You say death, I say life

Fran Hall 8 Comments
Fran Hall

In sad news this week, The Telegraph’s advertorial-disguised-as-editorial series of funeral cost hysteria continues.  This time it’s a well-heeded warning to check before you hand over your money to a funeral plan complete with projections of the outrageous cost of dying in 2023.

Concerned readers need not worry.  Simply purchase a Telegraph endorsed Dignity funeral plan with a generous £50 discount immediately by following the links prominently displayed throughout the article.

In more cheerful news, an 80 year old funeral parlour in Australia, Turnbull Family Funerals, has gained international press attention after it hosted a dramatic Funeral Party as part of the Dark MoFo Festival.

Mourners and revellers were invited into the family funeral home, which also has an in house crematory, to experience a gothic ball dripping in decedent darkness and excess.  The funeral home is a working business during the day, and has hosted thousands of funerals for local families.

The evening was complete with a red-lit installation reading ‘lost without you’, a ‘dress-to-kill’ dress code, deathly performance art, coffins in which to rest, and mock embalmings and funereal spa treatments for the not yet dearly departed.

Marshmallows were also toasted over coals warmed on the crematory fire as the funeral home manager Scott Turnbull answered questions about life and death. As he told the Guardian:

“You say death. I call it life. And we as a community [need to] get to a point where we understand that ‘death’ is just a day … If people get to know death in their normal life, when it comes to you, you’re much more prepared.”

I quite like the sound of it, although I think British funeral homes lack both the required space and the drama to hold a copycat party.

After-hours party at the crem anyone?


  1. Fran Hall

    I’m afraid that while many people consider me to be a “new skool” funeral director, I have to say that I wouldn’t be up for a party in my office.
    I have been asked by someone if they could rent it for the evening for a Halloween party and I point blank refused.
    I have also been asked (just last week!) if I would rent my mortuary for the evening (I did ask what for and I was told it would be for a fetish night!) and again, I declined.

    While this may be a novel way for some people to earn extra money/sell pre-payment plans or just engage the public, for me it is an issue of dignity.
    I see my job as looking after people in the best way I know how. I can wear jeans and trainers in my office and still be dignified.
    I would personally feel that I have let down the families I have already served and wouldn’t feel I would deserve the trust that future families would put in me.

    I believe that funeral directing is not a spectator sport or a free-for-all for people who have an unhealthy interest in dead bodies.
    I am sure nearly all funeral directors would be able to give anecdotes of dodgy phone calls they have received over the years or people they have interviewed where something wasn’t quite right.

    Well done Australia, but I’m afraid I won’t be jumping on this bandwagon any time soon. There are so many other ways which you can engage the public to talk about death.

    1. Fran Hall

      As ‘new skool’ as you may be considered Lucy, I do believe that sensitivity to needs of your clients is where you excel. As you’ve illustrated.

      I can’t imagine this particular event would go down terribly well in the context of a British funeral home, no matter how progressive. This particular funeral home was once a large school, and follows the American model of being full-service. The entire funeral (service, wake and cremation) takes place in the same venue.

      A party in an english Chapel of Rest without an accompanying arty festival to give it context really would be insensitive and out of place.

      1. Fran Hall

        New Skool with a traditional outlook I think!

        I agree that context is everything, but some of it just doesn’t sit well with me.
        “Toasting marshmallows over coals that have been warmed in the cremator” is just one of them.

        There is very little dignity left when someone dies, but we don’t have strive to give back as much of it as we can.
        While I note all of your comments, I think we will have to agree to disagree on this one.
        Yes, it pulled people in to the funeral directors but I just personally feel it degrades the work that has gone on before in that building along with harming the relationship with the families that have already used the service and those who may want to in the future.

        Again, totally a personal opinion and it really wouldn’t be anything I would personally do regardless of if I was still in my intimate office or had a purpose built estate with a cremator.

  2. Fran Hall

    This sounds like a very tasteless, insensitive event. Tacky, even.

    Not only do you give added publicity to such tripe you then endorse it at a risk to the GFG reputation.

    1. Fran Hall


      Ordinarily I would agree. There are many events like this, and most of them are not done with any sensitivity or style. However, this one caught my attention for a different reason.

      As far as the event being tasteless and insensitive, I would disagree. Within the context of the extremely progressive community in which the funeral home exists and the arty festival it was a part of, I would argue that it was not only appropriate but also rather well done. Clearly the 800 people from the community who attended thought so.

      Should this event be taken and replicated in a funeral home in a quiet town in England, it would be tasteless and insensitive. Within this context, I think it worked well.

      The GFG will continue to cover whatever is going on in Funeralworld. A blog post isn’t an endorsement; simply stimulation for discussion.



      1. Fran Hall

        No, no.Your blog “reported” but it also editorialized when you topped and tailed it with favourable and encouraging remarks. There are real risks with this sort of event and not to see that was naive.

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