Emily Sharma, 28, funeral arranger at WA Truelove & Son Ltd
Have you always worked in the funeral biz?
‘I’ve done loads of things. I worked in a nursing home for a bit, I ran a pub and I’ve trained for social work.’
What made you want to become a funeral arranger?
‘Well, this is such a strange story. I had a weird experience at London Bridge. I was on a train and thought that this man had fallen asleep, so I went to wake him and then realised that he’d died. It was late at night and it was only me and him in the carriage. I rang through to the driver and the transport police arrived. Afterwards I mentioned it to some friends, who were horrified. I thought it was very sad, but it wasn’t traumatic and I thought: Oh, this is clearly a skill that I have – maybe I should look into it. It’s quite a weird way to have found my career, but I love it.’
So what's a typical day like for you?
‘I’ll come in and check that everything is in order. There may be a deceased in a coffin, so I’ll make sure everything’s been okay with that overnight. Then I’ll meet with families who come in to arrange funerals. If they want to spend the whole day organising a funeral or go away and come back the next day, that’s fine. We wouldn’t rush a family into making those sorts of decisions.’
Do you ever get asked to organise unusual funerals?
‘We work with one company that has a motorbike hearse, which is very popular with motorcyclists. The hearse is the sidecar and there will usually be a cortege of motorbikes following. It’s amazing.’
What's the best bit of the job?
‘Knowing that you’ve helped a family in a very difficult situation. I’m trying to say this without sounding too virtuous, but genuinely I get the sense that I have helped people every day as they’re going through a really tough time and that makes it worthwhile for me.’
Hours: 40 per week
Starting salary: £18,000 pa
Qualifications: Diploma from the National Association of Funeral Directors