Blog Archives: December 2010

Leon’s home funeral

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Penny Rhodes of A Natural Undertaking, “a collaborative partnership that teaches families how to be in attendance at the passing of a loved one, and the time afterwards, in the setting of one’s own home,” has just posted this slideshow account of her father’s home funeral.

Penny says of her father: “He always was a showman, and loved being on stage, and I think he would be happy to know that he is STILL on stage, and making a difference!”

The music Penny wanted was not allowed by YouTube (a copyright thing). What you hear is second best.

Happy Christmas!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

The entire team at the Good Funeral Guide thanks you, at this year’s end, for reading and responding — whether in exhilaration or exasperation — for your support, tip-offs, advice and good counsel. Together we form, I hope, a loose-limbed alliance of more or less fellow spirits with the shared aim of bringing death to life and the experience of a good funeral to everybody.

So here’s to 2011 and another year of benevolent activism!


Wednesday, 22 December 2010

As the old year subsides into a snowdrift, readers will have observed that this blog has been doing the same. There’s not much going on.

Forgive me, then, for getting out my baseball bat and once more shattering the kneecaps of the Co-op. Yes, it’s boring. But Ebenezer Google and his tribe of scribbling Cratchits notice. And then they push the GFG higher up page one of their online organ for anyone seeking to discover if the Co-op is the undertaker for them. It’s what my webman, an excellent fellow who never looks more fetching than when wearing his bespoke anorak, calls an SEO thing.

This is good news for independent funeral directors everywhere.

Mandy Ten Wolde of Somersham in Huntingdonshire engaged JH Landin and Son of Chatteris to look after arrangements for the funeral of her mother. JH Landin and Son is not, as you have already guessed, the premises of JH Landin and his son. No, it is an outpost of Anglia Co-op.

When Ms Ten Wolde asked if she could come and see her mother, the artist formerly known as JH Landin and Son said, she alleges, that she was welcome to do so provided she brought £2600 with her. She baulked, and they settled on £300. Once inside the ‘chapel of rest’ Ms  Ten Wolde was appalled to see marks on the face and body of her mum resulting from the post mortem examination. She is quoted in the Hunts Post as saying: “It was horrendous. We all sat there with our mouths open. We were so distressed. I’m hoping they will not put anyone else through this.”

Things went from bad to worse. At the funeral itself, Fenland Crematorium played the wrong music. Of course, no blame attaches to Anglia Co-op for this.

Fenland Crematorium is run by Dignity Caring Funeral Services.

Our condolences and sympathy go to Mandy Ten Wolde, her family and friends, whose distress we can only begin to imagine.

No link to the Hunts Post available as yet. I’ll post it if they put the story online.

Hat-tip to Andrew Hickson of Kingfisher Funerals, St Neot’s, for this story.

The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away

Monday, 20 December 2010

Here’s an extract from the blog of a religious minister (clerk in holy orders, he terms himself). I like his rigour. Very bracing.

You wouldn’t expect me to enjoy humanist funeral services very much. Perhaps ‘enjoyment’ isn’t the right word for funerals anyway, but you know what I mean. I’ve been to a couple and always find them ‘thin’ compared to Christian funerals … But what I most dislike came in front of me on Wednesday. That afternoon I took a funeral service at the crematorium and noticed a folder on the table where I was putting my things. This turned out to be the notes left by the officiant at a humanist funeral earlier in the day. Usually humanist funerals spend the vast bulk of their time waxing lyrical about the heroic achievements of the deceased, but there was no trace of a biography in the notes, so I assume somebody else had read a tribute or something of that sort. Instead there was a passage from Lucretius’s De Rerum Natura and some heartwarming statements along the following lines.

For those of us who hold that the individual life concludes with death, it is nevertheless not the end … Arnold may be gone, but he lives on in your memories.

It is nevertheless not the end? Yes it is … As for Arnold ‘living on’ in his loved ones’ memories, no he doesn’t. They may have memories of him, but those memories are not ‘him living’, they’re a set of synaptic responses in the brains of those who shared some aspect of his life when it was a life which will themselves decay and come to an end.

What we have here is an attempt to accommodate through linguistic sleight-of-hand what the officiant believes, or doesn’t believe, with the perceived need to comfort Arnold’s family and friends with the thought that in some way he ‘lives on’. Shouldn’t atheists be brave enough to combat this weak-mindedness? Or perhaps it doesn’t really matter?

Read the entire post here.

FD for sale

Friday, 17 December 2010

A funeral director at an urban location in the west country is looking for a buyer. This would be an ideal opportunity for someone wanting to start up on their own — not too expensive and advantageously situated.

If you’re interested, send me an email and I can tell you more:

End of life care for the homeless

Friday, 17 December 2010

The NHS has just published this booklet: End of life care – achieving quality in hostels and for homeless people. It is “designed to provide a practical guide to support hostel staff in ensuring that people nearing the end of their life receive high quality end of life care.”

The average age of death among homeless people is around 40-44.

Download it if you’re interested here.

A job with QSA?

Thursday, 16 December 2010

If you live in London you may be interested in this job. If you don’t, you’ll still be interested in what Quaker Social Action is doing. In its own words:

Quaker Social Action exists to resource, enable and equip people living on a low income in east London.

We work to tackle social exclusion, seeing poverty as not just material but also social.

We put people at the centre of what we do, striving to find practical and creative solutions to the problems which affect people living on a low income.

QSA recently started a new project, Down to Earth:

Very few people leave clear instructions or financial provision for their own funeral.  Down to Earth is developing support for people during this difficult time. We want to help bereaved people to plan a funeral that honours and celebrates the life of the person who has died, but which will not have a negative effect on their own financial future.

We also agree with the Natural Death Centre, that “a preparation for dying is a preparation for living”.  We therefore want to find creative ways of helping people think about and discuss death before they have to.

We are now recruiting for a Down to Earth development worker.

The post will be a full-time, permanent position, based at Quaker Social Action at 17 Old Ford Road, Bethnal Green.

The post will be advertised in the Guardian on the 15th December 2010 and an application form is downloadable from our website:

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