A case of miserable mismatch

Charles 4 Comments

Spare a thought this morning for Lynda Hannah, owner of Living Legacies, a green funeral company in New Zealand with an alternative, less than rigidly formal approach to funerals. Ms Hannah likes to empower families to play their part, do what they can, take ownership. There are funeral directors of her ilk in the UK.

Perhaps, after reading about what happened to Ms Hannah, you will feel impelled to join the chorus of condemnation. Even New Zealand’s environment minister has lent his voice. Here are some facts.

Russ Travis, 21, was out speeding with his friend David Alan Te Maari when the car crashed and Mr Travis was killed. David Alan Te Maari, the driver, is now doing 6 years and 2 months for manslaughter. 

Travis’s mother, Dee Stansbury, engaged Living Legacies to be her funeral director. Lynda Hannah brought Travis’s body home in her station wagon where it was placed on a table until the coffin arrived. Ms Hannah dissuaded the family from having the body embalmed. A lot of people wanted to see the body. The room temperature rose too high. There was leakage, which Ms Hannah had warned the family might happen. When the time came to take the body to the funeral, the station wagon’s cam belt was screechy. Mr Travis’s family were furious and refused to pay.

In the aftermath, Ms Hannah observed: “It is common for grieving people to express misguided anger towards a third party because placing it where it rightfully belongs is just too painful.” She may have a point. She also observed that the family would have been better off with a mainstream funeral director.

Here at the GFG we have enough contacts in New Zealand to have been able to establish that Lynda Hannah has ten years’ worth of satisfied customers to her name and is reckoned to be a good person if, perhaps, a tad scatty. We are also aware of good ‘alternative’ funeral directors in the UK who have attracted a similar response from families who ought to have engaged a more conservative, if more expensive, undertaker. 

We sent Lynda Hannah an email of support. She tells us that, though her ordeal has been hugely stressful, she has been very consoled by the upsurge of support support she is receiving from those who know her. 

Read the newspaper story here. Check out Lynda Hannah’s website here


  1. Charles

    Interesting one. I know some very efficient and well-organised FDs but their approach is such that there is no flexibility and they become very uppity and forceful when the families want to do things a little differently. Much worse than a screechy cam belt. But surely leakage could be prevented? Never pleasant.

  2. Charles

    I squirm at this story, with its apparent terrible mishandling of the body fluid.
    Coffin lid/cam belt one might live with. Some other things quoted seem quite normal (i.e. a bespoke coffin being made to order and not being on hand for the first visits).
    Brave of Ms. Hannah to cite the misplaced grief; and to speak of a mis-match. It does happen. I know.

    I am in mind of a friend’s observation (which probably does not apply in this case): “Just because you have been bereaved, there is no need to behave badly”.
    Very unPC and totally unsayable, except in one’s dark silent moments.

  3. Charles

    I feel for Lydia. There are big risks involved when you don’t whisk the body away, but there are also big rewards.
    On a practical note, a body should always be kept in some sort of receptacle, that way any leakage can be contained.
    Picnic freezer packs should have helped to keep his body cool.
    As for the screechy cam belt, happens to us all.

  4. Charles

    I have read this and really feel for the family as this young man should have been Embalmed in order that people could pay there respects and at least the leakage would not be an issue. It will leave alot of anger and bad memories. No family wants to see their loved one leaking.

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