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.