DIRECT CREMATION … WHAT’S THAT?

DIRECT CREMATION … WHAT’S THAT?

If only I had a penny for every time someone asked me in the last week – “Why has the crematorium limited numbers?” and “Does that mean we can’t have a funeral?”.  Next week I think we will be asked “What is a Direct Cremation?”. 

Losing a loved one at any time is a terrible experience to go through. Grief hurts – it takes your breath away.  Yet those first two weeks following a death often fly by.  The loss of a loved one triggers weeks of organisation and this  often delays our pain – for a while.

The tradition of a funeral is to create a time where the true journey of grief  can begin.  A funeral service brings a community together.  It brings an opportunity to acknowledge our loss and process our hurt with those we love. 

 

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN FUNERAL NUMBERS ARE RESTRICTED?   

At the moment we are undergoing a soft ‘lockdown’.  Gatherings of more than 2 people are effectively banned – “With the exception of funerals”. Currently a burial or cremation can go ahead with mourners in attendance. However the number of people that can attend has been severely restricted.

 

HOW MANY PEOPLE CAN ATTEND A FUNERAL AT MY LOCAL CREMATORIUM?

Some have all limited their numbers to 4 – 6 mourners only. Understandably, these limitations may feel restrictive and cruel – unimaginable even.  As a funeral celebrant I can share a slightly different perspective. 

The painful yet understandable truth is that people are scared of congregating at a funeral.  Even if they are ‘allowed to’. Those that want to attend often receive requests from their own families not to.  Unless you are a very close relation or friend you may feel that it is wiser to protect your own health. 

Some celebrants are already providing ‘alternative’ services at crematoriums.   Sadly, we are now preparing for the likelihood that ALL of our deceased may be sent to Direct Cremation. 

 DIRECT CREMATION – DOES THAT MEAN NO FUNERAL ?

 Direct cremation means no gathering or service.  Your Funeral Director will take your loved one to the crematorium by hearse. Once there they will hand the coffin into the care of the crematorium staff.  The coffin will be taken directly for cremation. 

ARE THERE ANY ALTERNATIVES TO DIRECT CREMATION?

On the face of it – unfortunately not.  The guidelines are set in stone for everyone’s safety to prevent cross contamination. Currently, there is no indication as to when these will be lifted.  

Clearly times are changing around us incredibly quickly.  Flexibility is going to be the key during these times for everyone!  Fortunately forward thinking and agile independent celebrants are now able to offer families a ‘virtual’ funeral.  

Look online to find a local celebrant that can provide this service. If you ask your Funeral Director to contact them on your behalf. Their fees will be part of your funeral package. 

WHAT IS A VIRTUAL SERVICE?

Well first and foremost – it is not a funeral service that you would recognise.  Sadly a virtual service can’t ever replace the tradition of attending a final resting place.  You won’t have the option to meet your loved ones face to face and offer hugs and words of support.
 No one will ever try and tell you this is a great alternative.  It simply isn’t. 
 
But if Direct Cremation becomes compulsory it will be the only alternative.  A virtual service can also be booked whilst the number of mourners remains restricted at a crematorium. 
 
What a virtual service does provide is a set time and space for your friends and family to join together to acknowledge their loss and share their memories.
 
At the same time as the coffin arrives at the crematorium you will be invited to observe and interact with the service – albeit remotely.  Your celebrant will lead a personalised ceremony to celebrate the life of your loved one.  The service can include readings, rituals, songs and a Eulogy.  Everyone can be encouraged to join in from their own home.  
 

HOW IS THE DIRECT CREMATION PLANNED? 

Initially a celebrant will contact you through a phone meeting or video call (whichever you prefer). This will be in place of the usual home visit. During that meeting they will gather enough information to create a service that is meaningful and memorable.  The celebrant will help you to create a fitting funeral.  Would you prefer a traditional style or something more upbeat and celebratory?  
 
Funeral Directors should be happy to take a photo of the coffin, hearse and flowers that the celebrant will share with you. This may help you to visualise the ‘final journey’ which has became synonymous with traditional funerals.  
 You can invite as many people as you wish to attend ‘virtually’ from the safety of their own home.  

 

IT’S ALL TOO MUCH OF A SHOCK – I CAN’T FACE THIS RIGHT NOW

Many families affected by Coronavirus will find the loss of a loved one both sudden and shocking.  They may wish to postpone the service until later in the year.  Speak to your independent celebrant about arranging a ‘Celebration of Life Service’ at a venue of your choice.  You could gather together in your own garden, in a favourite place you visited.  Perhaps raise a glass in your favourite drinking place or even at a sports / social club?   

 

THE FACE OF FUNERALS WILL CHANGE OVER THE COMING MONTHS

There is no reason for a family to lose their loved one to direct cremation without an opportunity to honour their life.  It is crucial that we find ways to show our respect in a way that is meaningful and personalised.
 
Please do feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss a virtual service for your loved one. 

 

Conducting a funeral today is so much harder

Conducting a funeral today is so much harder

The job of a celebrant is always challenging emotionally.  Conducting a service  under these Coronavirus restrictions is so much harder. The family needs to have a funeral as part of the grieving process and to be able to share grief with other people. Not being able to do that is heartbreaking.

As a professional celebrant  it’s about  delivering a celebration of life under really difficult circumstances because people aren’t enjoying these restrictions – But we have no choice.

 We have to stick to the rules or risk  funerals being banned, as has happened in some other parts of the world..

To not have a funeral is unthinkable  and i cant t even begin to imagine how awful that would be for a family not  be able to say a proper goodbye.

But if people flout the rules, it will push it to the next level of non-attended funerals which I cannot even begin to imagine how hard that would be.

New ways to conduct Funerals

New ways to conduct Funerals

This week I officiated at my first alternative funeral under the new Govt  rules. The government has asked us to stop ‘gathering’ with the exception of funerals.

SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

Each council is setting its own rules at the moment but most are allowing immediate family only. That includes mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and children. In some families that might be only 2 mourners but in larger families that could be up to 25 people!!

A whole lot of wrangling is currently taking place about acceptable numbers behind the scenes. But in reality, I am finding that people don’t want to place themselves into the close contact space of a chapel. They don’t want to risk their own health or that of their family.

It is devastating to lose a family member but it is even more destructive not to be allowed to attend a funeral in its usual format. Ultimately though we have to keep ourselves safe.

WHAT DO WE NEED FROM A FUNERAL?

They explained that they wanted to be able to attend a ‘place’ as a focus, in this case it will be our local crematorium. They also wanted some words to be said to recognise their fathers life. Finally, they wanted to see his coffin go into the chapel.

But above all else, they wanted to stay safe…

 HOW CAN WE ENSURE FAMILIES EMOTIONAL NEEDS ARE MET UNDER LOCKDOWN?

The primary reason for restricting numbers at service is to stop cross-contamination. That can occur between mourners, the deceased (unfortunately possible) and staff.

IS IT TIME TO START THINKING ‘OUTSIDE OF THE BOX’

Following a conversation with my family and the Funeral Directors  we agreed on an alternative funeral …

The family chosen Processional music which began to play as the hearse arrived at the crematorium gates. The song  continued as the hearse drives toward the chapel entrance.

The official pall-bearers opened the tailgate of the hearse (families are no longer recommended to do this). They then stepped back to a respectful distance to  allow everyone to maintain social distancing.

I then conducted a brief service outside to include a favourite reading of their choice and the commital. The recessional music then played as the coffin as accompanied into the chapel by pall bearers alone. The family remained outside as the chapel doors  closed behind the coffin.

Whilst this is in no way ‘normal’ or ‘ideal’ – the harsh truth is that these are unprecedented times.

THE PSYCHOLOGICAL NEED FOR A FUNERAL

As a celebrant I offer emotional support through the loss of your loved one. I know how much a service matters – how much it is needed. All celebrants must offer creative ideas and an alternative funeral to allow a family to say goodbye. And crucially whilst keeping themselves (and others) as safe as possible.

From a psychological perspective this will still offer a ‘place and time’ for grieving family to mark the occasion, say farewell and see the coffin leaving them. 

I also am offering all of my clients a memorial service included in their package. This is streamed so that they can share it with all of their family and friends.

I have no doubt that many of my clients will also choose to book a ‘celebration of life’ for a future date. I really look forward to seeing them gather together in the summer with loved ones as they recall the memories of their loved ones in happier times.

If you would like any more details please contact me

Coronavirus – Remote Funerals and Memorials

Coronavirus – Remote Funerals and Memorials

Whether you are looking for the simplicity of a conventional funeral service, or a bespoke ceremony to honour the passing of a loved one.

In these difficult times families are having to consider new ways in which to honour their loved ones following their death.

The coronavirus crisis is placing a strain on  funeral services.  The most obvious change has been the drastic reduction in numbers of people attending services as more people are self-isolating.

During funeral services, families are now being asked to respect social distancing and keep two metres from each other. Of course that is incredibly hard as people naturally want to support each other and share hugs and handshakes.

Attendees are now being asked not to touch the coffin in case of cross contamination from one mourner to another, Also it means that the family can no longer carry the coffin.

Direct Cremation without any family attending may even become compulsory. Some families are already choosing this option as their loved one has specifically requested a ‘no fuss’ farewell – but I suspect that this will become a necessity for many in the coming months.

But what does that mean for families?  “What happens when we can’t have a funeral?”

It goes without saying that losing a loved one is heart-wrenching, and we seek solace in the traditions we have been raised with.  A funeral is an expected ritual which helps us to move on – but the ever-changing events we find ourselves facing mean we are having to consider alternative ways in which to offer a meaningful goodbye.

So how can a celebrant help in these difficult times ?

I am now able to offer remote virtual funerals and memorials to families that can be recorded or streamed online.  This allows anyone with internet access to join the service from anywhere across the world, ensuring they are able to honour their loved one and express their loss.

I can offer remote virtual funerals and memorials at any venue, Crematorium or at the Funeral Parlour or Home ahead of the funeral.This allows the service to take place without mourners  being physically present. A virtual ceremony can be exactly the same as a standard service.

How do virtual and remote ceremonies work…

Initially I interview families (by phone or via an online streaming service) to find out all the personal details that made your loved one so unique, helping us to celebrate their life and achievements together.  If they wish to, family and friends will be invited to prepare a Eulogy that recognises the ways in which they influenced your world – a true mark of respect.

Music and readings can still play an intimate part in the ceremony. A funeral service can still be personal and encompass anything the family  feels is relevant. It will be meaningful, memorable and reflective of the person as they lived.

The remote virtual funerals and memorials can be recorded or streamed online from any venue.  This allows anyone with internet access to join the service from anywhere across the world.

To discuss the various options, please contact me 

 

Changes to funerals as result of Coronavirus

Changes to funerals as result of Coronavirus

In recent days, it has become clear that the coronavirus pandemic is not only a public health crisis but it will impact Funeral Services and families in many ways.

The Coronavirus Bill is going to change funeral practices to deal with the current situation.

Crematoriums and burial sites are having to adapt and funeral directors are having to react to the ever-changing situation.

 I’m writing to let you know that I have set in motion some practical ways to help navigate the challenging weeks and months ahead. We all need to be flexible.  

 I  am now starting to work with families taking briefs remotely and offering online ceremonies and memorial services if needed. Depending on the Crematorium or burial site I can even webcast from the venue  to the remote family and congregation

I’m hearing of some crematoriums in the UK  moving to 15 min slots! A cremation this week in told had to happen in the carpark 

 We will see a spike in memorial ceremonies once the crisis is over.  I am now accepting provisional bookings whilst leaving open the date of the memorial service.

We all need to be flexible in these difficult times 

 

Its Pancake day – lets have a pancake wedding

Its Pancake day – lets have a pancake wedding

Its Pancake Tuesday! I couldn’t resist looking at novel ways to use pancakes at weddings  

If you’re having a morning wedding, how about a wedding breakfast complete with delicious pancakes. Whether you want thick, American pancakes, or British thin, crepe-like delicacies, why not incorporate them into your wedding .

Perhaps have a special wedding pancake … 

 

Pancakes

 

 Happy Pancake day