Charles Cowling

 

There are six Rosedale funeral homes. Headquartered in Diss, they straddle the Norfolk-Suffolk border. This is a gentle, conservative part of the world. If you’ve not been for thirty years or so, you’ll find it exactly as it was.

Rosedale is headed up by Anne-Beckett-Allen. She was brought up in the business and spent some years working for a group. Her husband, Simon, is a funeral outsider with a genius for creating beautiful spaces. He has converted and furnished all the funeral homes in a style you might term contemporary antique. They exude understated class.

We were delighted to be invited to accredit the funeral homes, and spent two very enjoyable days doing so. They all pass with flying colours; we recommend them without reservation. If John Lewis did funerals, they’d probably do them like this. You get the same level of service from incredibly nice, natural, bright people who love what they do. There’s none of the heavy-handed customer-service role-play you get in so many other British businesses.

So, all in all, a class act all round. Brilliant. We like and admire them hugely.

What do they do that’s different? That’s a question that misses the point. The way to phrase it is: What do they do particularly well?

One thing they do particularly well is look after people who have died with great care and tenderness. And this has led them to doing away with the mouth suture. Instead, they support the jaw in a gentler way using the device above and left. Clients are entirely happy about it and, as you can see in the photo below, when it’s time to fit mine it’ll hardly show at all.

Jaw1

Rosedale’s staff say it achieves a very natural expression. That’s got to be a good thing, because the suture is difficult to get right, often producing a parrot mouth (you should have seen my Mum).

The dead don’t mind the suture, of course. But, as Tom Lynch says, the dead do matter — and so do their families. It is difficult to defend any mortuary practice which might appal the living. The mouth suture takes some explaining and, as a funeral outsider myself, I still find it shocking.  

If you don’t know what the mouth suture involves, but would like to find out, think twice if you are squeamish. There’s a verbal description here and a series of videos here.

 

 

Jaw14

 

 

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Nick GandonNicholas PottsRu CallenderCharles CowlingAndrew Hickson Recent comment authors

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Nicholas Potts
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Nicholas Potts

The problem with many operatives’ mouth suture is that they are taught to pass the needle through the frenulum between the gum and lip, both top and bottom, pull tight, and knot. Here’s a method that always gives a natural closure: The needle is passed upwards, usually in the line under the chin, behind the lower gum, then the needle is re-threaded onto the long end hanging from the entry hole and passed upwards again, this time in front of the lower jaw between the gum and the lower lip. Pull tight to bring the thread close to the jawbone,… Read more »

Nick Gandon
Guest

Nicholas, you describe perfectly the method I endorse and have always used.
Thanks.
I agree too about the needle injector…..
– Nick

Ru Callender
Guest

We have used this neck collar for the past thirteen years. It passes a very simple test we have: How would the family react if we told them the truth? We can either stitch your mum’s mouth shut, or use this slightly obtrusive collar. No contest.
And yes, I know there are a lot of more invasive procedures done to bodies such as post mortems, but the mouth is such an emotive and symbolic part of us, that it needs an etiquette all of it’s own.

Nick Gandon
Guest

Getting the mouth “just right” is, in my humble view, one of the most important aspects of any arrangement – if not THE most important. It helps, naturally, if you have a photo or personal knowledge of the subject. In the past, I have had many a heart warming comment along the lines of “it’s as if you knew him”, or “he looks just like he used to look before he got those last bloody dentures”. You get the drift…. My “secret”, which is shared with hundreds of FDs and embalmers worldwide, is the use of the mouth suture combined… Read more »

Andrew Hickson
Guest

I don’t know that I’d go as far as ‘abomination’ Richard. There are ways of achieving a jaw suture without bringing a needle right down through the skin as in the ‘part one’ video above. I’ve certainly never done it that way. The NorMors gadget may go a long way to solving the problem – I’ll certainly give it a go now I’m aware of it. Whilst not being fully comfortable with jaw suturing, it is infinitely better IMHO than suggesting that someone visits a chapel of rest to see their relative for the last time, jaw wide open. Two… Read more »

Richard
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Richard

Nice headline which I didn’t get at first. Ashamed to say I didn’t know what a suture was until I’d read to the end. What an abomination.

DMarsh
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DMarsh

I’ve noticed that we have several of these chin collars that have been gathering dust at our chapel of rest for many years. This post has intrigued me to test them out and see how well they work. I’ll let you know how I get on!

Charles Cowling
Guest

It’s made by NorMors, Fran. They call it a chin collar. http://www.normors.no/empty_7.html

Fran Hall
Guest

I worked for Anne some years ago, before she created Rosedale, and can 100% vouch for her and Simon’s brilliance. Am totally unsurprised that all the Rosedale branches attained GFG accreditation without effort, and equally unsurprised that the Beckett-Allen business leads the way in solving the tricky problem of closing dead mouths with a simple support rather than the customary brutal suturing. I’ve done the latter many many times during those days when I also worked for one of the groups as a lowly jobbing FD, and always felt quite sick thinking about what exactly it was that I was… Read more »

Simon Beckett-Allen
Guest

I wish it was a Simon invention, how proud would I be. I told Charles earlier this week if I never achieved anything in the funeral profession, I would be happy to have had some influence over the profession doing away with the suture. The chin supports cost about £5.00 each and can be sterilised and re-used over and over. They are available from Allsops and are called a Normors Neck brace. Product Code: VG081 Easy to fit by one person. The Normors neck brace is fitted half way around the neck resting along the jaw line and on the… Read more »