Austin's Blog

 

A Guide to Winter Funerals

November 13th, 2018    Author:

With the weather turning chilly, we’ve put together some tips on dealing with a winter funeral

WHAT TO WEAR
Keeping warm will be a key factor in your choice of outfit as you’re likely to be spending time outside viewing the flowers and chatting to mourners after the service. You might want to layer your outfit with a cardigan or jumper that can be removed if you get too hot. Likewise, a thick coat will keep out the chill and be easy to slip off when you’re inside. If you particularly feel the cold you may want to wear some thermal underwear. And don’t forget winter accessories such as hats, scarves and gloves – as well as keeping you toasty, these can be used to add a little bit of colour, if that’s what your loved one would have liked.

CHOOSING THE FLOWERS
There are plenty of winter flowers available for wreaths and floral arrangements. For something different, you could include pine cones, fresh spruce and eucalyptus, or perhaps go with a white and red theme for a December funeral. If, on the other hand, you want a more warm and colourful arrangement, think about including tropical flowers, many of which are available all year round. If you need help with your floral display, our florist (Daizy flowers] will be pleased to advise you.

HANDY HELPERS
Tissues are always useful to have to hand – but with winter sniffles you might want to take an extra supply, for you as well as other mourners. If it’s raining take an umbrella plus a spare one just in case yours breaks or you lose it. When the weather’s really cold, you could take a hand warmer, which will easily fit into a pocket or handbag. And finally, remember that wintery weather can cause problems driving so have de-icer on standby and a spade in your car in case of heavy snow.

POST-FUNERAL RECEPTION
A cold buffet is usually the simplest way to cater for mourners after a funeral, but when the weather is cold you may want to offer a hot option such as soup or stew. You could use your loved one’s own recipe it and personalise it with a menu card, like ‘Nan’s hearty vegetable soup’. As well as tea and coffee, you could offer a fun option such as hot chocolate with marshmallows and sprinkles.

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

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.

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. 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/

The rise of ‘fun’ funerals

August 10th, 2018    Author:

Once upon a time, when you attended a funeral it would be a sombre occasion with mourners dressed in black. Today, many funeral services are conducted as a celebration, with loved ones choosing a fun theme to represent the deceased’s personality or interests.

In America, one funeral home has become known for its themed funerals – including a
Christmas-themed service complete with snow, elves and reindeers and a BBQ-inspired after party with live pigs and a barbeque sauce fountain. And in the UK, so-called ‘fun funerals’ are becoming increasingly popular, too. According to the National Association of Funeral Directors, their members have arranged all sorts of themed services involving classic cars, railways and the Wild West.

Superheroes are a popular choice. For one funeral service for a Spider-Man fan, the coffin was covered in Spider-Man stickers. Undertakers often get into the spirit of the theme as well, with one dressing as Darth Vader to lead the cortege for a Star Wars style funeral.

At the funeral of a music festival fan, the Glastonbury-inspired service saw all the mourners dressed in wellington boots while the coffin arrived on a customised camper van. For a football fan, mourners wore football shirts and the service finished with a final whistle. There’s even been a funeral service where everyone wore a onesie – the favourite outfit of the deceased.

A ‘fun’ funeral service isn’t for everyone. Recently TV presenter Colin Brazier asked mourners at his wife’s funeral to keep with tradition and wear black https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-44923744, but in one study it was found that 66% of people believed funerals were becoming more of a celebration of a deceased person’s life, with a third saying that when it came to their own funeral they’d like it to be a party.

You might not want elves and sauce fountains at your loved one’s funeral but you may like to personalise the service to reflect their fun side. Whatever you decide, we’re here to help and support you.

* To talk to us about planning a funeral or cremation, please contact Austin’s on 01438 316623.