It has long been said death and taxes are two certainties of life. One we talk about openly, while the other remains spoken in hushed tones. Two young funeral directors are ready to open the
casket on dying and burials by sharing secrets of the industry. Reporter Katee Shanks talks to Whakatāne funeral director Bradley Shaw about his plans.
Preparing a body for a funeral is not just about applying make-up.
The ins and outs of the funeral business - and breaking taboos around death - will be the subject of a "no holds barred" podcast started by two young funeral directors.
Bradley Shaw bought Gateway Funeral Services in 2015 and when he was 20.
At that tender age, he had already worked in funeral homes both nationally and overseas, and had spent 12 months studying to join the profession. For Shaw, there was no family background in funeral directing or embalming – it was simply what he wanted to do.
While training, Shaw met Terry Longley, a third-generation funeral director from Hawke's Bay who is also in his 20s.
Both are aware their youth makes them unconventional within the industry but, instead of shying away from the unique position they are in, the pair are using it to shrug off the shroud of "taboo" surrounding death and funerals.
They will air episode one of First Call, an interactive and live stream funeral podcast about funeral directing, on October 22.
"The theory behind the podcast is to educate people on how to get into the industry and what's involved in the industry," Shaw said. "However, part of the first episode is about our own journeys into funeral directing."
Shaw said clients still registered surprise when they met him for the first time. "I talk to people on the phone or via email and, when I meet them face-to-face, it's clear I'm not what they expected a funeral director to look like.
"That's why we wanted to put two young faces out there, both of us are qualified in our field, we're what we would like to think of as game-changers, as in we're not your typical old funeral director."
Shaw said the podcast would be educational, fully transparent, and no holds barred when it came to answering questions from the public.
"You want to know the answer to something – we'll give it to you. If my mother was the one having a funeral, I'd want to know what was happening to her."
From experience, Shaw said a healthy percentage of people did not know what embalming was.
"You ask people 'what is embalming?' and most of them reply 'makeup'."
Also included in the podcast would be a lot of "emotional stuff".
"Both Terry and I have done the police work and it does affect you. If you're going to accidents and homicides and suicides it does impact you. If it didn't, I would have to say there's something missing."
Shaw said he and Longley thought the same around a lot of things but there were one or two subjects they had completely different views on.
"But that's what will make the podcast interesting," he said.
To watch First Call, go to the Terry Longley & Son Funeral Services Facebook page at 7pm on October 22.