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Thinking outside the box

Interview with Grace Gasson, Dip (FD)

What led you to wanting to become a funeral director?

I wanted to be a Forensic Scientist, so my mum suggested I take a placement with a funeral director for work experience, so see if I could cope with working with people who had died. And then something just clicked! I was about 15 at the time. I went on to learn all the different skills required, achieving my Diploma in Funeral Directing in 2006. I’ve had my own company since 2017.

What do you like about it?

Making something difficult that bit easier for families. You can’t fix everything, but you can help take some of the stress away. By noticing everything that is being said and sometimes observing what hasn’t been said, you can help a family to create something unique and special for them and for the person who has died. For example, one lady was passionate about tapestry and quilting, so we arranged for her coffin to be covered in a beautiful quilt.

What qualities do you think you need to do your job?

I’d say, being patient, calm and thoughtful as well as methodical and practical and having a reassuring presence. Really liking working with people is vital. Sometimes even knowing when it’s appropriate to be funny or a little bit cheeky. 

What do you think is the most important thing about working with families who have been bereaved?

Helping them to gain a sense of relief afterwards that they’ve done the best they could for the person who has died – in whatever form that might take. From jazz bands to an unattended cremation.  

What would you say makes Grace Independent Funeral Directors unique?

I really listen to people. I enjoy spending time with them. And I love this business with a passion.

Tell me about the significance of the Dandelion?

A friend had a paperweight of one in glass and I was transfixed by it. It’s symbolic of the fragility of life. The seed head represents the world and the single seed floating away represents the person who has been lost.

Dandelion head
Dandelion seed head © Barry Yates

Do you feel there have been any significant changes in funerals since you’ve been in this business?

Yes, and things change all the time as well. There is now a greater freedom for people to create something different, if they want that. Most funerals were fiercely traditional when I started. And that’s fine still, now, if that’s what families are looking for. But people have become more confidence in asking for exactly what they want. Which might be quirky on occasion, but we are happy to accommodate that. It’s about what’s right for them.

I’d also like to challenge the stigma that you have to use your ‘local’ funeral director. You can speak to any funeral director, anywhere. We are all so different. You might want to chat to a few before deciding who is right for you and who will meet your needs.

Tell us something about yourself people might not know.

I love to sing!

Any news you’d like to share?

Yes. In November we are delighted to be moving to a larger premises at Broyle Place Farm. Our facilities will include a chapel. We currently have a chapel of rest, but it’s tiny. The difference will be that our new one will be large enough to hold small intimate ceremonies and blessings. 

We also think that, creating more space and offering more privacy will be better for some families. High streets aren’t right for everyone. If you are feeling emotional and raw, you might not necessarily want to run into people.

We are so excited about it and very much look forward to showing people around. Find out more about the services Grace Independent Funeral Directors offer

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