- Monday 9 May: The importance of making a funeral plan
- Tuesday 10 May: Planning for your future care and support
- Wednesday 11 May: The importance of making a will
- Thursday 12 May: Signing up as an organ donor
- Friday 13 May: Making sure your loved ones know your plans
- Saturday 14 May and Sunday 15 May: Your choice – chat about anything and everything related to dying, death and bereavement.
Organic Burial Pods will turn loved ones into trees not graves. This is currently a very unconventional way of being buried but could this be a reality? The idea of coming full circle and returning whence we came from is one that appeals to many. In Brighton & Hove there is a shortage of space for burials and this could be the answer? Would you like to be buried in such a way knowing you are giving life to a tree? We would love to know your thoughts.
Have you heard of a “celebration of life”, or perhaps you have already attended one of these ceremonies? These days, more and more people are looking for their funeral to be a celebration of life – with a ceremony that’s upbeat rather than sombre in tone. At this type of occasion, you may be asked to wear a certain colour or watch video clips chosen by the family, which is quite different to a traditional funeral. So why has there been a shift towards this type of ceremony?
Increasingly, people are more open to the idea of personalising their ceremony, with 71% of individuals surveyed by ComRes saying that they think their end of life wishes would be met if we were more comfortable with discussing funeral arrangements. As the average cost of a funeral continues to rise, planning ahead has never been more important. Although many of us are still reluctant to talk about funerals, it does appear that we understand why it’s necessary and isn’t as daunting as we may think.
By personalising your funeral, your friends and family are able to remember you for who you were. One way of doing this is by asking a close friend or family member to deliver your eulogy. The eulogy doesn’t need to be very long, nor does it have to be serious – many eulogies even include a few funny anecdotes that will raise a laugh or two! Some people say that a celebration of life actually helps with the grieving process, as we often don’t have a chance to reflect on the happy times shared and instead, tend to focus only on the immediate loss and sadness.
The BBC recently reported on celebrations of life, referencing Lynda Bellingham’s “all-singing, all-dancing knees-up” funeral and Joan Rivers, who chose to open her funeral with a series of Broadway songs. These are certainly bold choices, but a real reflection of their outgoing personalities. You might not want such a lively and adventurous ceremony, but opting for a less formal arrangement gives you more control over personalisation and allows you to specify your wishes in advance.
As more people become open and comfortable with planning their funeral in advance and talking about the subject with friends and family, we’ll likely see many more personalised ceremonies in the future.
To ensure you have full control of your funeral, it’s a good idea to have a funeral plan in place to ensure your wishes are respectfully carried out. We offer a funeral plan to suit every budget, so you can relieve the financial and emotional strain on your family and put their worries at ease.
We have invited some friends back to write a second guest blog for the website. Our contributors are Helen Lawson and Sophia Lucop-Leech from Inspired Goodbyes. Bereavement cards just got personal In the aftermath of my brother’s death I remember feeling happy every time a bereavement card came through the door. Whether the giver of that card stopped for a cup of tea or whether they didn’t want to intrude, the fact that so many people were thinking of us made me a little bit better. It helped pass the time too, which goes so slowly after such awful news. If those cards had contained a memory or a story about my brother that I didn’t already know, I imagine they might have even brought a smile to our faces at a time when our hearts were broken. The death of a loved one, friend or family member is a horrible experience but it does happen. Why, then, is this major life event over-looked on our high streets? I’ve been told it’s because this subject is still taboo, but why? No one wants to have to buy a bereavement card but when we do, we should be faced with a decent choice. Even the big boys of retail often only have a handful to pick between. And they are all a little bit the same. Well, we think it’s high time bereavement cards and gifts had a more prominent position in our shops. This is why we have decided to do something about it. www.inspiredgoodbyes.co.uk recently launched a new range of bereavement cards. Words like ‘With sympathy’ or ‘deepest condolences’ simply don’t mean enough anymore. Our innovative range of bereavement cards are designed to encourage the sender to share a memory from a happier time with words like ‘Let me tell you something about your lovely mum…’, ‘Did I ever tell you about the time…’ and ‘it’s not fair’ because it isn’t fair and sometimes it’s okay to say it. We understand that these cards won’t be for everyone. If you think a more traditional card works for a particular family or friend then that’s okay. We just want to give people choice. My memory of receiving cards at a difficult time is a good one because warm words work wonders when you’re hurting. With the new Inspired Goodbyes range bereavement cards just got personal and there’s not a ‘with sympathy’ in sight.
We have invited some of our friends and suppliers to write guest blogs for the website. Our next contributor is Sue Stevens from Love2Donate.
We could have named our company ‘Ernie’ as it was a wonderful little boy with this name that inspired us to form our company – Love2Donate.
Ernie is the grandson of one of the Directors.
When he was only a couple of months old, Ernie was diagnosed with Bilateral Retinoblastoma (an aggressive form of cancer) that affects the eyes.
Ernie endured two heavy courses of chemotherapy, over 100 hospital trips, an operation every 3 weeks and although his vision has been severely affected he is currently in remission.
Throughout his ordeal, the support and comfort provided by medical staff and cancer support groups was amazing and they helped Ernie’s family through some very dark and emotional times.
As family birthdays occurred, Mother’s day, Father’s day etc., it was decided that instead of giving and receiving presents, we would rather donate to help those support groups assist other families going through similar nightmares.
Hence, the Love2Donate idea was born – giving the gift of a present which will also help a worthwhile cause.
Through the hard work and dedication of nursing staff, medical teams and the love and kindness received from charity members, Ernie is now a healthy seven year old that runs around just like any other child of his age.
As Ernie continues to thrive, so do we ….
Working with Funeral Directors, such as Bungard Funeral Directors, we create a personal Tribute and Donation Page on their website whereby friends and loved ones can donate on line to a charity chosen by the Next of Kin that has meaning and could benefit in memory of their loved one.
The Tribute Page is a place where friends and loved ones can remember their loss, express their sympathy and help support each other at this very difficult and distressing time.
We wanted to be able to create an area where the grieving could spend time writing and reading all the wonderful words in support of the family and a safe and secure on line donation portal to donate in memory.
Another bonus using the Funeral Director’s website to place your on line donation is that Gift Aid can be claimed on behalf of the donor, which is then forwarded to the chosen charity. Gift Aid is a Government scheme that enables registered charities to reclaim tax on a donation made by a UK tax payer. It means that the taxman will add 25p to every pound you give to a charity.
People donating in memory of their loved ones have raised an astonishing £479,403 in the past two years via Love2Donate : In Memory, which has been passed on to charities (this figures increases with the addition of Gift Aid).
It is such a sad and unbearable time for those left when someone dear passes away. We provide an area where the bereaved can remember their loved one and say goodbye in a safe environment.
Being able to donate to a charity can help towards easing a little of the pain knowing that someone, somewhere may be able to benefit from the loss of someone dear.
We are proud of the service we provide to Funeral Directors such as Bungard Funeral Directors, enabling them to expand the services they provide to their clients by offering additional services to the bereaved.
We have invited some of our friends and suppliers to write guest blogs for the website. Our first contributors are Helen Lawson and Sophia Lucop-Leech from Inspired Goodbyes.
It has often been said that tragedy can inspire people to do something positive. This is certainly true of Sophia and I when we created ‘Inspired Goodbyes’ after the untimely death of Sophia’s husband in 2013. I have had my own experience with bereavement when my brother died in 2000 in a motorbike accident. After many chats over cups of tea and glasses of wine talking about our experiences we decided to work together to do something positive for others going through their own grief. It’s from here that we set up a company and after much hard work saw our first idea, ‘Your Personal Goodbye’ become a reality. ‘Your Personal Goodbye’ is a simple, beautiful way for you, your family and your friends to write down your private messages to the person you love when they’ve died. You then take it in turns to place your folded up message inside the specially designed sealed tube. Once all the messages are inside you simply seal it with the sticker and hand the tube to your funeral director. They will then ensure that your words go with your loved one by placing the tube along side them.
The idea for this product came about when Sophia and her daughter were writing letters and choosing photographs they wanted to send with her husband, Ava’s daddy. She handed them to the funeral director in a Tesco bag. It didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel dignified. This is why ‘Your Personal Goodbye’ comes in a natural cotton handmade bag. This is for you to either take other personal effects to the funeral director or use it afterwards to keep bereavement cards in to read at a later date. You’ll also find a handmade pin inside ‘Your Personal Goodbye’. We had this beautiful pin of our infinity logo specially designed and crafted by an artist in Manchester to symbolise that your love lives on. You can wear it on the day of the funeral or whenever you feel you want to as a reminder of your love for the person you have lost. We are very proud of our little company and it makes us happy that wonderful family funeral directors, like Bungards, can see the benefit in offering ‘Your Personal Goodbye’ to the families they help. We hope it gives you some comfort and helps you when you have to say your most difficult goodbye.
Whilst this looks likely to continue, a council is taking things into its own hands with the introduction of super-sized graves.
Sutton Bridge and Wingland Parish Council hopes to open a new three-acre burial ground next year because space is running out at the cemetery in the local church – where plots measure 9ft by 4ft.
The authority is set to become the first in Britain to create a cemetery with graves dedicated to larger bodies to accommodate the nation’s growing obesity crisis.
The larger graves have been requested by funeral directors who have been struggling to haul coffins over long distances in the Lincolnshire village.
As plans drawn up for 30 super-sized plots near to the roadside, the local council is hoping to alleviate some of the problems funerals directors are faced with i.e. back problems and general injury.
As well as hundreds of standard graves, the authority plan to dig extra wide 9ft by 8ft plots near to the entrance of the burial ground.
This comes shortly after Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, Staffordshire, installed a new £12,000 lift table to handle wider coffins for obese people.
The authority said the decision came after Bradwell Crematorium was unable to accommodate the funerals of 15 overweight people in 2013.
Some funeral parlours in Britain have even had to install hoists capable of lifting 50 stone, purchase reinforced steel trollies and increase the size of their fridges in order to manage larger corpse.
Hospital morgues and crematoriums have already had to make alterations to deal with the changes, such as installing extra-large furnace.
And ambulance bosses have also started paying out millions to ‘supersize’ their vehicles to cope with the growing number of obese casualties.
The East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) introduced a fleet of 128 larger ambulances, each capable of dealing with patients who weigh up to 55st.
The UK’s growing obesity problem showing no sign of slowing but with the introduction of a number of innovations, the funeral industry is poised to keep moving with the times.
And a quarter of 358 local authorities responding to the BBC said they would have no more room for burials within a decade.
Cemetery experts warned of a looming “crisis”, while managers called for a change in law to allow graves that are more than 75-years-old to be reused.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said the issue was “under constant review”.
Many of the councils surveyed, including those in Gosport, Mole Valley, Crawley and Rother, said they had five years or less before they ran out of room. Other areas – such as Tandridge district council in the South East – said they had already run out of space.
Some 44% said they had 20 years or less before burial space ran out. About 74% of people who died in 2012 in the UK were cremated, but the cremation rates have levelled off – and there is still a demand for full burial and burial of ashes.
Do you have plans for your own funeral? Have you reserved a space somewhere? Do you feel it is important to be buried near your family or will you choose to be cremated and scattered to the wind? Do you wish for a more outlandish form of burial? Would you secretly like to be buried at sea or launched into space? Tell us how you plan to be laid to rest when the time comes.
Choosing who will deal with your estate when you pass away is one of the most important decisions to make. The administrative and legal complexities of probate can be challenging and it is important to choose someone who’s both capable and trustworthy.
Britons are at risk of losing thousands of pounds from inheritances because they don’t know how much professional probate should cost.
You could be overpaying for help in navigating the complexities of probate due to hidden or disproportionate costs.
We should be careful because in addition to a percentage fee for acting as an executor, some professionals will also charge an hourly fee, meaning that the average UK inheritance of £180,000 could end up reduced by thousands of pounds.
Paying a professional firm to act as your executor can help to simplify the probate process for loved ones, however some professional firms charge a set percentage fee based on the value of the estate rather than on its complexity to deal with.
This mean an individual with large uncomplicated legal affairs could end up unnecessarily losing hundreds of pounds from the ultimate value of the estate.
Importantly once a person has passed away , an appointed professional is under no obligation to renounce its role as executor.
Top Tips in choosing a professional probate provider
- Always agree a fixed price up front to avoid any nasty surprises later.
- Shop around to find the right deal. Remember to strike the right balance between price and getting the service you require.
- Remember there are usually two options for probate: Full Administration where the professional will deal with everything on your behalf and Grant Only, where the professional prepares the legal paperwork for you only.
- Ask as many questions as you need in order to feel confident in what you are signing – if you have agreed a fee up front, you should not be charged extra to ask additional questions.
- If using a professional, choose one that is regulated by a relevant governing body and which offers insurance should something go wrong, such as an incorrectly drafted Will accidently missing out a beneficiary.
- Whatever your decision, talk it through with your next of kin so they fully understand your reasoning as tis will help to avoid potential disputes later on.
Death is inevitable but the passing of a close family member is still one of the most traumatic events a person can ever experience, showering us with a range of emotions such as grief, sadness, frustration, heightened anxiety and even anger.
The impact that it has on an individual can be absolutely devastating. More and more people are using social media to connect with members of the family that they haven’t seen in years and sharing fond memories of their loved ones with online memorials. This is commonplace in the funeral industry with families and friends often rallying around supporting each other as the result of reconnecting at a funeral.
You may be asking yourself what does this story has to do with the online world of social media but here lies the very essence of exactly “why” social media outlets work.
It’s a well-known fact that it is in the human nature to want to connect and the social media sites of today simply provide the outlet necessary to allow people to do so.
When you think about it, the funeral industry has been practicing social media for a number of years providing a “media platform” to weave together families and friends at their greatest time of need.
Whilst social media feeds have long been responsible for informing users of celebrity deaths, they are becoming increasingly popular among everyday people wishing to remember, share their thoughts and to deal with the grief of losing a loved one or friend.
The number of Britons going online has now doubled since 2006 and almost half of the 33 million current UK internet users use social networks on a daily basis, new figures show.
According to figures from the latest report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Eurostat, people in the UK were also found to be the second most prolific social network users in Europe – being beaten only by the Netherlands.
The figures also discovered that although the majority of UK users are aged between 16 and 24 years old, 19 per cent of people aged 65 to 74 now use social networks.
As we invest more of ourselves into our online presence, your own social networking profile could in fact become a spot where your friends and family could share memories of you long after you’re gone.