UNITED KINGDOM -- Lola the dog is being hailed as a key member of a family-run funeral home, offering comfort to the bereaved.
The caring animal brings smiles to people that have lost loved-ones at the undertakers in Martham.
And beyond being a welcome distraction she can detect who in a group was closest to the person that has died and offer them cuddles, kindness, and sometimes a toy.
Michael Murrant of Murrant Family Funeral Services said the Jack Russell with a hint of Staffie was “a real pleasure.”
“She has been with us for five years and has a tremendous way of recognizing people’s grief,” he said.
“I do not know how or why but she always goes to the person who is closest to the person who has died and is a great comfort.
“She will often bring someone a toy and people ask for her when they pay their last respects. She is good with all ages and children. She is really a bereavement dog.”
Mr Murrant’s comments came as the business on The Green marked ten years with a coffee and cake afternoon which raised £200 for Nelson’s Journey, a charity for bereaved children.
He said some 80 people turned out to help the family recognize their decade of trading in the village.
Mr Murrant, 58, said he and his wife Lynn, 47, decided to go it alone in order to offer a more personal service.
People were welcome to call them at any time of the day or night to settle a worry about a funeral, he said, and often did.
Although some were squeamish about what they did for a living he said there was immense satisfaction to be had from helping people who were often totally at a loss.
As a former ambulance service worker he was used to seeing people that had passed away, he said.
He changed profession after taking early retirement, and worked at first for a larger undertakers in Norwich.
Training he said was “hands on” but ultimately he had his sights set on a smaller outfit all the family could be involved in including sons Luke, 19, and Taylor, 17.
Meanwhile, in recognition of the struggle some people face when losing a partner, Mrs Murrant has set up a club called The Martham Solo group.
Losing a partner of 40 or even 50 years came as a massive shock to many especially if that person was the one who dealt with all the money and bills or certain chores in the way most couples carve up their domestic arrangements.
The club offers support, coffee and a chat, as well as links to other groups and activities.
It runs on every fourth Wednesday of the month at Martham Methodist Church back room, 2.30-4pm.
The changing face of funerals
In the years Mr Murrant has been involved in the business he has seen a gradual move away from traditional ceremonies.
There has been a tendency, he says, towards more relaxed services and individual song choices.
When it comes to coffins they tend to reflect more about the person inside with families sometimes choosing to decorate them themselves.
On one occasion the family of a gifted photographer had scenes of beautiful Norfolk taken by the deceased printed across the coffin.
When it came to dressing the body he usually advised something the dead person would have been comfortable in in life.
Relatives often chose to bury their loved one with something personal like a mobile phone, expensive bottle of brandy, or a cigar.
To find out more about Murrant Family Funeral Services or the Solo group call Mrs Murrant on 01493 748613 or visit their website.
(Great Yarmouth Mercury - May 2, 2017)