Blog Archives: December 2012

For a Christmas funeral

Sunday, 23 December 2012


Kitty writes:

If I were to die near Christmas time, this is the music I would like at my funeral as I am carried in. 



Nice way to go

Friday, 21 December 2012



Congratulations to Linda Blakelock and Phil Beach, whose funeral home, Divine Departures, has, after much refurbishment, opened in Gateshead.

Linda is a refreshingly new presence in Funeralworld. She brings all the freshness of an outsider. Phil, on the other hand, is a seasoned professional of 16 years’ standing. 

It was a bad funeral which turned Linda, formerly Culture and Tourism officer with the Regional Development Agency, into an undertaker. She says:

Shortly before she died, Mam was looking at a funeral brochure and she said, ‘I don’t like anything that the funeral directors can offer me. I’ve worked all my life, brought five bairns up and I deserve better that this. I don’t want those four tatty bits of wood, I want something better. 

I didn’t know there was anything else available and we weren’t offered anything different. It actually broke my heart when I found out there were lots of alternatives out there to the standard coffin and she could have had something more fitting. 

What we do is new, bright and different. I want people to realise they have options and lots of choice. If you want a picture, wicker, or cardboard coffin and pallbearers dressed as Elvis Presley or as characters from Star Wars, we can arrange that for you.

We wish them every good fortune. 




The Empty Chair

Thursday, 20 December 2012

empty chair


Posted by Quokkagirl

Each Christmas I, like many other celebrants, am asked if I will ‘do a reading’ at memorial services which funeral directors provide for their past clients. Being the secular contingent of the service, it’s usually a painful and time-consuming trawl through the poetry books to find something remotely suitable and relevant. There is no question that religion has already bagged the best words and rituals……….so far. I believe this is why they continue to have the upper hand at times of great joy, grief and uncertainty – all the big rites of passage. There is no good alternative source of material and ritual guidance – yet.

There is a vast expanse of space waiting to be filled in this field. Thankfully, most of the changes are being led by emotionally intelligent and honest challengers of the old ways. In time, maybe we will find that good writing emerges, with decent funereal readings to support the newly emerging rituals and appropriate literature expressing the human experience of grief as a quality alternative to the traditional.

I don’t know about you, but for me, when I think of the first Christmas after a death, the single most poignant symbol that we are one less on The Day is the Empty Chair. The chair your Mum or Dad always sat in when they visited, or the position at the Christmas table that your husband or wife always occupied. Or the spare stool that your brother, sister, aunt or uncle always perched on precariously. I have been searching for a really good ‘empty chair’ poem/reading for a long time without success.

When I do find the words which encapsulate that awful feeling of ‘one missing’, and how to draw some comfort from it, I will share them. If you find them, please share them with me.

Until then, for all those of you facing the prospect of an empty chair this Christmas, I hope you will find some Peace from your grief, and Joy from your memories.

Rats show the way to Christmas cheer

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Rat doll and glass_JPG


In junior high, I watched my teacher drop a rat brain into alcohol, and the alcohol seemed to eat away at the brain. So alcohol kills brain cells, right? Well, not exactly. The alcohol that you drink enters your bloodstream, and doesn’t actually attack your brain directly. Of course, there are other ways for alcohol to injure your brain: for example, binge drinking can lead to decrease in breathing and injury to your brain that way.

 More things that don’t kill you here


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