A. H. Freemantle Funeral Directors

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

Ways to say goodbye

May 15th, 2018

Ways to say goodbye

My father passed away 7 years ago and, despite his son being a funeral director, our family still had very little clue as to what he wanted at his service. So what chance does everyone else have?

It’s not an easy topic of conversation, but most families should have a discussion, at some point, to decide on what sort of funeral they would prefer. It might be a very brief conversation at the pub ‘I would rather be buried/cremated’… or even ‘ I really don’t care, I won’t be around’ but at least it’s a start. Don’t underestimate how many times we hear from bereaved families that they have been left no instructions.

There is no legal obligation to hold a funeral service at all. But here are some ideas to get you thinking

A religious funeral: Whatever your religion, the customs and traditions of a familiar structured service can offer great peace of mind in your place of worship. There is flexibility to add personal touches such as musical or spoken tributes. If you haven’t been to church for a while, it doesn’t matter. They are well suited to large gatherings and the service has no time limit.

A non or ‘less’ religious funeral: In recent years funerals have edged away from the ‘very traditional’. The emphasis is on the life of the person, not the beliefs of the person officiating. The service will reflect their character through words, music and personal reminiscences.

Green and woodland funerals: These are environmentally friendly alternative to traditional burials. Biodegradable coffins are used in woodland settings and a tree or wooden plaques replace traditional headstones. A good example is The South Downs Natural Burial Site in East Meon.

Burial at Sea: While not widely encouraged, burials can be performed off the western end of the Isle of Wight. We will handle all the paperwork for you and it’s not as expensive as one might imagine.

Crematorium Service: This can be either religious or non-religious and you can nominate your own minister/celebrant, or we will do this for you. Local crematoriums include Havant, Portchester, West End, Southampton and Romsey. They vary in price and appearance.

Leaving instructions makes it straightforward. Unlike my dad, please give your family a clue.