Austin's Blog

 

Attending a Winter Funeral

November 13th, 2019    Author:

The clocks have gone back, Halloween is over for another year and Christmas is just a few short weeks away. Yes, winter is here!

A few months ago, back during that wonderful heat wave, we blogged about attending funerals in the height of summer. Now, we thought it would be helpful to write a few tips on winter funerals and some of the things you might want to think about; whether it’s a funeral you’re planning for a loved one, or attending to pay your respects.

Your outfit

Unfortunately, winter always sees a spike in deaths – and funerals don’t often come with much advance notice. It’s a good idea to keep a few items of more formal winter wear in your wardrobe, which may come in handy during the colder months.

A smart, dark-coloured winter coat will keep you warm and go over any outfit you decide to wear. Wool coats are very smart, although not the best in wet weather, so make sure you always have an umbrella handy.

Keeping warm will be a key factor in your choice of outfit for a funeral, as you will probably spend a fair bit of time outside viewing the flowers and talking to people after the service. Layers are really important as you will be moving from inside for the service (which might not be a particularly warm church), to the outside and then back inside for the wake.

Accessories, such as jewellery, which would normally add a little colour to your outfit, don’t really get seen when you’re wearing a coat, but your winter accessories – hats, scarves, and gloves, can still bring the colour if that’s what you want.

Make sure you have smart dress shoes that will stand up to walking across wet or frozen grass. If it’s really cold, the little reusable hand warmers, which you can buy online or from many shops, are a great idea to slip inside your gloves.

The flowers

While you may think there is not as big a choice of flowers available in the winter months, as opposed to summer, winter flowers can bring all sorts of colour and texture to help your arrangements reflect the personality of your loved one.

Evergreens are your typical winter flowers. These are plants that have leaves throughout the year – and you can do so much with them. Branches and twigs can add texture, while bright red berries add a splash of uplifting colour. Leaves add both texture and colour and some types, such as pine, also give a lovely scent to an arrangement.

Carnations, roses and tulips are in season throughout the winter, so you’ll have no trouble getting hold of these. And, of course, they come in a variety of colours to suit your arrangements. Lilies also bloom throughout winter and are the most iconic funeral flower. They’re stunning to look at.

If you’re working with a florist, they will also be able to source some more exotic blooms for you to bring in even more colour, should you wish to.

The wake

No one expects to be fed a whole meal after the funeral. A wake is a time to catch up with friends or family, have a drink and perhaps a small bite to eat, and share memories of the deceased.

It can be tricky to know what to serve at a wake, but in cold weather, soup and a roll is likely to be more appreciated than the traditional cold buffet – or even just a hot option such as warmed sausage rolls.

You could even add a personal touch if your loved one had their own recipe that you can easily recreate. Make sure there are plenty of hot drinks available too.

It’s a well known fact that food can comfort us in times of need; it’s often something people naturally bring to the home of a family when someone passes away. The practice of feasting after a funeral dates back to Egyptian times and the Jewish custom of Seudat Havra’ah actually translates to ‘meal of consolation’, a meal that is prepared for the mourners by their community.

Winter memorials

Winter weather often makes things more challenging. After the funeral or memorial service is over, it might be too cold or wet to spend time at your loved one’s grave or memorial having a ‘chat’ with them or just sitting quietly.

The weather can also make it trickier to visit their grave as regularly, but there are plants and flowers that will be hardier in harsher weather, and can be left for longer. Your local garden centre will have plenty of options that will keep the grave looking vibrant no matter how bad the weather gets.

As well as its challenges, winter also brings lots of opportunities for memorial ideas. You could:

  • Have a special bauble made to go on your Christmas tree in memory of your loved one.
  • Plant a memorial rose – winter is the best time to do it.
  • Spend the long winter nights sorting photos and putting together a memory box for yourself or for members of your family to remember your loved one.

Attending a funeral in the summer 

July 31st, 2019    Author:

Attending a funeral in the summer 

Well, what a summer we’re having so far! As we write, we’re in the middle of the end-of-term heatwave and trying to stay cool in the offices here at Austin’s!

We Brits aren’t too accustomed to such hot weather and, when it comes to summer funerals, we can become a bit unsure about traditional customs. So we thought it would be a good idea to put together some thoughts on attending funerals during the balmier months, with some seasonal tips and plenty which are relevant all year round, too.

 

What to wear to a summer funeral

 One of the most common questions people ask is, what should I wear to a summer funeral?

If the weather is anywhere near as hot as it has been recently, then you need to put some planning into your outfit. If you’re in the right clothes on the day, you’ll be able to focus on what matters and the reasons you’re there, rather than worrying about what you’re wearing.

Stay cool: Choose something light, respectful and modest, so make sure shoulders and knees are covered. For men, a smart, short-sleeved shirt is fine and for ladies, skirts and dresses should be at least knee length. There is no need for a full suit in hot weather, but make sure you don’t go too far the other way and appear too casual; avoid flip flops and shorts.

Colour and print: Summer funerals can be tricky because most of our summer clothes tend to be colourful or feature large, summery prints. It may be that the family would like people to wear colour; this is something that is becoming more and more common, [see blog on personalisation] in which case just avoid anything with graphics or slogans, or that is too ‘beachwear’. You don’t want to detract from the focus of the occasion.

If colour has not been specified by the family, it’s not generally expected to wear full black anymore. Go for neutrals that suit lighter materials, such as grey or beige, or possibly white.

Style: Funerals are very personal affairs, so try not to come across in full business attire. Similarly, you don’t want to look like you’re going to a cocktail party, so no off-the-shoulder or body con dresses. Remember, family and close friends can be sensitive on the day, so dress conservatively.  (blog on funeral stress]

 Footwear: There is generally a lot of walking at a funeral. You may need to park a way away from the service, then there may be a walk to the burial or cremation, and to a wake afterwards. Churchyards can have uneven terrain and there will be a lot of standing and talking to people, so choose wisely!

Check the weather forecast a few days in advance and decide on your outfit. Then check for any stains, marks, loose buttons etc, that need attention. And don’t forget your shoes; do they need a clean?

 

What to take to a summer funeral

Once your outfit is sorted, it’s time to make sure you have everything you need with you.

While there are a few things to remember, try not to take a really big bag as it will just get in the way.

You may need:

Tissues – for you and others that you can offer around.

Sunglasses – essential in this weather!

Water – the hot weather can play havoc with tickly coughs, so it’s helpful to have some water at hand, especially during the service.

Cereal bar – funerals can be stressful and emotionally draining that we can forget to eat. Having a small snack in your bag is a good idea in case someone is in need.

Painkillers – we all know a good cry can bring on a headache, but with the hot weather as well, make sure you have something to keep it at bay.

Make-up wipe – Again, tears can play havoc with eye make-up. You or someone near you might be very grateful for a quick wipe!

Money – It’s a good idea to carry some cash in case there is a donation box or collection.

 

What to do on the day of a funeral

Arrive in good time. There is nothing more stressful than being late. You need to factor in finding somewhere to park and traffic depending on the time of day.

Know where to sit. As a general rule, the first few rows are reserved for family and close friends.

Put your phone on silent. Obvious, we know, but so easily forgotten.

Go and see the family. There is usually a lot going on before the funeral starts, but do go and speak to the family afterwards or when you arrive at the wake, to offer your condolences. If you find it hard, talk to them about a memory you have of the person who has passed away, or ask if there is anything you can do for them.

If you’re still unsure about any aspect of the funeral you’re attending, you could always ask a member of the family or someone close to them. They’ll be grateful for your attendance, as a full church is always of great comfort to any family who has lost a loved one. Or speak to the funeral director; we’re always here to help with all of our funerals here at Austin’s.

 

 

Gone But Not Forgotten

December 4th, 2018    Author:

The funeral of a loved one is overwhelming. For many, the service passes in a blur of grief and afterwards it can be difficult to recall many details. You may not remember all the people who were there or have only hazy memories of the floral tributes – yet those memories can bring solace in the days, and years, to come.

That’s why Austin’s offer a tribute service to capture all the special moments of a funeral or memorial. We discreetly film the service, taking in everything from the music and eulogies to the poems, tribute cards and messages. All the little details are then there for you to replay when you feel ready. It can be a great comfort to be reminded of all the people who cherished your loved one and came to pay their respects.

A tribute film also allows family and friends who couldn’t be there to share the commemoration. And for children who were too young to attend or understand what was happening, the film is a wonderful keepsake to show them when they are older.

Your tribute film can be of the service alone or we can personalise it by adding location footage – perhaps a walk you both loved or your favourite picnic spot – and family photos and videos. Whichever you choose, we’ll give you the gift of an everlasting memory.

* To discuss our tribute film service, please contact us on 01438 815555.

Harwood Park Memorial Gardens

August 31st, 2018    Author:

When you have a 25-acre memorial garden there’s always plenty of work to be done – even when the weather is hot, hot, hot! And we’re so lucky that Harwood Park Memorial Gardens is kept looking so lovely all year round thanks to our loyal team of groundsmen.

If you’ve visited the gardens you might well have seen one of the groundsmen cutting the grass, felling trees or trimming hedges. And you might have noticed how happy they look. Richard, Matthew and Nathan all do a job that they love, which is one of the reasons we’re so happy to have them. Before coming to Harwood Park between them they looked after the grounds at a country club, a sports ground and a golf club. Matthew even has a special claim to fame – he kept the most moles off the green at Brocket Hall’s golf course!

As well as being hard workers our groundsmen are special to us because they take pride in what they do. They understand that the memorial gardens serve both as a final resting place for loved ones and also a peaceful retreat for family and friends to visit. They do everything they can to make the gardens look as beautiful and welcoming as possible. York County Landscapers gave it a touch of elegance and style. And when you stroll around the gardens you can see their handiwork – from the carefully pruned roses to the pretty line of cherry trees and the immaculately planted topiary crescent.

You can place a memorial at Harwood Park even if the funeral didn’t take place here. When you entrust your loved one to our keeping, you can rest assured they’ll be at peace.

* Find out more about Harwood Park Crematorium and Memorial Gardens at http://www.crematorium.co.uk/