"Ask a funeral director"
I recently took part in an online event with staff from London's modern funeral director, Poppy's.
Along with Amy, a funeral director, and Aaron, their mortuary manager, I answered questions about our work from, ‘How can I make a coffin more personal?’ to, ‘Is it ok to help care for someone in the mortuary after they’ve died?’
I was asked about how a funeral director might match me with a family, as well as how to make a funeral more individual - and you can watch my answer here. Another interesting question was about splitting a funeral up over several days or locations. It's worth considering if you'd like time privately to reflect the sadness you feel as a family, and separately to celebrate the person’s life with a larger group of friends. We also talked about tips for scattering ashes after a cremation – be it in a cemetery, on a waterway or even in a firework!
One participant asked about recent changes in the ways our society talks about death. Amy spoke about Dying Matters, part of the hospice movement which has brought the conversation to the fore and has a helpful website.
We busted the common myth that when curtains are closed after a cremation funeral service, the coffin rolls directly into a cremator while everyone is still in the chapel. In fact, there’s always a time lag between the service and the cremation itself. For safety reasons, the cremator is in a room a short distance away in the same building, and the coffin is transferred between the two on a special trolley.
Some people worry that they’re not getting the ashes of their relative, but Aaron was able to list a chain of checks that happen after someone has died but before their body is buried or cremated, allaying any fear that the body of your person has gone astray or that their ashes have been given to a different family.
In all it was a great experience to answer a range of interesting questions and it was lovely to be asked to join the wonderful team at Poppy’s to bust a few myths from the perspective of a celebrant.