Thinking outside the box one last time


UK – We’re lucky in Britain not to face the kind of restrictions over death ceremonies in place elsewhere, so it’s useful to know what some of the options are – to come up with your own.

It was good to see the Italian family of coffee impresario Renato Bialetti housing his ashes in a totally appropriate coffee pot urn last week. The freedom to be creative and to add personal touches to funerals is something that the British are getting really good at too. In fact, our ability to organise alternative funerals is the envy of most of the world, as many other countries are strictly controlled by a combination of state law, church and industry. At the moment we are not restricted and are free to choose. Long may this continue.

Funerals are usually made up of two parts, the disposal – cremation or burial and the ceremony – with or without God. In modern times, it is becoming increasingly common to see some separation of the two. Like David Bowie and Lemmy, an unattended, prompt cremation or burial can take place followed by a considered memorial service or ceremony, possibly based around the disposal of the ashes at a later date. This gives family and friends time to be creative and arrange a get-together at a venue of their choice, getting away from what is considered by many to be the grim process of the crematoria conveyor-belt slot. These are called direct funerals and can save a lot of money.

Increasingly families in the UK are choosing to exercise other freedoms too. There is a growing home funeral movement where families are keeping their dead at home. After all this is what we used to do back in the day before the funeral industry sprang up. I spoke to one family last week who organised a burial within three days of their mum dying at home. They kept her cool, gently placed her in the coffin themselves and drove her to the cemetery.

Read the rest of the article by Rosie Inman-Cook on the Guardian website.

Image courtesy of the Willows Natural Burial Grounds.