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…

Making Tonbridge a Dementia Friendly Community

By 2015 there will be 850,000 people with dementia in the UK. There are 40,000 younger people with dementia in the UK. There will be 1 million people with dementia in the UK by 2025. If you were to ask most people “what is dementia?” they would probably say “Alzheimers”. To a point that is true; Dementia is caused by a number of diseases that affect the brain, the most common of which is Alzheimer’s Disease. Different types of dementia affect the brain at different rates and in different ways, but other things like someone’s personal circumstances, the people around…

’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…

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?…

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…

Friends Together: Despite the Weather (and Technology…)

 Oh, dear! What can the matter be? In which Chris Parker is wrong several times, mislays some pensioners and takes on some tricksy technology but beats the British weather to have fun: We’d been arranging the trip to Hampshire since just after Christmas. Our Friends Together groups and members from Tonbridge, Paddock Wood and Tunbridge Wells were all looking forward to a day out. Back then, the end of May seemed reasonable: likely to be fairly warm, not too hot for our older members and – we hoped – dry. Wrong, wrong and wrong again. To be fair, the weather…

Busy bees and big butts.

  Last week I took my Junior Church (Sunday School if you’re over 50) group down to do their bit for Tonbridge. We had made an Easter garden for our Tonbridge Methodist Church this year and the youngsters had so enjoyed the project that it seemed a bit of ‘proper’ gardening was called for. Children can learn a huge amount about our world and the need to care for it by getting their hands dirty in a garden. They, and I, had great fun. We planted Pansies, Sun Flowers and Busy Lizzies. We watered, picked up litter and made some bee…

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…

Angel Community Garden, Tonbridge

A guest post by writer Karen Hart Dirty old plastic bags or lush scented herbs? The glint of broken glass or golden wallflowers? I didn’t need a second to decide when I visited the Angel Community Garden in Tonbridge yesterday. Do take a look at that link; the Twitter feed shows  how the featureless edge of a shopping centre car park has been transformed by volunteers. Floral displays always enhance towns and cities but it’s extra special when something’s been created by the inspiration, hard work and obvious love of a community. “It’s been enormously satisfying,” Christine Parker, from Abbey Funeral Services,  said when we arrived at the car park. “My car…

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…