There is now a special page called 'Ask an Undertaker' for people to openly ask any questions which will be answered by various funeral staff or myself. Feel free to ask anything, this is a rather open minded space! Simply follow the link below and ask away :)
This is a collection of posts I have written on how to be an undertaker. Just various tips and bits of information. From how to do a transfer to how to drive a mourning car. I will regularly update this page as I write more posts.
Many of these posts are old and either formatted poorly or skip information (particularly the transfers section). While I intend to edit them and finish them off finding time is not always possible.
- Funeral terminology & jargon
A page with the various funeral terms and shorthands. A great way to start to get a grasp on the industry and how it operates. This post covers all kinds of terminology, from transfer equipment to grave types.
This is the general page on transfers, what they are and some basic information. It also provides links to relevant posts.
- Hospital transfers
What a hospital transfer is and how to do it. This page contains specific instructions for some of the main hospitals in Sydney (such as RPA, RNS, Westmead and so on).
- Nursing home transfer
What a nursing home transfer is and some things to watch when doing one. Nursing homes are a tense place for the undertakers, having some information before you go in can help a lot.
- House transfers
What a house transfer is and what to expect. House transfers are the most unpredictable and can be the most emotional and dangerous. Most buildings, such as homes, are not designed to get a body in or out of. And the family is often present at these transfers.
- Relocation transfers
The final type of transfer, what it is and how to do it. This is the type I had the least experience it is, so this post is not really informative and helpful so much as interesting.
- Why Foot First -- 22nd February 2013
In this post I discuss why the body and coffin should always travel foot first; both the symbolic and practical reasons.
On the Funerals:
- Handling the elderly
The elderly are a big part of working funerals. In all honesty they are also often one of the more difficult parts. This post is a basic run through on how to better deal with older people, for both your and their sake.
- Turning the coffin
How to turn the coffin is such an important and unknown part of the funeral. Turning the coffin refers to when the service is over and the coffin, which is at the front, is turned to then be taken outside. Any movement of the coffin is very important and significant, the process of the coffin leaving the service (one of the last time the mourners will see it) is very important and should be done right. This post covers exactly how to turn the coffin correctly and respectfully while doing it easily and safely.
- How to get fed for free
Unfortunately funerals are sometimes long, and undertakers need to leave early and get back late. This means they can go a whole day without even a snack. The only real opportunity an undertaker has to get lunch while working a funeral is at the wake. Most mourners will happily invite the undertaker to join them but this is not common enough. So I wrote a post on the tricks I learnt to food while at the wake as an undertaker.
- Lowering the coffin
From how to stand to how to hold the rope this post covers all the main points everyone should know when lowering a coffin at a cemetery.
- Carrying a child coffin
Child coffins are not like adult coffins and thus should be handled very differently. Many people carry the child coffin incorrectly, which makes it dangerous and difficult.
Driving on Funerals:
- Identifying and telling hearses apart -- 11th March 2013
A post on how to identify and tell hearses apart, it is a great way to understand the hearse and what it looks like. As well as to get an idea of the diversity of hearses in Sydney.
- Guest post on Driving the hearse -- 28th March 2013
A short post with a few tips on how to drive a hearse, along with their first experience with the hearse.
- Driving in cortege WNBull style
WNBull has a slightly different and very strick way for the cortege to drive. So this is about how to drive in the cortege for WN Bull Funerals. It covers the styles of driving and what you need to do and know for this job.
- Driving a funeral car
This covers how to drive a funeral car as an undertaker. From picking up the family and handling them to dropping them off.
- Cortege laws and rights in NSW
A post covering the laws and rights of the funeral cortege. It also looks at enforcement of the laws and attitudes toward the cortege and those who cut it off.
Preparing the coffin:
- How to trim a coffin WNBull Style - the first step; inside lining
A step-by-step guide (with pictures) on how to prepare/trim a coffin. This is the traditional WNBull way of preparing a coffin. A method that has been used for years and yet has never been written down. The first part deals with the inner lining.
- How to trim a coffin WNBull Style - the second step; lid and thumbscrews
A step-by-step guide (with pictures) on how to prepare/trim a coffin. This is the traditional WNBull way of preparing a coffin. A method that has been used for years and yet has never been written down. The second part deals with putting on the lid and thumbscrews.
- How to trim a coffin WNBull Style - the third step; handels and finishing
A step-by-step guide (with pictures) on how to prepare/trim a coffin. This is the traditional WNBull way of preparing a coffin. A method that has been used for years and yet has never been written down. The third and final step in getting the coffin ready. This post is about putting on the handels and finishing touches.
Working the Mortuary:
- Mortuary OH&S
A short post about general safety and health in the mortuary. It does not cover everything but is a nice introduction and covers the important things.
- Inside a mortuary
A look inside a funeral home mortuary. Just a few pictures explaining and showing various things. And a couple of videos to help get a better feel for what a mortuary is like.
General & Miscellaneous:
- InvoCare share; how much InvoCare really owns
This post is not so much a helpful guide. But it is informative about InvoCare and how much they really own. Talk of InvoCare and its dominance is a big thing in the funeral industry, so get some facts before joining the speculation.
- Tools of the trade
A list of useful tools or items an undertaker should always carry and why.
- The Rain
The sun is bad for undertakers, but the rain is possibly the biggest issue for the industry. It makes cemeteries muddy and slippery, it makes churches slippery and it makes people miserable. The rain is not only physically dangerous but often annoying. This post is some handy information to better prepare for and deal with the rain.
- The hearse revealed
While not exactly a "how to" it is a useful post for understanding the hearse. How one looks, where the hidden spaces are and how to interact with it. The hearse is an important and famous vehicle, pictures of it can be found everywhere and we all know what it looks like. Yet so few know what it is like inside.
Decomp is the short version of "decomposition", the process by which a body goes 'off'. This post is about how to spot the early stages of decomp, the things to watch for and how to deal with decomp bodies.
- What ashes are really like
Ashes are not what most people expect (as they are more sand than ash). This post looks at what ashes really are and how to handle them.
- Cremation video
A video of the process of a cremation. Useful information for any undertaker incase they are asked about it. It should be noted that this video is of a cremation of poor or unknown people in America. So there are some minor differences, such as in Australia they would remain in the coffin.