When Garnet Bailey, who runs Bailey’s Funeral Services, first got into the business in Bathurst 38 years ago, his boss gave him some advice he would remember forever.
Funeral director Godfrey Smith was about to send Mr Bailey, then in his mid-20s, out to a grieving family when he said, ‘‘you’re going to leave your heart there while you take theirs to repair it’’.
And this, Mr Bailey said, was exactly what happens when you run a funeral parlour.
‘‘That’s where it started — I had a very good teacher in Godfrey Smith,’’ Mr Bailey said.
‘‘He always said to be empathetic to the people. Let them tell you what they want and then give it to them, because no two funerals are the same.
‘‘So you need to be a good listener and figure out what they want.’’
But empathy comes easy to Mr Bailey, who is no stranger to grief and mourning himself having buried his own mother and father, as well as other relatives.
‘‘So I’ve got a pretty close affinity with it all, but that’s just part of life,’’ he said.
‘‘I have had a couple of breaks out from it in my 38 years...it’s a job you’ve got to distance yourself from sometimes, because it can lock up on you, with the most challenging part of it dealing with split families.’’
Pulling out a detailed thank-you note from 2009, Mr Bailey said when he gets a warm response from bereaved loved ones it all seems worthwhile.
This is because the ultimate aim was to make their lives a little bit easier by offering an affordable and caring service.
‘‘I’m on call 24/7, because I’m the sole operator of a family-owned business.
‘‘You can’t really go anywhere and, if you do, you’ve got to have your phone by your side and be a maximum of two hours away,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s a continuous job, we don’t get holidays. I don’t have anyone run my business because I feel I offer a personal service that no one else that can cater for...and because I’m the sole operator, I can keep my overheads down, therefore keep my funeral prices down.
‘‘I treat all the loved ones as though they are my family. It doesn’t wear me down, but I have had a couple get to me, where it’s been a bit close to the bone.’’
Bailey’s Funeral Services is at 82 Anzac Ave, Seymour.