Increasingly, we are seeing moves away from the traditional ‘what is expected’ funeral to one that gives a reflection of the life of the person who has died.
This is represented in a number of different ways, from the type of coffin chosen to the location of the service. Here, we look at the ways in which funerals are being made unique and memorable.
In addition to the usual options of a church service and/or cremation, today there are many alternative types of funeral that may better reflect a person’s life and beliefs. Among these are humanist or civil funerals, green and woodland burials, and burials at sea. Interestingly of the three locations from which a burial at sea can take place in the UK, one is on our doorstep, at Tynemouth.
Tradition previously dictated that a funeral be held in a church or crematorium but there are no rules that say this must be the case. In much the same way as a wedding can be held at a variety of venues such as hotels, function suites, in the countryside, in a garden or at an historic building so too can a funeral. Some natural burial grounds also offer a barn, permanent building or marquee for services.
Your choice of coffin
Echoing current environmental concerns, an increasing number of people are choosing an eco-friendly alternative for their coffin; a tangible demonstration of returning to nature. Coffins are now made from a wide range of materials available including wicker, bamboo, cardboard, seagrass and even wool.
Also popular are coffins printed with designs that signify a loved one’s interests. We have recently arranged printed coffins for a keen gardener showing a spade and plants, a football supporter with club livery and for a Michael Jackson fan – this one was white with pictures of the singer and song lyrics. Virtually ANYTHING is possible.
Though a glittery coffin may seem unusual, for some, this may be the perfect choice to signify the personality of the person who has died. This is one such coffin that a family requested, and it was in total keeping with the funeral and the wishes of the person who had died.
Transportation for a loved one
In terms of transporting a loved one to their final place of rest, a hearse is often chosen. For a more traditional funeral, a horse-drawn hearse in various types of livery or in a vintage style are also possibilities.
More personalised alternatives include a VW Campervan, a Land Rover, or a London Bus. We recently arranged a funeral for a motorbike enthusiast that had an entourage of around 50 bikers who followed the hearse from the chapel of rest to the family’s home. It was a moving experience to see this powerful tribute to their fellow biker’s passing.
What we wear at a funeral
Traditionally, black, or sombre colours have been viewed as appropriate colours to wear at a funeral. Today though, ever more people are wearing bright colours and those that represent the favourite colour of the deceased. Also becoming usual are colours or flowers that reflect an appropriate charity such as the yellow daffodil for Marie Curie, a pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness or a blue ribbon for Alzheimer’s or Dementia Care.
Printed items to keep
Another way of ensuring a funeral is personal to the deceased is to have printed items containing their photo and information about their life. Service sheets, bookmarks, cards, and seed packets are some of the items that help to make the funeral special and individual.
Getting together afterwards
Families and friends often arrange to gather after the funeral to talk, raise a glass, and remember their loved one in a less formal setting. Current guidelines permitting, the gathering could take place anywhere such as in someone’s home, or at a venue that is appropriate to the dead person’s life such as their local pub or an outside location like a beach or a park. An example of a dedicated venue is our new Minster Suite shown below, a unique facility in the Tyneside area.
Many people find great comfort in having a physical item to remember someone by, such as planting a tree in their name or incorporating their ashes into a piece of jewellery. There are no restrictions on what to do with a person’s ashes and there are lots of inventive ideas, from burying them in a garden to scattering them at the grounds of their favourite football team (ensuring you get the approval from the owners first though!).
If you have any questions about personalising a funeral, either your own or for a loved one, please get in touch, we’d like to give a helping hand.