Shoobridge Funeral Services - Serving YOU!


 Mission Statement (and History) the Long Version?

There are numerous reasons to be in business, any business. Passion, belief an ideal or simply, money.
Of course I could dress this up and use fancy words like, monetary or financial gain but one purpose of this article is to eliminate patronising remarks and to speak plainly.

My son, some years ago, asked me why I got into the funeral business, not how but why?
The truth is, it was not a vision of mine but circumstance/s that led me – some might even say an accident, coincidence or fate - I had been seeking a purpose, the meaning of life?
Contradictory it may sound but the reason for living had intrigued me since my father died in 1985 and I had been searching, somewhat unknowingly until the ‘funeral door’ opened in my life in 1989.

To examine my personal route to this juncture briefly, I had always believed in God, through upbringing, culture, habit and I guess, choice. When my father died suddenly, at the age of 64, just 6 months before his retirement, I was puzzled and very angry.

My wife used to have a hairdresser who came to the house. Her neighbour was a Parson and she had recently been converted into Christianity.
As the ‘devil’s advocate,’ I questioned every aspect of her ‘faith’ to the point of being annoying and accepting no answer she gave but she remained steadfast, undeterred and challenged me to attend 'her' church.

Not one to run from a fight, I did attend and consequently became a regular church-goer. Remaining ever the skeptic at 'house groups', asking numerous questions constantly, our meetings became, quite entertaining (to some?) – I am told.

A few years later, my wife and I divorced and the church ‘condemned’ the situation with true 'human driven,' hypocrisy and we parted company for good – that church and me. I still believe but now choose how, when and where to worship without pressure or coercement.

I decided to change the course my life was taking – it didn’t seem to be going anywhere ambitiously and work was becoming scarce as the United Kingdom hit  financial ‘recession’  in the late '80s - poor timing on my part?

Before desperation took hold, I sought and accepted a new job working for a local builder-cum-undertaker. The building work was our primary function but my first full day at work took an unexpected turn – my boss had a heart attack!
At 54 years of age, he was fortunate to be fit and healthy and survived but was not allowed to drive for 3 months – I became his driver.

One of my first 'chauffeur' jobs was extremely unfortunate: one of our workers father died and I had to drive my boss to the house to arrange the proceedings. We were, after all, funeral directors too.
I cannot recall all of my emotions and feelings but I remember they were many and varied.

Apart from this initial introduction to the funeral profession, as part of my duties, I was taught how to attend churches in a new role – funeral services and had to record the names of the mourners attending the service.
One day, we were short of manpower for the duties of bearing the coffin and I was asked if I could help, a pall-bearer? Naturally, I obliged.

From there you could say, 'the rest is history,' but it is not – history, is still in the making as those became simply,  the ‘early beginnings.’

27 years later, my ‘book’ remains unwritten but we are now in our second generation of funeral directors and I imagine, the third will follow.

So what of the work, our work, in a business sense? I constantly read articles, brochures and publications directed at you, the public. The Internet is the new world encyclopaedia and Google reigns so ALL the information is available to you, at your fingertips. Clarity has mercifully, dispelled myths and the secrets are all out – not that there were any to begin with but, transparency is the key nowadays and we live in the ‘new’ world of undertaking.

I could wane lyrically about ‘mission statements’ but I am a funeral director for numerous reasons but one standard exists in my life and was the answer to one of the first questions my son ever asked me: “When I stop feeling empathetic and emotional for and towards my customers, IS the day I quit the funeral profession for good!”

Of course, that sounds very noble and I could write lots of expressions to impress you or try to gain your business but my fault is, I tell it as it is.

Live or die, honesty is an important principle in my life. Diplomacy and tact also have their place but not at the expense of this fundamental and underlying principle. 'Not telling someone everything is not the same as lying to them' and if suffering can be averted by discerning judgement our experience is a key factor in decision making.

This is not the same as deception so let me give you an example: if I prepare or dig a grave, it would be no surprise in the UK that water will enter the grave. With lots of rain, the level of water continually increases and becomes a problem to the funeral director regarding pumping, ground conditions and such.
In summary, the client does not need to know all of this, it is the problem of the grave-digger and the funeral director.  To fully inform the public could be distressing, too-much-information!
Mostly, I choose not to inform people  unless they ask - we never intentionally mis-inform or lie to the public or client no matter the cost. So there it is – we are here to help you with the best use of our experience applied to, and regarding, your personal situation.

Our aim is to smooth the difficult passage of loss, grief and bereavement for you. For you, this is unfamiliar territory - we are not here to  take advantage of your circumstances or situation.
We are here to inform you of the options available, advise you and help you with the choices you make as a result of this knowledge because, ultimately, these options will be remembered by you in the future as the best possible way you could undertake and move through this sad event.

To say we wish to make it the best experience possible for you, your family or the people affected sounds magnanimous since we are in business and to that last comment, you have my full agreement but, in order to do what we feel we do extremely well, we have to remain available, in business, to exact our skills into your difficult situation.

Truly, we have no magic wand to eliminate your pain; but, if we can, in any way, reduce the stress you are experiencing, we will achieve our aim and putting your needs first is our prime target!

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