Buxton celebrant highlights work of those in funeral industry during pandemic
“We have clapped for the NHS, have clapped for key workers but nobody wants to talk about the hard work done by funeral directors, crematorium staff and celebrants who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic.”
Buxton’s Fiona Sloman, a civil celebrant who offers non-religious services at funerals, says this has sadly been her busiest year ever after leading more than 350 services in the last 12 months.
She said: “The work done by the NHS, the supermarket staff and the lorry drivers this past year has been truly amazing and kept the country running but I work in the forgotten industry of death that no one wants to talk about.
“Thousands and thousands of people have died because of coronavirus and yet people don’t think about the people who have had to work extra hours and spent less time with their family while they looked after yours.”
Fiona has been a celebrant for ten years after speaking at her brother’s funeral. Since then she has helped hundreds of people say their final goodbyes to loved ones.
She said: “I feel so privileged to be welcomed into people’s worlds at their darkest times and help them honour that someone special to them.
“Everybody is different and everyone has a story to tell and I’m privileged enough to have played a part in helping people through tough times.
"But for me it is important to not become too self involved, I may be the person standing at the front but I won’t ever know the person who is a parent, a best friend or a partner as well as those who are mourning.”
Since the pandemic took hold there has a been a change in services with only 30 mourners allowed, wearing masks and social distancing.
Fiona said: “It has been so tough for people, you can’t hug or hold hands with someone who is grieving.
"There has been a change in the type of service too as more people have chosen to opt for a direct cremation but to all those families I was there when you couldn’t be and I said a few words to ensure they weren’t alone.”
At her busiest, Fiona led the services for 20 people in one day and says it does take its toll on her.
She said: "With people like funeral directors and celebrants like myself you will see we need a sense of humour, it’s not that we don’t care it’s the fact we do.
“You need to switch off when you have finished a service and have some me time otherwise you’d be dragged under with other people’s sadness, and I’ve been so well supported by my partner John - I don’t know how I’d do this job without him."
Now she wants people to acknowledge the work done by the funeral industry and said: “We don’t talk about death but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening, don’t fear dying and lets celebrate the wonderful work that people do day in day out.”