Does this outline sound like a funeral you’ve been to in the last few years?
- The coffin in the usual black hearse adorned with flowers and wreaths
- One or two stately black limousines
- Mourners wearing black, black and more black
- Quick trip to the local church – Vicar said a few words about someone he barely knew (if at all)
- Sing Psalm 23 and Abide with Me
- Load up the coffin into the hearse and off to the Crematorium
- Unload, Vicar says a few more words at committal – coffin disappears behind a curtain
- Mourners crying (understandably) leave chapel and gather in huddles sharing memories of the deceased
- Off to the local pub or club for a few sandwiches and a pint of beer or a cup of tea
This all sounds very cynical, but it would appear to be the ‘standard British funeral’ that, we would say, 85 to 90% of the population have.
BUT, did you know that it doesn’t have to be like that. You can have this if you wish, no problem – just tell your funeral director to do this standard job and he’ll carry it out, no hassle, no pressure.
On the other hand, you could choose to send your loved one ‘out with a bang’, put some cremated remains (ashes) in some fireworks which are launched to the heavens at a celebratory party.
What, a celebration? Yes, there are moves afoot now that funerals should be called ‘Life Celebrations’ and why not? Surely Uncle Fred did something in his 76 years that could be celebrated. Maybe he was in the war, captain of his local cricket team, had 8 children etc. etc. Why all the dour and miserable faces at a funeral? Get together, wear colourful clothes, have a party and celebrate his life.
This could all seem a bit much for us ‘stiff upper lip’ Britons but times are a changing and apart from sending Uncle Fred’s ashes skywards in a firework, you could have a video presentation or display of photographs from his life; why not send the money you were going to use for flowers to a charity such as cancer support or research?
There are so many different ways that a life can be celebrated and funerals can be made more special, more personal.
A group of progressive and extremely enthusiastic funeral service providers have joined up and will be launching Farewell Innovators – offering innovative and imaginative ways to send off Uncle Fred. We are currently active on Facebook and will be having our official launch very soon. In the meantime, here are some of the members, why not check out their websites – you will be pleasantly surprised just what’s on offer these days:
- Don’t fancy being buried in a churchyard or cemetery? Have a look at woodland or natural burials. FI member Native Woodland Ltd offer beautiful sites in England, Wales and Scotland.
- How about a heartfelt Eulogy from someone who cares? Laurra and Maria of One Life Ceremonies specialise in writing personal funeral ceremonies and life tributes that reflect the life, personality and beliefs of the person who has died. The funeral service can be fully non-religious or one which contains elements of religion such as a favourite hymn or prayer.
- A beautiful alternative to standard black hearses – Volkswagen Funerals have a wonderful selection of gleaming white VW hearses – I’d recommend you check out their site which has lots of photographs and information.
- Much Loved offer memorial websites on behalf of over 12,000 families. Founded following the death of his brother and mother, Jon Davies has created a stunning site and service. You can create sites in memory of your loved one; visit any, or all, of the twelve online Remembrance Gardens. There are also various funeral and grief resources.
- Want to take the pressure off the funeral planning and organisation? Why not visit The Fantastic Funerals Company. Liz and her colleagues will help you arrange a fantastic send-off! The website also has extra features including information about children’s funerals and legal and financial services.
- Janice and Richard at Gateway Funeral Services Ltd offer funeral services in Yorkshire. This is a sensitive, caring and professional firm of funeral directors and they will always help you however they can. They are forward thinking so don’t be afraid to ask for something different!
- The Natural Burial Company are based in Oregon and also has offices in Brighton, UK. distributes biodegradable coffins, urns and natural funeral goods throughout the US and into Canada. They sell via funeral directors or direct to the public. Lots and lots of information about natural burial on their site.
- The doyen of the Farewell Innovators is Charles Cowling author of The Good Funeral Guide. I highly recommend Charles’ site to you – it’s full of informative and no nonsense information about everything funerial. The Good Funeral Guide is also available as a paperback book via Amazon here. Charles says it like it is and is respected for this. The guide is invaluable when planning a funeral.
- Liz of A Giving Tribute has a wonderful blog and memories and tributes to many well known people who have recently passed away.
- Sentiment Limited is a production company which specialises in end-of-life tribute photo & video montages, filmed life biographies and memory books. Please visit their site to see the wonderful tributes that they can produce. Louise will be more than happy to assist you.
- What a wonderful way to remember a loved one, have some of their ashes made into diamonds! Phoenix Diamonds can do this for you. Using carbon derived from your loved-ones ashes or hair/nails in a process that takes weeks rather than millions of years. The end results are spectacular – check out the site.
- A new word Funeography – watch out for this in future, it’s the funeral photograph service offered by Priscilla. She will produce some of the most emotive and beautiful photographs you’ve seen. They will be treasured and enable you to remember that special day. With years of funeral photography experience, her images are moving and memorable. Her company is based on the belief that her clients’ needs are of the utmost importance
- Last but not least, yours truly! Linda, The Funeral Lady and owner of The Funeral Company. My services include Wishes Documents which pre-plan funerals; Funeral Concierge (TM) a new and unique service which helps bereaved families with the mountains of administration and paperwork following a death; The Funeral Lady Blog; burial plots for sale and, education/talks/workshops for those interested in joining the funeral profession.
Now, I should warn you, your regular High Street funeral director may try to dissuade you from using either these services or similar ones. We have had comments recently that it is, apparently, illegal to photograph or video a funeral – of course it isn’t! Many funeral directors will be so stuck in their ways that they do the standard funeral as a matter of course, the only variation may be that the church may or may not be involved.
Please don’t be mislead or fobbed off by them. A lot of the professionals are stuck in the 19th Century and the Victorian way of doing things. Times move on and options change. Farewell Innovators are here to start the ball rolling and tell the public what is out there in the funeral marketplace.
If you have any queries, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment here and I’ll be in touch.