Pictured above, the arranging room at Holmes and Family before and after its makeover.
The GFG strongly encouraged this makeover. We acknowledge that our point of view is not shared by everyone, to the point that we’re not so sure, now, either.
The role of the funeral arranger is to be both 1) an empathetic fellow human being; and 2) a properly detached professional. Getting the proportions right is the important thing — and to some extent this is determined by the evident needs of the client. Some clients like to keep the chat brief and businesslike; others are stunned by grief and need someone to listen and gently guide them. An arranger has to be able to switch between the two — and all the others in between. An arrangements interview can last between 15 mins and several hours. There’s no Standard Operating Procedure — though there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that some firms are impatient of arrangers who take more than 30-40 minutes.
A desk-and-chairs setup asserts and reinforces the professional standing of the arranger. Some feel that this is helpful in defining their status and, therefore, the nature of the relationship (arrangers are not grief counsellors). The barrier marks a boundary. It also determines and defines the agenda: we’re here to conduct business.
By the same token, a sofas-and-coffee-table setup can blur the focus of the interview or even distract from it. That’s one way of looking at it. Another way of looking at it is say that it promotes a collaborative, creative approach to planning a funeral; it is far better suited to the age of the bespoke funeral.
Midway between the two is a round table, which is the preferred style of a funeral director we admire very much.
Is it a matter of either or? Should a well-equipped arrangements room contain both a table or desk and sofas, and clients asked which they prefer?