Window dressing

Charles Cowling

Photo by Dennypoos

Funeral directors are often criticised for their inertia and, to be sure, many of them, not all, move forward with foot-dragging reluctance. The most evident manifestation of this is their cod-Victorian attire. They are, they seem to be saying, neither of us, nor of our century.

If they seem to inhabit a parallel and altogether uninviting universe, or to exist in a time warp, this is an impression reinforced by the changeless aspect of their premises. But if you were a funeral director, how would you demonstrate vitality, catch the eye, stump up trade?

Difficult, isn’t it? You can’t by any means create demand for your service, nor can you trigger impulse buyers. BUY NOW WHILE OFFER LASTS or INVEST IN THE CHATSWORTH AND GET HANDLES FREE! You can’t move with the seasons: SPRING COFFIN RANGE NOW IN! However good you are at what you do, you can’t stimulate repeat business: BUY NOW GET ONE FREE! You can’t hold sales: 1/3 OFF EVERYTHING. EVERYONE MUST GO!!

If you were a funeral director, how would you dress your front window? Coffins? Urns? Tombstones? Trocars through the ages? Difficult not to look self-parodying, isn’t it? The blessed Paul Sinclair is having a lot of success with his miniature motorcycle hearse. That works well. But you need to be able to ring the changes, go with the seasons, tap into the festivals. And most of those are out. You can’t risk looking festive, can you? Halloween is the biggest no-no (I’m having to hold myself back, here) but rack your brain. Which would you choose?

You probably have to go with themes. Memory is a good one. This is why so many undertakers have a Remembrance Day display with many poppies and, at Christmas, a tree hung with many lights and stars. The trick here is not to serve as a grim reminder.

Love is another, and the same caveat applies. Do you like the window at the top? It shows enterprise, doesn’t it? The photographer hated it. Check out his pics on Flickr.

Anyone seen any excellent funeral directors’ windows? Photos welcome. Send me a JPEG:

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

One thought on “Window dressing

  1. Charles Cowling
    funeral director

    This particular valentines window display in a funeral home was actually very clever, well thought through and respectfully dignified for the following reasons;
    1} The two trees at the back either side of the display actually had red heart shaped tags hanging from them which contained personal love messages from bereaved family members, families do not stop loving just because they have lost someone close to them nor do people HAVE to be living and loved on valentines day loving does not cease upon death.
    There were also red roses which are popular for funeral sprays for lost loved ones and not just a financial gain for florists.
    There are grave cards which have love poems to a Dad, Mum, Son, Daughter etc remembered also on valentines all in all everlasting and true eternal love never dies, shame the photographer hated? window above this is probably because he/she/ missed the significance of remembering ALL who are and were loved whether they are with us still or at rest but the photographer has a traditional blinkered perspection of an unfeeling, commercial money spinning valentines as is not the case in the window above!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There are deeper meanings to everything in life and death and it takes special people to look for the true meanings and fully understand them, the display above was tasteful, well-thought, involved and remembered families who were left by loved ones and their love for the lost ones hence the personal messages on the trees and its a shame the photographer and description did not reflect the window’s true meaning or contents.
    I loved this window and all the others this funeral director displays, whether it be harvest festival, easter, christmas, valentines, royal celebrations or Rememberence Day, there is no law to say funeral directors have to display memorials, wreaths, coffins, caskets, funeral plans,etc it is more orrect that these sensitive items are on display within the funeral home where the families can discuss and browse in private!
    I know personally that the local people to this funeral home find the window displays up-lifting, bright, tasteful, respectful, and often brings a refreshing smile at such a sad time for them.
    Maybe the photographer should take photographs of subjects that he/ she are knowledgeable to comment on and know how to portray correctly rather than professions and company premises they have no experience of, this one photographers view is irrelevant and probably not having any verbal contact or views from the local’s, more likely a less popular funeral director with a window full of tired, dated memorials.

    Charles Cowling

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