Blog Archives: May 2012

‘Your stories’ invitation 2

Thursday, 31 May 2012



No one likes funerals but have you had an especially bad experience?

Did it cost far more that you expected?

Were you poorly treated?

Was it simply not the send-off your friend or relative deserved?


ITV are making a film investigating the funeral industry and we want to hear about your experiences. Please get in touch by or calling 02072 53 27 82.


Ed’s note: duranben is Ben Anderson



Quote of the day

Thursday, 31 May 2012





“The challenge in our industry is that our families have almost no idea what benefits they want, much less what they need. The obvious result is a focus on price.”



Lajos Szabo, US funeral director





Death kills?

Thursday, 31 May 2012


Posted by Richard Rawlinson


Back in the day, it was a given of the natural order that the decomposition of our remains made us part of the food chain. In the last few decades, the negative environmental impact of burial and cremation has become an ethical issue. Although there’s increasing scepticism towards scientific claims about man-made global warming, one can still want to reduce air, soil and water pollution, with its adverse affects on our health and that of wildlife. 

Embalming chemicals; hardwood coffins; concrete vaults; quarried headstones; marble mausoleums; processional motorcades; non-organic flowers and refreshments: all on the bad list. 

Cardboard coffins and biodegradable urns; planting a tree to mark a resting place; new crematoria chimneys that reduce emissions; removal of mercury-amalgam fillings before cremation; car-sharing and locally-sourced refreshments: all on the good list. 

While dictating the menu of the buffet and the material of headstones might seem too finger-wagging, there’s a case for reducing toxins by replacing embalming formaldehyde with glutaraldehyde, which is less poisonous, and designing ‘clean’ smokestacks. 

That’s the beauty of technological evolution. Sophisticated Man’s primal survival instinct remains intact, He devises solutions to problems that arise. People argue over the best course of action, or the urgency of action, but the doomsayers are invariably silenced. 

Nuclear fuel and GM food polarise opinion when proposed as the sustainable answer to the world’s needs. Some see wind farms as an answer while others see them as useless energy generators that guzzle fossil fuel in their construction, slice up birds and damage tourism as eco-eyesores. 

In his new book, Watermelons (so-titled because they’re green on the outside and red on the inside), James Delingpole discusses the Climategate scandal in which tax payer-funded scientists manipulated research in the most unscientific ways to make man-made warming claims stand up. Their lies, cover-ups, distortions and exaggerations, claims Delingpole, have caused mass hysteria resulting in liberties curtailed and trillions of pounds squandered. 

What’s your take on the green movement’s influence on the funeral industry? Necessary initiatives welcomed by today’s consumers? Or overdone and greeted with apathy or scepticism?    

Tibetan Carved Skull

Thursday, 31 May 2012


Evelyn noticed this masterpiece rolling round the web yesterday – on Imgur and Order of the Good Death

more pictures here 

What shall we do with the baleful baggists?

Wednesday, 30 May 2012


“Stick me in a binbag and put me out with the rubbish.” We hear this sentiment voiced so often these days, it’s reached the status of both cultural indicator and cliché.

It is a very good way of aborting talk about death and its aftermath, and it is a gambit deployed almost exclusively by men.

Why do they say it? It’s not as if it is what they would do in the event of the death of one of their nearest and dearest. In fact, baggists are those most likely to beggar themselves for banks of flowers and a horse-drawn hearse for a beloved family member. I suspect that baggists are the biggest sentimentalists of them all.

Do they say it because they think it bigs them up in a blokeish way? Makes them look pragmatic, down-to-earth, no-nonsense? Unafraid?

Would a more perceptive reading deliver a verdict of unhelpful, unrealistic, silly? Or sulky, irresponsible, self-destructive? Men are prone to self-destruction. Their suicide rate is three times that of women. When they kill their own children, too, their suicides are characterised as much by vengeance as despair. Are the tendencies in any way related?

What’s the right way to respond to baggists? Kindly indulgence or tart rebuke? 

Samaritans suicide statistics report 2012 – very interesting reading – here







Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go

Tuesday, 29 May 2012


Telly kapellmeister and all-round good egg Gareth Malone wants this at his:




Capturing a life

Tuesday, 29 May 2012


 Posted by Richard Rawlinson


From 7 Up in 1964 to 56 Up today, this remarkable documentary series has been filming the same group of people for a biblical seven days of their lives every seven years for almost five decades. Catch 56 Up on ITV at 9pm this Monday, and, if the last two episodes are anything to go by, expect the participants to keep stressing that we’re only getting a tiny, distorting glimpse of the life journey that’s made them who they are. This historic social record has got me musing about how difficult it must be to capture the essence of someone in a funeral eulogy. 


As a student I once told my grandmother I had a Saturday job in M&S in order to save up for a holiday on the continent. Her response has stuck with me. ‘When I was young, I had a boyfriend who took me dancing in a hotel on the weekend,’ she began. ‘My mother enquired how he could afford to treat me in this way. When I asked him, he confessed he lived very frugally during the week. So in my day, we went without in order to have a bit of luxury whereas you take jobs so you don’t have to make such sacrifices. And let me add I think your way is better!’ 


At her funeral several years later, I was struck by the realisation that I would never have the opportunity to really know her story, fears or desires; the inner workings that made her unique. Sure, there were some anecdotes I cherished, but so much was missing. I wouldn’t have wanted such insights shared at her funeral either. 


It’s another thing to take up genealogy or employ one of many online companies such as The Memory Works – here – which offer personal and family biographies as leatherbound keepsakes. A lot of elderly people wish to leave a record of learning, love and legacy for future generations.

If one of us dies

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Posted by Evelyn- while the cat’s away…

if one of us dies

Put it where we can see it

Monday, 28 May 2012


In the US, funeral directors are required by law to give funeral shoppers a copy of their itemised General Price List (GPL). You can see an example here.

A funeral director must also give you this price information over the phone.

Time moves on, and the internet is now, for many funeral shoppers, their first interaction with a funeral home. The state of California has become the first state to  bring things up to date:

As of January 1, 2013, a funeral establishment that maintains a Web site will be required to post the list of funeral goods and services that are required to be included in the establishment’s General Price List (GPL), pursuant to federal rule, and a statement that the GPL is available upon request via a link from the home page, unless a phrase containing the word “price” links to the establishment’s GPL.

Here in Britain the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) requires the following of its members:


1) The funeral director shall have available and on display a price list or
lists showing:-

a) a brief description of The Simple Funeral Service;

b) itemised charges and descriptions of the constituent parts of the funeral
director’s services (other than for The Simple Funeral Service);
ie professional services; removal charge; coffin or casket;
embalming; vehicle charges and all other services available;

c) descriptions of other types of funerals available.

2) The funeral director shall make copies of the price lists available to be
taken away by clients or prospective clients.

3) The funeral director shall ensure that all literature detailing coffins and/or
caskets available shall include prices, and that coffins or caskets
displayed on the premises are accompanied by the price.

In addition to ensuring that this requirement is observed, is it not time the NAFD required all its members with a website, however crap, also to display their prices on it? 

Many funeral directors would regard this as very bad form, simply not done, wholly at odds with their noble calling. Here at the GFG, having in mind the beastly backstabbery and the dark and nasty underhand arts practised by many funeral directors to ensure a steady supply of dead people, we submit that open competition is the best disinfectant.

Read the excellent Federal Trade Commission consumer guide to funerals here




Bloggus interruptus

Sunday, 27 May 2012


This blog is asserting its freedom to say and do whatever it likes by decamping to the seaside for a few days before heading to Scotland for the birth of a granddaughter. 

During this time it is likely that normal service will suffer some dropout as the team here at the GFG-Batesville Tower sports in the surf and generally chillaxes, their tiny minds unclouded by dark ponderings on mortality, their excitable hearts unmoved by tasty industry gossip.

We feel we’re letting you down, of course. If the blog has become a habit, try reading some old stuff that you missed. It won’t seem all that dusty; time stands still in the deathcare business. 

It is likely that Lyra Mollington will be here as ever on Friday morning. It is always worth bearing in mind, though, that Mrs Mollington, young at heart as she so commendably  is, is also (this is strictly between us, please) well advanced in years, and her health is not as trusty as once it was. 

This is as good an opportunity as any to remind you that the GFG is a platform for all who wish to deliver themselves of a point of view. If you would like to have your say here, then so long as what you say is opinionated or informative, but not self-promotional (though by all means talk about your work), we will be delighted to consider up to 800 words on owt that floats your boat. Send it to

Happy sweltering!



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