Austin's Blog

 

Personalising Your Own Funeral

March 18th, 2019    Author:

Personalising your own funeral

There are lots of initiatives around to help people start talking about death, and part of that conversation is funerals. Most people know whether they want to be buried or cremated, but some have whole sections of their funeral planned out; from the music they want played to what they want people to wear.

Who remembers the scene from Love Actually where Liam Neeson’s character is talking about his late wife’s funeral requests, one of which was he should take Claudia Schiffer as his date?! She also chose photos of herself to be shown on screen while ‘Bye bye baby’ by the Bay City Rollers played out as her coffin left the church.

 

Your wishes

We fully support people wanting to have a say in their own funeral. It’s a way to let your loved ones know how you want to be remembered on the day; perhaps by planning things they wouldn’t think to do in their time of grief.

Personalising a funeral doesn’t have to cost the earth – there are lots of little things you can do, even just having your photo displayed on top of the coffin.

Just remember, while a bit of pre-planning can take a lot of pressure off your loved ones when the time comes, it’s nice for them to be able to add their own touches to express how much you meant to them, so perhaps don’t try and plan every last detail.

Our Little Green Book could be a good starting point for you to think about the various decisions that need to be made. You can find it at: https://www.austins.co.uk/austins-funeral-guide.html

 

First things first

Typically you would put big decisions about your death in your will. When it comes to your funeral, the most important questions your loved ones should know the answers to are:

  • Do you wish to be buried or cremated?
  • Where do you want to be buried or your ashes scattered?
  • Do you want a religious ceremony, or one at a crematorium or woodland site etc.?

 

Personal touches

Flowers or donations: Do you want a particular type of flower, or perhaps a special arrangement for your coffin? If you have been in a trade, you might want an arrangement made out of tools instead. Alternatively, do you have a charity close to your heart that you wish people to donate to rather than bring flowers?

Coffin: There are many different types of coffin from traditional wood to wicker, but it’s not all about the material. Did you see in the news recently that one dedicated primary teacher from Bath had her coffin decorated in her pupils’ drawings?

Transport: While it can sometimes be overlooked, the transport you choose can be hugely symbolic of your life. For instance, the families of bikers often ask for fellow bikers to accompany the coffin in a motorcycle procession. Other symbolic modes of transport include VW campervans, vintage lorries and traditional horse and carriage.

Eulogy: You can write your own eulogy in a traditional style, or perhaps as a poem. You could also select your own readings and even ask someone close to you to read them, if they are comfortable doing so.

Music: For some people, music is a huge influencer in their lives. If you have a special song, or an artist you love, or have come across something that sums up you and your life, then the music you choose can add a very special touch.

Photos: You may want to choose some photos of yourself for the order of service, or to be on display at the church or crematorium. We are the only funeral director in the UK to create unique films and photo slideshows that can be played during a service and kept by friends and family afterwards. https://www.austins.co.uk/austins-tribute-services.html

 

Funeral plans

Of course, we can’t overlook cost. The average funeral costs around £4,000 and there are many funeral plans available to pre pay for your funeral. Our Hertfordshire Funeral Plan is exclusive to us and, unlike many other plans available, customised specifically to your requirements. Find out more at: https://www.austins.co.uk/funeral-plan.html

How to tell your loved ones what you want

If you, or those close to you, don’t feel ready to talk about your wishes, then you can always write everything down in a book and make sure they know where to find it after you pass away.

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.

Why It’s Good to Talk About Death

October 5th, 2018    Author:

It may sound strange but discussing death can help us to appreciate our life and remind us to cherish and enjoy it.

That’s the concept of Death Cafes, which allow people to meet up in a relaxed setting to talk about what’s often viewed as a taboo subject. Over tea and cake, it’s an opportunity to share your thoughts, learn about other people’s experiences and to talk about your own.

The first Death Cafe was opened in London in 2011 by Jon Underwood, who got the idea after reading about ‘Café Mortal’ events in Switzerland where people gathered in public to talk about death. Since then, 5,000 Death Cafes have been held in over 50 countries.

It’s not just cafes where people can meet up – Death Cafes are held in restaurants, tents, parks, community spaces and people’s homes. They’re usually small gatherings of around six to twelve people and last for one or two hours. At some cafes, groups meet up each month, while others may run several sessions then take a break or get together a few times a year.

The most important thing about the cafes is that they are welcoming and informal. Everyone gets the chance to introduce themselves and explain what’s brought them there – though if you feel more comfortable not talking, particularly if it’s your first time, that’s perfectly fine. There are no set questions or topics, so each group can discuss whatever comes up as they get to know each other.

A discussion might be about end-of-life care, how to talk to someone who’s been bereaved or perhaps a more philosophical theme. Death Cafes aren’t designed for grief support or counselling sessions but exist to bring people together who want to discuss death and dying without being viewed as morbid.

For those who go to a Death Cafe, it’s a way of coming to terms with the inevitable, understanding and preparing for it – and embracing their life and being inspired to live it fully. You can find out more about Death Cafes at https://deathcafe.com/

* Austin’s are here to help you with funeral planning. Please get in touch with us on 01438 815555.

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.