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

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

http://www.austins.co.uk/additional-support.html

How to write a eulogy

July 19th, 2016    Author:

When a loved one dies, you might be asked to give a eulogy at their funeral. This is a poignant way to say goodbye to the deceased and to commemorate their life. While it’s an honour to give a eulogy, it can feel like a daunting task so we’ve put together some tips that we hope will help you.

Before writing the eulogy it’s always worth asking the deceased’s family if they would prefer a particular style. Some eulogies are quite formal – giving a chronological overview of the deceased’s personal and professional life – while others are more personalised using stories and anecdotes. Often, a eulogy will combine a bit of both styles.

You don’t have to come up with all the stories and anecdotes yourself. Ask the deceased’s friends and family to share their favourite memories so you can include them. Don’t feel like you’re burdening them by asking for their help – talking about their loved one can help with the grieving process and they’ll appreciate hearing their recollections in your eulogy.

If you’re having difficulty recalling your own memories, take some time to visit the deceased’s house if you can. Seeing a particular ornament or smelling the flowers in their garden may trigger a memory. You could also look through photo albums or old letters for inspiration.

A eulogy could also include a passage from the Bible or a favourite quote of theirs or a memorial poem you feel would be appropriate.

Once you’ve written a rough draft of the eulogy with everything you’d like to include you can edit it. And of course it’s a good idea to practise reading the eulogy a few times before the funeral.

On the day, you’re bound to feel nervous – you’ll be speaking in front of a group of people and it will be a very emotional time for everyone. Don’t worry about letting those emotions show or stumbling over the occasional word. Just remember that you’re all there together, united in your love for the person to whom you’re saying goodbye.

* Austin’s are here to help you with all aspects of planning a funeral. Please get in touch with us on 01438 316623.