Grace Funerals general manager Asha Dooley attends world gathering of funeral directors

Personal service: Asha Dooley, general manager of Grace Funerals of Emu Plains, in the United States during the trip for the world gathering of funeral directors.
Personal service: Asha Dooley, general manager of Grace Funerals of Emu Plains, in the United States during the trip for the world gathering of funeral directors.

From the bottom of the Mountains to the world stage, one local funeral director is gaining attention, thanks to her personal approach to funerals.

Asha Dooley, 33, the general manager of the family-owned Grace Funerals of Emu Plains, returned from a world gathering of funeral directors in the United States recently.

Ms Dooley attended the world’s largest funeral industry trade show in Indianapolis, after winning the 2015 Australian Funeral Director’s Association national scholarship.

Judges in the scholarship were impressed by her approach to individualising funerals.

“Personalising the farewell makes it more meaningful for those left behind and really helps in the grieving process. Some of our staff are former event managers and we spend a lot of time ensuring the funeral encapsulates and commemorates the person who has gone,” said Ms Dooley.

“One funeral that stands out for me was for a young person at a sports oval. We used canvas to create a giant memorial book. People signed, or drew on the canvas and all of the music was personalised. With the final song everyone was encouraged to dance. Butterflies were a central theme in the service and guests were able to individually release butterflies.

“People are rejecting the cookie-cutter approach to funerals – and are looking for a celebration of life. When we hear someone say, ‘she would have loved that’, it’s very satisfying,” said Ms Dooley.