1. What image comes to mind when someone says, ‘Funeral Director’?

A man dressed in black with a top hat and tails walking in front of a black hearse? This is the traditional image of a Funeral Director.  Read on to find out why this is an outdated image and how the funeral industry has changed. You might be surprised.

2. Where do our traditional funeral practices originate?

After the death of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria dressed in black or dark clothes for the rest of her life. Elaborate rituals and dress codes were established. This is the origin of our current funeral traditions. No wonder things are changing.  Many outdated traditions don’t have the same relevance to today’s society.

3. Modern society has changed enormously over the last 100

Religion has become less important to many.  Because of this Spirituality is more important to a lot of people.  Subsequently this has led to the growth of Celebrant led Ceremonies and Celebration of Life Ceremonies. This is the popular modern funeral service alternative.  The life of the deceased and their achievements are celebrated.  It’s an occasion to reflect on a life well lived.  And to celebrate individuality.  Religion takes a back seat – or may not be included at all.  It really is up to individual families to decide what they want.  A Celebrant will craft a ceremony based on your wishes.

4. Lack of land space and spiralling costs of burials has led to a growth in cremations.

Traditional burial costs have spiralled in many areas of the UK due to the lack of space.  Therefore cremation has grown in popularity.  Subsequently many ceremonies are now held in the local Crematorium Chapel. This type of ceremony allows the family to choose a non-religious ceremony led by a Celebrant or Humanist (no religious aspects included).  Music or hymns, poetry and biblical readings can be included if a Celebrant creates your ceremony.  The family has total control over the content.

5. Ecological and ‘Green’ considerations matter to many people these days

Therefore this has led to the provision of ‘natural burials’ and the use of more eco friendly procedures and coffins. Because of this, embalming may not be chosen.  It has environmental impacts and is considered unnecessary by some. Natural Burial Grounds are usually landscaped with natural grasses and flowers with many trees dotted around. Often the coffin is of wicker, cardboard or other environmentally friendly products. The deceased may even be covered in only a woollen shroud and buried directly.  Graves are usually unmarked.  These types of ceremony appeal to those who lead a ‘green’ lifestyle and want to continue that choice for their funeral.

6. You can buy coffins on-line.

Funeral Directors no longer have the monopoly on the sale of coffins.  There are now on-line shops dedicated to the sale of coffins.  They are available in many different types and designs. They are usually cheaper and they are delivered to the Funeral Directors.  So no need to worry about that aspect.  This is an easy way to save costs.  Also to get a more ‘bespoke’ coffin which will reflect the deceased in a more personal way.

7. The internet means that all Funeral Directors now have websites.

You can obtain full details of the prices and funeral packages of Funeral Directors. This is good news for consumers as it allows you to compare prices before making an appointment to see your local Funeral Director.  You can avoid surprises on the cost of a funeral as you have already chosen those who are within your budget and have an idea of costs before you step inside their door.  It’s a good idea to get a family member to help you to do this as you may not feel up to doing it yourself.

8. Communities are talking more openly about death

‘Dying Matters’ and ‘Death Café’ are two organisations that have pioneered open dialogue around death and dying. It’s been said that in current times people have become too distant and removed from the natural and inevitable process of death and dying. Subsequently these organisations were formed to encourage openness and get people to talk about funerals and dying.

It really is a good thing for us to face our mortality and to make plans for our death.  It really helps family members who are left behind if they know what you would want for your funeral etc.  It really does take a lot of the worry and stress away from them.

Talking about death also helps us to appreciate life so much more.  When we really accept that life is finite, we can start living it to the full.

9. Soul Midwives are helping to ease the transition from life into death

Soul Midwives are fully trained practitioners who help those who are terminally ill or in the late stages of life, with the spiritual and emotional part of their journey.  You can talk about anything in confidence.  Because Religion is becoming less relevant to many, this has become an important service to help those who need it when they come to the final stage of their journey of life.  A Soul Midwife helps you to end your life’s journey in a calm and loving way.  We have a wonderful Soul Midwife working in and around Stourbridge, West Midlands. https://www.facebook.com/thesacredjourneyhome/

10. Families can be involved in preparing the bodies of their deceased loved-one.

This is why many of the more progressive and modern Funeral Directors are now actively encouraging family members.  If you want to be involved in the washing and dressing of their loved one after they have died your are welcomed . Allowing you to make a final act of love and honour for your loved one.   Because it means that they are not being washed and dressed by strangers, but by family members who love them.  If it feels like something that would be right for you and your family speak to your Funeral Directors when you have your initial conversation.