A day in the life of a funeral director
I met Tracy O'Leary of Woodland Wishes a couple of years ago when she organised a woodland burial for my father. Her approach is straightforward and practical but also kind and caring when dealing with bereaved families.
Tracy was working in sales and admin before her role at a Cambridge charity, Wintercomfort for the Homeless. Most specifically she assisted with their social enterprise project, Winter Willow, which taught Wintercomfort clients the craft of making eco willow coffins. This led Tracy to make contact with natural burial grounds and help families who did not want a 'traditional' funeral and were looking for alternatives.
Woodland Wishes was founded in 2012 and Tracy is now based in her new premises in Fulbourn.
Can you describe your job? What do you do?
People know the job as “Funeral Director”, to me this is just a title and doesn’t really give much depth into what is actually involved.Being able to answer a call any time of day or night to a bereaved family member is just the tip of the iceburg.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
An open mind, a good listener and the passion and knowledge to find ways of getting things done, no matter what requests come forward.
What is a typical working day for you?
It varies so much. One day I could be walking in the beautiful woodlands with a family, the next a day in the mortuary caring for a loved one - to making tea and conversation at death awareness events or our lovely shop in Fulbourn.
What do you love about your job, and what isn’t so good?
I love everything about my job,I am very fortunate to havehad the calling for what I do. Meeting and empowering people to do whats right for them when faced with organising a funeral gives me immense satisfaction.
How do you measure your success?
I don’t measure my success against anything. Receiving thanks, reviews from families who come back to me time again and the feeling of contentment from a bereaved after a funeral is a good enough sign for me.
What are your plans for the future?
To continue to spread the word to families of Cambridgeshire and beyond that funerals canbe beautiful, connecting and totally bespoke.
There's an interesting article about Tracy on the Good Funeral Guide Directory website.