Poppy’s Funerals was launched by Poppy Mardall because she wanted to help people take creative control of their funerals. She’s a newcomer to Funeralworld. She is neither steeped in it, neither has she been moulded by its immemorial customs, and this is either a very bad thing or a very good thing. She has strong feelings about the importance of real funerals and worthy sendoffs, which is why she launched her direct cremation service in June. She’s already up and running.
Here, she describes her rationale, a full version of which you can find here. Old school undertakers may like to look away now.
Funeral directors should not be dictating to celebrants. It’s the equivalent of The Rolling Stones having their set list dictated by the Roadies. It’s the wrong way round.
So my first battle cry is ‘Get the ceremony out of the crematorium!’. Yes the coffin needs to go there if you want a cremation, but what has that got to do with a meaningful ceremony?
And my second is, ‘Give creative control to the people leading the ceremony!’ – the family and the celebrants, not the people organising the logistics of the body.
Poppy’s Funerals launched our ‘simple cremation’ service in June this year as one way of solving these problems. Our hope is that it will provide families with a simple way to make the funeral ceremony more personal, meaningful and generally better. We separate the cremation from the funeral ceremony. We do the work of a funeral director, taking responsibility for the simple, respectful and affordable cremation. All traditional funeral accessories are stripped away. We do not embalm. The coffins we use are unvarnished wooden coffins with calico lining. The family can of course accompany the coffin to the crematorium. We then deliver the ashes to the family so they can hold the funeral ceremony, celebration of life or memorial with the ashes wherever, whenever and however they want.
We are saying, liberate yourselves from holding the ceremony at the crematorium. You do not need professional funeral directors at your ceremony. You do not need to worry about time limits or paperwork. Take your time to find a celebrant (we’d love to help you) who is a perfect fit with your family. The body has been cremated so all time constraints are off. Take your time. Do it your way.
It would not suit a family who felt the presence of the body was essential to the funeral ceremony. But how many of us feel that?
A recent experience has shown me what is possible.
Mary approached us because she wanted a simple cremation for her husband Richard. Mary loved Richard dearly. But for Mary, when Richard died, his body became a shell.
She felt the crematorium was impersonal and alien, and not the best place to celebrate Richard’s life. She wanted his ashes, rather than his body, to be present at the celebration of life.
So Mary asked us to organise the simple and respectful cremation of Richard’s body, with no pomp or traditional funeral accessories, or their associated costs. And for us to return Richard’s ashes as soon as possible so she could get on with organising the celebration of his life.
With the ashes, Mary is now free to hold the celebration of Richard’s life wherever she wants. She might hold it in the pub, at home or in the garden. She is taking some time to make decisions and plan. And because the urgency of dealing with the body is over, she can. Everyone who loved Richard has some time to find the poem, write the eulogy, or learn the piece of music they want to play to honour their friend.
Mary contacted three celebrants to find the person who was just right. The celebrant she has chosen is helping her create a personal and meaningful ceremony to mark Richard’s life. There is no need for funeral directors to be present at the ceremony.
It will be a family, and celebrant-led affair.