Forward into the past

Charles Cowling

Last Respects

 

Most progressive initiatives in the world of death and funerals are characterised by a spirit of ‘Stop the clock, I want to go back’. 

Up in Tyneside, Michele Rutherford (DipFD) has just launched a retro initiative. It’s for those people who don’t want men in black macs taking away the person who has died, but would rather keep them at home and have them looked after there. Michele is going to look after people who have died in their own homes. 

Michele says, “Really, what Last Respects is offering is a return to the old-fashioned type of funeral, when a local woman would be responsible for laying out the deceased.  This means that someone does not have to leave their own home and we can organise all the funeral, from the cars to the service to any reception afterwards. I have no overheads, because I operate from home, and there are no ‘hidden extras’ for customers. I am offering a personal, less conventional option for funerals, as well as a bereavement aftercare service.”

I rang Michele and we had a nice chat. She’s very nice. If you feel inclined to wish her good fortune, please add a comment, or contact her:  0191 597 1872 or 07766 221 539 – lastrespects@hotmail.co.uk. She’s still working on her website. 

Full story here

 

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Gregory Michael Taylor
Guest

Edward, Ian. well said gentlemen,and straight to the point. I was born and lived in liverpool for 18 years, before a HMF request came my way, I recall the funerals back home included all the deceased being brought into the palour (front room),the curtains being closed, and if it was winter the heating would be turned off, cant recall if the deceased were embalmed as I would have been too young to even understand the meaning, but what I can recall is how quick the funeral was. May be its down to location and peoples understanding but from up north… Read more »

ian
Guest
ian

Edward, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there. The proof of the pudding will, ultimately, be what happens in the future, but a few years ago when the word ‘green funeral’ started to be bandied about, I personally was expecting a huge increase in their demand. I have offered everything possible to families for the entire time I have been a funeral director but in reality it is few circumstances that occur when families want much that deviates from the well-trod path. I do resent the insinuation that you have to be either a join-the-dots funeral director… Read more »

Ru Callender
Guest

Tell that to Carl Marlow. I have to say, I think you greatly underestimate people. When actively offered the choice to do things differently many people do. We hear this so often: it’s different up north/ in Scotland/Wales; wherever. Not true. We do funerals in Plymouth, as tough and traditional a city as anywhere, and when ordinary working class families are given the space and encouragement to do things as they want, not how they are told to then the funerals they organise are as creative and inspiring as anyone’s. People act on the information they have, and most people… Read more »

Edward Cutler
Guest

I’m not against the idea. I personally offer 24 hour turn around funerals where possible, and love offering services different to the norm.

All i’m saying is that personally I don’t think it is what people necessarily want nowadays. Families feel at ease knowing things are being dealt with by a professional in the field. I occasionally try DIY at home, but feel much safer with a qualified and reliable tradesman, someone who knows what they’re doing.

By the way, we only embalm the deceased if the family request this service.

Edward Cutler
Guest

We offer a complete “Take Home” service, offering the family the option to have their loved one back home before the funeral takes place, not only the day before, but for as long as they feel necessary, with the obvious reminder of nature taking its cause.

We also welcome their participation in the preparation of the deceased in our mortuary facility, as well as making the arrangements such as booking the minister, creating the order of service and taking the service etc etc.

Kristie
Guest

Wonderful post and very interesting conversation going on here too.
Great work Michelle – keep it up.

Michele
Guest
Michele

Thank you.

Edward Cutler
Guest

I do believe families spending time with their loved one’s is a huge part of the healing process. I just think most families would prefer to do this in a controlled environment such as our funeral home, where they can leave, and go home to their sanctuary.

I am sure there are families out there who would prefer to keep their loved one at home as long as possible, but I haven’t yet come across this.

Rosie
Guest

Hello Edward

Do you ask you families if they want this?

Do any of them know it is an option?

Do you routinely ask?

Should you?

Would you?

Will you?

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

As Rosie points out, Edward, you may very well have come across it without noticing. It’s not so outlandish as you appear to be suggesting – on the contrary, until (historically) very recently indeed it used to be the norm, and nobody would have dreamt of asking someone to provide a controlled environment for such a natural, simple human need.

Ru Callender
Guest

Edward, there is to quote the now disgraced Tony Blair a third way, which is to not presume that a family can’t cope with the realities of the death in their family, and that with a little information and support can become empowered enough to get involved in the practicalities in a way which would have astonished them at the start of the process. A home funeral doesn’t have to mean the body literally stays at the family home the whole time. If they died in hospital as most folk do then they will be per chilled which greatly helps.… Read more »

Edward Cutler
Guest

Funeral Director – Custodian of the body. We are entrusted to care for the body of our clients loved one in our purpose built facilities and this forms a large part of the service we provide. Families appoint a Funeral Director to relieve the some burden of their bereavement. Although dealing with the deceased is for some of us a daily occurrence, we don’t on the other hand deal with a deceased relative on a regular basis. Knowing the deceased adds a third dimension to being the custodian of the body. We, as funeral directors, invest in specialist equipment to… Read more »

Michele
Guest
Michele

I understand but yet again personal choice, my family and a lot of practising Catholic’s prefer the Funerals at home.

Edward Cutler
Guest

As funeral directors we are there to provide our clients with the services they require. This often includes taking care of their loved ones body from when they pass away, until the day of the funeral. This duty is probably the most important part of our job, as dealing with the deceased is probably the most difficult part for the family. As professionals we have specialist equipment to best keep their loved ones during their time in our care. This can include various types of refrigeration, and also embalming. We relieve the burden of holding the deceased from the family,… Read more »

Michele
Guest
Michele

Not criticising but a lot of funeral homes have experienced people working for them but do not have experience or qualifications them selves they just do the business side of things which is fair enough. I’m not a new kid on the block I’ve got 17 years experience which started from being a receptionist and I progressed in my career, learning to embalm, making coffins up, driving limousines, arranging and conducting funerals. Building my knowledge up and very hard work. I did not need a Funeral Home, is there a difference?

Edward Cutler
Guest

I worked for the Co-operative Society from the age of 16 then setup my own funeral home. Since 2009 I have carried out in excess of 600 funerals and now have a 3 branch network. Volume is growing on a monthly basis. We have just recently purchased our own fleet of Jags and feel we now have our feet firmly on the ground. Families keep returning to us throughout our network, and appreciate our funeral homes as the decor and well thought out layout ensures we provide them with the services they require in absolute comfort and privacy.

Fran Hall
Guest

Just a slightly pedantic note to add to this interesting thread – To be encouraging home funerals and family involvement is hardly ‘New Age’, as Andrew suggested in an earlier comment about Rosie’s approach – it’s totally traditional, normal, natural – and what most of the world does when someone dies. Paying thousands of pounds for non family members – and increasingly, unknown strangers – to deal with a dead person is a luxury / peculiarity of our ‘first world’ life, and it’s really not traditional, it’s just something we’ve got used as the norm over the last century. More… Read more »

Andrew Hickson (Kingfisher Funerals)
Guest

My apologies Fran, I knew it was the wrong word, but I couldn’t think of a better one. Now pressed, I still can’t. ‘Traditional’ seems to have changed its meaning when referring to funerals. Perhaps there isn’t a word. Perhaps there isn’t really a right or wrong when it comes to what people want. We all have our ideals, but as I’ve long said, the ideals are ours and not necessarily those of our clients.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

“Paying thousands of pounds… just something we’ve got used to as the norm…” Exactly, Fran. Perhaps this seems as good a place as any to remind readers of Tony Walter’s comment that: “The problem with funerals is not that they cost too much, but that they cost at all. The funeral that communities used to provide for themselves has been stolen, and then sold back to them, at a price. We are now so used to this that all we can complain about is the cost at which it is sold back!” (Walter, 1990, p80.) Still, my problem remains given… Read more »

Kristie
Guest

Great point Fran. It’s seen as new age so often…but it’s a returning to what it used to be. Nothing new about it. xx

Michele
Guest
Michele

yes your right. I am all for families helping with things even styling the hair!! I used to do my mams for her so why let a stranger do it when they can only try their best from looking at a photograph. Also: all I really meant about traditional was a way of explaining how it was done years ago when Funeral Directors, mortuary’s or chapel of rests never existed. At the end of the day its all about offering families more choices. There was no way anyone was going to take my mam away to “get her ready” it… Read more »

Gregory Michael Taylor
Guest

Hi Rosie, We need to meet up…. I had a Community Manager whilst working for a large organisation some 12 years ago, that you remind me of so much, I had respect for the good lady even at times when we did not agree, the respect was there. what made things better was the mention of going for a pint after work and discuss the issues, not many ladies would be seen drinking a pint but this one had no problem. 48 hour funerals are possible when all departments are prepared to work as one, and when the red tape… Read more »

rosie
Guest

Now you’re talking GMT, Mine is a pint of Swift one – not joking. Only 3.8% so I can down 3 without disgracing myself or sending too provocatively worded reply’s on this blog.
http://www.bowman-ales.com/our_beers.html
Rosie

rosie
Guest

not sure why that came out as reply’s, sober too!

Gregory Michael Taylor
Guest

Ian, Ru, good morning to you both. Im far from being against Embalming but if a family insists on keeping the deceased at home wthout HT/Embalming who are we to disagree, we are only the middle man (Woman) Ice packs, Air con Units, fans all do the same job, We can only advise on what naturally will occur its upto our families to decide. As for 48 Hour Funerals, just what we need right now…….. Can you imagine local borough councills being asked by a FD on a Wednesday to book the 11.30 at the crematorium for a full service,… Read more »

rosie
Guest

GMT Sorry if the idea of a 48 hour turnaround frightens the pants off you. The stay at home, arrange the burial within a couple of days funerals I have been involved with are usually only limited by the registrar and the grave digger. You will find that most Natural Burial Grounds are able and willing to help with this sort of request. In fact most families considering a home funeral will be pretty pragmatic and will, most likely, have sorted a plot out in advance and even given the manager the nod that things are imminent. Civil servants, what… Read more »

ian
Guest
ian

The comment ‘she’s very nice’ just about sums the Good Funeral Guide up, really. A 48 hour funeral, certainly in this part of the country, would be extremely difficult to sort out – most cemeteries want more than that for paperwork to be at their office and you would be hard pressed to get all the documentation sorted for a cremation. I’m sure I am in the minority on this blog regarding embalming, but really an air con unit in the summer months might be ok for a couple of days but I don’t think i’d like any relative of… Read more »

Ru Callender
Guest

Ian, we’ve helped a family keep someone at home using just freezer packs for two weeks. Nay bother.

Michele
Guest
Michele

Well if That’s what people want its there choice to be embalmed or not, I have been in the trade for 18 years and a lot of people do not want open coffins, I certainly don’t, my family don’t either. I am offering a service to families who have already decided & if they do want embalming its not a problem I’ve done it from houses before.

Gregory Michael Taylor
Guest

Gents, I can see this years NFE being of Interest, the hire of flexi morts could be on top of the agenda, We have been hireing catering vehicles for events/shows for years, no reason why the smaller type cant be used in our profession.

David Holmes
Guest

Who wants to go into business renting out flex-mort’s?

If you can hire a Galaxy, why not a portable fridge?

The DIY revolution can’t be far off now..

Andrew Hickson
Guest

Already doing it David…!

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Andrew, do you hire out Flexmorts? And portable fridges?

Jonathan

Andrew Hickson (Kingfisher Funerals)
Guest

‘Hire’ is perhaps to strong a word Jonathan. I have a 3-blanket system and a baby system (I think I’m the only FD to have the baby system, I was when I bought it anyway!) Both have been used at people’s houses, but no money has changed hands. Perhaps it should, as I wouldn’t want to be accused of being female and having sense and empathy. When Flexmort first brought out their cooling blanket product, it leaked, grew holes and gave me more than one nasty shock. Their new and improved blanket is awesome, and I have 6 in almost… Read more »

Andrew Hickson (Kingfisher Funerals)
Guest

Correction ***TOO strong a word***

Ru Callender
Guest

Nearly fourteen years of doing it. Not wanting to pull rank or anything..

Andrew Hickson
Guest

They don’t call you the Gu-Ru for nothing…

Ru Callender
Guest

I thoroughly deserved that Andrew. X

michele
Guest
michele

Big big thank you to Charles for the story, and for taking the time out to ring me with your good wishes x

Gregory Michael Taylor
Guest

A fantastic Idea, and long overdue. Rosie I agree with your remarks reference the fridge not being a must, I am certanly concidering a fleximort but for the time being a portable Air Con unit does the job, and Michelle you purchace them via Amazon, in the summer hot months you could include the use of one in your fees and leave it with your family members and collect after the funeral.

michele
Guest
michele

Thank you for that ill keep it in mind if we ever do have a summer , hhmmm

Jed
Guest
Jed

Wise woman – ‘laying out’. Someone described a friend of mine in those terms recently and it strikes a caring, compassionate chord. It’ll be interesting to see how modern folk respond to this wonderfully old fashioned and natural offer….will they be up for it…or scared to be in the presence of death? Keep us posted. Good luck!

michele
Guest
michele

Back to the way things were when we had only hard working people who all had the same, all stuck together to get the job done. THE TRADITIONAL WAY x

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Michele, having realized some time ago that the only thing you need a funeral director for is a fridge, I’m lost in admiration at this simple way around the elephant in the room. Genius.

Love from Jonathan

Rosie
Guest

Not wanting to split hairs Jonathan but………you don’t need a fridge.

Ice packs, Flexmort………even a 48 hour funeral……..I thought the point of this post was about returning to the pre technological way, releasing us from the shackles and related expense of sanitised funerals and potentially control freak FDs?

I have advised countless home funeral families.

Fran, this is surely a thread to copy the members of the Society into!

Rosie
Natural Death Centre Charity

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

My point exactly, Rosie; perhaps I was being too opaquely ironic!

xJ

michele
Guest
michele

here here

michele
Guest
michele

Thank you so very much. all you really need is a good heart and a good pair of ears to listen to peoples needs. x

Rosie
Guest

Simplistic Andrew? Too damn complex, there are a few I can think of who are not saddled with even these overheads.

I have just finished off an article for the next edition of our More to Death e-zine. It features nearly 20 women who are undertaking in new ways. Michele is not one of them as I was unaware of her plans. So thanks Charles for bringing her brilliant sounding service to my attention.

Michele, please get in touch, we need to talk. Are you going to Stoneleigh?

Rosie
Natural Death Centre Charity

Andrew Hickson
Guest

Rosie/Andrew – you both make valid points, but surely it depends on your target market, and, as always, subjectivity and ideals. Andrew’s point is more geared to a traditional set up, for which yes, you do need premises and a vehicle (not 2 vehicles – when there’s only 1 of you, you can’t drive ’em both!) Rosie’s comment is naturally referring to a more new-age perspective on funerals, encouraging home funerals and family involvement. I think you can combine the two, in fact you have to, if you don’t want to alienate at least some of your potential clients. As… Read more »

michele
Guest
michele

Hi thank you all for your comments & warm welcome. I can honestly say the amount of people who have asked me to look after them when they do die is too many to mention, a lot of them being people who took out Golden Charter plans while I was working at a Funeral Home. These days there are so many around I think it is not only down to cost but trusting someone to care for and tend to the needs of your most treasured possession ( A loved one ) Onwards & Upwards

andrew plume
Guest
andrew plume

it sounds great Charles Michele sounds as though she clearly has good value funerals in mind and as she does not have Area Managers, targets and all of the hoo hah associated with the big boys, sounds as though it will be possible to considerably undercut them coincidentally I was mulling over new Indy start ups in funeral land the other day. It occured to me that ‘new ventures’ simply only need premises, an ambulance and a small car and hire the hearse and limo’s in from a Carriage Master, and leave it at that………………or is this a too simplistic… Read more »