This month we interview the charming Belinda Kidwell, who has been looking after families and communities at Kemps Creek Memorial Park since 2020.
When Belinda Kidwell tells people what she does for a living, she receives a mixed reaction ranging from “How can you do that?” through to those that are intrigued. It is not a job for everyone as it can be emotionally draining, but it does bring a huge sense of satisfaction from helping people who are dealing with loss and grief.
For the last two years, Belinda has been learning the ropes in a customer service role at Kemps Creek Memorial Park, in Sydney’s western suburbs. The role is diverse and involves everything from phone enquiries and grave sales, through to maintenance requests and arranging memorials for families.
Belinda thrives on building relationships with everyone that enters the cemetery, including the staff at Kemps Creek. The team often receive positive feedback on the care they provide to families, from customer service, assistance on the day of the funeral through to the gardens and memorial maintenance.
The memorial park at Kemps Creek is predominately a lawn cemetery. It is a tranquil location with a community feel. Belinda is excited to see the site undergo an extensive renovation with a new office, crematorium and pavilion due to open next month. The pavilion was closed during COVID, so once complete will be open for the community to use for funerals and functions for the first time in two years.
Belinda’s role is multi-faceted and practising empathy and engaging in active listening are important soft skills, as she inter-acts with multiple faith groups and families. Being patient and simplifying the process are important when assisting those from a non-English speaking background, as is “building rapport with people to gain their trust”.
Belinda enjoys the more intimate feel with families at Kemps Creek, where she can take them through the whole process. This service continuity enables her to build a bond with the family and she is honoured that they often share photos and stories with her of their loved ones.
Of course, some days are harder than others. Some moments are light-hearted when you can have a laugh with the family, but others may be more distressed and Belinda works with each family’s individual situation and “by helping them, you get the reward.”
Many families return to visit the cemetery when the headstone has been erected. Some drop in to see Belinda to say thank you. Belinda remembers a lady who came in with chocolates and a card and said that Bel would not realise what an impact she had made on the family, who were going through a very difficult time.
Belinda is proud of her personal growth over the past two years and delighted to have a mentor in Kim Riley who has passed on her years of knowledge working in the industry. Belinda believes her supervisor is “the perfect example of Catholic Cemeteries’ values of care, compassion and choice.”
Belinda reflects that “death affects everyone from the young through to the old, and no one is guaranteed a tomorrow.” She says families often comment they had no idea there were so many options available at the cemetery, and emphasises the importance of letting your loved ones know your intentions to add some level of comfort during this challenging time.