Austin's Blog


Dealing with Grief at Christmas

December 22nd, 2016    Author:

December can be a particularly difficult time for those dealing with grief. While everyone around you is filled with excitement about the coming Christmas festivities, you’re left feeling lost and consumed by sadness. These emotions can be especially raw if your bereavement is very recent or if this is the first Christmas without your loved one.

Everyone experiences grief differently and how you cope with Christmas will be personal to you. Some people find comfort in holding onto their usual festive routine and traditions, remembering that’s how they did things when their loved one was still with them. For others, making changes can make Christmas feel more manageable. You might decide to eat Christmas dinner at a restaurant rather than having it at home, or open Christmas presents before the Queen’s Speech instead of after, if that’s what you normally do.

It’s a good idea to sit down in advance and talk to your family about how you’d all like to celebrate. This gives everyone chance to communicate how they feel about dealing with Christmas and to suggest ideas that may help make it less painful. It’s also an opportunity to recognise that this will be a very sad time and remind yourselves that it’s OK to feel sad and to cry.

At this time of year, you will be thinking a lot about the person who’s no longer with you and you will have many memories of your time together. You might want to share these with others – perhaps a dinner party with friends where each of you recalls a special moment with the deceased. Or it could be something you’d prefer to do privately. Maybe you could buy an advent calendar and each time you open a new window spend a few quiet moments with your memories.

However you choose to celebrate without your loved one during this difficult time, our thoughts are with you and from everyone at Austin’s we wish you a very peaceful Christmas.

* Austin’s are here to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Please get in touch with us on 01438 815555.

Should you take children to a funeral?

November 12th, 2016    Author:

Should you take children to a funeral?

When a child attends a funeral or cremation, it can help them to understand that death is final and gives them the chance to be with their family and friends to say goodbye. This can be an important part of the healing process.

The first thing to do is to ask your child if they’d like to go to the funeral. Sit down and talk to them about what this involves – who will be there, what will happen and why you are doing this. If your child is given clear information, they can make their own decision about whether or not they want to go.

If your child doesn’t want to go to the funeral

* Reassure them that this is OK and that not everybody goes to a funeral.

* Ask them whether there’s anything they don’t understand about funerals or if they have any more questions.

* Let them know that they can change their mind – even if it’s on the day of the funeral.

* Perhaps ask them if they’d like you to tell them about the funeral when it’s over – again, reassuring them it’s OK if this isn’t what they want.

* Talk to them about how they’d like to be involved in saying goodbye without going to the funeral. They might want to help pick the funeral flowers or to write a poem to be read out at the service.

If your child wants to go to the funeral

* Ask them if they have any questions about the funeral or if there’s anything they don’t understand.

* Explain that it’s OK to cry and it’s OK not to cry, and that they may even want to smile or laugh. Reassure them that whatever they feel like doing, that’s alright.

* You might want to ask someone trusted to help take care of your child during the ceremony.

* Include them in the planning of the funeral and look at ways they can be part of the service. They might want to write a poem or some special words that can be read out. Perhaps they could draw a picture of the deceased, which could be printed on the Order of Service. On the day, they might simply want to keep a special memento in their pocket.

After the funeral…

Whether or not your child wants to go to the funeral service, they can still be involved with commemorating the deceased’s life. Sit down together to talk about ways they’d like to remember their loved one. They might want to:-

* name a star

* plant a tree

* launch a balloon

* make a memory board

* You can download our free booklet, Talking to Children About Death, at

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.