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.

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

Austin’s charitable donations

March 27th, 2018    Author:

We believe in helping those most in need in our community, which is why we set up Austin’s Charitable Foundation. Each year, we’re delighted to be able to support a charity by donating a proportion of our annual profits along with money donated from sources including our funeral service CD and Christmas carol concert.

Since we started the foundation in 2002, we’ve raised over £100,000 for charities such as the North Herts Samaritans, Cancer Hair Care, the Hertfordshire Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre and Road Victims Trust. Earlier this month, Austin’s was thrilled to hand over a cheque for £5,414.30 to our 2017 charity recipient Stand-By-Me. This local community-led service supports children and young people following a bereavement and helps them to understand and deal with grief.

 

We’d love to raise as much money, if not more, for our 2018 charity, Resolve – which supports people through their recovery from alcohol or drug addiction. If you’d like to help the local community in memory of a loved one, information on how to do this is available from all our funeral offices and at Harwood Park Crematorium. You can also download a donation form

With your help, Austin’s look forward to donating money to deserving causes for many years to come.

 

[photo caption]

Claire Austin hands over a cheque to (right) Shirley Avery, fundraising trustee at Stand-By-Me and (far right) Helen Gray, foundation director of Hertfordshire Community Foundation

 

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

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