Kiran Bhogal, Senior Funeral Director at Central England Co-operative, has spoken candidly about what makes her passionate about her career and why she cares so much about removing the awkward taboos that surround death and dying in our communities.
Kiran, 44, has been working in the funeral industry for nearly two decades and revealed she decided that it was the career for her because it would allow her to ‘help people’.
The married mother-of-two said: “I started as an embalmer in 1993 and then came to the Co-op in 1998 as a Funeral Director.
“My aim was just to help people really. There had been a couple of deaths in the family; one was my cousin who was only 18 and I was really impressed with how everything was taken care of.
“There was no need to worry about anything as the funeral arranger took care of everything on our behalf. I just wanted to be in that same position, so I could help people.”
From that point on it was clear that this was the life for her, she added: “It was a certainty because the satisfaction I got from helping people every day was immense.
“And then I thought – I’d like to do this on a bigger scale, out in the community, helping people through the grieving process.
“When somebody’s bereaved our job is to make them feel comforted whichever stage of bereavement they’re going through; they need somebody there to understand and listen. They need hand-holding and they need advice at the right time.”
One of the major aspects of working with bereaved families is dealing with a flurry of different emotions from all involved.
Kiran said: “From a professional point of view it is difficult. I really empathise with people – I think you have to really – but I get great satisfaction from guiding them through the funeral process and ensuring they are aware of all choices available to them.
“Of course, there are personal experiences that we’ve all been through that can influence emotions.
“It could be that somebody’s picked a certain piece of music at a funeral that we’ve heard and that sparks an emotion or brings back a memory for us. That can be quite hard sometimes – because I can’t help but relate to my own experiences.”
One of the most recent trends in the industry has been the rise in the personalisation of funerals.
Now more than ever people will ensure that their funeral features their favourite colours, music, hobbies or sports teams.
One of the main ways people look to manage their funeral is by pre-paying – a service, Kiran said, that is really on the rise and one that she would advise people to look into.
She added: “Certainly we would advise people to pre-plan if there’s something specific that they would like for their funeral service.
“The ideas can be written down by using funeral wishes cards and we endeavour to provide their wishes.
“The other consideration is that pre-planning lessens the burden on friends and family. At the time of need, whether the death is expected or not, it is an emotional time for all involved.
“A pre-planned funeral means that the family can take some comfort from the fact that the person who’s passed away is having their wishes met.”
One of the many questions Kiran regularly gets confronted with away from work is ‘what is it like being a funeral director?’
She revealed that her job is something that just fits into family life and she never thinks of it any other and sees it more as a vocation rather than a job.
She added: “I have a 14-year old son and an 11-year old daughter and I’ve been married for 16 years now.
“And although my husband’s not a funeral professional at all, he’s quite intrigued about what I do, but part and parcel of us getting married was that I was never ever going to leave my profession as it is part of who I am and he supports that.
“Everyone who knows me knows that it is part of my makeup. I will always be a Funeral Director.”