11. Nov, 2017

So it’s one of the biggest fears we all have. Being buried or cremated alive! Even my mum repeatedly says ‘I don’t care what you do with me as long as I’m definitely dead!’ So to put this one to bed once and for all here is why I think being buried or cremated alive is virtually impossible here in the UK.

Step one: When you die you usually have to have a qualified medical practitioner to certify the death and declare life extinct! This is usually done in most cases by a doct...or. The doctor will carry out tests for death to make a certain diagnosis of life extinct. Sometimes this can be carried out by a nurse or paramedic, both have extensive medical training.

Step two: Your body will then be taken to a mortuary either in a hospital or funeral home and placed into a refrigerator. Now these things are very cold and don’t get much above 6 degrees celsius. A funeral can take up to two weeks to happen over here depending on where you are in the country? No I’m no doctor but I would guess you wouldn’t survive more than a few hours in one of those fridges before you died.

Step three: Legally here in the UK of you are being cremated then your body will have to be examined by two doctors to make sure that no foul play has been involved. Doctor number one will be the deceased’s personal physician. Doctor number two would be a doctor from another surgery, who doesn’t know the deceased. Both doctors will carry out checks for death and make an external examination of the body.

Step four: The embalming process is a very invasive procedure that is not for the faint hearted. If you are embalmed then your body will be subject to harsh and toxic chemicals which are if used inappropriately can be very harmful to the living. If you undergo this procedure then I’m 99.9% certain your not going to survive! Plus before the procedure begins the embalmer will also carry out checks for death!

Step five: On the day of the funeral after the embalming, the doctors examinations, laying in a fridge for days on end and the countless checks for death, your coffin is sealed by two people. Who will check who you are, where you’ve come from and that your dead! Once the coffin is sealed you are then taken to your funeral to be buried or cremated.

I hope this has answered some of the fears (mother) surrounding this subject. In the UK we do have quite strict rules and procedures in place to make sure that no one is buried or cremated alive. In the years that I have been on the funeral business I have never encountered a body waking up and none of my colleagues on the industry that I know of have either

3. Oct, 2017

Without actually knowing it we are subconsciously planning for our funerals way before we need to. I was thinking about this whilst stopped at some traffic lights in the hearse the other day. Funerals are planned just like weddings. When a young girl is growing up she thinks of very little else other than her wedding day. (Obviously not all girls but you get the picture).

She knows what she's going to wear, what music she will have, if she wants a church service or not? What type of reception she will have afterwards and what type of car will take her on her special day. But if you stop and think then you will saying to yourself 'my death or funeral will be planned that way'.

More often than not when you speak to someone about funerals they will often tell you what they will wear in their coffin, what music will be played during the service, if they want a church service or not, what car or hearse they would like to take them on their final journey and what type of wake they would like afterwards? So we are planning for death from the minute we can think for ourselves.

It is such a huge part of life that we need to have these plans in place. Talk about your funeral just as you would talk about your wedding. Involve your nearest and dearest in the discussion. You wouldn't get married without plans in place that would be absurd. So don't die without plans in place either. Because although you won't be around your family will be and that for them can be traumatic and distressing.

18. Sep, 2017

 I came across this really interesting article online the other day. It is about pre paid funeral plans or pre needs if your from the States? I've sold a few pre paid funeral plans in my time and I know of plenty of funeral directors who offer this service to their clients. There are all kinds of different plans availible. Some funeral homes have their own plan structure in place, where as others will sell plans that have been designed and are managed by outside companies.  

I guess if you are unsure about a pre paid plan then I'd advise putting the money aside in a high interest account or a premium bond and leaving it there until its needed. Make it noted in your will that it is there along with any instructions for your funeral. You don't have to pay an expensive lawyer to do this inform your next of kin and make sure your wishes are written down. I should stress that I am in no way qualified in the financial sector and this is just what I would do personally personally. You have to do what is right for you. If that means taking out a pre paid funeral plan then go for it.

18. Sep, 2017

I attended my first Death Cafe last Thursday eveinig at Cox and Baloney in Bristol. I am delighted to say it was absolutely brilliant and I enjoyed every minute of it. Such an eclectic mix of people there who all had their own story to tell about their experiences with death, dying and funerals. It did live up to everything I expected it to be which was brilliant. 

It was really refreshing to hear other people's take on things. I think we can all too often get trapped in our own way of dealing with death so it's beneficial I think to get another perspective on it. Death cafes are not sad or depressing events, they are quite the opposite in fact. Over tea and cake no subject is off limits providing of course it is to do with death and dying. Everyone gets to have their turn to speak and share their story with the rest of the group. Death is such an important part of life as it is the one thing we can all be certain of, so therefore it is better to be open and honest about the subject because when it happens and it can happen at anytime we are better prepared for it.

I met some really interesting people, a couple who I already knew through work. Its is quite clear to see how this has taken off and become literally the worldwide success that it is. I look forward to attending a second death cafe. Next time with me at the helm hopefully?

28. Aug, 2017

Dressing the dead is a perfectly normal and natural part of the death care process. People have been dressing their dead for thousands of years. It happens routinely on a daily basis in almost every funeral home in the world. This process used to be performed by families. Where they would wash and dress or shroud the deceased in perpetration for burial. This does not seem to happen as much as it used to anymore. Instead we employ professional undertakers to do it for us. There nothing wrong with that of course but it does highlight how afraid we have become of death and how aware we are of our own mortalities. 

Occasionally when I attend a first call the deceased will have been washed and dressed by either the family or members of the care home staff which I just thing is a beautiful and caring thing to do. It shows that compassion is still there even after death. In the past family members have come to the funeral home and washed, dressed and help prepare their loved ones. I've had granddaughters do their grandmothers hair and make up, mothers dress their sons and groups of men who will gather together to prepare and elder of their community for their journey into the afterlife. 

It is very humbling to be a part of this process as it is such an intimate part of the death care process. To dress and prepare someone in the privacy of the funeral home prep room with a colleague is a duty that I take great pride and care in. But to be asked by a family to help them prepare their loved one for their funeral, that is truly special.