Austin's Blog

 

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

Claire Finds Out More About Vietnamese burial rituals

February 29th, 2016    Author:

Last October, Austin’s managing director Claire Austin, travelled to Vietnam to work on a community project to help build a dam in Hanoi. While taking a break from mixing concrete and moving rocks she had a look around the local villages and came across some wooden coffins. When she asked about them, she was told that families handcraft their own coffins and store them under their house until they are needed.

In Vietnam, after someone has passed away the body is kept at the house for three days so people have time to say their final goodbyes. It’s common for gifts such as grains of rice or – for wealthier families – gold coins to be placed in the mouth of the deceased. The funeral ceremony involves a big feast and musicians playing traditional music. As for the burial, to avoid bad luck the body is laid to rest according to the position of the sun.

While chatting about the coffins, Claire was interested to learn that three years after burial, the body is exhumed so that the bones can be cleaned. This may be done by a special gravedigger, who digs up the bones and carefully washes them while relatives chant Buddhist prayers and burn incense. Once the bones have been cleaned they are placed in a small casket in an order that resembles the human skeleton then re-buried. The Vietnamese do this because they believe that by now the soul will have passed onto the next life, and so am empty coffin is no longer needed.

For Claire, it was a fascinating insight into how different cultures have their own customs and rituals to deal with the death of a loved one.

Vietnamese Coffins2Vietnamese Coffins