Posted by Lyra Mollington
I was fascinated to read about the Good Funeral Guide Awards ceremony. What a wonderful idea! To all the finalists: well done and my very best wishes. And if you win one of the awards, try not to look too elated or smug: just a serene acceptance that your brilliance has at last been recognised.
Here are my thoughts on each of the awards.
- Most Promising New Funeral Director: she or he should be as far removed as possible from Del Boy or Uriah Heep (the Charles Dickens character not the English rock band). Sincerity and an ability to listen are paramount.
- Embalmer of the Year: everyone who embalms for a living deserves an award. Shortly after my neighbour Keith died, his wife Doreen was inconsolable when she saw his grey face seemingly contorted in agony. A few days later, she visited him at the funeral home and he looked serene and peaceful. In fact she had never seen him looking so relaxed.
- Coffin Supplier of the Year: I am sure that anyone who reliably offers a large choice (and who supplies the correct design and the right size at short notice) is in with a chance here. Valerie’s mum’s coffin looked lovely – pale blue with a meadow-flower design.
- Most Significant Contribution to the Understanding of Death in the Media. I don’t envy the judges on this one. But the winner should definitely not be the producer of Midsomer Murders.
- Crematorium Attendant of the Year. This person should be like the young lady I met at Joyce’s funeral: smartly dressed, caring, calm, discreet and tactful. With a friendly smile.
- Best Internet Bereavement Resource: another tricky one. Apart from Barry, very few of my friends, bereaved or otherwise, use the internet. But then there’s Jeremy – he loves the internet. Three weeks after his wife’s funeral, he was using an online dating agency. But that probably doesn’t count as an internet bereavement resource.
- Funeral Floristry Award: as someone who is incapable of arranging even the smallest bunch flowers, I admire anyone who can create floral displays. However, I’m a traditionalist when it comes to flowers. Some of the designs I have seen have not been to my taste but I have to admit that they were eye-catching and thought-provoking: a witch, a giant cigarette and a kangaroo spring to mind.
- Funeral Celebrant of the Year: looking back at all the funerals I have been to, the celebrant at cousin Trevor’s funeral has been the best so far. She barely batted an eyelid when that mobile phone went off with the ring-tone that asks, ‘Who let the dogs out’? Also, she had carefully listened to Trevor’s wife Marjorie. The ceremony was a perfect balance of laughter and solemnity.
- Cemetery of the Year: I’m a little old-fashioned when it comes to cemeteries. A cemetery is no place for helium balloons, wind-chimes, nodding dogs, flags or windmills. In fact anything wind-related should be banned.
- Gravedigger of the Year: these people deserve a medal. I arrived early for a burial once and to my surprise a tall and handsome man appeared out of the ground. He had just finished digging out a double-depth grave by hand. Not only was it extremely hot, the earth was solid clay. When one of the mourners threw in some ‘soil’ it landed on the coffin like a paving slab.
- Funeral Director of the Year: this person must surely be a tried and tested version of the ‘Most Promising New Funeral Director’. See my comments above.
- Best Alternative to a Hearse: this is an easy one. Your own, or a borrowed, estate car. Although I am still certain that with the seats down and the boot lid slightly raised I could fit Mr M’s body into the back of my Ford Fiesta.
- Book of the Year (published after 1 May 2011). Not Dead Yet by Peter James. I love crime novels. However these authors need to do their research on funerals more thoroughly. Which is what I told Mr James when I met him last year.
- Lifetime Achievement Award: I assume that this person will be fairly old and experienced with a good sense of humour. Which could be me of course – although, sadly, six months of writing about funerals probably doesn’t count as a lifetime’s achievement.