Category Archives: Uncategorized

Funeral Florist of the Year 2017

Friday, 22 September 2017

 

All finalists in this category showed not only great floristry skills but also an understanding of the sensitivity needed to work with clients who have been bereaved.

The importance of having a good working relationship with funeral directors is also paramount, and the judges took this into consideration when making their decision.

Winner: Rebecca Sharp of Dazzle Me Daisy Do

Runner up: Rosie Orr of Flowers by Rosie Orr

 

Photograph by Jayne Lloyd

The 2017 Good Funeral Awards were generously sponsored by Greenfield Creations

 

 

Special Award for Innovation 2017

Friday, 15 September 2017

‘The judges decided to introduce an additional award not listed as a category in the 2017 awards, in response to an entry for the Most Significant Contribution to the Understanding of Death.

This award is going to a product which, in the judges’ opinion, will impact positively on the experience of bereaved families by encouraging much closer involvement in the design and creation of the coffin.

This product has been designed to bring family members and close friends together in the shared experience of directly participating in the design and creation of a truly personalised coffin.

It turns the coffin into a focal point for celebrating the life of the deceased and enables a far greater number of people to come together to contribute to the final appearance of the coffin.

We feel that this new concept in coffin design will bring about really positive benefits for those families who choose it, and applaud the insight and innovation of those behind it.

This award is going to J. C. Atkinson for the Pathway coffin

 

Photograph by Jayne Lloyd

The 2017 Good Funeral Awards were generously sponsored by Greenfield Creations

 

Green Reaper: Should alkaline hydrolysis be regulated in England and Wales on environmental grounds?

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Lockhart (2016) illustrates the ‘Green Reaper’

A report by Matilda Munro
This blog post is an adapted version of a project completed by Matilda Munro in October 2016 as part of her Natural Sciences BSc at the Open University.

In the United Kingdom there are two main methods for disposing of the dead: cremation and burial.

Over time, cremation has increased in popularity with it now representing what happens to almost three quarters of people (The Cremation Society of Great Britain, 2015).

Cremation and burial have different environmental impacts – and within each there is variation depending on particular choices made (such as type of coffin).  In cremation, the body is destroyed through burning which uses a high amount of non-renewable energy.  In contrast, in burial the body decomposes slowly over time – however, in a standard burial when the body is placed deep in the ground, decomposition results in the emission of methane which is a greenhouse gas and contributes to global warming (TNO, 2011). 

New processes are also in existence which are not yet regulated in England and Wales.  One process in this category is alkaline hydrolysis. In brief, this involves the body being dissolved in an alkaline solution at high temperature and pressure, leaving bone ‘ash’ remains. 

Those involved in the invention of refined alkaline hydrolysis methods, as well as the wider funeral industry have tried to persuade the Ministry of Justice that alkaline hydrolysis should be covered by existing legislation which covers cremation.  However, this argument has been rejected to date by the government who say that since the cremation legislation references ‘burning’, it cannot be applied to alkaline hydrolysis (Thomas, 2010).  This means that whilst disposing of a body through alkaline hydrolysis would not be technically illegal (provided the disposal posed no risk to public health and would not offend public decency), it would be an entirely unregulated industry. All parties involved in the industry are keen that it should be regulated from the start and hence new legislation would be desirable prior to its introduction. Regulation would provide safeguards and minimum standards, as it does for cremation and burial.

What is alkaline hydrolysis?
The process from start to finish, as explained by Sandy Sullivan the Managing Director of Resomation Ltd. (2009):

  1. The body, which is inside a silk or wool coffin, is placed inside the machine.
  2. The machine calculates the weight of the body so the right amount of water and potassium hydroxide (an alkali) is added automatically. 
  3. The liquid is heated and held under pressure to speed up the process.
  4. The contents are then cooled by cold water.
  5. The liquid contents are drained away – this is organic matter with no DNA traces.  In a standard cremation, this would have gone up the chimney of the crematorium. Here it is going to the water table.
  6. Porous bones are left in the Resomator
  7. These remains are rinsed, and dried.
  8. A cremulator reduces the bones to a fine powder, as in cremation.
  9. The resultant ash is pure white and can be returned to families in an urn.

Evidence regarding the environmental impact of alkaline hydrolysis in comparison to burial and cremation
A Life Cycle Analysis of different funeral techniques in the Netherlands was conducted with a view to concluding which method of disposal had the lowest environmental impact by TNO, the Netherlands Organisation for applied scientific research (TNO, 2011). In their research, they consider the life cycle to include the gathering of raw materials (such as those to make a coffin), preparations (such as digging a grave or heating a crematorium), carrying out the method, maintenance, processing residues and finally any transport between these steps. 

TNO research (2011, see Table 1 below) shows that alkaline hydrolysis has the lowest impact across the categories measured.  In some instances this is due to the environmental ‘savings’ from being able to recycle things such as metals.  It is the highest contributor in the category of eutrophication.  This can be altered depending on where the ashes are scattered.  With particular reference to its impact on global warming, it can be seen to have a much lower impact than either burial or cremation (Figure 1).

Which method has the smallest environmental impact?

Table 1: Table of results from TNO (2011) showing the different environmental impacts of the disposal techniques

Impact category Unit Burial (average) Cremation (average) Alkaline hydrolysis
Abiotic depletion (ADP)  kg Sb eq 1.26 0.82 -0.11
Acidification (AP) kg SO2 eq  

1.35

 

 

0.67

 

-0.34
Eutrophication (EP) kg PO43- eq 0.75 0.76 1.08
Global warming (GWP)  kg CO2 eq  

180.3

 

79.9

-31.8
Ozone layer depletion (ODP) kg CFC11 eq 1.84E-05 5.53E-06 2.18E-06
Human toxicity (HTP) kg 1,4- DCB eq 115 54 -77
Fresh water aquatic ecotoxicity (FAETP) kg 1,4- DCB eq 34.6 -0.0 -40.0
Terrestrial ecotoxicity (TETP) kg 1,4- DCB eq 2.53 2.30 -0.58
Photochemical oxidation (POCP) kg C2H2 eq 0.16 0.06 -0.01
Land competition (LC) m2.year 259.8 70.0 7.0


Figure 1: The impact on global warming of burial, cremation and alkaline hydrolysis, based on the TNO (2011) data

The table above (TNO, 2011) and Figure 1 show that alkaline hydrolysis has lower impacts than burial and cremation in all areas apart from eutrophication and that burial has the highest impact in all areas apart from eutrophication, with cremation in between. Out of the three methods, it is therefore the most sustainable.

The reliability of the findings
TNO were commissioned to carry out this research by Yarden, a large funeral organisation in the Netherlands.  Whilst there is a potential that the vested interest of Yarden could have an influence on the findings, TNO are a reputable organisation employed to give an independent opinion.  The data for cremation and burial was provided by Yarden as they are one of the largest funeral organisations and therefore have a significant amount of data.  For alkaline hydrolysis, the data was based on hypothetical information provided by Resomation Ltd.  This does raise some issues since it is in Resomation Ltd’s interest that it can sell itself as environmentally superior than other available options.  However, in 2014, the research was updated to included actual data from Resomation Ltd. as by that point they did have data for the disposal of human remains using this method. They did not find that using the real rather than theoretical data changed their findings in any way (TNO, 2014). This data is based on average practices across the disposal methods in the Netherlands and individual choices for the funeral or memorial can easily counterbalance any environmental saving from the disposal method. For example, if a family chooses to have someone disposed of through alkaline hydrolysis, but then they fly the whole family to the Maldives to scatter the ashes, the environmental impact will be very different to a local funeral.

Apart from the TNO study of 2011, and its 2014 update, there is limited independent data specifically comparing the environmental impact of burial, cremation and alkaline hydrolysis.  This is predominantly due to alkaline hydrolysis being a new method and therefore data being limited.  It is possible that new studies will now take place in Scotland following the change in legislation there.  It would be useful to have data like TNO’s, looking at a Life Cycle Analysis within the UK rather than in the Netherlands.  The likelihood is the results would be similar as practices in both countries are more comparable than, for example, practices between the UK and United States where burial is still dominant and embalming is more widespread.  However, additional data from Scotland would be useful.  Notwithstanding the lack of local data, it seems unlikely that vastly different environmental conclusions would come out of further study. Given increasing population and increasing concerns regarding global warming and emissions in particular, it could be argued there is enough evidence that alkaline hydrolysis should be regulated – then it is up to the consumer to make the choice between the methods.

The views of people within the funeral industry, excluding those directly responsible for alkaline hydrolysis
The Cremation Society of Great Britain was founded in 1874 and from its inception, was open to the idea that in the future, a better means of disposal than cremation may come into existence. The original declaration stated: “Until some better method is devised we desire to adopt that usually known as cremation” (Cremation Society of Great Britain, 1999). In 2008, the Cremation Society changed their constitution to allow them to accommodate alkaline hydrolysis (Sullivan, 2009). In some states in the United States where the process is used, it is referred to as bio-cremation.  Other organisations such as Co-operative Funeralcare which is one of the largest funeral directors in the UK have also expressed their support for alkaline hydrolysis as a process. In particular, they state that the environmental considerations are significant as people do want to end their life in a more environmentally friendly way (Thomas, 2010).

However, some involved in cremation do not accept the environmental argument in favour of alkaline hydrolysis.  Andrew Platts of Crystal Air Solutions, for example, argues that crematoria can be carbon neutral if the heat is recycled and suitable scrubbers are fitted on the chimneys (Thomas, 2010).

The views of those behind the technique of alkaline hydrolysis
There is one company leading the way promoting alkaline hydrolysis, both in the UK and abroad.  That company is Resomation Ltd., founded by Sandy Sullivan in Scotland in 2007 with the aim of promoting alkaline hydrolysis (which they call Resomation®) globally.  They have patents pending on particular aspects of their technology and are the first company to have used the method to dispose of human remains in the United States (Resomation®, 2016b).  Their view, unsurprisingly, is that their method of disposal provides a credible alternative to both cremation and burial – and that it represents a more environmentally friendly method than cremation.

The views of the government and the current legal situationFundamentally, alkaline hydrolysis is not illegal – but there is no legal framework by which it could be regulated as an industry in England and Wales.  As explained by White (2011), the Ministry of Justice decided in 2009 that the existing Act regulating cremation cannot be applied to alkaline hydrolysis since it specifically references burning and they do not accept that alkaline hydrolysis is burning.   In 2012, when alkaline hydrolysis had not yet been tried, the Under Secretary of State for Justice said that the “Government will follow with interest the progress of trials [of the alkaline hydrolysis process] in Europe and the United States” (House of Commons, 2012). In the summer of 2016, the Scottish parliament passed legislation regulating alkaline hydrolysis using their existing legislation around cremation (Scotland, Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act 2016, s.99.1).  This has now, arguably, put additional pressure on the Ministry of Justice to pass the equivalent legislation in England and Wales. 

Opposition to alkaline hydrolysis as a process
There is very limited opposition to the idea of alkaline hydrolysis as a process. In general, opposition is made due to public health concerns regarding the disposal of the liquid remains (effluent) after the process is completed, though there is no evidence that it poses a public health risk.  Some people argue that it is undignified and disrespectful to the deceased, or that the high pressure, high temperature unit could be dangerous (Olson, 2014). 

Whilst people may initially feel disgusted or unsure of the method, once properly explained there is no reason why it could not end up as popular a choice as cremation is today.  Indeed, when cremation was first introduced, it was not popular but has increased in uptake year on year (Cremation Society, 2015).  Where in cremation organic matter goes up a chimney, with alkaline hydrolysis, it is returned to the water table (it has more in common with burial in this respect) (Resomation®, 2016a). In funeral homes where it has been introduced in the United States, many families are choosing to sit alongside the alkaline hydrolysis machine during the process (Sullivan, 2009).  

With regard to the public health argument, when Resomation Ltd. discussed how the effluent could be disposed of in the UK, all major water companies confirmed that it would be possible for it to be entered into the mains water system for processing in the usual way.  No DNA material survives the alkaline hydrolysis process so what is left is a sterile liquid (Thomas, 2010). Whilst this means water returned to homes as drinking water could indeed have come from this process, this is no different to water coming from waste treatment plants.  

Proposed Solution
Given alkaline hydrolysis is not technically illegal, and given there seems to be strong consensus that as a method of disposal, it ought to be offered in England and Wales as an environmentally friendly alternative to burial or cremation, it is possible that the Cremation Society of Great Britain, or other large bodies in the industry will ‘self-regulate’ the process – particularly as it has now been covered by specific legislation in Scotland.  If this were to happen, the risk would be that the government would have to react and legislate retrospectively rather than proactively, now, while the industry do not provide alkaline hydrolysis as an option for disposal. This matter has now been ongoing since 2009 and the situation in Scotland does apply additional pressure to the government of England and Wales.  Why should the same method be regulated on one side of the border and unregulated or unavailable on the other?

In England and Wales, there are two main ways that the Secretary of State could regulate alkaline hydrolysis.  One involves amending the Cremation Act of 1902, and the other involves using powers from the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984. For the Cremation Act of 1902 to apply to alkaline hydrolysis, this Act would have to be amended and passed by parliament.  Draft legislation to this end was produced by White (2011) who is also a member of the Council of the Cremation Society of Great Britain.  This shows that there is support for this legislation even in areas from which one might expect to find opposition.

Conclusion
Under current legislation, whilst any method of disposal that does not offend public decency or cause a risk to public health is permitted, the methods which are regulated by government legislation are burial and cremation.  Between these two methods, the evidence shows that cremation is more sustainable than burial.  When alkaline hydrolysis is considered, the environmental arguments in its favour are strong, and backed with independent evidence. The first cremation took place in 1886 in Woking, as organised by the Cremation Society of Great Britain who then worked hard to bring about the Cremation Act of 1902.  It is perhaps significant that cremation started before being fully legislated (as it too would not have been illegal for the same reasons alkaline hydrolysis is not illegal today).  If the government accepts that it is preferable to legislate in advance rather than retrospectively, then they will need to act soon.  The government has the opportunity, along with 13 states in the United States and Scotland, to be global leaders in this sustainable method for the disposal of human remains. 

Update:
In April 2017, it was announced that Sandwell Council has approved plans to extend Rowley Regis Crematorium to house a Resomator machine. See here.

References
Cameo (2016) Sharing the burden [Online]. Available at http://www.cameoonline.org.uk/ (Accessed 19 September 2016)

The Cremation Society of Great Britain (1974) History of Modern Cremation in Great Britain from 1874: The First Hundred Years [Online]. Available at http://www.srgw.info/CremSoc/History/HistSocy.html#introduction (Accessed 27 September 2016)

The Cremation Society of Great Britain (2015) Progress of cremation in England and Wales Scotland and N. Ireland 1885-2014 [Online]. Available at http://www.srgw.info/CremSoc4/Stats/National/ProgressF.html  (Accessed 12 September 2016)

House of Commons (2012) Hansard, 5 September, Volume 549, Column 354 [Online]. Available at  https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2012-09-05/debates/12090536000002/BurialSpace?highlight=alkaline%20hydrolysis#contribution-12090536001265 (Accessed 29 September 2016).

Lockart, Z. (2016) Green Reaper [Collage]. Private collection.

The Mayo Clinic (2016) Body donation at Mayo Clinic [Online]. Available at http://www.mayoclinic.org/body-donation/biocremation-resomation (Accessed 15 September 2016)

Ministry of Justice (2007) Burial Grounds: The results of a survey of burial grounds in England and Wales [Online]. Available at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/217908/burial_grounds_web_whole_plus_bookmarks.pdf (Accessed 29 September 2016) 

Olson, P. (2014) ‘Flush and Bone: Funeralizing alkaline hydrolysis in the United States’, Science, Technology and Human Values, vol. 39, no. 5, pp. 666-693 [Online]. DOI: 10.1177/0162243914530475 (Accessed 21 September 2016)

Resomation® (2016a) A need for change [Online]. Available at http://resomation.com/about/need-for-change/ (Accessed 15 September 2016)

Resomation® (2016b) Who are we [Online]. Available at http://resomation.com/about/who-are-we/ (Accessed 15 September 2016)

Resomation® (2016c) News [Online]. Available at http://resomation.com/news/ (Accessed 15 September 2016)

Rumble, H., Troyer, T., Walter, T. and Woodthorpe, K. (2014) ‘Disposal or dispersal? Environmentalism and final treatment of the British dead’. Mortality, vol. 19, no. 3, pp. 243-260 [Online]. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13576275.2014.920315 (Accessed 19 September 2016)

Scotland. Cremation and Burial (Scotland) Act 2016, a.s.p. 20.  

Sullivan, S. (2009) ‘Resomation®: Update’, Pharos International, vol. 75, pp. 4-8.

Thomas, H. (2010) Resomation: The Debate (Part 1), Pharos International, vol. 76, pp. 4-8.

TNO (2011) Environmental impact of different funeral technologies, Utrecht, TNO, 034.24026.

TNO (2014) Environmental impacts of different funeral techniques – update of prior TNO research [Online]. Available at https://www.tno.nl/en/about-tno/news/2014/12/environmental-impacts-of-different-funeral-techniques-update-of-prior-tno-research/ (Accessed 19 September 2016)

White, S. (2011) ‘The Public Health (Aquification) (England and Wales) Regulations?’. Pharos International, vol. 77, pp. 10-11.

There will be cake

Sunday, 21 May 2017

June is nearly here and with that comes two wonderful opportunities to meet with the Good Funeral Guide team, make some new friends from the #GoodFuneralGuild and talk all things funeral related whilst eating cake.  

A Guild Gig

On Saturday 3rd June from 12pm, #GoodFuneralGuild member and all round nice guy Toby Angel will be hosting the first Guild Gig at his recently completed barrow in Cambridge.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Toby’s interpretation of ancient burial barrows, redesigned to be beautiful and meaningful places for ashes to be stored, come along to see Willow Row.  It has a profound effect on most of the people who visit it and is a welcome alternative to the (often) depressing crematorium rose garden.

There’ll be a BBQ, much cake (including Toby’s youngest daughter’s famous lemon drizzle cake!) and lots of friendly conversation from lovely #GoodFuneralGuild members.  Bring along your children, dogs, sausages and spouses.  You don’t need to be a #GoodFuneralGuild member to come along.  The curious are very welcome!

If you’d like to come along, please email louise.winter@goodfuneralguide.co.uk

A Guild Gig
Saturday 3rd June from 12pm at Willow Row, Cambridgeshire
Directions here

National Funeral Exhibition 2017

As Fran has already announced, we’ve raided our piggy banks and managed to fund a small stand at the National Funeral Exhibition at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire.

The GFG team – Fran Hall, Louise Winter, John Porter and the one and only Charles Cowling – will be serving up cake and conversation at the three day event from our small but beautiful stand.

If you’re going to be there and would like a break from the rows and rows of mortuary equipment, salesmen and free pens, then come along to chat with our team over a slice of complimentary cake.

We’ll in in Hall 1 on stand 146, hidden behind a mountain of cake (literally).

If you’re one of our recommended funeral directors, come along to our stand as soon as you arrive as we may have a little something for you.  #GoodFuneralGuild members – don’t forget to wear your pin with pride!

If you haven’t registered for THE event of Funeralworld yet, you can do so here.

National Funeral Exhibition
Friday 9th – Sunday 11th June 2017
Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire

Something for the weekend

Friday, 21 April 2017

If you were at the crematorium this afternoon because someone has died, I’m sorry.

If you were at the crematorium this afternoon because someone has died, and you used the conveniences only to find them in the condition above, then on behalf of the UK funeral industry, I’m not only embarrassed but I’m also deeply sorry.

There are crematoria out there who are exemplary (see here). There are also crematoria out there who seem to have forgotten the reason for their existence – to serve the needs of bereaved families by providing funeral services.

Consider the general state of affairs of certain funeral providers – buildings in terrible condition, stained carpets, poor sound systems, unusable toilets and conveyor belt timings that only allow for 20 minute services. Have you ever tried to acknowledge a life and a death in 20 minutes? Never mind telling a grieving family member that they won’t be able to talk about their loved one because there just isn’t time.  And then having to tell them that the one available toilet on site isn’t actually working today.

We wouldn’t accept this in life. So why do we think it’s acceptable in death? How we treat death is ultimately how we treat life.  So it matters; it matters enormously.

I personally have no interest in a life symbolised by a toilet with a lid that doesn’t stay open, a hand drier that blows out cold air and used tissues all over the floor.

As funeral professionals, can we stop accepting the unacceptable on behalf of our grieving clients. If you are a professional who uses a crematoria as part of your work – ministers, celebrants, funeral directors, florists, attendants etc – then you are responsible.

It’s the people who are out on funerals every day who can make a difference. We’re very good at driving around bereaved people in shiny cars that have been polished twenty times. But we drop them off substandard crematoria which fail to meet anyone’s needs, never mind the needs of grieving people, who have little idea of what to expect and mostly accept anything.

That’s my Friday night rant over. Enjoy your weekend everyone.  I hope it looks nothing like the photos above. 

Louise

P.S. The photographs above were taken at a real crematorium before a real funeral at 4pm today in the South of England.  If you recognise it as your local crem, I am SO sorry that your local council thinks this is what you deserve.

P.P.S. The sticky mess on the toilet lid is an attempt to make the lid stay up when the toilet is being used.  It doesn’t work.  

Perfect post election party

Friday, 21 April 2017

Whatever your political persuasion, come June 9th it’s likely you’ll be all politicked out after yet another trip to the polling booth. We know we will.

What better way to switch off from the endless analysis that will undoubtedly fill the media when the polls have closed than to head to the heart of England, to the National Funeral Exhibition?

This unique three day event takes place every two years with hundreds of exhibitors showcasing everything new in funeralworld, so don’t miss the opportunity to be there in 2017.

The GFG has rummaged down the back of the sofa and inside our piano, and cobbled together enough money to pay for a very small stand at NFE, but we guarantee we’re going to maximise the use of our four square metres and have one of the most attractive and desirable exhibits in the building… 

Come and see for yourselves – we’re in Hall 1 on stand 146.

If you haven’t registered yet, you can do so here .

Read this and weep

Sunday, 16 April 2017

 

Grief Works is a collection of beautifully written stories of the many clients Julia Samuel has dealt with in 25 years of working with grief.  She writes about how she’s helped people to deal with the deaths of their parents, partners, siblings and children and face their own mortality.  

Britain is awash with grief counsellors working from outdated models of grief.  Thinking has moved on since Kübler-Ross’ five stages of grief so it’s refreshing to hear Julia’s positive, refreshing and flexible approach to dealing with death in our stiff-upper-lip society.

There’s a chapter about how we got into this state – from the Victorians who were brilliant at dealing with death but terrible with sex, to the generation of post-war children who learnt to suppress their grief and kept it tightly inside.  Keep calm and carry on.

Julia Samuel has been a grief psychotherapist for the last 25 years, dealing with people in the throes of grief in the NHS at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington and in private practice.  She’s also the founder of Child Bereavement UK.  

The way she talks to her clients, her flexible approach, her understanding that loss is terrifyingly complicated and affects everyone differently;  it’s all music to our ears.

We heard Julia talking on a panel at the Southbank Centre during the recent ‘How do we live with death?’ weekend.  “Grief is messy, chaotic and dark,” she told the audience before telling us that her way of coping with the intensity of her work is to have fun, kickbox and only watch funny films.  

Grief Works is a brilliant reminder that there can be a life after death.  We highly recommend it as the book to read to have a better understanding of grief and learn a healthier way of dealing with it.

Read it, weep and learn.

Grief Works
by Julia Samuel

https://griefworks.co.uk/

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?

 

Dignity Caring Funeral Services prices 2016

Friday, 18 November 2016

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For some reason, the UK’s largest provider of funeral related services prefers not to list their prices online.

Happily, we have no such reservations about letting the public know the current cost of a funeral from a Dignity PLC owned business.

(There are currently in the region of 780 funeral director businesses in the UK that belong to Dignity PLC, all of which trade under the name of their former owners.

Have a look here to see which undertakers near you are owned by Dignity. Put your postcode in and see which names come up. You may well be surprised.)

Anyway, back to the prices. To save you squinting at the small print in the pics below, as a quick reckoner, if you pick a Dignity funeral director to be your undertaker, agree to their recommendation of embalming for ‘peace of mind’, select a cardboard coffin and require just a hearse to go direct to the crematorium or cemetery, your bill will be £4,375.00.

Just for clarity, this figure does not include the cremation or burial fees, you’ll need to add another £999.00 just for the cremation fee at many of the Dignity owned crematoria.

Nor does this figure cover the cost for an officiant at the ceremony.  Nor the doctors’ fees required for a cremation in England and Wales. Nor flowers, orders of service, a funeral tea, or an urn for the ashes. 

An at a glance breakdown of the main constituents of that £4,375.00 (all capitals letters not our own) is below. We haven’t bothered to type up all the details, but if you zoom in on the images below, you will see just what you get for your money under each category. (We quite liked the sound of ‘...full access to our own 24 hour Client Service Centre’ which sounds like a description of a VIP lounge at an airport, although in fact it’s a fancy name for the after hours call centre where phone calls get answered when the staff have all gone home.)

Our Service to You:                                         £1,405.00

Our Service to the Person who has Died:       £  950.00

Our Embalming Service:                                 £    75.00

‘We will ensure every available care is taken to delay the natural processes that occur after death. However, as members of the National Association of Funeral Directors, we recommend the peace of mind that embalming brings. You will be advised on this and we will require your consent.’

Your Appointed Funeral Director:               £  665.00

Our Hearses:                                              £  620.00 (each)

Our Limousines                                          £  175.00 (each)

Our Range of Coffins and Caskets – examples:

Veneer MDF coffin:                                      £  440.00

Cardboard coffin:                                         £  660.00

Willow coffin:                                                £1015.00

Source: Dignity Funerals Ltd Price List 3rd October 2016.

You could of course opt for the Dignity Simple Funeral, which offers limited access to their full range of services, no choice of coffin and limited choice on the date and time of the funeral. The Dignity Simple Funeral costs £2,520 and must be paid in full (along with all cremation or burial costs) 48 hours in advance of the funeral date.

Chief Executive of Dignity PLC, Mike McCollum, was among the delegates attending the national conference on funeral poverty held in Edinburgh this week.

We weren’t on the same table as him, so are not able to relay what contribution or comment he had on the subject.

 

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‘Here’s Looking At You’ – The Good Grief Project

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

jo-b-harry-comp

“It’s a photo taken by someone who would die in 3 months, of her loved ones looking at her, with that knowledge. It’s quite a concept isn’t it? I see the tense smiles as well as the relaxed merry faces. I printed the three photos and joined them together and I put it in her coffin so that she had us all there with her on her journey.” Jo Bousfield

Good friends of the GFG, Jane and Jimmy Edmonds run the Good Grief Project. Set up after they experienced the sudden death of their son Josh, the purpose of the Good Grief Project is not only to share their experience of grief, but also to help others to find ‘an active and creative response to the expression of their grief.’

Yesterday, Jimmy posted these photographs on their website. They were taken by Harry Banks.

Harry’s mother, Jo Bousfield, is a trustee of the Good Grief Project, and Harry was terminally ill when she captured this moment, of the people she loved, looking at her, with the knowledge that she was dying.

Three months after taking the photographs, Harry died, aged 31. 

Read the post here.

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