Category Archives: Attitudes to death

Doula of the Year 2017

Monday, 18 September 2017

Introduced for the first time this year, the Doula of the Year category is intended to acknowledge the invaluable work done with people approaching the end of their life by those trained as end of life doulas and soul midwives.

End of life doulas are non-medical individuals, who help those who are dying and their families to feel safe and supported as they make the transition from this life to whatever is next.

With just five entries for this category, the judges felt that each of these people deserved recognition for this very important work which so often is unknown or unnoticed. By its very nature, supporting the dying is not work that is likely to elicit testimonials from clients, nor do doulas generally seek acclaim for what they do, the reward is in knowing they have helped make a difference at one of life’s greatest moments, both to the dying person and to those left behind.

For this reason, the four runners up as Doula of the Year have been named as Lizzie Neville, Nett Furley, Jane Henderson and Anna Lyons, with the winner in this category being Felicity Warner, founder of The Soul Midwives School for her additional work training others in this unique work.

 

The 2017 Good Funeral Awards were generously sponsored by Greenfield Creations

Best Death Related Public Engagement Event 2017

Saturday, 16 September 2017

 

Anna Lyons & Louise Winter from Life, Death, Whatever with Annabel de Vetten-Peterson from BrumYODO

Another popular category, this year there were 13 finalists reflecting death related events from around the country.

It is wonderful to see such diverse and creative ways of encouraging conversation about death in the public domain, and the judges were encouraged to hear about such innovative projects.

Again, we ended up with two joint winners, chosen this time because the judges could not decide between them. Both events reached large numbers of people, both were creative and inspirational, and both deserve recognition for their ground-breaking impact of bringing the subject of death to public spaces in a non-threatening, stimulating way.

The runner up in this category was an event that reached a smaller number of people with a more specific remit, but the content of the day will have resulted in spreading valuable information to communities around the country.

The joint winners are Life, Death, Whatever and BrumYODO

Runner up: Home Funeral Network for the Funerals to Die For conference.

 

Photograph by Jayne Lloyd

The 2017 Good Funeral Awards were generously sponsored by Greenfield Creations

2017 Death Oscar anyone?

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Last year’s awards ceremony in central London

It’s that time of year again – nominations open today for this year’s Good Funeral Awards, the Oscars of the death trade. Since 2012, the Good Funeral Awards have been celebrating excellence in the funeral world and have championed the pioneers, the bold and the brave, as well as the under-sung hard workers behind the scenes.

Last year there was an unprecedented number of entries, and the awards were presented at a glittering lunchtime ceremony attended by hundreds of people from across the country.

Coverage of the event in the media was overwhelmingly positive, see a piece in The Independent here and an article in The Guardian here, with national and local newspapers and radio stations all fascinated by something that journalists perceive as peculiar, but that we feel is richly deserved – recognition of outstanding work by those involved in caring for the dying, dead or bereaved.

Once again, there is an opportunity to nominate anyone who you feel deserves recognition or appreciation for their work in what is often a much misunderstood or maligned industry, or to enter yourself or the company you work for. 

To enter for an award, simply go to the Good Funeral Awards website and you will find the entry form at the foot of the ‘Enter’ page. Download it, complete it and send it in along with the entry fee* if applicable.

Every entry is carefully considered before The Long List is published in August. Winners will be announced at the awards ceremony in September.

To nominate a person or company, please write to the organisers at info@goodfuneralawards.co.uk and tell us why you feel they deserve to be a winner. Please ensure that you include their contact details including their e-mail address, and the category you would like to nominate them under.

All nominees will be contacted and invited to submit an official entry in the category they feel most appropriate, along with the entry fee* if applicable.

*The entry fee applicable to most categories is intended to help save the organisers from sinking under the weight of administering over 600 nominations and associated entries. If you want to nominate someone and pay the entry fee for them that’s absolutely fine, this happened quite a lot last year and nominees were both touched and very grateful. 

You have plenty of time, nominations close in July. And tickets aren’t yet on sale for the awards ceremony. But you know what they say about the early bird.

This year’s categories are listed below. Aficionados of the Good Funeral Awards will notice a few new titles – we’ve tried to reflect the changes we are seeing in the world of funerals and to make sure that there’s a category for everyone. 

The 2017 Category List

  • Most significant contribution to the understanding of death
  • Best death related public engagement event
  • Most helpful funeral advice website
  • Doula of the year
  • Anatomical pathologist technician of the year
  • Care of the deceased award
  • Coffin supplier of the year
  • Funeral florist of the year
  • Minister of the year
  • Celebrant of the year
  • Gravedigger of the year
  • Best burial ground in the UK
  • Best crematorium in the UK
  • Crematorium attendant of the year
  • Best direct cremation provider
  • Best low cost funeral provider
  • Most eco-friendly funeral director
  • Funeral arranger of the year
  • Most promising new funeral director business
  • Most promising trainee funeral director
  • Best modern funeral director
  • Best traditional funeral director
  • Funeral caterer of the year
  • The ‘what to do with the ashes’ award
  • Lifetime achievement award

The future’s bright, the future’s…..

Monday, 6 February 2017

Inside the ecoLegacy Dublin HQ

Towards the end of last year, we listened to Tony Ennis of ecoLegacy speaking at the ICCM conference about his soon-to-be released new alternative to cremation. What he had to say to the packed conference room was so fascinating that the GFG decided we needed to know more. So on a chilly January morning, Fran hopped on a flight to Dublin to spend the day at the ecoLegacy HQ.

‘I have to say, I went to Dublin not really knowing what to expect. Everything I had heard from Tony made sense, I’d done lots of background reading about him and his project, and it all appears to be 100% genuine. But I also thought that this was too good to be true, and that there had to be a catch.

I have to report, dear reader, that if there is one, I haven’t found it. It is quite possible that I was privileged enough to be among the earliest people to be shown something that is groundbreaking – and game changing – for the ways that we deal with our dead.

Everything that I saw and was told makes sense. The people involved are passionate and genuine. Huge amounts of research have been done. Various processes have been trialled and found wanting, so the engineers started over and tried a different way until they found the solution. The potential issues with current law in the UK have been addressed. There are very eminent bodies overseeing and interested in what Tony is doing (his work is being overseen by Imperial College), and the main players in the funeral industry have all already been to Dublin to be shown the unit and given the tour as I was.

It seems to me that it’s simply a matter of time before the first ecoLegacy unit is available to UK clients – and probably not much time at that. Then we will see how the public respond to something completely new. My instinctive feeling is that it will be phenomenally successful.’

Read the information from ecoLegacy for yourself below.

And if you have any questions, write them in the comments. We’ll get Tony to respond.

“Basically, ecoLegacy has developed “cremation 2.0”, a next-generation, environmental and ethical alternative to burial and cremation called ecoLation. It will ensure a greener planet and cleaner air. The company has its headquarters in Ireland and is currently operating in the UK and the US.

The idea was inspired by Philip Backman, a US scientist and teacher, who came up with the original idea around 1971, the same year Tony Ennis was born. ecoLegacy’s goal is to make Phil’s vision a reality and scale it globally and this is currently happening with initial orders coming in from all across Europe and the US. (more info here http://www.ecolegacy.com/philip-backman-a-moment-of-clarity/)

ecoLation is a flameless form of cremation. It has developed a thermal process that uses cold and heat and pressure. It reduces emissions and poisons from reentering the earth’s precious and delicate eco systems.It is respectful to the body, it is respectful to the family and it is respectful to the planet.

So what happens when a loved one dies and has chosen ecoLation?

First they cool the body to just the right temperature. The body is placed inside a pod, the temperature is lowered and the body is chilled.  Water is released back and forth over the body reducing the remains down into ice particles. These particles are filtered through to a unit that recreates the earth’s natural process that normally takes thousands of years.

All toxins and chemicals we build up while living are neutralised and the result is completely organic nutrient rich remains. A tiny seed – of a plant, a tree or a flower can be placed into this powder and, coupled with soil, water and love, you or your loved one can grow into a beautiful strong tree or your favorite flower.

In terms of efficiency, the unit uses electric energy to get up to temperature and to create the right conditions. However, as the remains are ecoLated, they break down on a molecular level and release a very clean bio gas. This gas is turned into heat energy which is then used to power the system.  Whilst there will always be an energy requirement, it is brought back as close to zero as possible through our technology.

In the next 70 years, the Earth’s population will reach and probably soar past 10 billion people.

ecoLegacy offers an ecological choice to funeral directors and families that will ensure a greener planet and cleaner air and thus a healthier ecosystem.

Unlike burial and cremation, ecoLation offers a pure, more sustainable choice and breathes new life into the earth in plant form.

In the next 100 years, at current rates, we will need to bury or cremate more than 10 billion people. A staggering 54% of the world’s population lives on just 3% of the land, in cities, where the urban landscape cannot accept further burial or afford the pollution side effects of burning our dead. Typically funeral home clients have the two standard alternatives presented to them, but from an environmental, ecological, ethical or indeed practical standpoint, neither of these two methods are sustainable for the long term.

Current burial rates are unsustainable in our modern world.  More and more we can detect the effects of burial from fluids leaching into our soil and water courses. This hazardous waste also contains embalming fluids and, in recent times, a huge degree of chemicals from end of life drugs administered. Not to be overlooked either are the harmful pathogens that live on after we die, or the veneer on the coffins etc. We are running out of space too.

Cremation, a method becoming more popular, has relatively high pollution levels,  releasing on average 400kg of CO2 per body into the atmosphere. Cremation is also responsible for a number of other pollutants and dioxins and of course it consumes fossil fuel in the form of either oil or gas.

ecoLation is clean. There are no emissions of harmful chemicals. The body is ethically treated and all metals and foreign compounds removed. There are no chemicals active, no diseases still alive, no issues in relation to leaching and no carbon / heavy metals or dioxins. The remains are totally sterile, totally natural and totally clean. It’s a new way to be remembered.”

Tony Ennis with one of the ecoLation pods

 

No one ever dies in Seattle

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

A very Happy New Year to all our readers from the GFG Team. Here’s to all things funereal being fabulous in 2017.

We’ll begin the first blog post of this year with a small treat for you courtesy of our friends at West Seattle Death Café. They’ve been collecting many interesting euphemisms for death in the obituaries of local newspapers in Seattle for the last 13 years.

There’s the man who didn’t die but ‘decided it was time to reunite with his wife’; the man who didn’t die but ‘left his worries behind’; the lady who didn’t die but ‘passed away after enduring one flippin’ thing after another’ and George who also didn’t die but was ‘swept to heaven by the Lord’.

The collection is both fascinating and funny but we won’t spoil the surprise. Check it out for yourself on Instagram.

I recently found an exclusive section in Camberwell Old Cemetery for those who also didn’t die but were ‘called to higher service’.  Personally I’ve decided not to die but to earn my angel wings and relocate to heaven although I’m also tempted by the idea of being promoted to glory. 

What’s your favourite?  Where are you headed?

 

An afternoon of education at CDAS

Friday, 14 October 2016

adam-and-eve

Adam and Eve as portrayed at the Creation Museum Kentucky illustrating John Troyer’s presentation. 

There’s some interesting stuff going on in the world of academia which can go unnoticed in the frenzied world of Facebook updates and Twitterfeed, and yesterday the GFG took a few hours out to go and listen to some learned folk exploring religious responses to contemporary western death practices at the Centre for Society and Death at the University of Bath.

Introduced by good friend of the GFG Professor Tony Walter, the seminar was attended by an eclectic mixture of academics, undergraduates, postgraduates, eminent experts and interested others. Which we think included us. We put our hands up for that anyway.

Tony started things off with a paper on four ways that religions interact with society’s death practices – promotion, opposition,accommodation and compensation. In a compelling canter through illustrations of various ways different religions interact and influence with societies around the world, Tony touched on Mizuko Kuyo, monotheism’s opposition to ancestor worship, Nepalese Christianity, Madagascan death rituals , the popularity of spiritualism post WW1 and the lack of channels for grief provided in Protestant countries that have perhaps led to the development of bereavement memoirs, bereavement counselling and the association of green spaces and nature with soothing of grief.

Next to speak was Dr. Shirley Firth, presenting a paper on outdoor funeral pyres and the legal battle that began ten years ago when devout Hindu Babaji Davender Ghai was refused permission for a traditional open air pyre by Newcastle City Council. Four years later the Court of Appeal ruled that an outdoor pyre would be lawful if it took place in a structure with walls and an opening in the roof – see here. To date, none have. This could be because of the complexity of the various legal processes that would be involved in gaining planning for outdoor cremation given the likely invocation of the Prevention & Control of Pollution Act or the Environmental Protection Act. Undeterred, Mr Ghai continues to hope for his funeral to take place according to his beliefs, see here.

(As a completely irrelevant aside, readers of the blog with fond memories of THAT scene from the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice may be interested to know that Dr. Firth’s son is the one and only Colin Firth. We didn’t realise this yesterday.)

Third up was Dr. Mansur Ali from Cardiff University, presenting  early results from his research into the response from Muslims in Cardiff to the Human Transplantation (Wales) Act 2013 which is now enacted. Dr. Ali has explored the feelings and beliefs about organ donation among the Islamic community through interviews and focus groups with Islamic scholars, medical professionals and an online survey, and the impact of presumed consent that results from the Act. Entitled ‘Our Bodies Belong to God’, Dr. Ali’s fascinating presentation explored the conflict experienced for Muslims when considering transplantation of organs from or to a body that is considered the property of God and not of oneself. He outlined some of the questions that arose such as ‘if my corneas are donated to someone whose sight is restored as a result but who then goes on to watch pornography (a sin according to Islam), does this make me also a sinner?’ Results from his findings are of significant interest, and he hopes to gain funding for much more comprehensive research.

The afternoon was rounded off by Dr. John Troyer, Director of CDAS who explored the fundamental Christian response to end of life planning in the United States. Definition of when death occurs, who has the right to determine life or death and the influence of fundamental Christianity were covered in a broad ranging presentation –  protests by Christian groups outside the hospital where Terri Schiavo’s persistent vegetative state was allowed to end in death (despite attempted intervention by President George Bush and his brother Jeb Bush, then governor of Florida), and the lack of support of hospice care from some sections of the Christian Fundamentalist movement illustrated his points, and he ended with a slide showing a placard from the current presidential election campaign stating ‘1st choice for President – God, 2nd choice – Jesus, 3rd choice Trump.’

And on that rather terrifying note, the seminar was over.

Most Innovative Death Public Engagement Event

Saturday, 8 October 2016

bristol-culture

Bristol Culture

‘Death and the Human Experience’ & ‘Death, is it your right to choose?’

Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

Lavish, visually stunning and highly accessible for people of all ages, Death and the Human Experience was conspicuously successful in spurring people to think and talk about death and dying.

The death exhibitions and events programme were amongst the most successful the museum service has seen with almost 63,000 visitors to ‘death: the human experience’. Several thousand people attended the events in person, and listened to recordings on-line, such as the Assisted Dying debate, ‘What is a good death?’ talk, Death Professionals in Conversation, and the Day of the Dead celebration and Death Fair

People in the UK are reluctant to talk about death and dying. They are also reluctant to record their funeral wishes and to make financial provision for their funeral.

By means of stunningly visual exhibits this exhibition encouraged visitors to start the conversation. They were urged to consider ethical issues, differing attitudes to death and how different cultures deal with the end of life – and have dealt with death from earliest times.

The exhibition displayed a diverse range of objects, from a modern Ghanaian fantasy coffin to a Victorian mourning dress, and revealed captivating stories from cultures across the world.

 

Runner Up in this category: Brum YODO

Modern Funeral Director of the Year

Monday, 3 October 2016

19-fran-glover-carrie-weekes-a-natural-undertaking-modern-fd

Fran Glover & Carrie Weekes of A Natural Undertaking

Carrie and Fran run a funeral business in Birmingham where they have enjoyed rapid success by facilitating highly personalized, non-traditional funerals.

Carrie Weekes and Fran Glover launched their business in Birmingham in 2014 because they felt that current funeral and commemorative practices in Birmingham, where funerals remain very traditional, don’t meet the needs of everyone. Social change, Carrie and Fran reckon, means that people now live less formal lives; their views and commitment to religion have changed. Carrie and Fran said: “We live our lives as consumers, demanding products and services that add and hold value and which reflect our individuality. The internet is used intensively to research and review. And yet the funeral industry on the whole doesn’t seem to have acknowledged any of this.”

Neither Carrie nor Fran comes from a funeral business background. Their previous experiences of the industry were as consumers and mourners. They felt that the funerals they had attended were a poor reflection of the people being farewelled.

So they set out to disrupt the pattern of ‘conveyor belt’ funerals by making a wide range of choices available and involving mourners in both planning funerals and also encouraging them to process their feelings better by playing their part in a really personal farewell on the day – if they want.

Carrie and Fran’s goals are to:

  • Create meaningful funeral events which reflect the personality and values of the person who has died
  • Encourage the involvement of those who knew them
  • Create an understanding that there are many different ways to hold a funeral
  • Help bereaved people to break away from the norm.

Among many supporting testimonials received for A Natural Undertaking, the judges felt that this one speaks most appropriately:

They are passionate advocates of a funeral to suit the deceased and their loved ones. Their business model is truly modern in an industry that is otherwise very staid.

My uncle died earlier this year and although he was in his sixties, he was by no means an ‘old man’. His death was a shock to the family and we were unprepared. We only knew he wanted to be cremated. After that, we were at a loss as to how to best honour his spirit and celebrate his life.

As is my usual default when looking for information, I turned to the Internet. Among some frankly appalling examples, the fabulous website of this company stood out a mile and really resonated with me. It is a modern, clear and concise site which has been very thoughtfully designed – detailed prices are given, along with other information that I really needed to read before making the important decision of who to employ to handle my uncle’s funeral.

From the first time I spoke to one of the owners, she became a trusted and valuable friend. Crucially for me, she was available by text and email (as well as by telephone). Her calm empathy and understanding helped me more than I can say.

With their warm support we discarded the ‘rule” book’ and thought about the person who counted – Trevor. My once vibrant, gorgeous, wonderful – and completely modern – uncle. His funeral was all about him and everything was perfect thanks to the vision and ability of these two women to offer a bespoke service. I think that Trevor’s service will prove quite the inspiration for anyone who was there and might find themselves arranging a funeral in the future – and that is a lovely thought.

They might run a funeral business, but for these two is so much more. They are, in my opinion, modern-day pioneers. Aside from their day-job, they spend a great deal of time out in the local communicating educating people about end of life decisions and encouraging discussion. Their dedication to this side of their business is remarkable as, let’s face it, most busy people don’t generally place such importance on going the extra mile for the good of society.

I thank my lucky stars that they happen to be based in the place where my uncle lived. I know that we would not have gotten the same funeral in my own local area. It would be wonderful to see the their business model spread nationwide. What a difference this could make to people’s perceptions and experiences of death and funerals. In my personal opinion, they deserve every award and accolade available.”

 

Runners Up in this category: The Individual Funeral Company & Wallace Stuart

Most Promising New Funeral Director

Friday, 30 September 2016

18-judith-dandy-most-promising-newcomer

Judith Dandy of Dandelion Farewells

Judith is an outstanding example of a new wave of breath-of-fresh-air funeral business owners – what the Good Funeral Guide terms ‘artisan’ funeral directors. Some people call them alternative funeral directors. Typically, they reject what they regard as the arcane traditions and mystique of funeral service, presenting themselves as people first, funeral directors second.

Dedicated to transparent business practices and a highly flexible and personal service to bereaved people designed to enable them to create a bespoke funeral which best expresses their wishes and values, Judith’s humanity and intelligence place her at the forefront of this new wave of funeral directors

Having worked in two large corporate funeral companies in 2014, Judith set out to create a personal, flexible, thoughtful and cost-moderate service to support bereaved families. Dandelion Farewells was founded in January 2015, reflecting principles of client-centred support and professional standards of care derived from her previous career as a social worker. Judith is involved in all the aspects of care for the person who has died and their family. The business has gone from strength to strength.

Judith has dedicated much time and energy to travelling nationwide to learn alongside the very best in the industry – those with many years’ experience and others who themselves have begun their business a few years earlier. She has developed strong, mutually supportive relationships with other professionals and is able to draw upon a valuable network of colleagues, suppliers and mentors. In the same spirit, she has been called upon to support the work of other funeral directors who have identified her professional and interpersonal strengths. Coupled with valuable empirical learning alongside others, Judith has completed formal training programmes to provide a firm theoretical and professional foundation to her work. In March 2016 achieved the BIFD Certificate of Funeral Services and is now on the pathway to achieve the Diploma qualification in 2017.

Judith operates from a unique village premises from which she provides modern funeral care.

  • Judith has developed a planning workshop for small groups, called My Wishes My Way. This was launched during Dying Matters Week this year. The core of this session is to freely provide information about end of life choices and funeral planning and encourage people to write down their funeral wishes.
  • Dandelion Farewells provides personal, meaningful funeral occasions whatever form this may take for each individual family. It is an unhurried approach. Time is spent listening and working alongside the people making the funeral arrangements to ensure that their decisions resonate with their lives and preferences. The person who has died is cared for with tenderness, kindness and dignity.
  • Judith continues to support families beyond the day of the funeral. This may be through meeting at intervals after the funeral and if necessary sign-posting them to appropriate bereavement services.

Mary Hughes, Director of Affinity Funeral Services Ltd, said: “Judith’s enthusiasm for creating the perfect farewell is matched by her wealth of knowledge and her patience and availability to her families. Nothing is too much trouble. Dandelion Farewells is a rising star.”

A client said: “Judith immediately understood what I was going through, she was very approachable and kind, extremely patient and knowledgeable. Judith was always available, reassuring me in every way. Her attention to detail was touching. Judith continued her care wonderfully after the funeral too.”

 

Runners Up in this category:

Edd Frost & Daughters

Final Journey Funeral Directors

Young Independent Funeral Services

Wise words

Saturday, 10 September 2016

ru-callender

Ru’s opening words to the assembled guests struck a chord with many who were there, so we thought we’d put them on the blog for the whole world to read. Over to you Rupert.

“Welcome everyone to the Good Funeral Awards 2016!

It started off, as so many good things do, in a sweaty basement in Bournemouth, and has grown into this glamorous Metropolitan lunchtime bunfight.

My name is Ru Callender and I should be standing here with my wife, Claire – sadly, she’s got flu. Together, we run The Green Funeral Company in Devon, and we used to be the Enfants Terrible of the undertaking world. Self taught, stubborn, scruffy, we still use our family Volvo instead of a hearse – but as we’ve been doing it for 17 years, we’re probably just terrible…

Today is a genuinely unusual mélange of the alternative and the conventional funeral world, and it has probably taken longer than the Good Friday agreement took to get everyone in the same room.

You are here because someone thinks you’re great. Let that sink in.

Even if you asked them to.

This gathering is largely due to Charles Cowling and crew of the Good Funeral Guide, and also to the original renegade masters, the Natural Death Centre, both of whose organisations dared to believe that ordinary people could deal with the gritty detail of death, the truth about what happens to our bodies, that a deep, internal understanding of death is part of our birthright, part and parcel of being human.

And what they did – brace yourself, maybe have a glug of wine to steady yourself here, was to treat the public as adults, to include them in a conversation about the one thing that will happen to each and every one of us.

They presumed, as we all should, that people can handle more than the protective narrative that is fed to them.

They were right.

It was thought wildly radical then, now it just seems honest and transparent.

I said funeral world because I refuse to use the word industry. Making computers is an industry. Fashion is an industry. Even getting fit is an industry. I don’t decry industry. It’s necessary.

But death is a true mystery, and working with it should be a vocation, a real calling, and if you’re not meant to be here, if ego, or an understandable search for meaning in your life has misled you here, then death has a way of calling your bluff. You are either initiated, in or out.

This work, the real work of dealing with death and loss is not glamorous, however closely it nearly rhymes with sex, however interesting it makes us appear to those who unfortunately have to work in jobs they hate to pay the bills, and that matter little.

This work, done properly, is incredibly stressful.

It’s exhausting, frightening, physically, emotionally and existentially challenging, but it is also deeply, deeply rewarding.

Burn out is a real risk, or worse, an unconscious hardening of your outer emotional skin – these are the risks you face depending on whether you fully engage with it or not.

Breakdown or bravado. Truly a metaphor for our times.

So, if you work with death – florist, celebrant, undertaker or chaplain, particularly if you are new to it, you really have to let it in.

Go deeper.

Feel it. Fear it. Don’t pretend to love it , because the only thing worse than death is not death – and then, if you can, let it go.

 

This world is also open to all.

Undertaking is completely unregulated, and should remain so in my opinion, not just because no amount of qualifications can teach you what to say to the mother of a dead child, that is an instinctive language that rises unbidden from the heart, but also because we are all amateurs when staring into the abyss, all professionals when faced with a dead body.

And they are OUR dead, yours and mine. We are all funeral directors eventually.

It is a shared mystery and your guess as to what it means, and your actions as to what to do are as valid as mine, or the Church, or the Humanists.

Nobody knows for sure.

The mechanics of what needs to be done are easy, I promise. Keep bodies cold. Put them in a suitable receptacle. Carry them, bury or burn them.

The rest, the words, the rituals, the how we do this, you KNOW, deep down what is right for you. You know.

 

But here I am, bringing you all down at a funeral award convention – I should get a prize for that!

But just indulge me one last time before we start bringing on the champs, and this celebration of the real change that has happened gets underway –

Euphemisms.

They cover the kitchen floor of bereavement like a spilled cat litter tray.

They protect no-one, they fool no-one, they confuse children. They are well meaning, but they are wrong.

I’m only going to take on one here, and I apologise if anyone has to amend their speech or their website as a result.

Loved ones.

Not everyone is loved, some because they have led sad, lonely lives, others because they did bad things.

They die too. They need funerals and their families are broken, and the depth of their pain makes the phrase ‘Loved one’ seem like a jeer.

Just saying.

So call them the dead, the dead one, the dead person, anything other than ‘loved one’. Call them by their name!

I know it’s awkward, but it will spare you the look of contempt you get when you say it to the wrong person.

Lecture over.”

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