Austin's Blog

 

Therapy dogs at funerals

July 16th, 2018    Author:

In the latest trend in America, therapy dogs are being brought into funeral homes to help comfort mourners. The four-legged friends are present when families are making arrangements and can also attend funerals and wakes.

According to America’s National Funeral Directors Association there has been a rise in the number of therapy dogs being used at funeral homes in the past few years. And it seems the idea is increasingly popular. An NFDA survey found that over half of respondents would be interested in having a dog at a funeral or memorial service.

There has been lots of research on the benefits of having pets. Stroking an animal increases serotonin and dopamine, which is known to lift your mood, and it also helps lower stress and blood pressure. Having a dog around is a distraction for people who are feeling lonely after losing their loved one, and can be great for kids who’d rather talk to a furry friend than an adult.

At American funeral homes, it’s been noticed how the atmosphere changes when a dog enters the room. The family starts to feel more at ease and to talk more openly about their loved one, which helps the funeral director to plan a meaningful funeral.

Earlier this year, after reading about the trend in America, a funeral director in Shropshire decided to take his dog into work. Basil the Beagle was such a hit as a ‘comfort companion’ that some families even requested that he attend the funeral as well. So watch this space – funeral therapy dogs might become a regular sight in the UK.

Austins are happy to discuss you bringing your faithful friend along to our branches or to the Crematorium.

*  Thank you to University of the Fraser Valley for the use of this image.

* For help and support planning a funeral or cremation, please contact Austin’s on 01438 815555.

Cremation Caskets

June 11th, 2018    Author:

With cremation on the increase, there are now many different ways to keep a loved one’s ashes. We look at some of the options…

Interment and burial

The traditional storage for ashes is an urn or casket that can be buried in a cemetery or perhaps in a natural burial ground. Today you can choose one made from a range of materials including banana leaf, seagrass, oak and bamboo. There’s even one made of corn starch that decomposes when it’s underground.

Water urns

If you’d like to have a water burial for your loved one, you can get biodegradable water urns made from natural materials such as recycled paper. They’re designed to float on the water for long enough to say your goodbyes before they gently sink.

Scatter tubes

Some people prefer to scatter ashes in a place that had a special meaning to the person they’ve lost – perhaps a favourite woodland walk or a clifftop overlooking the sea.  Scatter tubes come with special easy-to-scatter tabs and can be recycled or composted afterwards. They can also be personalised with a picture that celebrates your loved one.

For the home

When you want your loved one close by, there are urns and caskets that are made to fit into your home. You could have a pretty floral urn, a teardrop-shaped urn, a wooden heart, a box decorated with dried leaves or a fabric urn made from wool and embroidered with a name plate.

For the garden

Rain, snow, sun – urns and caskets made from natural materials will withstand the elements to stay with you as each season passes. These weather-friendly caskets come in a range of designs from pretty pebbles through to Buddha heads.

 

* At Austin’s, we have a range of urns and caskets that are provided by Forever Urns. You can view the collection here

Donation to Isabel Hospice

May 17th, 2018    Author:

MD Claire Austin was thrilled to hand over a cheque for £5,000 to Isabel Hospice  this week. Isabel Hospice cares for adults with a life-limiting illness across eastern Hertfordshire.  Specialist palliative care is available to adults both at home and at the In-Patient Unit as well as at the Day Service locations. All care is free, although running costs each year are currently £4.5 million, of which £2.8 million must be raised from charitable sources.

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.

Photo L – R are: Beth Hardy, Head of Community and Events, Nurse Anne Porter, Austins MD Claire Austin and Nurse Karen Beckwith

 

Cheque presentation of £5,000 made to Peace Hospice

 

How to write an obituary

April 24th, 2018    Author:

An obituary gives notice of a person’s death along with details of the funeral service and memorial information. You might want to write a short obituary for the local paper and a longer version to be read as a eulogy at the service. This can celebrate the deceased by including more about their personality, their achievements and significant life events. A detailed obituary makes a lovely lasting tribute that can be used on a memorial website or as a remembrance in a family scrapbook.

Here are a few tips that we hope will help you when writing an obituary…

Announcing the death

The obituary should start by detailing the name and age of the deceased along with their place of residence and the time and place of death. Use language that you feel comfortable with – some people prefer to say ‘died’ while others might want to write something like ‘passed away’. It’s also up to you whether you state the cause of death. In the case of sudden death, it may help you having to repeatedly explain the cause to people around you.

Listing the family
As part of the obituary, you need to list surviving family members as well as immediate family who preceded the deceased, starting with the closest relative first. Write the relative’s first name followed by the first name of their spouse in brackets and then the surname – for example: Helen (Rory) Jones. If the couple aren’t married, follow this format: Helen (Rory Brown) Jones. With a large family, it may not be possible to list everyone so here you can keep it to numbers, such as ‘ten grandchildren’.

Notifying mourners
An important part of the obituary is to let mourners know details of the funeral service and this should include the time, date and venue plus the officiant’s name. Similar details should be given for the burial or cremation.

Leaving a special message

It’s not compulsory but you may want to end the obituary by thanking a particular hospital, hospice or care home. You can also use the last part of the obituary to inform people about making a donation rather than leaving floral tributes, or sign off with a line from a poem or prayer.

Showing a photo
You don’t have to include a photo with the obituary, but it will help the notice to stand out and make it easier for friends and neighbours to spot in the newspaper. For this reason, it’s best to use an up-to-date photo of the deceased so that they are easily recognisable.

* If you have any questions about writing an obituary, please contact Austin’s on 01438 316623 or come in to any of our branches