Hero photograph
Jodie Hope
Photo by Megan Te Amo

Funeral Work Both a Privilege and a Calling

Hope and Sons Funeral Directors —

Helping families through the most difficult times in their lives is both a privilege and a calling for Jodie Hope (21).

As the fifth generation of her family to be involved in the family firm — Hope and Sons, Funeral Directors — Miss Hope is fascinated by the ever-changing nature of the funeral industry.

‘‘In recent years there has been a big increase in the use of technology with music, slide-shows and live-streaming of funerals becoming common,’’ she said.

‘‘We are always looking for new ways to do things, although our aim is always to make sure the funeral is good for the family and is a really good send-off for the person.’’

The Hope family’s involvement in the funeral industry began in 1887 when Jodie Hope’s great-great-grandfather John Hope formed a partnership with Alfred Wynn and later with William Kinaston.

The Hope and Sons name came into being in 1960 and the firm has remained in the family ever since. Michael and Jannette Hope, who are Jodie Hope’s parents, are the directors at present.

‘‘It is great for me, as the fifth generation, to be part of that history and legacy,’’ Miss Hope said.

Growing up, Miss Hope spent time at the funeral home, taking on tasks such as trimming caskets and becoming familiar with its rhythms.

After finishing school, she went on to complete an Applied Management degree at Otago Polytechnic, majoring in events management and human resources, while also working part-time at Hope and Sons.

‘‘By that stage I was assisting at funerals, running slide-shows and helping out behind the scenes.’’

However, she had not really considered a career as a funeral director until, during an overseas trip, she found herself talking about it with fellow travellers.

‘‘People either don’t want to know about it, or they are intrigued, and I realised I was passionate about it and excited to talk to people.

‘‘And that was when I realised that was what I wanted to do.’’

Returning home, she began expanding her skills, including taking on training as an embalmer. Along with practical experience at the funeral home, this involves block courses at the Wellington Institute of Technology.

‘‘It was definitely a big step for me to move into that role [embalming], but it is very rewarding to help people see their loved one for the last time in a really good light,’’ she said.

With a staff of about 30, including a design team, counselling service, administrators, funeral directors, embalmers and kitchen team, as well as its recently developed Dukes Rd Crematorium, Hope and Sons is constantly adapting.

‘‘Every family is different and learning to manage that is an important aspect of our work,’’ she said.

Once she has completed her training as an embalmer and consolidated her skills in that field, Miss Hope plans to complete her training as a funeral director.

‘‘Being part of this industry was a personal choice for me and I feel privileged to be able to help people through the tough times.’’

Article courtesy of Brenda Harwood - The Star