Justin reflects on his training as a Jennings Funeral Director.
No two days are the same here at Jennings Funeral Directors in Coolock as I move on in this new career journey of training to be a Funeral Director. If I ever harboured the notion that dealing with bereavement was basically the same job but with different people to deal with – then today put paid to that – bereavement is such a stark black and white kind of trauma in any family, but for that same family arranging the funeral, the small details in here are as colourful as a rainbow coalition or a lamp-post in Raheny festooned with general election posters.
A very popular local man – we’ll call him John – had lived until the age of 91 – his funeral Mass was today. All day yesterday, John had been reposing here in Jennings of Oscar Traynor Road and there was a steady stream of people in and out to pay their respects. John’s large extended family seemed to draw a lot of comfort from friends and relatives.
Jennings Funeral Director’s job – the privilege of witnessing a life well lived:
I had spent a lot of time with John’s grand-son Frank – Frank lived in Raheny and had come into us here in Jennings of Coolock to arrange the funeral as John had lived just around the corner. Frank had been involved in the funeral arrangements and I had organised the newspaper notice, the funeral music, the funeral flowers among other things. And when Frank dropped in his Grandad’s clothes for the Reposal – he also gave me a photograph. This was a tiny wallet-sized photo of John’s late wife Lily. Frank spoke fondly of the memory.
Grandad was never without this. No matter where he went – this picture of Nana came too. He was a great man for changing his mind – very political, very independent of spirit – and well able to change his mind and move between political parties if he didn’t like the carry-on sometimes. But this particular picture of Lily – that never changed no matter how often he changed his jacket or his political allegiance.
Mementos, personal tributes: solace during funeral and reposal times:
After hearing about John’s devotion to his late wife Lily, I took great care in placing the small faded photo in John’s top pocket. The deceased gentleman looked very peaceful. The Reposal went well – a big crowd of family and friends gathered for the prayer service last night. All was calm this morning, the family gathered to say good-bye before the sad moment in any funeral when it’s time to close the coffin and depart for the church in the funeral procession.
Things were proceeding well but then Frank called me urgently to one side. I’m so sorry about this – but I took the photo of Lily out earlier to show it to my sister Rita. And I have it here! I forgot to place it back in Grandad’s pocket before the Jennings Funeral Directors closed the coffin.
I quickly moved to assure Frank that I would sort this out. Discreetly, our staff moved John back into Jennings Reposal Chapel, and re-opened the coffin. I suppose you could say John and Lily were brought together again in time for the Funeral Mass at the local church. And now, I’m beginning to see why my professional colleagues here at Jennings Funeral Directors in Coolock say that there’s no job quite like it. And no two days the same.