Austin's Blog


Funeral traditions around the world

October 12th, 2016    Author:

We take a look at some of the weird and wonderful funeral customs around the world…

Madagascar’s turning of the bones

In Madagascar, the Malagasy people perform a ritual known as ‘famadihana’ or ‘the turning of the bones’. It involves exhuming the bodies of the deceased, re-wrapping them in fresh scarves or matting then spending time with them before re-burying them along with offerings of money or photos. The ritual, which includes dancing with the deceased while a live band plays, may seem macabre to us, but it’s seen as a chance to bring the family together again. During the ceremony, people pass news to their dead relatives or reminisce about their life together.

New Orleans jazz funeral

Music is a key part of funerals in New Orleans. A funeral procession is led by a marching band playing slow, sad music while friends and family follow behind. When the burial or cremation is over the tempo of the music changes to more upbeat jazz and blues songs, such as ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’.  The funeral becomes a more joyful, celebratory occasion with everyone joining in with the singing and dancing.

Ghana’s customised coffins

Coffins shaped like a shoe or a mobile phone? Yes, in Ghana customised coffins are a familiar sight. It’s common for the deceased to be buried in a coffin that represents their job or something they loved, so a Church-lover may be laid to rest in a Bible-shaped coffin or a fisherman in a coffin built to resemble a fish. One businessman was buried in a coffin shaped like a Mercedes-Benz.

South Korea’s burial beads

Due to a lack of land and space for graves, the law in South Korea requires families who’ve buried their loved ones to remove them after 60 years. As a result, cremation has become more popular, but not everyone opts to store the deceased ashes in an urn. Instead, there’s a new tradition for having the remains compressed into decorative beads. Families then display the colourful, gem-style beads at home, often in a glass box.

Choosing funeral flowers

August 22nd, 2016    Author:
Funeral flowers by Daizys

Funeral flowers by Daizys

When it’s hard to say how you feel at such an emotional time, flowers can convey your thoughts in a beautiful and colourful floral tribute. Often, the flowers you choose for a loved one’s funeral have a personal meaning – perhaps the bereaved always had a vase of tulips on their windowsill or you remember the scent of roses in their garden.

If you don’t have a personal association or the floral tribute is for someone outside of your close family, you might want to choose flowers based on their symbolism. For this, we offer a short guide to help you…


Red roses, carnations and tulips are often chosen by the spouse or partner of the deceased to signify their love. Red is also a fitting colour that can be used in tributes for an immediate relative or very close friend.


Long-lasting orchids can express your enduring love of the deceased, as can the inclusion of a single rose in your bouquet. Meanwhile pink carnations are often chosen to symbolise the enduring love of a mother or grandmother.


The colour white is symbolic of purity and innocence, which makes it an appropriate choice for children’s funeral services. It’s also commonly used in floral tributes from people who may not be closely related to the bereaved, such as a neighbour or work colleague.


There’s something very comforting about the fragrant smell of lilies at a funeral. And this particular flower is thought to represent the soul of the deceased returning to a peaceful state of innocence.


Yellow is the colour of sunshine and including yellow tulips as part of a floral tribute can represent hope and happy thoughts.


* If you’d like to discuss funeral flowers, please get in touch with us on 01438 316623.

How to write a eulogy

July 19th, 2016    Author:

When a loved one dies, you might be asked to give a eulogy at their funeral. This is a poignant way to say goodbye to the deceased and to commemorate their life. While it’s an honour to give a eulogy, it can feel like a daunting task so we’ve put together some tips that we hope will help you.

Before writing the eulogy it’s always worth asking the deceased’s family if they would prefer a particular style. Some eulogies are quite formal – giving a chronological overview of the deceased’s personal and professional life – while others are more personalised using stories and anecdotes. Often, a eulogy will combine a bit of both styles.

You don’t have to come up with all the stories and anecdotes yourself. Ask the deceased’s friends and family to share their favourite memories so you can include them. Don’t feel like you’re burdening them by asking for their help – talking about their loved one can help with the grieving process and they’ll appreciate hearing their recollections in your eulogy.

If you’re having difficulty recalling your own memories, take some time to visit the deceased’s house if you can. Seeing a particular ornament or smelling the flowers in their garden may trigger a memory. You could also look through photo albums or old letters for inspiration.

A eulogy could also include a passage from the Bible or a favourite quote of theirs or a memorial poem you feel would be appropriate.

Once you’ve written a rough draft of the eulogy with everything you’d like to include you can edit it. And of course it’s a good idea to practise reading the eulogy a few times before the funeral.

On the day, you’re bound to feel nervous – you’ll be speaking in front of a group of people and it will be a very emotional time for everyone. Don’t worry about letting those emotions show or stumbling over the occasional word. Just remember that you’re all there together, united in your love for the person to whom you’re saying goodbye.

* Austin’s are here to help you with all aspects of planning a funeral. Please get in touch with us on 01438 316623.

Eco Friendly Funerals

June 22nd, 2016    Author:

At Austin’s we’re always interested to hear about eco-friendly alternatives to funerals so we were fascinated to learn about a novel new way of sending off loved ones.

One company in America take the deceased’s ashes and make special ‘reef balls’, which are then placed on the sea floor to mimic natural coral reef. It’s very unusual, to say the least, but it actually sounds like a lovely tribute. Loved ones are invited along to help create the balls and can personalise them by adding hand prints, written messages and small personal mementos in the environmentally-safe concrete that encases the ashes. The reef balls are then left on the seabed as a permanent environmental living legacy.

We may not be able to offer such a unique service at Austin’s, but we do like to ensure our customers have eco-friendly options. For those who’d like a biodegradable coffin for their loved one we have a choice of The Datchworth, which is handmade from English willow, or The Bramfield, made with sturdy recycled paper.

Meanwhile, at Harwood Park Crematorium there’s a real feeling of loved ones being returned to nature. Within the park, the sapling of a chestnut or woodland tree can be planted as a dedicated Living Memorial to the deceased, with their ashes scattered or buried alongside.

Whatever type of funeral you’d like, we’re here to help in any way we can. Please get in touch with us on 01438 815555.

The Bramfield The Datchworth