styled as you remember them.
At Woodside we’re in the unique position that all our facilities are on site. This means families don’t have to go to different locations for a viewing or to go through arrangements. Everything, including the funeral service is taken care of here.
What songs are most popular at Woodside?
The sad ones are always popular such as Andrew Bocelli and Sarah Brightman “Time to Say Goodbye” and “Highland Cathedral”. Frank Sinatra, “My Way” would make the top 5 too.
Personally, I’d go for something more upbeat. I want my funeral to be a celebration of my life and music can play a big part in lifting people’s spirits.
What role does technology play in a modern funeral?
When planning a funeral, I always ask if friends and family living abroad will attend the service online. It’s important to factor in any time difference as we want a funeral to be as accessible as possible.
Obviously, due to coronavirus limited numbers of mourners can attend a funeral in person. So, it’s now standard that we livestream funerals so more people can pay their respects online.
What’s your favourite funeral tradition?
I think it’s lovely when the funeral director pages in front of the hearse. It’s an old-fashioned gesture as a mark of respect for the deceased and their family.
When you’re not working how do you like to spend your time?
I’m a very sociable person and love spending time with my family, especially my grandkids Oscar and Daisy. My husband and I have three dogs so we do a lot of walking and enjoy being out and about. My hobby is baking, cupcakes are my speciality and I make them small enough that you can get away with eating two!