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TR ADITIONAL | NATUR AL | FUNER AL PL ANS | DIRECT CREM ATION

farewells

HELPING YOU FIND THE RIGHT FUNER AL

ETHICAL

WILLS

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REASONS TO HAVE A

FUNERAL

ETHICS OF

DIRECT

CREMATION ISSUE ONE

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f a Helping you find the right funeral

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F A R E W E L L S

From The Editor Farewells Magazine offer's points of view

In today's world, we seem to be getting

from those who advocate the more tra-

force-fed ideas and beliefs; how we

ditional funerals as well as those who

should live our lives; what we should do

prefer things to be done the more nat-

and even think! - no more so than when

ural way.

planning a funeral - be it for own in advance or sadly, for someone we have

We will cover all aspects of the funeral

known and cared about.

profession without making judgement on the right or wrong way for you to do

Farewells exists to serve as an inde-

things.

pendent and impartial platform bringing you together with those people able

Ultimately, you are capable of knowing

to help make your funeral as personal,

what feels right for you, we just want you

meaningful and memorable for you.

to see what choice you have... Jayne Lea Editor 3

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who made this editor JAYNE LEA ADVISORS direct cremations XXXXXXX celebrancy XXXXXXXXXX XXXhome funerals XXXXXXXXX all things funeral XXXXX

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Content Points of View

04 Who Made This 05 Content

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Articles

08 Human Soup - the recipe for grief

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12 Ethical Wills 16 Ethics of Direct Cremation 20 I Don't Want an 'Effin' Funeral

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03 From The Editor


THIS EDITION

meet the team

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human soup AN ARTICLE BY RU CALLANDER

the recipe for grief F A R E W E L L S

There are many insightful glimpses into human nature that working around death offers, but surely one of the most comforting is that there is no such thing as a 'functional family'. It certainly cheered us up.

Instead they are a complicated mosaic of stepchildren, birth parents, new partners, some of whom may have little or no real contact with or understanding of each other. And then somebody dies, and all of these characters have to come together to create something that satisfies everyone's sense of decorum, belief systems, sense of public identity, all the while grappling with the existential and emotional issues raised by death; the why's, the what next's, who gets what, and what exactly happened at last Christmas.

Often, when somebody dies, even if it is an expected death, an emotional vacuum is created. The first thing into that vacuum, is guilt, whether warranted or not.

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I honestly think the term 'dysfunctional' will gradually disappear from everyday use and simply remain a clinical term as we realise that really, there are only people, struggling with the enormous difficulties that an ordinary life in the 21st Century brings, and dealing with the complicated dynamics of the average modern family, few of which resemble the traditional nuclear family.

There is nothing like the impossibility of any further communication, trivial or deep, to open up the imagination to what should have been said, what simple acts of reparation that might have smoothed over years of discord. For many people, saying 'I love you' at the right time to a dying relative proves just too difficult, and so years of remorse follow, self flagellation, or simply feeling quietly distant when others talk warmly about the dead one. A lonely place, one of harsh self judgement. Anger is the poor cousin of guilt, more easily accessed, more likely to flare up, and it is this anger; anger at people, the person who has died, anger at death itself that shows its teeth.>>

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>>For the average corporate funeral director, much of this is academFAMILY IS SYMPATHETIC, ic. Their contact with the family ACCOMODATING, UNDER is sympathetic, a c c o m m o d a tSTANDING AND MAY GO ing, understanding and may go EVEN FURTHER...EVERY even further, and every funeral diFUNERAL DIRECTOR HAS rector has stories of families lashSTORIES OF FAMILIES ing out unfairly, but often this is LASHING OUT UNFAIRLY... handled through a formal system of complaint, but for the modern ceremonial undertaker, the relationship, and the anger, goes deeper.

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THEIR CONTACT WITH THE

In our case, the roles of arranger, administrator, undertaker and celebrant are rolled into one; the relationships become multilayered, genuine and often ongoing which, living in a small town are maintained on a daily basis. This means our work crosses some of the traditional boundaries between the undertaker and the family. We risk what therapists and doctors might call emotional cross contamination, taking home much more of the pain, but receiving much more of the warmth and the realness in return. It has nurtured and sustained us, given us our deepest friends, but taken us to the edge of burnout too. There is no place to pass the buck when mistakes happen. Bereavement is unreasonable, as unreasonable as death itself. It finds ways to turn an ordinary bad day to its advantage, blurs the logical mind, seizes on things that are, in the greater scheme of things, not really an issue. Funerals are highly charged events full of expectations which families see as something that should run like clockwork. If one thing goes wrong, either through human error or just because things do, then the undertaker is an easy and obvious target. Sometimes this is deserved; incompetence or straightforward malpractice happen, but often this is just life.

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In the Tarot, the ancient pack of cards which depicts enigmatic archetypes and has been used as a system of reflection and divination for centuries, the first real card after the Fool, our hero, is the Magician. He is traditionally depicted with one hand raised to the heavens and the other lowered to the ground, as if channeling higher powers and then earthing them. For me, this is as useful an idea of how we as people who work with death should deal with the currents of anger that pass through us as any. It must take enormous strength and steadiness for him to stand there as these energies pass through him. Like lightening which takes the easiest and quickest route, surely these energies must pass through the heart, yet he remains undamaged, confident in his ability to handle them, aware that he is the link between these worlds, the messenger not the message, the wire not the current. We who choose, or are chosen to work with death must accept that from time to time we will be the channel through which unreasonable anger passes, unfair recipients of years of resentment, substitutes for the person who has died, a hired stranger conveniently placed to receive a burst of fury. By and large these people are not dysfunctional, they are just angry at the terrible unfairness of death, but you must hold tight to the notion that you are not to blame, and that receiving this anger calmly and channeling it is part of the job. The trick is to find a way to hold yourself securely in this role, to properly feel the ground beneath you so you can be that Magician, letting that anger be felt in both worlds, accepting that it is not you they are raging against. It is part of the role, another service we offer to the families we help, though a difficult one to describe on any website.How you hold that ground is a whole other article in itself.


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An ethical will is used to pass on personal values, beliefs, blessings, and advice to future generations. It is a way to tell stories and share your memories. An ethical will is not a legal document; it is distinct from legal documents like a last will and testament or a living will (now known as advance decisions). Here Susan Dolan, Nurse and End-of-life advisor puts forward the idea of Ethical wills.

The practice of leaving an ethical will is an ancient tradition referenced to in the Bible and found in many cultures. Whether you have years left to live or are facing death, you too can write a love letter to future generations. Writing skill, spelling, and penmanship don't matter. You can scribble on a grocery bag, compose an email, record your thoughts, or sit in front of a video camera and interview yourself. What matters is content--your reflections of who you were and who you became. What were the events that shaped you? What are your priorities? Your guiding principles? What mistakes did you make; what did you learn from them? What essential truths have you learned that you can pass on to future generations?>> 12


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If you hope to be remembered for who you really are, disclose that person. Don't assume others know your inner self and the challenges you met and overcame. Offer blessings, advice, insights, and bits of family history that might otherwise be lost forever.

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You might speak of what is good and admirable in each of your loved ones and of the gratitude you feel that each is in your life. Even those who are closely bonded rarely express such feelings. In writing from the heart, you will discover more of who you are and what your true legacy is; you will better come to understand how you have fulfilled your purpose and what you hope to be remembered for. Whether your ethical will is limited to a few scribbled lines, several pages, or expanded into a book, there is great satisfaction in completing your gift and ensuring its safe passage to the next generation. Ethical wills can be written and revealed at any time. Some parents and grandparents want to share this information while they are still alive and can engage in conversations about the past. Ethical wills can also be used to explain why certain decisions were made in a last will and testament or to tie the loose ends of a life together for oneself and others. They may be written and rewritten, read aloud, or put aside to be read at a special family gathering, funeral, or other rite of passage. "I'd like to do all that, but it's too late," sighed an elderly woman who had lived an exciting life as a missionary in China when I suggested she write an ethical will. If you feel too ill, too weak, can no longer write legibly, can't organize your thoughts, or don't know how to use a computer, enlist someone to be your scribe or recorder. Start talking, if only for a few minutes at a time. Talk it out over a period of a few days, weeks, or even months. Hospice volunteers relish the opportunity to help facilitate such a life review. If you struggle to come up with words of your own, borrow from poets, musicians, playwrights, biographers, saints, or my mother.

HOW I WOULD CHERISH A LETTER FROM MY PARENTS OR GRANDPARENTS TELLING ME ABOUT THEIR YOUTHFUL DREAMS AND HOPES, THEIR TRIUMPHS AND THEIR FAILURES.

Below is an excerpt from my mother's ethical will. "Children tend to think of their parents and grandparents as people who exist for and revolve solely around them. Yet adults live other lives, often unknown to their children. My own parents were loving and generous to me, but other than a few brief stories, I realize that I know little of their childhood, their inner lives, their dreams and plans, what they hoped to achieve, and what they believed they did accomplish. How I would cherish a letter from my parents or my grandparents telling me about their youthful dreams and hopes, their triumphs and their failures. How did my immigrant grandparents feel when they left their childhood homes forever? Who were my parents before they became my parents? Once they were all young, full of life, eager to embrace the freedoms and promises of a still-new land. All that history is lost forever. That's when I realized that something was missing in my will. I needed to say more, write something that went beyond that cold, dry, legal jargon, something more than the distribution of my worldly goods. I wanted to leave a written statement, a link to those who had gone on before me and to the generations that will come after me. I wanted my children and my grandchildren to know of my journey, who I was, what I thought and believed. Most of all, I wanted my family to know how much I loved them."

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SPECIAL FEATURE

The Ethics of Direct Cremation A circumspect insight into this expanding funeral option, by

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Nick Gandon, proprietor of Simplicita Cremations. Offering a funeral service, in it’s various forms, is not regulated in the UK, and apart from the crematorium operators themselves, there is no licensing or minimum legal standard for provision of service. You might think it slightly worrying that literally anyone can open an undertakers shop on the high street, or promote their services on a captivating website.

It can now be said with some certainty that Direct Cremation has become an accepted option when choosing the way to depart from this mortal coil. For some folk it’s refreshing to have the choice of a break from the norm. Unlike the more traditional form of arrangements, it gives families a greater freedom to do their own thing – or indeed no-thing.

One way of ensuring that things both “front of house” and behind the scenes are as they should be, is to select a direct cremation provider who is both established, and is a member of a recognised trade organisation, such the NAFD or SAIF, or is recommended by the Good Funeral Guide. This means that their premises and methods of operation will have been inspected, and thus meet or exceed recognised professional standards.

Five years or so ago, you could easily count the number of firms offering direct cremation on one hand. These days, an increasing number of traditional funeral directors, and several dedicated firms now offer the service, as a response to public demand. At Simplicita, the service we offer was devised back in 1991, and signalled the “birth” of Direct Cremation in the UK. A recent survey by the National Association of Funeral Directors revealed that around 85% of their members now offer some form of Direct Cremation as an option.

Go one step further, if you feel inclined. Ask if you can inspect their full facilities, including their mortuary . You would probably never wish to do so, but, if a firm refuses, then ask yourself, why?

As an outsider to “funeralworld”, you might think that all providers are broadly the same, delivering the same service in the same way. But, as with every other consumer purchase, there is a balance to be struck between getting value for money, and the quality of service provided.

It’s a fact that the proprietors of some UK websites offering direct cremation have few or no facilities. No properly equipped transfer vehicle. No trained staff. Nowhere for the deceased to rest between death and cremation.>>

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Artificially low prices can be very tempting, except that there is a point where it becomes impossible to provide a dignified, professional service, which is sustainable. Some of the prices that have been advertised on the internet in recent months arguably fall into that category.

>>Perhaps that also means no professional indemnity insurance, no public liability insurance, employer’s liability insurance etc etc? >>It does make you wonder what would happen if matters got delayed or didn’t quite go to plan…

It could be suggested that the £1000 (or less) figure that the press have been quoting in past newspaper articles, and indeed, also by some consumer organisations, is a trifle misleading. Yes, some cremations will easily fall within that price zone, but most will not, and it could be argued that a guide of between £1200 to £1500 is more realistic for the majority of serious direct cremation providers.

Direct cremation is much less involved than providing a full funeral service, hence, it may attract eager newcomers to “try their hand” at offering this option. Although every good business has to start somewhere, it is essential that those offering the service have sufficient experience and facilities to address the more complicated arrangements and situations that can occur from time to time. Direct cremation is also less expensive than the more traditional offerings, and with it comes the inevitable scramble for providers to undercut their competitors, in order to gain new business. Low prices are good news for consumers, but buyer beware, there may be a pitfall.

As we’re talking about direct cremation, then we can’t ignore direct cremation prepaid plans. Although plans aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, they certainly appeal to a very large, and growing number of people. A part of the funeral market that cannot be ignored.

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Are they established? Do they comply with current legislation?

If you’re looking into the possibility of purchasing such a plan, be mindful of the importance that the funds you pay towards the plan are placed in a secure and recognised place, such as a trust fund. It is advisable that the plan provider is also registered with the Funeral Planning Authority, or similar financial body. It’s also important that the plan you choose complies with the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.

For those that want to delve deeper, the Companies House website, for instance, provides a wealth of information, such as identifying directors of previously dissolved companies, which can help identify risks that you may wish to consider.

It can be argued that some of the plans currently on offer are priced at a level that (again) is unsustainable. The fear is that some of these offerings may very well be unable to provide the service promised when actually needed. If the price of a plan seems too good to be true‌. think very, very carefully! It is always prudent to research the background of plan providers, in order to reassure yourself that all is well, before making that most important purchase.

The ethics of direct cremation may well mean different things to different people. It is truly important that those firms who provide this service do so, with care, sensitivity, and the dignity that all families expect, when their loved one is entrusted into their care. It is equally important that those considering a direct cremation appreciate that without proper facilities, the websites that offer the lowest prices may not necessarily be the most prudent choice of service provider, for a very good reason.

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There are direct cremation plans on offer from several sources.


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6

reasons to have a funeral

No matter how far back you look in history, you will find evidence of funeral rituals. Within us, we have an innate need to honour, respect, and remember those who have died. Those we have loved. Funerals, as a ritual, don’t exist simply to exist. They have purpose and intentionality and meaning. Dr. Alan Wolfelt, respected grief counsellor, author, and educator, has done extensive research into the purposes of a funeral and why we, as people, need them. He says, “The funeral ritual…is a public, traditional and symbolic means of expressing our beliefs, thoughts and feelings about the death of someone loved. Rich in history and rife with symbolism, the funeral ceremony helps us acknowledge the reality of the death, gives testimony to the life of the deceased, encourages the expression of grief in a way consistent with the culture’s values, provides support to mourners, allows for the embracing of faith and beliefs about life and death, and offers continuity and hope for the living.” In Dr. Wolfelt’s experience, if a funeral meets these 6 purposes, then it is often meaningful and healing.

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Let’s review these 6 purposes in detail, so that we fully understand why funerals are so necessary and how they help us in our grief journeys.

Reality

When someone we love dies, our minds and hearts rebel against it at first. We don’t want to accept that the person we loved is gone. The first purpose of a funeral is to help us accept the reality of the death. In order to heal and grieve, we must first accept what has happened. At a healing and meaningful funeral, mourners have the chance to confront reality and begin processing theirs. The funeral is not the end of the grief journey – it is the beginning. We must learn to come to grips with our new reality – one without our loved one.


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A PUBLIC, TRADITIONAL AND SYMBOLIC MEANS OF EXPRESSING OUR BELIEFS, THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS ABOUT THE DEATH OF SOMEONE LOVED.

Recall

One of the key components of a funeral is remembering the one who has died. We see this happen in the eulogy, in the tribute video (if there is one), in the songs or readings chosen, as well as in the gathering of friends and family following the service. By recalling and sharing about our relationship with a loved one, we help ourselves transition. We begin the process of moving our relationship with the one who has died to one of memory rather than presence. We must go backward into our memories before we can go forward in our grief journeys.

Support

A third purpose of the funeral is to activate support. At a funeral, we gather with other people who knew our loved one.

We can share our memories, give voice to our feelings, and find support in others. When a funeral includes a visitation or a gathering, Mourners have the opportunity to come together and offer a listening ear and a caring hug.When no service is held, friends may keep their distance, thinking that the family wants to grieve privately. But with a public funeral, friends and neighbours can offer their caring support during a trying time.>>

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THE FUNERAL RITUAL IS


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Expression

As human beings, we are wired to feel. When we feel deeply but actively suppress our emotions, those feelings can become unbearable and begin to fester. Funerals are meant to act as a safe place for us to get our thoughts and emotions out. By putting our thoughts and feelings into action, we begin the journey toward healing. You may need to talk, cry, or just sit quietly with a person who cares. Whatever you may need, expression is an important purpose of a funeral. Through expression, we begin to put our grief in motion and create forward movement in the grief journey.

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Meaning

When someone we love dies, many questions begin to surface. Did the person I love live a good life? Why did this person die? Why do any of us die? While there are no simple answers to these questions, a funeral gives us time and opportunity to ask them and begin to find our way to answers that give us peace. By searching for meaning and allowing ourselves to find peace, we find purpose in our continued living and can work toward reconciling ourselves to the loss we have suffered.

Transcendence

The final purpose of a funeral is transcenence. This happens in two ways. First, the funeral helps us find a new self-identity. Funerals help us publicly mark a change in status. For example, someone who has lost their spouse goes from someone who is married to someone who is single.


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A funeral allows everyone to publicly acknowledge this change and begin offering the mourner support in their new status. Second, funerals often wake us up and make us think about our lives and how we want to spend our remaining days. Dr. Wolfelt puts it this way: “People who take the time and make the effort to create meaningful funeral arrangements when someone loved dies often end up making new arrangements in their own lives. They remember and reconnect with what is most meaningful to them in life. They strengthen bonds with family members and friends… [and] emerge changed, more authentic and purposeful. The best funerals remind us how we should live.”

As a Whole

These purposes are not necessarily distinct steps and may happen in any order, but they are intertwined. The funeral experience as a whole is like a rite of passage. We emerge transformed, with a new identity, a new relationship with our lost loved one, and a new relationship with our community. Unfortunately, not all funerals are successful in helping us heal. This is because we have lost part of our understanding of why funerals matter and how to create a meaningful and healing funeral ceremony that will give us a good start on the healing process. But it’s not too late to learn…

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