How the funeral home services can bring a spirit of staff care and dignity to this painful task.
From funeral costs to courtesy and compassion – our need to pay respect – honouring your loved one in bereavement – from queries about hymns to coffin prices – using your Funeral Director’s expertise.
Selecting a Coffin
We often associate Funeral Homes as places of hushed quiet reverence. Which is just as well if you consider the tasks facing a family who suddenly have to confront many stark and difficult choices in the midst of trauma and bereavement – even the words have a harsh finality to them – death notices, coffins, funeral arrangements, funeral costs, choices around burial or cremation.
‘And that’s only the start of it,’ says Nigel Brothers, Funeral Director and Financial Controller with Jennings Funeral Directors. Nigel is based at Jennings Head Office at the historical Five Lamps in Dublin 1.
For over 70 years, Jennings Funeral Directors have been arranging funerals for families all over Dublin city and surrounds. Nigel describes how, as one of Dublin’s oldest and most experienced Undertakers, Jennings remain committed and deeply sensitive to how vulnerable families are in the midst of bereavement and loss. A core part of the Funeral Director’s job revolves around easing the burden for the bereaved family, at least in the practical sense, with care, compassion and gentle guidance when needed.
‘Take just one element – how choosing a coffin carries a huge emotional impact for the family in the trauma of bereavement.’ Nigel describes how Jennings Funeral Directors can best serve the family by keeping this awareness to the fore – first by offering to take plenty of time with the family – a good Funeral Director will never cut corners time-wise or offer cheap or low quality funeral arrangement service – rushing these big decisions might cost the family in terms of the funeral quality they deserve for their beloved departed relative.
‘Here at Jennings, we understand that choosing a coffin is one of the most painful and difficult tasks you will ever have to face – and so at least we can bring clarity to the surreal aspect of all this. For example, transparency in pricing is very important to us.
Coffin prices vary, the selection cost wise is as broad based as possible, to suit the budget of the family in bereavement – the Funeral Director knows and is very sensitive to how there is enough stress for the family as it is without worrying about funeral costs and coffin prices.’
Jennings try to provide a gentle environment – there are well-lit coffin display rooms at all the branches – and in proceeding with the funeral arrangements, the Funeral Director gives as much guidance as people need in coffin related information.
Nigel expands on this – ‘Selection and price and coffin display is important, but we also give space, privacy, and time, so that the family can take as long as they like to discuss the different coffin options.’
Nigel tells of a recent unexpected source of staff inspiration. ‘Our staff from all branches of Jennings Funeral Directors are constantly updating their Funeral Arrangement skills, and at a recent Training Course, we had the privilege of hearing first-hand from a Bereavement Counsellor called Mary, who had recently suffered a death in her own family and was able to pass on her training advice from a deeply personal perspective.’ The Jennings Funeral Director describes this as a rare and valuable mix of the professional and the personal.
Bereavement Counsellor’s Experience
Here is Mary’s account:
All my training as a bereavement-counsellor went out the window when it came to my own dear father’s passing. Like most people, I needed to call on the assistance of outside counselling once the dust had settled after our own family funeral. And that’s as it should be. My dear father had lived a wonderful long life, his world was about family and meaning and gratitude for good health while it lasted. But the shock of his passing cut deeply into the core of our family all the same. I found it difficult to get my head around the funeral arrangements.
Jennings Undertakers proved very supportive in terms of practical help – we hadn’t a clue, for instance, about the layout style of the death-notice, even though we know what we wished to include in it. But for me, the coffin selection was the most painful. Dave, our Funeral Director, was very helpful by advising us to ease into this – suggested we first of all sit and take our time and speak about Funeral Mass time preferences. Then Dave encouraged us to compose the wording of our death notice, before facing into the coffin selection.
But even with all that guidance, I found it so difficult. It was so so surreal. Sleep deprivation didn’t help. And standing in that display room, confronting the stark choice of choosing a coffin for my own Dad, I could not get my head around it. The more coffins I looked at, the worse I became – I actually thought I wouldn’t be able to partake in a decision. Dave advised me to take some time, maybe have a breath of air.
My sister Nora and I walked around the block, and that made all the difference.
Chatting about Dad, I was suddenly remembering the bookshelf he made for Ciara, my daughter. An amateur at woodwork, he took his time and spoke about how the pale coloured wood went so nicely with Ciara’s white painted walls. And now we could link that special memory to the Irish made Oulton coffin back at Jennings – it wasn’t vastly expensive, and it had a beautiful pale wood veneer finish – the subtle features of high quality craftsmanship reminded me of the values my father appreciated. The coffin manufacturers were based in West Cork – Dad was from Kerry – so near enough!
Don’t get me wrong.
Coffin selection remains a difficult task in anyone’s day. But at least now we could bring some personal aspect into this, and so the coffin selection became an active part of a meaningful funeral celebration of our dearly departed father’s life. So in terms of a Funeral Director’s training, it was great to have the calm expertise on that difficult day when those coffins were spinning around my head and nothing made sense! That’s when a good Funeral Director steps in with guidance and expertise.’
Funeral Director Feedback
Nigel says that Jennings find feedback like that very helpful.
‘Mary really hit the nail on the head when she spoke about sleep deprivation – because we see this every day. Families might not have slept for days, maintaining vigils at the bedsides of their dearly beloved in the last stages of illness – and yet they manage to get themselves around to the Funeral Directors to begin the arrangements.’
These days, coffin display rooms at Jennings Undertakers are bigger than before, to accommodate changing tastes. Nigel explains how a Funeral Director will never impose suggestions of their onto such an intimate decision for a family – Jennings staff assure the family that they’re available for any information needed. Options vary – along with light and dark wood coffins, you now have coffins with frieze features along the sides – like carvings of the Last Supper and the 12 Apostles. This coffin comes in light or dark wood and is called, simply, The Last Supper Coffin. Some people opt for the large ornate Italian caskets like The Venice Coffin with the most wonderful inlaid carvings. Jennings also carry a range of contemporary Willow coffins and Sea-Grass coffins – new innovations in terms of environmental awareness.
View our coffin display page, illustrating the broad range of coffins available at Jennings Funeral Directors.