Austin's Blog


Floral Tributes to Cherish

February 26th, 2018    Author:

Floral tributes can be a lovely way to express your feelings at a funeral. A display of colourful blooms shows love and respect for the person who has gone, and can be a great comfort to the bereaved.

After the funeral, you may want to take some of the smaller arrangements home or offer them to close family and friends. Some people may wish to donate them to a local hospital, care home or hospice – although you should phone first to check they accept floral arrangements. With larger arrangements, you could ask each mourner if they’d like to select a single flower to take away with them. It gives everyone a little memory of the deceased and the remainder of the flowers can then be placed on the grave.

There are also ways to cherish the floral tributes by making them into a longer-lasting, or even permanent, keepsake. You could press the flowers then craft them into a bookmark or drinks coaster, or place the pressed flowers into a glass display frame to hang on the wall. If you like crafting you might also want to consider using the dried flowers to make into jewellery or creating a candle. There are also companies that will do this for you.

Potpourri is another way of holding onto floral tributes. This can be quite simple to make using dried flowers and leaves along with your favourite essential oil. You can enjoy the scent at home, or make up gift bags to give to family members or friends. This could make an especially memorable present for anyone who wasn’t able to attend the funeral.

And of course, if you accepted potted plants at the funeral, these can be replanted in your garden or given to a relative who isn’t able to regularly visit the churchyard or crematorium.

 * For help and support planning a funeral or cremation, please contact us on 01438 316623.


Funeral flowers by Daizys

The art of ‘death cleaning’

January 17th, 2018    Author:

When a loved one dies, one of the difficult tasks you may have to take on is clearing out their home. It can feel sad going through their possessions and it may seem like you’re having to say goodbye all over again.

In Sweden, there’s a tradition called ‘doestaedning’ – death cleaning – that may help make the process easier. It involves getting rid of unwanted possessions while you’re still alive – so the job isn’t left for others to do when you’re gone.

It may sound morbid, but people who death clean find it an empowering experience. Margareta Magnusson, author of ‘The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter’, started her own death cleaning after her parents and husband died and she was left to go through their belongings. She found getting rid of her own unwanted things uplifting and rewarding.

Death cleaning doesn’t need to be rushed. Margareta suggests going through one room at a time and listing each item that you want to keep or part with. It’s also best to start with items that are easy to let go of – clothes you rarely wear, those extra dinner plates you never use, unwanted presents.

You might want to give certain possessions to friends or family members – perhaps a piece of china or jewellery that they’ve admired. As for sentimental items such as photographs and letters, these should be kept with you and cherished. Margareta keeps all hers in a ‘throwaway’ box – these are things that family members don’t need to sort through when she’s gone and can be simply thrown away.

Death cleaning might not be for everybody, but if you’re struggling to clear out your loved one’s possessions it might be something to think about for yourself.

 * For help and support planning a funeral or cremation, please contact us on 01438 316623.

Our Christmas present to a local charity

December 13th, 2017    Author:

It’s always lovely to help local charities so Austin’s was thrilled to hand over a cheque for £5,000 to Crossroads Care Hertfordshire North this month. It’s a fantastic charity that supports unpaid carers and their families through a range of services, including help at home, community cafes and respite care.

The donation was made possible by our membership of the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM), which runs an innovate Metals Recycling Scheme.  As part of the scheme, crematoriums can have metals collected from their premises, with profits from the recycling scheme fed back so that they can donate to their nominated charity.

The ICCM started its recycling scheme in 2006, following on from other European countries like Holland, Germany and Switzerland. The idea behind it was first and foremost to help the environment – which is why our Harwood Park Crematorium was so keen to sign up.

The main metal that’s collected is from orthopaedic implants, which people may have had for a joint replacement or bone repair operation. These implants are made from medical-grade metal that comes from non-renewable sources – so a huge amount of energy is wasted in mining new ores to produce more metal. With the metal recycling scheme, the implants are smelted down ready to make new orthopaedic implants.

Since we joined the ICCM’s metal recycling scheme 11 years ago we’ve not only been helping to protect the planet in this way we’ve also raised around £30k for local charities, including Road Victims Trust, Keech Hospice Care and the MS Centre in Letchworth.

Of course we understand that not everyone will want to have their loved one’s implants recycled. Some people may prefer to either have an implant returned to them or for it to be buried. Unfortunately, however, we can’t scatter cremated remains that contain metal.

We’re always sensitive to a family’s needs and when you come to us to arrange a funeral we’ll do whatever feels right for you and your loved one. If you do decide to opt for recycling we’ll ask you to sign a consent form so that everyone is clear about your wishes.


* If you’d like to arrange a cremation at Harwood Park Crematorium, please contact us on 01438 815555.


Claire Austin hands a £5,000 cheque to Andrew Taylor, operations manager at Crossroads Care Hertfordshire North

Claire Austin hands a £5,000 cheque to Andrew Taylor, operations manager at Crossroads Care Hertfordshire North



Remembering those we have lost

November 10th, 2017    Author:
Silk flower display on Bier in Austins Stevenage

Silk flower display on Bier in Austins Stevenage

Every year on the second Sunday in November, people around the country remember those who lost their lives in the First World War. The annual Remembrance Sunday is a time to remind ourselves of the sacrifice they made for us and to honour their memory.

In London, a National Service of Remembrance takes place at The Cenotaph in Whitehall, which is attended by members of the Royal Family, representatives from the Government and Armed Forces as well as many war veterans. There are also services held throughout the country. As a mark of respect, people wear poppies and join in with a national two-minute silence at 11am.

While Remembrance Sunday is about honouring our war veterans, we should remember that reflecting on those who’ve gone before us can be done at any time. Spending a few quiet moments thinking about loved ones who are no longer with us can help us to feel reconnected with them.

During this reflective time you might want to be alone with your memories. Privately, you can let your emotions surface – it may be sadness that your loved one is gone, happiness at the joy they brought to your life, or most probably a mix of emotions. This is your time to acknowledge what they meant to you and allow yourself space to think about them.

Other people may prefer to join with family and friends to honour a loved one. You may wish to visit their resting place with flowers, or simply come together to share your thoughts and memories.

We all have busy lives, but there’s something wonderful about allowing ourselves time for reflection. It helps remind us that our loved ones may be gone but they are never forgotten.

Austins will be laying a wreath at the Stevenage Remembrance Service.

Photograph is of our funeral bier in our Stevenage office with a silk poppy floral display.

* For help and support planning a funeral or cremation, please contact us on 01438 316623.