A. H. Freemantle Funeral Directors

Alternative sympathy gifts instead of flowers

November 13th, 2018

Sending sympathy flowers to the family of a deceased loved one is a wide-spread tradition across the UK and across the world.

However, an abundance of flower arrangements can sometimes feel overwhelming for the bereaved family. Some might even start to think of it as reminiscent of the death in the weeks after the funeral.

If you’re looking for a unique way to show that you care, have a look at the following list we have put together about some alternative sympathy gifts.

1. A blanket, pillow or cuddly toy
During the process of grief, a little bit of comfort can go a long way. Giving a warm blanket, quilted pillow or a toy to hug can really show you care and make that stage of grief that little bit easier to cope with. If you are close personally with the bereaved family there is even the option to make something yourself to include a further personal touch.

2. A self-care package
Consider the person who has lost someone; they will be feeling lost, confused and lonely. Why not put together a small basket of self-care type products: A DVD, some slippers, a bottle of bubble bath etc. Give them the chance to recuperate at home while letting them know you’re thinking of them.

3. A tree or shrub
Donating a small tree or shrub to the family of a bereaved can be a great way to memorialise a lost loved one. Make sure the bereaved family has space in the garden before this donation, and if they don’t, a potted plant can also work well as they live longer than regular fresh-cut flowers and the pot can then be re-used for something else.

4. A charitable donation
For events such as funerals, birthdays and sometimes weddings, people have begun asking their friends and family to donate to a particular charity instead of providing them with a present. If the person who died suffered from a particular illness or disease, making a donation to a charity that is fighting that illness, in particular, can be a greatly appreciated gesture from the view of the bereaved family.

5. Something for the kids
Depending on the situation of the passing, the children of a bereaved family can often feel confused and unsure about the process of grief. Being able to give the children a way to express their feelings through a colouring book, activity sheets or a journal, for example, can be a way to keep the children occupied.

Funeral arrangement thoughts

September 5th, 2018

This morning someone asked very simply what key things they needed to consider when a loved one passed away. Without a face to face conversation covering every nuance and option, this was a tough question! We hope you never have to arrange a funeral, but most of us at some point will so here we have some pointers to help you.

  1. Registration: when anyone passes away, their death needs to be registered. Very broadly speaking, if it was expected you will need to pick up the medical certificate from either the local GP or from the hospital, depending on where they passed away. If it was unexpected then the coroner may be involved and they and the funeral director will guide you through what happens next and the time frame.
  2. Choose the funeral director: you don’t normally have the funeral director on speed dial. It’s an important, brief relationship and if you don’t like the company once you meet them you can change. It is very straightforward. No one will shout at you for changing your mind. If you don’t want to go to the funeral director’s premises, they should offer to come to you.
  3. Avoid emotional overspending: ‘the rules are there are no rules’, so if you do not want limousines or lots of flowers or a solid mahogany coffin then don’t be made to feel that they are the norm. Spending more money doesn’t mean you loved them any more than if you didn’t. If the funeral is over your budget talk to your funeral director.
  4. Consider the finer details: which include some significant matters. Such as where the refreshments after the funeral will be held, how will you let people know when the funeral is, and an appropriate order of service that will reflect the person who has died and whether money donated to charity in memory is a better option than lots of flowers?
  5. Settling the estate: There’s usually nothing complicated about being an executor or settling someone’s estate, but it can be time-consuming. You may decide to do it yourself, or you may decide to pass some or all of it to a solicitor to deal with. They will be paid from the estate.

We will break these points down further in future issues but if you have any specific questions please to email mail@ahfreemantle.co.uk

What to do with a loved ones ashes?

September 5th, 2018

When I joined the company in 2005 we had a cupboard with ashes dating back to 1970…and we still do. In fact, in 2018 we now have 2 cupboards. 73% of all funerals A H Freemantle completed last year were cremations. For some, the ashes of a loved one hold no meaning while for others, they are the very embodiment of the person who has died. If you have chosen a cremation funeral the next step is to decide on what to do with the ashes. So here are some ideas for you:

A scattering

Scatter them in the person’s favourite place. Be aware some grounds such as cemeteries or private land require permission to scatter ashes. Do it carefully and remember to stand upwind!

Bury / Inter them

Put simply this is placing the ashes somewhere permanent such as a cemetery or above ground chamber (columbarium). This particularly suits those of a religious faith, those with family graves, or those who like the idea of stability and tradition.

At home

Many feel their loved ones ashes should be close to them. You may want to consider the container they are in, particularly if they are on display

Made shiny!

Want some bling to remember your loved one? Ashes can be turned into jewellery, hand-blown glass or stained glass that you can appreciate and admire for a long time.

Plant them

The ashes are mixed with nutrients and placed in an urn used to grow a tree in the persons memory.

Memorial tattoo

Some tattoo artists will mix a portion of your loved one’s ashes with ink to create a memorial tattoo you can keep with you for life.

With a bang

Loved ones ashes can be placed in a firework for a colourful/loud send off. In America, a company called ‘Holy Smoke’ will even turn ashes into ammunition!

Losing a loved one is often a gut-wrenching experience and it can be difficult to figure out the right way to remember them and honour their last wishes if known. But whether you’re considering creating a working vinyl record complete with cover or sending them into space, please don’t leave them in your funeral directors cupboard.

Funeral Procession Etiquette Tips

May 17th, 2018

The traffic is moving at a snail’s pace, you can’t see why, and you are frustrated. What you may not realise is that you are being held up by a hearse. Walking in front of the hearse a few weeks ago, during a funeral procession, we were overtaken by several cars. One of which passed so close that we had to stop.

Research completed into attitudes towards funeral corteges has suggested that traditions are slipping away. Whether it’s caring less, simply not knowing or something else, less respect is shown today than it was even 10 years ago. So what should you do if you see a funeral procession?

If you’re driving

The standard etiquette is to just accept it. Hearses normally drive at around 20-30 mph, so stick to the same speed and turn off and find another route when you can. Beeping the horn and trying to overtake are not generally advised, although the latter is OK if you’re on a dual carriageway.

If you’re a pedestrian

Stopping what you are doing is usually welcomed and the good old-fashioned doffing of the cap or removing your hat altogether still goes down well.

If you’re crossing the road

It is appreciated if people do not cross the road in front of a funeral cortège but standing by a zebra crossing can be confusing and hearse drivers will generally stop to be sure. It’s best to make it plain you are allowing the cortège to proceed by standing back.

If you’re travelling in the opposite direction

There is no real issue but people often think there is. There is no expectation for people to stop or move across the road but revving the engine is frowned upon.

There are no legal rules to follow when a cortège is passing, but the points above are very much appreciated by not just us but by the bereaved. Very simply, if it was a funeral for your loved one, how would you expect others to act towards them and you?

5 tips on writing and delivering a better eulogy

May 15th, 2018

5 tips on writing and delivering a better eulogy

Years ago I conducted a funeral where a family member stood up to pay an extremely short and, let’s say, unusual tribute to his Uncle.

“He liked to drink and he liked to fight”. It really was short and unusual! Everyone laughed though. It was, after all, the truth. It captured the Uncle perfectly. But it got me thinking about what needs to be considered when planning and delivering a good tribute.

A good eulogy is a personal tribute to the person who has died, summing up the key events of their life, but more importantly, describing their personality and what made them special to the people attending the funeral. At A H Freemantle we suggest families consider the following 5 points:

  • Less is more… no, it really is. The temptation to cover every detail is overwhelming, particularly if they have had a long life. But typically around 4-5 minutes is about right.
    Keep it personal…Short stories rather than lists of facts are more interesting to listen to. Ideally, these will be stories where you were involved. Make sure it’s more about them than you though!
  • Keep it positive…If there are difficult topics to cover the congregation will probably already be aware. You don’t need to break the news to them during the funeral.
  • Keep a written copy to hand. Don’t risk standing up with only bullet points. If overcome with emotion someone else can stand in and help with a speech written in full. Use a large font if you’re typing it out.
  • Keep it conversational. Talk clearly and slowly. Look at your listeners and make eye contact while talking to them. You are sharing your personal experiences with them, they are as privileged as you are to be a part of this, but that doesn’t mean you need to lecture them.
    Always remember that everyone there is behind you 100% so stay calm and take your time.

For further advice email or call us 01489 885525

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