In the latest article from its Let’s talk about Death series, B P Collins speaks to Jack Kenyon from Arnold Funeral Service in Buckinghamshire about planning for a funeral and how the sector is adapting to the changing needs and expectations of the public, whether that’s sending your ashes into space or providing a glitter coffin.
Personalising a funeral
Personalising a funeral has become the norm in recent years. Families and friends wish for the personality, character and passions of the deceased to shine through during the service, which gives them an enormous amount of comfort during a very difficult time.
It can be as personalised as you like – from choosing a motorbike hearse, to a colourful coffin right through to an eco-friendly service. The flowers and order of service can be completely bespoke and favourite music choices can be played throughout. If a funeral director doesn’t have a particular item, they will source a supplier who does. Funeral services have adapted to the changing requirements of bereaved families.
Pre-payment plans have become popular for those who wish to plan their own funeral with a funeral director before they die. People can also specify exactly what they wish when they create a Will, which law firms such as B P Collins can record on their behalf. This gives comfort to the families left behind as they know that the funeral service is exactly how the deceased wished it to be.
Choice of venues
Although churches and crematoriums are still popular, funerals can happen pretty much anywhere. Funeral directors can even offer a service in their own premises – an American custom that is growing in popularity in the UK.
Venues can also be chosen which meant a lot to the deceased. Village halls, theatres or
perhaps they’d even like the funeral in their own home as that’s where they were happiest.
With many people more mindful of protecting the environment, natural burial parks are a popular option with services taking place outdoors, amongst natural surroundings. Many people find peace and comfort when surrounded by nature.
Change of rituals
Regardless of whether a religious or a non-religious service is chosen, a funeral director can provide a crossover from tradition to modernisation that best reflects the person who has passed away.
At times, famous celebrities can influence the choices people subsequently make for their funeral. For example, David Bowie wanted a direct cremation with no service and his family receiving the ashes afterwards. Since then there’s been a surge in demand for this.
These days, there are many possibilities to show the deceased’s personality and passions through their place of rest. For example, recently, we conducted a burial at sea and several repatriations which saw the deceased flown to their country of origin. There is even the option to have ashes sent up and scattered from the edge of the earth’s atmosphere.
Use of technology
Throughout the lockdown period, the number of people who are allowed to attend a funeral has been hugely restricted and the vulnerable have been asked to remain at home. If live streaming services hadn’t been available to show the funeral online, many friends and families wouldn’t have had the closure they needed.
Demand for this technology has surged, as it has been a lifeline for many. It’s been available for the past number of years, but lockdown restrictions have made it the norm and will continue to be case in the years to come, particularly for the bereaved who are unable to travel. They can now find comfort watching the service online.
Adapting to the latest demands
The funeral profession has been around for hundreds of years because it has managed to adapt. Nowadays, it’s not just about being a funeral director, it’s being more of an event manager. Organising several different aspects for a service to ensure the deceased gets the send-off they deserve.
Years ago, things used to be much simpler and more straightforward, but now it’s important to have an open mind, keep an eye on what’s trending and expect absolutely anything.
We have to be able to truly listen to what is wanted and do everything we can to meet that demand. We have a duty to try ensure that those left behind get closure and hopefully some happy memories of their loved one all through the funeral service. It’s a huge responsibility and privilege.
For further information on Arnold Funeral Service: www.arnold-funerals.co.uk