Samantha Ward discusses her non-traditional approach to funeral direction

Samantha Ward speaks about her funeral business Bay tree funerals
Samantha Ward, owner of Bay Tree Funerals. Photo: Supplied

Samantha Ward is an independent funeral director who prides herself on taking a non-traditional approach without jeopardising the solemnity of the occasion. Her business, Bay Tree Funerals, offers a careful and considerate approach to funeral direction that really listens to the needs of the family.

Samantha Ward answered some questions about why she started her business and elaborated on her unique approach.

What inspired you to start Bay Tree Funerals?

I went to a religious funeral with hymns that was very traditional and I wasn’t really sure on why the deceased’s life wasn’t reflected. In the whole experience it was lots of sadness and sorrow and I wanted to have a different approach to make it more about the celebration of the life they had. I wanted to focus on the good times and fun memories the family and friends shared with them which should be reflected in the service whether religious or non-religions so the family feel after the funeral the day was well reflected on the life they shared with their loved one.

What professional funeral services do you offer?

From the first call to going to the hospital or home to bring your loved one into my care. I will speak to the family and help to organise registration of the death certificate and get the correct documents in place. We will then have our celebrant and myself to meet with the family and get a feel for the person who has passed away to see if they had any wishes, we will speak to the family and friends and go through different funerals, i.e. direct cremation without service or a burial or a cremation with a service if the family and friends ask for any special requirements we will meet their needs to make the day a celebration of the life of their loved one who has passed away.

We will arrange the service and transport, i.e.  hearse and limousines and deal with the floral request to obituaries in the newspaper any orders of service we will print them for you and charity donations will be collected after the service to a charity of your choice or a favorite charity of your loved one. We can  do a book of remembrance or or attendance cards we will organise music for the service and any special requests of certain songs we can help you with a caterer or venue to bring your family and friends together to celebrate their loved ones life after the service.

Whatever the requests for any funeral we will be part of we will try our utmost best to make it happen then we will contact you a few days later after we have collected your loved ones ashes. If you’re ready we can speak about doing a burial / interment for your loved ones ashes or you can keep them at home or scatter their ashes or we can look after your loved one’s ashes until you are ready. We can also offer a second service if you want us there for scattering the ashes or internment for burial we will guide you through the headstone process and help you with lettering, sizes and choices of different headstones.

How long have you had your funeral business?

2 years and it is very rewarding helping families at the worst time in their lives. It all started with the first conversation with my husband and explaining why I wanted to be a funeral director and how much I needed to make a difference in the  funeral industry. We did lots of research and spoke to lots of family friends and other funeral directors and people that worked every day in the industry we decided that all we got out of our research was positives so we went to green fuse heart and souls in Devon and did courses with them.

The course was designed to give us an idea of what the job involves and included an introduction to funeral services, roles within the service, the impact of loss and grief and preparation of their loved one  to arranging the funeral service and directing a funeral on the day.

With the need of excellent communication and people skills I found we needed a serious and dignified manner with the ability to deal sensitively with distressing situations. Attention to detail is very important with excellent administration and organisational abilities with a good understanding and acceptance of different religious beliefs. Your working hours can vary, and you’ll be on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year

Most of your administration work would be done during office hours, but you’ll often need to visit clients in the evenings or at weekends. And funerals can take place on any day of the week except for holiday periods i.e. Christmas.

Attending funerals involves being outdoors in all weather conditions. No matter how hot or cold you are, what you are going through doesn’t compare to how the family are feeling on that day.

Then I decided along with my husband that we will find a premise and start a new beginning. I think we make an exceptional difference at being there at such a painful time for the families and friends left behind.

Do your services cater for those with certain beliefs?

Funeral arrangements will seem like a never-ending list of to do-s. As soon as one task is completed another one arrives that you cannot overlook. Which all must be diligent to achieved thoroughly despite this short time to arrange the funeral for the family that are dealing with a lot of grief.

The practicalities of death do not sit well with the raw emotions of loss.

There is all different types of beliefs and religions and special requests, it doesn’t matter how different it seems to any other funeral. We will strive to achieve all with the greatest dignity and respect and professionalism for the family on the day whatever their wishes are

What separates your funeral services to its competitors?

Funeral services have become more competitive over time with the big industrial service companies, to the more personal independent family run services.

Bay Tree Funerals is an independent family run funeral home and we are constantly striving to accomplish a greater funeral at an affordable price. For the family with a lady in charge of caring for your loved one, from the first call to the final day with a caring and loving approach a lady funeral director is here to offer you support and caring for you as well as your loved one in this time of need.

We are here through it all to fully support you which is why a lady funeral director collects them at the time of deceased then looks after the deceased. Washes them, gets them dressed, does their hair, puts their makeup on in a way that is needed at a independent family funeral company. The family will feel reassured and safe knowing there loved one is fully cared for by the funeral director.

For those new to funeral services, what advice would you give them in finding the right business?

Be strong. Be supportive and alert and have attention to detail in everything you do. Don’t rush, think before you speak be a good listener and treat family’s as you would want to be treated and you can always go that extra mile to make your business the best it can be.