Austin's Blog


Personalising a Funeral

April 9th, 2017    Author:

Over the years, funeral services have begun to change and personalisation has become increasingly popular. These days when you attend a funeral you may see a display of personal items or mementos that were connected to the deceased or perhaps a collage of photographs.

Many people choose to include personal touches like this in the funeral service to help celebrate their loved one’s life instead of focusing on mourning their passing. By reflecting the deceased’s personality, hobbies, interests or passions, it illustrates how unique and special that person was. And it offers a strong emotional connection for those who have come to pay their respects, helping them to remember the deceased as they say goodbye.

One wonderful example of personalisation was at the comedian Ronnie Corbett’s funeral when four candles were lit in homage to one of the Two Ronnie’s most famous sketches. In the sketch, Corbett played a hardware shopkeeper who misunderstands when a customer, played by Ronnie Barker, asks for ‘fork handles’. The comedian’s iconic glasses were also placed on the coffin.

If you’re planning a funeral and would like a personalised tribute think about how your loved one could be remembered. What was their passion or hobby? Did they have a special nickname, a favourite joke, a place they regularly visited? What did they do that made you laugh?

You might want to sit down with family members or friends to recall your fondest memories of the deceased and discuss how you can incorporate them into the funeral service. Joining together to reminisce can also be a useful way to begin the healing process.

* We are here to help with every aspect of funeral planning. Just call us on 01438 316623.

The fashion for Victorian mourning

February 14th, 2017    Author:

After her beloved Albert died in 1861, Queen Victoria dressed in black for the rest of her 40-year reign. It sparked a mourning fashion for women, many of whom would refer to journals or household manuals such as The Queen and Cassell’s for advice on what to wear.

The dress code was dictated by different mourning stages, which for a widow would last at least two years. In the first stage – full mourning – a widow would wear head-to-toe black, including a scratchy crape veil. Depending on the household income, her dress might be made of paramatta silk, cashmere or a cheaper fabric like bombazine.

After a year and one day, the widow moved into ‘second mourning’. At this stage – which lasted nine months – she could wear her veil lifted back over her head and also allow herself a little ornamentation, perhaps some fabric trim added to her dress or a piece of mourning jewellery.

The last stage was three to six months of ‘half mourning’ during which time widows could gradually move to a less sombre way of dressing. They could dispense with their black mourning dresses – known as ‘widow’s weeds’ – and wear their normal clothes, albeit in respectful colours such as grey, purple, violet and mauve. For this final mourning stage, the fashion became less formal and stiff, with the introduction of fabrics like velvet and silk along with lace, fringe and ribbons.

In the Victorian era, men didn’t apply such a strict fashion code. While a widower would mourn for two years, he’d simply wear his usual dark suit with black gloves, a cravat and hatband.

Wearing mourning clothes became less fashionable in the Edwardian era and its popularity dwindled further after the first and second wars. Today, many people reserve dressing in black just for the deceased’s funeral, though there’s no formal dress code for wearing black or a dark colour to a service. In fact, any colour goes so long as it’s in keeping with the wishes of the deceased or their family.

If you’re arranging a funeral, it’s useful to let attendees know any special clothes requirements. Your loved one might have talked about wanting their funeral to be a sea of bright colours or there may be a favourite colour the deceased always wore. They could perhaps have been known for their spotty scarves or mismatching socks, which you could ask people to wear at the service. These personal touches can help to reflect your loved one’s personality and strengthen people’s memories of them.

* If you need help planning a funeral, please call us on 01438 316623

Music to Say Goodbye to …

January 25th, 2017    Author:

At a funeral, it can be wonderful to hear a song or piece of music that reflects the personality of the deceased, or that you know was a favourite of theirs. Hearing it played can add to the memories you have of them as you say goodbye.

Some people choose their own funeral music long before they’re gone, perhaps including a special playlist in their will. For others, it may rest on their family and friends to pick something appropriate. It doesn’t have to be a religious hymn – it could be pop, country, jazz, rock or any other musical genre the deceased loved listening to.

Some people go with a favourite TV or film theme – the theme tune to Coronation Street and the Morecambe and Wise Show’s Bring Me Sunshine are popular choices. Others might go for a sports-related song like You’ll Never Walk Alone by Gerry and the Pacemakers. And many people delight in choosing a humorous tune such as Monty Python’s Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.

At Harwood Park Crematorium, we have a huge music library with a pre-recorded playlist that covers all genres of music, including 100 pieces of specially recorded organ music. You can also bring in your own selection of music to play on our hi-tech audio system. Or for something truly memorable, you might want to have a live music performance during the ceremony and for this we have a vocalist, guitarist and keyboardist. On request, we can record the performance onto audiotape for you.

* To talk to us about music at Harwood Park Crematorium, please call us on 01438 316623

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.