The future of alternative memorials

The future of alternative memorials Cremation is becoming increasingly common in the UK with over 70% of us now choosing this option. The practice of cremation is often undertaken for religious or cultural reasons, but its increasing popularity could also be seen as a result of its comparative cost effectiveness to burial. When opting for cremation, you will be asked what you would like done with your ashes – a difficult question and one with many options. Some of the more well-known choices include burying the ashes in your local cemetery, scattering them, or simply having them displayed in an…

HOW SAFE IS MY FUNERAL PLAN?

Quite recently our local newspaper, radio and regional television was full of reports that fairly made my hackles rise. The reports stated that a funeral director in this area had allegedly sold funeral plans to a local couple and then ceased trading and disappeared with the couple’s life savings of four thousand pounds. It’s reasonable to expect that if this person sold two funeral plans, he is very likely to have sold more and that this is not an isolated incident but the tip of a very large iceberg. You can imagine how we all felt, justifiable anger at yet…

’Tis the season to be jolly’ unless you’re grieving.

    I’ve just returned from the third Friends Together meeting I have attended this week. Friends Together is a charity devoted to supporting people who have suffered a significant bereavement and, through its network of lunch clubs and social activities, Friends Together, strives to tackle the loneliness and isolation which often follows. During these last few days many of the attendees have expressed how much they dread Christmas. Many of them will be entertained by family and friends on the day itself, but, all too often, that serves to highlight their loss. Returning home on Christmas night to an…

I Want This Played At My Funeral.

I recently attended a social function with a group of old friends, all my age, which is over sixty. None of us had paid much attention to the background music until ‘time of my life’ from dirty dancing began to play. One of my friends leaned across the table to me and said “this is what I’m having played at my funeral” Out of professional interest I asked him who knew that he wanted that played. He thought for a moment and then said, “well, only you now, I suppose” That conversation sums up one of the reasons for planning…

Your Legacy in a Digital Age

        We are increasingly living our lives virtually via our computers, iPads and smartphones; in the way we communicate with friends, meet people, do our shopping, pay our bills, access our bank accounts and record our memories. Technology has evolved at an enormous pace and so has the way we store information. Simple things such as photographs, which in the past we could have flicked through in a printed album, are now stored online. We are encouraged to protect these digital activities with passwords and facial recognition apps. But what happens to all of this when you die?…

Count Your Blessings

The newest Facebook craze is to list three things every day for which you are thankful. On day one you have to nominate three of your ‘friends’ to also take up the challenge. Nobody has nominated me yet but that doesn’t stop me from thinking and writing about the things I am thankful for. First has to be my husband and family, and I guess most people would say the same. And, of course, most will also say “mine is the best” but what about those who can’t say that, those who, for whatever reason, have been cut off from…

A world remembers.

        With the centenary of WW1 upon us, I’m reminded of a trip I made a couple of years ago.   We took a few days off and drove from France into Belgium. Shortly after we left the motorway system and began to drive through the lovely Flanders countryside we saw a small cemetery. Surrounded by a brick wall, it housed neat rows of white markers, maybe a couple of hundred or so. A few miles further and there was another, and then another and another until it seemed as if just around every corner another field of…

I don’t do crap funerals

‘As the cost of funerals soars past £5,000, new companies are promising low-cost no-frills options’ Christine Parker’s response to  ‘Avoid the funeral  sting: how to die for less than £1,000.’ Adam Forrest’s piece in the Guardian Online, 28 June, quoted the following: ‘”The way funerals have been done in this country is crap,” says Charles Cowling, who runs the Good Funeral Guide blog.’ Well, Mr Cowling, I am hugely insulted by your comment. I have been a funeral director for more than thirty years and I don’t believe I have ever organised a funeral which could be described as ‘crap.’…

Candles, Choirs and Stolen Cakes

 “Someday soon, perhaps in forty years, there will be no one alive who has ever known me. That’s when I will be truly dead – when I exist in no one’s memory. “I thought a lot about how someone very old is the last living individual to have known some person or cluster of people. When that person dies, the whole cluster dies, too, vanishes from the living memory. “I wonder who that person will be for me. Whose death will make me truly dead?” ― Irvin D. Yalom, Love’s Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy This quote wasn’t actually…

Coffee, a camera crew and a stopcock

Abbey’s Director Christine Parker reflects: Back in January this year, I went to the Dying Matters Awareness Week launch in London with a colleague from the National Society of  Allied and Independent Funeral Directors. I came away totally inspired to really ‘do something’ this year. Deciding on an event that would work in a rural town in Kent was challenging. What about a Death Café? I wasn’t sure that Tonbridge was quite ready . Coffee mornings seemed a safe bet but even they need a bit of an edge. The more I thought about the message from Dying Matters, the more…