Why should my business be dementia friendly?

Why would a Funeral business want or need to be dementia friendly? The best way to answer that is to describe three recent funeral arrangements, all of which involved a person living with dementia. The first example was an elderly lady who asked us to arrange her husband’s funeral. He had died in a care home from dementia. The lady, let’s call her Joan, was as grief stricken as any other new widow that I have worked with in over 30 years as a funeral professional. However she had an additional burden in that she had been parted for many…

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…

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…

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…

Orchids among fallen angels

You might think a funeral director visiting a cemetery is a bit of a busman’s holiday. But spending the afternoon in Tunbridge Wells Cemetery turned out to be both an education and really enjoyable. After a morning of violent storms, with my wellies safely tucked in the car boot, I took myself off to the borough cemetery. For once, I wasn’t there to carry out a funeral. I was visiting an exhibition and the launch of the newly formed ‘Friends of Tunbridge Wells Cemetery at Hawkenbury’ Yes, it’s a bit of a mouthful – but there’s another, now disused, cemetery…

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…

Five Things to Do Before I Die

‘We plan for everything else during our lives but very few plan for the inevitable.’ By Chris Parker, Managing Director of Abbey We’re holding two coffee mornings to raise funds for our bereavement charity Friends Together and to launch their end of life planning guide: ‘Five Things To Do Before I Die.’ They’re part of the Dying Matters Awareness Week (12-18 May 2013), organised by the Dying Matters Coalition to encourage people to talk openly about dying, death and bereavement. Throughout Dying Matters Awareness Week, events and activities are being held up and down the country to raise awareness about end of life…