Beautiful funeral readings and poems for the non-religious

Flower seperator

Poems and readings can be incredibly comforting at times of loss and their words and meaning can make them a very special part of a funeral. There are lots of well-known readings and bible verses that are traditionally used at funerals. If you are looking for a non-religious alternative, however, there are some beautiful poems to choose from. Here are 7 of our favourites – we have many other suggestions so please don’t hesitate to ask if you would like more ideas.

  1. Not, How Did He Die, But How Did He Live?

By Summer Sandercox

 This short funeral verse is an uplifting poem about celebrating life and remembering someone who has made a positive impact on those around them.

Not, how did he die, but how did he live?
Not, what did he gain, but what did he give?
These are the units to measure the worth
Of a man as a man, regardless of his birth.
Nor what was his church, nor what was his creed?
But had he befriended those really in need?
Was he ever ready, with words of good cheer,
To bring back a smile, to banish a tear?
Not what did the sketch in the newspaper say,
But how many were sorry when he passed away?

Flower seperator
  1. Death (If I Should Go)

By Joyce Grenfell

Joyce Grenfell was a British actress and satirical writer who became well known for her wry humour. This poem is often used as a funeral verse because of its sense of fun and positivity.

If I should go before the rest of you
Break not a flower nor inscribe a stone
Nor when I’m gone speak in a Sunday voice

But be the usual selves that I have known
Weep if you must
Parting is Hell
But life goes on
So sing as well.

  1. Roads Go Ever On

By J. R. R. Tolkien

Life is often described as a journey and funerals are a time to reflect on this, making this passage from The Lord of the Rings a popular choice for funerals, particularly non-denominational or humanist ceremonies. In this beautiful reading, Bilbo acknowledges that his journey is complete.

Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.

Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star,
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green
And trees and hills they long have known.

Roads go ever on and on
Out from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
Let others follow it who can!
Let them a journey new begin,
But I at last with weary feet
Will turn towards the lighted inn,
My evening-rest and sleep to meet.

  1. Dear Lovely Death

by Langston Hughes

 We chose to include this poem because it introduces the idea of continuing bonds. You can read more about this on the Continuing Bonds section of our website. We have also written a blog What are Continuing Bonds which talks about how ,when someone dies, our relationship with them doesn’t end, but it changes.  This poem talks about the way things take on new significance after someone has died.

Dear lovely Death
That taketh all things under wing—
Never to kill—
Only to change
Into some other thing
This suffering flesh,
To make it either more or less,
But not again the same—
Dear lovely Death,
Change is thy other name.

  1. Funeral Blues

BY W H Auden

This tender poem by Yorkshire-born writer W H Auden was introduced to a new generation by John Hannah in the 1994 film Four Weddings and a Funeral. It is full of emotion and can be incredibly moving when used as a funeral reading. Although the tone is far from uplifting, it can be helpful to some people to acknowledge the hugeness of their grief and this poem does that very well.

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let airplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message “He is Dead”,
Put Crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday-rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk , my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood,
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

  1. She Is Gone (can also be read as He Is Gone)

By David Harkins

People often choose this gentle poem for the funeral of a mother. It was in fact read at the funeral of the Queen Mother. The words can be changed to make it suitable for a father’s funeral too. We think it’s a lovely verse to celebrate the life of anyone, not just a parent.

You can shed tears that she is gone
Or you can smile because she has lived

You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left

Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her
Or you can be full of the love that you shared

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday

You can remember her and only that she is gone
Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
Or you can do what she would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

  1. No Matter What

By Debi Gliori

Debi Gliori’s children’s book No Matter What deals with the big worries that little children often have. In the book, Small’s mother says reassuringly, “I’ll always love you, no matter what.” The excerpt below can be used as a tender reading for a funeral where young children may be present. It is also very comforting for all ages.

Small said, “But what about when we are dead and gone, will you love me then, does love go on?”

…Large (replied) “Look at the stars, how they shine and glow, some of the stars died a long time ago. Still they shine in the evening skies, for you see…love like starlight never dies…”

These are just a few of the many non-denominational readings that can be chosen for a funeral. Sometimes, the person who has died will have had a favourite book, author or poem and this could have significance. They may even have shared an idea when talking about their funeral wishes. If you are thinking about making and sharing your own funeral wishes, you can find more information on our Funeral Plans and Wishes page.

Sarah
Christmas card

Writing a Christmas card after bereavement can be difficult. You might worry about what to write, whether to mention the person who has died, whether to mention Christmas or you might be wondering if you should send one at all.

If you are writing to someone who has been bereaved:

There are no hard and fast rules, but we would always suggest that a kinder gesture would be to send the card. If you don’t then there is a danger that the individual or family might feel ignored or avoided.

If you would like to steer away from too much overt Christmas sentiment, then you could choose another type of card with a blank inside. This still shows that you are thinking of them and avoids any worry about feeling insensitive with Christmas wishes.

We would encourage you to mention the person who has died on the card. Some people choose to include their name with the person / people the card is addressed to – possibly saying “I hope you don’t mind me including Jim, it didn’t feel right to leave him out”, or you could acknowledge their name in the body of the card. Alternatively you could use the family name – “Dear Family Jones”…

You should include a message that feels right to you and it is okay to say that you weren’t sure what the right thing to write was but you just wanted them to know that you are thinking of them! Messages like “I am thinking of you all – I image the holidays might be a difficult time for you”, “I really want you to know that I am here for you, whenever you might want to talk” or simply “You are in my thoughts”.

If you have been bereaved:

Again, there are no rules or accepted etiquette about whether to send Christmas cards after you have been bereaved. We would suggest that you send them if you want to and don’t if you would rather not. Everybody will understand if you choose not to.

If you do choose to send cards, then you might like to send it to a smaller group of people and feel that it is important to acknowledge your grief in the card or you might just want to share Christmas wishes and feelings of hope. Many people choose to write the name of the person who has died within the card or included in who the card is from or sign off using the family name – “Best wishes from Family Brown”.

As with so much after bereavement it is very hard to know how you feel hour-to-hour and day-to-day. There is not right or wrong way to send, or not send, the cards so we would strongly encourage you to do what feels right for you.

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Flower seperator

Poems and readings can be incredibly comforting at times of loss and their words and meaning can make them a very special part of a funeral. There are lots of well-known readings and bible verses that are traditionally used at funerals. If you are looking for a non-religious alternative, however, there are some beautiful poems to choose from. Here are 7 of our favourites – we have many other suggestions so please don’t hesitate to ask if you would like more ideas.

  1. Not, How Did He Die, But How Did He Live?

By Summer Sandercox

 This short funeral verse is an uplifting poem about celebrating life and remembering someone who has made a positive impact on those around them.

Not, how did he die, but how did he live?
Not, what did he gain, but what did he give?
These are the units to measure the worth
Of a man as a man, regardless of his birth.
Nor what was his church, nor what was his creed?
But had he befriended those really in need?
Was he ever ready, with words of good cheer,
To bring back a smile, to banish a tear?
Not what did the sketch in the newspaper say,
But how many were sorry when he passed away?

Some ideas for you to consider

The tone of the funeral – if someone was quiet or reserved, flamboyant or cheeky then this could be reflected in the funeral. You have control over the flow and tone of the funeral.

Put a personal item on top of the coffin – this might be with or without a flower arrangement. For example, you may choose some binoculars, dancing shoes, a racing post or a gardening trowel and terracotta pot.

Choose a colourful coffin or ashes casket – there are a huge range of coffins available, decorated with different flowers, team colours, animals, colours, and themes such as sports and countries. Alternatively, you can create a fully bespoke coffin with photographs and other artistic media.

Decorate the coffin yourself – if you choose a white or manila cardboard coffin then you might choose to decorate this yourself. You can paint the coffin, create a collage with photographs, notes, and other graphics.  This might be something that you would like to do with other friends and family – so you are creating something personal together.

Photographs and videos – choosing one or more photographs to show during a service is a wonderful way to include many people, places, and life stages. It also helps those present to connect with the event and the person who has died.

A “funeral favour” – you might choose to give something to people who attend the service, in memory of the person who has died. This can be particularly poignant if there is something which immediately springs to mind – maybe they loved Tunnocks Teacakes, Dairy Milk or Werther’s Original.

Refreshments – choosing a favourite food or drink to enjoy during refreshments can be a lovely way to acknowledge the tastes of the person who has died. An afternoon tea, lemon drizzle cake, sherry or Martini may feel very fitting.

If you would like to find out more about funeral choices or if you are thinking about leaving wishes for your own funeral, you can contact us on 01943 262626 or at [email protected]

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You may also be interested in our book Funerals Your Way which has plenty of information about arranging the kind of funeral you want and how to reflect the life of the person who has died.

Why it can be helpful to express your funeral wishes when you know you are reaching the end of your life

Learning that you have a life-limiting illness or terminal diagnosis requires many adjustments in the way you think, feel, and communicate with your friends and family. In time, one of the things you may start to think about is how you would like to be remembered and the kind of funeral you want.

We have helped many people in this situation to start thinking about their funeral choices and prepare themselves to talk to those closest to them about their wishes. The feedback we have had, both from the person who is expressing their wishes and those making the funeral arrangements, is that exploring and making funeral wishes is a positive experience for everyone involved.

Here are some of the reasons why people tell us they have found it helpful.


 

It allows them to talk more openly about what is happening

Some countries and cultures around the world feel much more comfortable talking about death than we tend to in the UK, where there is typically fear and avoidance around the topic.  Broaching the subject of your funeral wishes can overcome some of these barriers, trigger meaningful conversations and help those closest to you to overcome their own fears. People tell us that these conversations can feel liberating and create a closeness and understanding that would not otherwise have been possible.

It gives them time to consider what is possible

Almost anything is possible when you are arranging a funeral and there are very few rules that must be followed. When we talk to people about their wishes, we encourage them to think about the things that are important to them. By introducing elements that reflect their interests and personality, the whole occasion can become very unique. We believe it is important to give people the space to explore what they want and to guide them gently by letting them know what is possible. Sometimes the conversation can take a surprising and uplifting direction which might only happen with this time and space to explore.

It can be a gift to those making the arrangements

When we are supporting people to arrange a funeral, we are deeply aware of their desire to fulfil the wishes of the person who has died. If the person had a conversation with them before they died or left written wishes, it is almost like a gift to those making the arrangements. Fulfilling these wishes is very consoling and can help with the grief process.

It gives peace of mind

When you have made the big decisions yourself and have set out your funeral wishes, you have peace of mind that everything will be done as you would like. This can be particularly comforting when you know you are reaching the end of your life. You are leaving nothing to chance. People tell us that they often feel a great sense of relief when all the decisions have been made and shared, either in writing or verbally.

 

There is time to plan

We understand how beneficial it can be for people to express their wishes and for others to know that they are doing things in the way they would want, and we offer free support to people who want to discuss their funeral wishes with us. There is no obligation to use us for the funeral.

We are here to provide information and gentle support to help people make the choices that are important to them. Our funeral specialists are sensitive and experienced. They will spend time supporting people to think about the type of funeral they want and the choices available, making it as easy as possible for them to create the funeral they want.

If you would like to talk to us about expressing your funeral wishes, please email [email protected] or call us. If you work in a sector where you support people who may benefit from expressing their funeral wishes, we have resources available. Please get in touch.

 

You may also be interested in reading about Mandy’s funeral wishes and how she found it helpful to explore what was possible.

Read our blog: How a funeral can be made more personal

When someone is grieving it can be hard to know how best to help. We might tell them that we are there for them and ask if there’s anything we can do but often the person can’t articulate what they need.

A common practice is to bring food – we can show people that we care by taking the time to cook them something nutritious. This is a lovely gesture and is often warmly welcomed by people who might be struggling to think about feeding themselves and their families. A casserole can give them important nutrition at a time when they may be neglecting their wellbeing. A cake can be useful to offer people who drop in to offer condolences.  We also know that nutrition and hydration are important to support wellbeing after the physical and mental stress of bereavement.

Food is a practical way to help and there are plenty of other ways to give useful support after bereavement. Here are a few ideas and things that people have told us they have found helpful.

Tea and coffee

One alternative to bringing a cake or casserole is to make up a basket of teabags and ground or instant coffee, perhaps with a packet of nice biscuits too, that can be used for visitors.

Gardening

Depending on the time of year, an offer to cut the lawn or tidy the garden might be very welcome. Rather than asking whether the person would like their lawn cutting, it might be more helpful to let them know that you cut your lawn on a certain day of the week and will pop across and do theirs for the next few weeks, while you have your mower out. This can make it easier for them to accept the gesture.

Childcare

If there are young children in the family, an offer to take them to the park for a morning or help with school and activity runs is likely to be appreciated. Although they may want to involve their children in discussions about death and visits from well-wishers, the offer of a distraction for younger members of the family and help in maintaining their routine will be appreciated.

Walking the dog

Routine activities like walking the dog can feel like a huge effort following bereavement. An offer to call in once or twice a day to take the dog out is a down-to-earth way to show support. Once again, giving definite times and sticking to them will be extra helpful.

Stay in touch

If you don’t live close enough to offer practical day to day support, keep in touch with a regular phone call or visit. Remember to continue contact after the funeral and keep in mind that there is no timescale for grief. Your support and presence may be needed for some time to come.

A regular message asking – “How are you today?” lets them know that you are thinking of them and avoids asking that one big tricky question “How are you?”.

Arrange activities and outings

Everyone grieves in different ways and some people can take time before they are ready to resume things they used to enjoy doing. They may find it hard to be in group situations because they are worried about becoming emotional. Think about arranging safe activities that can be cancelled at short notice, such as a walk in the park or a trip to the beach.

Again, this is something that can continue for many months after the funeral and may even become a regular routine. When someone is grieving, it can be helpful simply to know that someone is calling in every other Friday for a walk or a cup of coffee, even if they don’t feel up to it on the day.

Don’t worry if your offers are rejected

Grief brings up all sorts of emotions and it can affect the way a person behaves from one day to the next. Try not to take it personally if your offers of help are turned down or if you unintentionally say something that is taken the wrong way. By continuing to be present, available and not taking offence, you will be providing support anyway.

Bereavement is a time of loss and change which is why the constant presence and support of friends and family members is so important. Gratitude may not always be apparent but in the long term, as the person adjusts to their new way of living, your dependability will make a difference.

If you are supporting someone who is bereaved there are some useful resources on our website that may help them. You can find details of creative activities and ways of remembering someone who has died on our page about continuing bonds. We also run a bereavement support group which is open to all.

Human composting, also known as natural organic reduction (NOR), is an alternative to burial or cremation that’s  currently available in some parts of the US. Full Circle Funerals has been supporting Yorkshire lawyer Ian, who’s arranged for his body to be composted, when he dies.  Here he shares with us why he chose this natural approach, and how he discussed his choices with his family.

When did you start to think about the type of funeral you wanted?

Following the death of a neighbour and serious illness in my family, when I turned 70 my own mortality suddenly hit me in the face, and I began to dwell on my death. It made me feel rather depressed, if I’m honest, but it also led me to think about what would happen to my body after I died. I’ve been to a few cremations and was unimpressed, at some, by the fact that they seemed to be no more than a conveyor belt type of service, which was rather impersonal, in my experience, with the Celebrant clearly not knowing the person at all. That said, I’ve attended two, beautiful, cremation services, in Churches, one, in fact, the neighbour’s, arranged by Full Circle, which is why I made contact with them. I also have a bit of a strange phobia of being 6ft under.

The Recompose composting vessel is a steel cylinder, 8 feet long and 4 feet tall., that transforms human bodies into soil. The vessel rests inside of a hexagonal frame. Each body is placed into the vessel on a bed of wood chips, alfalfa, and straw.
Photo Credit: Recompose

What led you to consider human composting as an option?

I read an article about human composting, in the Guardian, a couple of years ago, to which I was immediately attracted, so I was aware of this as an alternative. I’m quite environmentally aware, and like to be forward thinking, and I was an early adopter of the electric car, for example.  Despite this, and the fact that I’m known for being a bit of a non-conformist, when I mentioned human composting to my family, they thought I was absolutely bonkers!

Did you consider any other alternatives?

I looked into human composting in more detail and also looked at other processes such as aquamation, which Archbishop Desmond Tutu had, but, although the equipment is made in Leeds, this isn’t available in the UK, just yet. There’s a freeze-drying/shattering process too, I discovered, but I don’t think that’s got off the ground. I was interested in the Sikh tradition of open pyre funerals, which again involves a natural process, above ground. Following a High Court case that permitted them on religious reasons, I understand they’re now available in Northumbria, but apparently only for Sikhs. My wife and I visited two natural burial grounds, in Yorkshire, but these still involve being buried, somewhat deep underground, which I don’t want.

A posed dummy with plant material demonstrates how the decedent’s body is placed in a Recompose cradle during a laying-in ceremony, just before the soil transformation process begins.
Photo Credit: Recompose

How did you go about researching and planning for natural organic reduction?

I’m using a company called Recompose in Seattle, WA, USA. My wife did say that she’d prefer my remains to stay in Yorkshire, but we discussed it, and I explained that a traditional funeral service isn’t something I want, as an agnostic. I want to be neither buried, nor cremated, and prefer for my remains to be returned back to nature, as soil, on the surface of the Planet, in a beautiful landscape, and I don’t want anyone to feel any obligation to make a pilgrimage to visit and tend a grave, whatsoever.

The environmental impact is quite important to me too. Cremations use a lot of natural gas, and release a lot of CO2 etc, and cemeteries use valuable land, that’s in short supply, that could be used for other purposes. I had to confirm that my body could be transported to the US without being embalmed, as that would mean that it couldn’t be composted. I’m pleased to say that this is possible, thanks to David Billington’s researches. The only aspect with a carbon footprint is the flight, but I’ve kind of  justified that to myself in the knowledge that the flight would be going anyway, and it won’t be being arranged just for me. By being a relatively early adopter of this process, in due course, I hope that in the future it will be available more widely, particularly in the UK, so that there’s no need to travel overseas.

How does human composting work?

The whole process is very natural and beautiful. My body will be laid in a cradle within a honeycomb structure above ground and be covered with plant material, including alfalfa, wood chips and straw. I’ve chosen some of my favourite music to be played during my “laying in”. Over the next 30 days, microbes that occur naturally in our bodies and the environment will transform my body into nutrient-dense soil. The whole process is very in tune with people and nature. The soil can be returned to relatives if they live in the US, but I’ve chosen for mine to be used in a mountain re-wilding project near Seattle.

The lifecycle of human to soil allows us to return to the natural ecosystem
Image Credit: Olson Kundig

How have you found the process of choosing and setting out your funeral wishes?

It’s been an extremely positive process. I don’t have to worry any more about what will happen to my body after I die, so I’ve no fear of dying now, and it’s really helped me to know what is going to happen in the end, and, until then, I intend to live life to the fullest.

David, at Full Circle, was very friendly, understood my concerns and phobias, helpfully listened to my needs, did the necessary research, and liaised with Recompose, who are also great to work with.

I’ve signed up to Recompose’s “Precompose” plan, where I’m locked in at a fixed price, and pay a monthly instalment, by a direct debit, from my credit card. When I die, Full Circle will set the wheels in motion, in the UK, and send me to Recompose, who will take over from there. Of course, there’ll be additional fees to pay Full Circle, and I set aside a monthly sum, in a savings account specifically for that, so my wife won’t have to worry about finding that money when I go.

The NOR process is now legal in Washington State, California, Colorado and New York State (the most recent adopter). Who knows, legislation permitting, Recompose may one day open a Branch here. My Plan is transferrable to any of their locations, but, at present, I’m staying with their HQ in Seattle, a city I’ve visited, many years ago, and my son lives not too far away in Canada.

You might be reading this because you are planning a funeral for someone who cared about the environment, or you may be thinking about sustainability for your own funeral.  This is quite a broad subject and one where we are actively engaged in gathering and sharing knowledge, to make such decisions easier in the future. In fact, we are currently undertaking research to generate more data which will help people make informed planet friendly choices about different aspects of a funeral.

In this article we have chosen to focus on 7 areas to think about when planning a funeral that has a low impact on the environment. There are many more and our team would be happy to discuss the topic in more detail, or answer specific questions you may have about funeral sustainability.

Choose to be unembalmed

Green burials, such as woodland burials (more on that in a moment), generally require bodies to be unembalmed. This is because the chemicals used in embalming have been found to seep into groundwater, which can be harmful to the environment. If you care about the planet, we recommend that you specify your preference not to be embalmed.

Green funeral travel

At Full Circle Funerals we have our own fully electric eco hearse which is a popular option for those looking to reduce their impact on the environment. In an ideal world, everyone attending the funeral would walk or cycle to the venue. A lot depends on the availability of locations which are easily accessible and the willingness of those attending. It does make sense to consider travel and transport carefully, providing plenty of information on public transport options and car sharing as much as possible. Since the covid pandemic we are all more comfortable with streaming funerals online. This could be offered to people who want to limit their impact on the environment and have a distance to travel, although being present at a funeral can be incredibly important in the grieving process and a person’s decision to travel should always be respected

Alternatives to cremation

Cremation is the most popular choice in the UK (78% of people who died in the UK in 2020 were flame cremated using gas) but the process has a high environmental impact due to the energy used and reliance on fossil fuels.  There are a number of alternatives to consider, although the choice in this country is still fairly limited. There are a good number of woodland burial sites, where burials take place in a natural woodland setting and the grave can be marked by planting a tree. Human composting and resomation (natural cremation with water) are other natural processes which have been designed to have low impact, although these are currently only available in the US. Watch this space, as there is growing interest and demand in the UK for green alternatives to cremation.

Eco caskets

We recently ran a successful Crowdfunder to fund research into how different coffin types impact the environment. This study is now being carried out by Planet Mark and will gather  data for ten common coffin choices, depending on whether they will be cremated (by flame or resomation) or buried (natural or traditional). The results will help people make more informed choices. In the meantime, eco caskets made from natural materials such as wicker and cardboard, which biodegrade easily, are popular options. There are of course many different variations on the market and some are greener than others, depending on where the materials have been sourced and the caskets made. If you need any more information to help you choose, we would be happy to help.

 

Green options for flowers and tributes

It is now fairly common to request charity donations instead of floral tributes at a funeral. If you do decide to have flowers, the greenest option is to choose locally grown seasonal blooms. Local growers can be found by visiting Flowers from the Farm or ask your florist to use local flowers. Other ideas include paperchains made by friends and family, paper flowers and handmade natural wreaths.

Planting a memorial tree or meadow

If you are considering the environment, you may prefer to plant a memorial tree or wildflower meadow as an alternative to a headstone or bench.

After the funeral

We know that travel contributes greatly to our environmental challenges and if people are regularly travelling long distance to a grave or other site to remember, then these miles can add up over the months and years.  Post funeral rituals are really important but it is helpful to consider options which require less travelling.  Choosing a place in a family garden for a memorial birdbath or rose bush, or a bench in a local park could be a beautiful and meaningful alternative.

If you would like to know more about green funerals read our blog or contact us  

You can also find out more here.

Someone recently described Full Circle as an ethical funeral director – and that got me thinking.  We have a very clear purpose and are a certified B Corp (Business for Good) but what is “ethical funeral care” and can I put my hand on my heart and say that we deliver it?

Funeral directors in the UK are currently unregulated, which means the industry does not have minimum standards or a code of conduct to work towards. There is also no requirement for those working in funeral care to belong to a trade body.  So, in my quest to find out what “ethical funeral care is”, I didn’t have a checklist to compare us to (which is a shame because I do love a good “gap analysis”).

So, after some contemplation I can share five principles that drive everything that we do, and which have led me to conclude that we are indeed an ethical funeral director (phew).

1) We never do anything that we would not be willing to discuss

Our benchmark is to never do anything that we would not be happy to share with a family we are supporting. This includes price, practice and limitations. By operating with compete transparency and integrity, we can have more meaningful conversations and make it easy for people to have the funeral they want.  This is also a very helpful key principle when faced with difficult and sensitive decisions or circumstances.

There are very few things that are not possible when arranging a funeral, although there are sometimes restrictions due to locations, budgets, timings and external factors. We always share every bit of practical information we can so that people can make informed choices. If there are things they would like to consider, we will gather all the facts and present them clearly.

2) We commit to creating a work environment where people can thrive

Our team members come from all walks of life, and we love to watch them grow in confidence with us, particularly if they have shifted from a very different career path. We want everyone to be their best selves, which means creating a positive space where they can feel they have a voice, to contribute ideas and ask for help.  I can testify that I spent a not insignificant amount of time “worrying at” this, and committed to being as inclusive, collaborative, open and kind as I can.

Being a funeral director is incredibly satisfying work, though we recognise it can also be emotionally tough. By giving our staff time to reflect and the support they need, they can develop the resilience to give others strength to navigate through bereavement. We want them to feel confident that their mental wellbeing is being cared for as well as their training and development.

3) We consider the planet in everything that we do

Our planet needs us to make the right choices, in everyday life and in business. We have proven our commitment to being the best we can be in terms of environmental impact and sustainability by becoming the first UK funeral director to achieve B Corp status. We now share the knowledge gained through the rigorous accreditation process to help other businesses succeed in their B Corp journey, by speaking at events and being proactive members of the Yorkshire B Local movement.

If you are interested in learning more about our B Corp journey, you may be interested in reading about becoming a B Corp funeral director.

The environment is taken into consideration in everything that we do and we measure everything that we can with a view to reducing out impact when possible.  Our enthusiasm to tackle the sticky “scope 3” problem resulted in us leading a crowdfunding campaign to fund independent research into the environmental impact of our supply chain.

 

5) We want to do the right thing and deliver the best possible care

Every family we support is unique and our priority is ensuring that their needs are met.  As everyone has different needs, we work to tailor our support and are flexible in style and tone.  This means that we don’t have packages and nothing is standardised – we don’t hold stock or have preferred providers as we believe this will ultimately compromise choice.  This means we need to have a larger team than other funeral directors of our size – but we believe that gives us the depth and breadth that people need and deserve.

Within funeral care, one of the ways we try to do the right thing is by leading and participating in research, which we know begins to provide an evidence base to inform future regulation, training and quality assurance for the industry.

We also collaborate with local businesses and third sector organisations to share learning and good practice in doing the right things as a business in Yorkshire.  Ethical businesses in all sectors face similar challenges about how to have the best possible impact, reduce their GHGe, strive for a more ethical supply chain and decide how to give what they can in the most impactful way.

 

What do you think?

A always, I would love to know what you think… are these the most important five principles?  have I missed anything?  Has reading this sparked a thought or suggestion about how we can have a bigger impact for people, planet or team?

And, watch this space – I hope to be able to share the community funded green funeral report by Planet Mark soon… I know it is going to be interesting, thought-provoking and a hope it helps contribute to a tipping-point towards a greener funeral sector!

 

Flowers can play an important role during the funeral. They can bring comfort after bereavement and be a beautiful way to remember someone who has died. Because of this, you might want to preserve the flowers once the service has concluded. There are a few ways that you can do this.

Pressed Flowers

Pressing the petals will allow you to make beautiful art from your funeral flowers. The good news is that this is very easy to do. In this case, you will need to carefully remove the petals from your flowers. Once you have done this, you will need to press them flat. This can be done by placing them into a book and closing the pages. You will often need to wait for a week for the petals to become flat. If you have a flower press, you can also use this piece of equipment.

Once you have done this, you can spray the flowers with hair spray. While this sounds a little unconventional, it will preserve the color for a few more months. If you want more tips about pressing flowers, check out this article.

After you have dried out your petals, you can turn them into a piece of art to remember the person that has died. For example, you might want to use a hot glue gun to stick them to a piece of paper. This can be marked with the name of the person that has died, the date they were born, and the date they died. Another option is to stick the flowers around a picture frame of the person that has died.

Creating Dried Flowers

If you want to create dried flowers, there are a few options that you can explore. One of the easiest options is to dry-hang them. In this case, you will need to bind the stems together. Then, tie a piece of string around them. Then, you will be able to hang them on a rod or a hanger. Then, you can leave them to air dry. This will often take between three to four weeks. It’s best to do this in a location that doesn’t have a lot of humidity.

Another option you can explore is oven-drying your flowers. In this case, you will need to choose a baking tray and cover it with a layer of sand. Place the flowers in the tray, covering them with sand. Then, place them into the oven, which should be set to 200 degrees Fahrenheit (93 degrees Celsius). Often, it will take two hours for them to dry out, though it’s best to check on them after an hour. After doing this, you will need to wait for the flowers to cool down before you handle them.

A third option is to dry them out in the microwave. In this case, you will need to place a layer of silica at the base of the container. Then, you will need to put the flower on top and cover it with silica. Place a glass of water next to it in the microwave. Then, keep microwaving the flower in 30-second increments until the flower is dry.  You will need to leave it in the silica container for 24 hours. This article gives you more tips on how you can dry out your flowers.

Once you have finished drying out your funeral flowers, you should give them a thin coating of hair spray. This helps preserve the color of the flower. You can then display your bouquet of dried funeral flowers in a vase in your home. The color should last for several months before it starts to fade.

Wax Dipping

Finally, you might want to consider wax dipping your flowers. To do this, you will need to use some melted paraffin wax. This can either be melted in a saucepan or a slow cooker. It’s best to use a pot liner to make the clean-up process easier. Just remember that this type of wax is very flammable, so be careful when you are melting it down.

Once the wax is melted, take the pot off the heat and wait for it to cool. You should be able to stick your finger in without burning yourself. Furthermore, you shouldn’t notice the wax bubbling around the flower, or causing the flower to wilt when you dip it in. If this is happening, it’s a sign that the wax is too hot.

Once the wax is at the right temperature, you will need to dip the flower head into the wax. This is often easier if you trim the stem before you begin. You will need to dip the flower head twice. Then, wait for a few minutes while the wax hardens, preserving your flower. Once the wax is hard, you’ll need to repeat the process, dipping the stem. In the end, the whole flower should have a thin coating of wax. This will help your flowers retain their beauty for several months or years.

Conclusion

A bouquet of beautiful flowers can bring comfort during the funeral and help you remember someone important and unique. This list of funeral flowers can give some ideas for the type of flowers that can be used to create meaningful and personal arrangements. Hopefully, you now have a better idea of some ways to keep these flowers looking fresh for several months, so you can remember the funeral that you created as a final gift.

 


 

Poems and readings can be incredibly comforting at times of loss and their words and meaning can make them a very special part of a funeral. There are lots of well-known readings and bible verses that are traditionally used at funerals. If you are looking for a non-religious alternative, however, there are some beautiful poems to choose from. Here are 7 of our favourites – we have many other suggestions so please don’t hesitate to ask if you would like more ideas.

  1. Not, How Did He Die, But How Did He Live?

By Summer Sandercox

 This short funeral verse is an uplifting poem about celebrating life and remembering someone who has made a positive impact on those around them.

Not, how did he die, but how did he live?
Not, what did he gain, but what did he give?
These are the units to measure the worth
Of a man as a man, regardless of his birth.
Nor what was his church, nor what was his creed?
But had he befriended those really in need?
Was he ever ready, with words of good cheer,
To bring back a smile, to banish a tear?
Not what did the sketch in the newspaper say,
But how many were sorry when he passed away?

Some ideas for you to consider

The tone of the funeral – if someone was quiet or reserved, flamboyant or cheeky then this could be reflected in the funeral. You have control over the flow and tone of the funeral.

Put a personal item on top of the coffin – this might be with or without a flower arrangement. For example, you may choose some binoculars, dancing shoes, a racing post or a gardening trowel and terracotta pot.

Choose a colourful coffin or ashes casket – there are a huge range of coffins available, decorated with different flowers, team colours, animals, colours, and themes such as sports and countries. Alternatively, you can create a fully bespoke coffin with photographs and other artistic media.

Decorate the coffin yourself – if you choose a white or manila cardboard coffin then you might choose to decorate this yourself. You can paint the coffin, create a collage with photographs, notes, and other graphics.  This might be something that you would like to do with other friends and family – so you are creating something personal together.

Photographs and videos – choosing one or more photographs to show during a service is a wonderful way to include many people, places, and life stages. It also helps those present to connect with the event and the person who has died.

A “funeral favour” – you might choose to give something to people who attend the service, in memory of the person who has died. This can be particularly poignant if there is something which immediately springs to mind – maybe they loved Tunnocks Teacakes, Dairy Milk or Werther’s Original.

Refreshments – choosing a favourite food or drink to enjoy during refreshments can be a lovely way to acknowledge the tastes of the person who has died. An afternoon tea, lemon drizzle cake, sherry or Martini may feel very fitting.

If you would like to find out more about funeral choices or if you are thinking about leaving wishes for your own funeral, you can contact us on 01943 262626 or at [email protected]

To receive our latest news and articles direct to your inbox every few months sign up to our newsletter

You may also be interested in our book Funerals Your Way which has plenty of information about arranging the kind of funeral you want and how to reflect the life of the person who has died.

Which type of Will do I need?

There are a few different types of Wills, designed to meet different people’s situations.  Some can be complex, some are straightforward.  Two of the most common are:

Single Will – for single people or those with different wishes to their partners

Mirror Will – for couples that have almost identical wishes.

 

Rucklidge Law is a family-owned law firm, covering the Yorkshire area.  We specialise in helping people to plan for the future.  As well as Will Writing, we also help our clients with Lasting Power of Attorney and Probate services.

Contact Rucklidge Law for a free 30-minute legal consultation.

Email us at [email protected]

Call us on 01904 806031

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