Tara Cameron – Dispelling The Myths of Undertaking – 5 September 2017

The popular stereotype of an undertaker is that of a grave (pun intended), slightly stooping, pin-stripe-suited man under a tile-hat. Well that was the first myth dispelled by Tara Cameron when she visited our club to talk to us about her career as an undertaker. Youthful, fresh-faced, smiley and humorous best describes Tara, an employee of M L Williams, funeral directors in Ayr. She is also Australian with a love of the great outdoors, a factor in encouraging her to move to Scotland after nine years learning her undertaking trade back home in Melbourne.

After a short run-down on the history of M L Williams, Tara explained the role of the funeral director which is a 365/24/7 business. A funeral director needs to be an administrator, counsellor, advisor and general dogsbody and be prepared to tailor a funeral to meet the deceased’s family’s wishes no matter how unusual (sometimes even bizarre) these may seem.

Funerals across the globe are culturally significant rites intended to provide a tangible link between the deceased and those left behind. Customs vary widely and Tara mentioned a few examples including the Maori, Tibetan, and Ghanian peoples. Most strange (to us) perhaps is the Torajan tribe of Indonesia who are renowned for their elaborate funeral rites which are important social events, usually attended by hundreds, or even thousands, of people and lasting for several days. Torajans traditionally believe that death is not a sudden, abrupt event, but a gradual process and the body of the deceased is wrapped in several layers of cloth and kept, sometimes for months, awaiting burial. The soul of the deceased is thought to linger around the tribal village until the funeral ceremony is completed.

Tara went on to dispel some common misconceptions about funerals including:

  • Nails do not continue to grow on corpses
  • The entire coffin is cremated
  • The ashes are those of the individual
  • The disposal of jewelry items is up to the family
  • Embalming is not mandatory

Tara finished her talk by highlighting the importance of funeral planning for peace of mind and to defray some of the (rising) costs of funerals (current average £3,600 plus incidentals). Members were offered a £300 discount from M L Williams for plans arranged before the end of October. Hurry now before it’s too late.

Mike Williams himself gave the vote of thanks to Tara who he described as a great boon to the company. She was also thanked for her sterling fund-raising efforts in support of our annual golf day.