How We Became a B Corp

We are thrilled to announce that we have become the first UK funeral director to gain B Corp certification. The accreditation officially recognises us for our positive environmental and social impact and we join big names in the B Corp movement including Finisterre, Patagonia, Bol, Dash Water and The Body Shop – as well as many smaller companies too.

All B Corps have one thing in common – we put huge significance on meeting the highest possible standards of social, community and environmental impact.

 

What is a B Corp?

The concept of B Corps was launched in the United States in 2006 and there are now over 3,500 certified B Corps across 74 countries.  There are more than 400 in the UK.

B Corp is short for ‘benefit corporation’ because businesses with B Corp status seek to be a force for good and use their role as a business to solve social and environmental challenges.

 

How do you become a B Corp?

B Corp accredited businesses have met very high social and environmental standards and have proven themselves to demonstrate both transparency and legal accountability.

Far from being a tick box exercise, B Corps need to demonstrate that they are taking meaningful action to make a difference. The process is not straightforward and isn’t for the faint-hearted. It will force you to look at every area of your business in detail.

The assessment process looks at five areas: workers, customers, environment, community and governance. Preparation took us many months as we looked at all our processes and really focused on how we do what we do, why we do it and what influence we have on others – whether those people are in our business, work alongside us in our industry and community or come to us for help to arrange a funeral and for ongoing bereavement support.

Once we had prepared everything and had made absolutely sure that we could confidently invite scrutiny from the B Corp assessors, we underwent independent evaluation which included interviews and submissions of evidence.

Yes, we are a B Corp now but this is an ongoing process and we will need to recertify in there years’ time. For that reason, we will continue to monitor ourselves, talk about how we can improve and look for opportunities to be a force for good.

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What it means to us

Becoming a B Corp is a huge achievement for a business of our size and shows just how hard we are working to ensure we have a positive impact on the people we support, the community, our team and the world in which we live and work.

We are particularly proud to be the first UK funeral business to become accredited and this has only been possible thanks to the enthusiasm and sheer inspiration of our lovely team.

The accreditation process is rigorous and has seen us being assessed on a whole range of measures such as how we create benefit for our employees and the communities where we work, how we respect the environment and our positive impact on the bereaved people we support.”

 

What it means to our clients

People generally are becoming much more aware of the ethics of the businesses they choose to use or visit. As a funeral director, we are looking after people at a very sensitive time in their lives and the personal nature of what we do means that those who are bereaved often want to be supported by people who share their values.

As an accredited B Corp, people know that the way we interact with them and the wider world matters to us. It matters so much to us that we have taken great lengths to challenge ourselves to be the best we possible can be.

We go out of our way to listen and to offer individualised support. If the environment is important to the person who died or those arranging the funeral, we have lots of ideas and low carbon options for green funerals. Whatever their priorities are, we go out of our way to help.

 

What next?

Becoming a B Corp has been a fascinating and exciting journey which has taught us so much about ourselves, our impact on others and our potential to become a force for good. We are constantly learning and will continue to review how we work, follow best practice and talk about what we can do better.

We are hugely committed to sharing what we have learnt with others who are on a similar journey and would welcome other businesses to contact us to talk about what we did and how we made it through the certification process.”

 

To receive our newsletters and information about new blogs – please sign up here.

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We are thrilled to announce that we have become the first UK funeral director to gain B Corp certification. The accreditation officially recognises us for our positive environmental and social impact and we join big names in the B Corp movement including Finisterre, Patagonia, Bol, Dash Water and The Body Shop – as well as many smaller companies too.

All B Corps have one thing in common – we put huge significance on meeting the highest possible standards of social, community and environmental impact.

 

What is a B Corp?

The concept of B Corps was launched in the United States in 2006 and there are now over 3,500 certified B Corps across 74 countries.  There are more than 400 in the UK.

B Corp is short for ‘benefit corporation’ because businesses with B Corp status seek to be a force for good and use their role as a business to solve social and environmental challenges.

 

How do you become a B Corp?

B Corp accredited businesses have met very high social and environmental standards and have proven themselves to demonstrate both transparency and legal accountability.

Far from being a tick box exercise, B Corps need to demonstrate that they are taking meaningful action to make a difference. The process is not straightforward and isn’t for the faint-hearted. It will force you to look at every area of your business in detail.

The assessment process looks at five areas: workers, customers, environment, community and governance. Preparation took us many months as we looked at all our processes and really focused on how we do what we do, why we do it and what influence we have on others – whether those people are in our business, work alongside us in our industry and community or come to us for help to arrange a funeral and for ongoing bereavement support.

Once we had prepared everything and had made absolutely sure that we could confidently invite scrutiny from the B Corp assessors, we underwent independent evaluation which included interviews and submissions of evidence.

Yes, we are a B Corp now but this is an ongoing process and we will need to recertify in there years’ time. For that reason, we will continue to monitor ourselves, talk about how we can improve and look for opportunities to be a force for good.

Flower seperator

What it means to us

Becoming a B Corp is a huge achievement for a business of our size and shows just how hard we are working to ensure we have a positive impact on the people we support, the community, our team and the world in which we live and work.

We are particularly proud to be the first UK funeral business to become accredited and this has only been possible thanks to the enthusiasm and sheer inspiration of our lovely team.

The accreditation process is rigorous and has seen us being assessed on a whole range of measures such as how we create benefit for our employees and the communities where we work, how we respect the environment and our positive impact on the bereaved people we support.”

 

What it means to our clients

People generally are becoming much more aware of the ethics of the businesses they choose to use or visit. As a funeral director, we are looking after people at a very sensitive time in their lives and the personal nature of what we do means that those who are bereaved often want to be supported by people who share their values.

As an accredited B Corp, people know that the way we interact with them and the wider world matters to us. It matters so much to us that we have taken great lengths to challenge ourselves to be the best we possible can be.

We go out of our way to listen and to offer individualised support. If the environment is important to the person who died or those arranging the funeral, we have lots of ideas and low carbon options for green funerals. Whatever their priorities are, we go out of our way to help.

 

What next?

Becoming a B Corp has been a fascinating and exciting journey which has taught us so much about ourselves, our impact on others and our potential to become a force for good. We are constantly learning and will continue to review how we work, follow best practice and talk about what we can do better.

We are hugely committed to sharing what we have learnt with others who are on a similar journey and would welcome other businesses to contact us to talk about what we did and how we made it through the certification process.”

 

To receive our newsletters and information about new blogs – please sign up here.

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When you are arranging a funeral

If you are arranging a funeral and it is important to you that people dress in a certain way, it will be helpful to those attending if you give some positive guidance about what is expected.  We would advise that you give people some direction on what you would like them to do “please wear a pop of colour”, rather than a less specific instruction such as “you don’t need to wear black”.

 

There is no right or wrong thing to suggest. Some people prefer everyone to be in black because they feel it is respectful. Some want people to dress in whatever way they feel most comfortable. Others have very specific ideas.

You might want everyone to wear a touch of pink because it was the favourite colour of the person who has died. You may choose to encourage everyone to dress as if they were going to a party so that it feels like a celebration. The person who died may even have made their own wishes known.  It might feel very meaningful to those attending to be wearing a specific colour, if they know that fulfils their funeral wishes.  They may even choose to go out an bug something in that colour to wear – and that process may be very consoling for them.

 

Whatever you decide, you should feel comfortable sharing these wishes with others. Having said that, it’s unlikely that you will want to phone around everyone who might turn up. Choose a few people to share your preferences with and ask them to be responsible for making sure everyone who might be there knows what is expected. It is also perfectly acceptable to share details of the arrangements, including dress code, by email or text.  If you are placing a notice in the paper, creating an online memorial page or using social media to share details of the funeral then this would also be a great place to give instructions.

Don’t spend time worrying about what people might think about your requests if they are specific. People like to know what is expected of them and if they know a particular colour has meaning, then taking time to choose something will be a way for them to engage emotionally before the funeral and participate more fully on the day.

Dress codes for children

If you have a specific dress code, you will probably want it to apply to children as well. If you are attending a funeral with children and are unsure what they should wear, choose something smart and understated if possible.

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Dressing for the weather

The time of year will have some influence on what you choose to wear. If it is a very hot day, heavy dark clothing may be uncomfortable. Make sensible decisions so that you don’t feel too hot or cold. If you have something black that is very thick and warm and something navy which is lighter and cooler, choose the navy outfit on a hot day.

What not to wear at a funeral

If there is no clear request to wear something colourful, choose subdued colours and dress smartly. It is rarely a good idea to wear, trainers, jeans, caps or anything too casual. If in doubt, dress respectfully and ensure your appearance is understated.

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Your funeral wishes

If you are planning your own funeral, give some thought to how you would like people to dress. Would you like everyone to turn up in red because you always enjoy wearing a good splash of red? If what people wear will help them remember you with affection and add a personal touch to the proceedings, consider making your feelings known to those closest to you.

 

To receive our newsletters and information about new blogs – please sign up here.

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Government rules

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There are no legal limits on the number of people who can attend funerals or commemorative events.

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Actual maximum numbers that can attend will be dependent on what the venue can safely allow (see details for Yorkshire crematoria below)

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Symptomatic people should not attend funerals

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People who are self-isolating or who are in quarantine following international travel may be present at a funeral where a legal exemption applies.

Local Crematorium Rules

Cottingley
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Chapel will seat 75 attendees

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Seated attendees only

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Barrier will remain around coffin

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Whilst not required, attendees are encouraged to wear a mask

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Family pallbearers allowed

Huddersfield
Lawnswood
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The main chapel will seat 70 attendees and the overflow, 80 (150 total)

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Seated attendees only

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Barrier will remain around coffin

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Whilst not required, attendees are encouraged to wear a mask

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Family pallbearers allowed

Nab Wood
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No limit on the number of attendees

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Use of masks encouraged

Park Wood
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56 seated attendees allowed

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Chairs are in rows of 4 – these cannot be moved

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Family pallbearing allowed

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Whilst not required, attendees are encouraged to wear a mask

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Barrier will remain around coffin

Rawdon
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The chapel will seat 80 attendees

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Seated attendees only

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Barrier will remain around coffin

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Whilst not required, attendees are encouraged to wear a mask

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Family pallbearers allowed

Scholemoor
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No limit on number of attendees

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Use of masks encouraged

Skipton
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66 seated attendees in chapel only

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No restriction on the amount of attendees outside

Stonefall
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90 attendees allowed inside

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No attendees allowed in foyer

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Additional attendees allowed outside

York
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The White Rose chapel will seat 95 attendees, and the Ebor chapel 25 – no standing attendees allowed

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Meeting room
Tea set

Local Burial Rules

Bradford
Calderdale
Craven
Harrogate
Kirklees
Leeds
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Hole for coffin
Rock with flowers on

Registering a death

General Government Guidance
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If the person died at home or in hospital:
A relative should register the death but if this is not possible the following may register

Someone who was there at the time of death

An administrator from the hospital where the person died

Someone who is in charge of making funeral arrangements

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If the person died somewhere other than at home or in a hospital:

A relative should register the death but if this is not possible the following may register:

Someone who was there at the time of death

The person who found the person after they had died

Someone who is in charge of caring for the person after they have died

Someone who is in charge of making funeral arrangements

Bradford
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Telephone 01274 432 151 to book an appointment for the registrar to call you. If the person died in either BRI of AGI you can make an appointment through their bereavement officers. For BRI telephone 01274 364477 and for AGI telephone 01535 652 511.

The Medical Certificate of Cause of Death will be sent directly to the registrar.

Calderdale
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Visit the below link to book an appointment for the registrar to contact you.

https://ebooking.calderdale.gov.uk/eRegistrar/

Registration of death is only being carried out over telephone.

The hospital or GP surgery will scan the registration paperwork to the registrar.

Harrogate
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Use the below link to book an appointment for the registrar to ring you:

https://myaccount.northyorks.gov.uk/registrars/death-booking

Or, call 01609 780780

You will need:

Details about the person that has died

Confirmation that the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death has been emailed to the registrars

A credit / debit card to pay for any death certificates

Kirklees
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No registration of death is to be done in person, only over the telephone

Use the below link to book an appointment for the registrar to ring you

http://zipporah.co.uk/contact

You will need:

Details about the person that has died

Confirmation that the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death is with the registrar

A credit / debit card to pay for any death certificates

Leeds
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Registering the death by phone

A member of the registrar team will call the next of kin usually within three days of the person’s death and over the course of the phone call they will register the death. If the next of kin is unable to take the call someone else can speak to the registrar – the next of kin can pass the phone to them or they can give the registrar additional contact details. The other person must be:

A relative of the person that has died

The funeral director or someone making the person’s funeral arrangements

York
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Email: [email protected] or call 01904 654477 to arrange an appointment to register a death by telephone; details you must include are:

name of the person who has died

date and place of death

name, contact number and email address of the person registering the death

name of the funeral director (if known)

Registration of deaths is only taking place over the telephone.

The Medical Certificate of Cause of Death will be issued directly to the register office.

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Jennifer headshot
Mental Health england stat

What is a Mental Health First Aider, and Why are they Important?

Overview of MHFA

Mental Health First Aid goes way beyond providing support in a crisis. And in this article, we are going to look at the many benefits of having a mental health first aider.

Compulsory mental health first aid in every workplace is now a step closer to becoming a legal requirement as Dean Russell MP and Where’s Your Head At? Ambassador introduced his Parliamentary Bill in March 2021 which had no objections, going straight through to second reading.

But what actually is mental health first aid? Like physical first aid, the aims are similar in that it is designed to

Preserve life

Provide comfort

Promote recovery

In addition to this, MHFAs are trained to spot the early warning signs of emerging mental ill-health; develop confidence to have a supportive and proactive conversation; and be confident in guiding someone to the appropriate professional help.

Their role is to listen rather than advise. They do not diagnose. It is about being there in the moment for that person. And it can be really rewarding for the individuals who train in this role and are able to use their skills to support others.

The benefits are wide and varied and encompass a number of the 5 ways to wellbeing (5 things which are proven to improve your wellbeing.) Supporting others links with ‘giving’; it provides a great ‘learning’ opportunity; and very much helps those ‘connections’ and positive relationships within the workplace.

As this starts to drive a supportive culture of openness it starts to encourage more discussion between people and makes them more mindful of checking in on others too. Leading to a happier, and healthier workforce who feel able to open up and ask for help when they need it.

On their training journey they will develop skills such as non-judgemental listening and how to show empathy. These skills can be transferred to many other aspects of work and life too.

The reality is that many people experience mental ill health but simply do not know where to turn for help. They may struggle to open up and ask for that help. Mental health first aiders are another step an organisation can take in moving forward to a culture that is open and supportive of their people and demonstrates that work is a safe place to open up, as well as having a level of support available.

They are an initial point of contact, someone who is trained to listen, but we make the boundaries very clear in our training that they are not a counsellor or therapist. They are there to guide and signpost those people who don’t know where to go for help.

Where it fits- strategy and culture, HSE, and Duty of Care

Mental health first aiders therefore not only are trained in terms of dealing with a crisis, but they are also trained to understand what promotes good wellbeing in an individual and ways of being proactive around this. Having this education makes them perfect fit to support in the delivery of an organisation’s wellbeing strategy. They can lead wellbeing initiatives; open up communication channels and keep those positive messages consistent. As well as educating others around the importance of self-care too.

Signposting is a key part of the role of an MHFA, and this is both internal and external signposting. Internally this could be about the organisation’s Employee Assistance Programme. EAPs are so often under-utilised but they promote great education for employee wellness, as well as support in a crisis. There is usually a very proactive element of an EAP which is often missed in an organisation’s communication to their team. They are a great resource which should be shouted about, yet in reality there tends to be very few employees who really understand what their EAP can provide. Mental health first aiders can therefore promote better the internal support system available. They can be the enabler. Leading to a happier, more well and more productive workforce.

The Heath and Safety Executive highlight that employers have a duty of care to their employees not just in terms of their physical safety, but also their psychological safety.

An employer may also have legal obligations in relation to the Equality Act 2010 in terms of making reasonable adjustments with regards a staff members mental health. Having a good understanding of how different mental health conditions could affect someone day to day can really help make this process much easier and more effective for the team member.

Further benefits 

Being trained in mental health first aid can really assist in the return to work process for someone who has been off with mental ill health. Yarker et al in 2020 identified the following as key drivers which determined how likely an employee was to thrive in the workplace following mental ill health absence leave:

That the person receives non-judgemental support

They have access to health and advice outside of work

They are able to contact specific charities

Given MHFA training encompasses all of the above, it can be an extremely beneficial course for both line managers and HR managers as well as those keen to volunteer (it is important to have a diverse team of MHFAs as this makes them more accessible for others within the organisation.)

Other considerations

When implementing mental health first aiders within an organisation it is important to view them as part of the overarching wellbeing strategy. (We can help with this if it isn’t something you already have in place)

Providing clarity on the boundaries of the role helps the psychological safety of the MHFA as well as manage the expectations of the person needing support.

Consider what support is in place for your mental health first aiders. How often do you check in with them? How do you facilitate the profiling of the role? What other proactive work can they do to support your wellbeing strategy?

What other employee benefits do you offer? It is a great opportunity to review your EAP for example and ensure people do utilise the benefits available to them. For instance, counselling sessions can be available immediately to the employee rather than waiting potentially months through the NHS. This is worth its weight in gold when looking at employee wellness.

Do existing policies and procedures need updating? A great place to start is to review both the employee lifecycle and ‘a day in the life’ of an employee. Taking a look at each stage from recruitment, through to onboarding and beyond highlights many opportunities to shout about the support available. It can aid in attracting the right people to the organisation and can support retention too- all adding to that bottom line.

What does it involve?

The MHFA England mental health first aid course can be run either online (across 4 x 2.5 hour interactive sessions with e-learning) or face to face in 2 days.

To find more about more about mental health first aid or if you have any questions you can contact Jennifer at [email protected] or visit the Flourish In Mind website. 

Sarah in front of wavey background
Woodland

Bereavement can often leave us feeling rudderless and not in control of our lives. We can feel overwhelmed by even the simplest tasks and want to just dive under the duvet and never come out.

I understand how overpowering grief can be and the eternal question ‘What is the point?’. But I also know, first hand, how being active, keeping moving and doing exercise has the power to (if not completely heal) at least help us cope with our loss.

Why is movement and exercise so important?

Stress, anxiety and worry are often by-products of grief but thankfully exercise has been proven to be one of the most effective ways of relieving them and something as simple as a daily walk has the power to transform not only our physical wellbeing but our emotional wellbeing too.

When stress affects the brain the rest of the body is impacted too. But when we exercise, the brain produces endorphins – natural painkillers. Endorphins are also known as the ‘runners high’ because they stimulate the brain in a similar way to recreational drugs but without the harmful side effects. Endorphins give us a feeling of relaxation and optimism.

Stress also causes the release of the body’s stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones are the ones known for our fight or flight response, helping us to escape danger such as a speeding car, quickly. The muscles contract, the jaw tenses, the heart beats faster, we breath more rapidly and blood pressure increases. Unfortunately, prolonged periods of stress result in the levels of adrenaline and cortisol remaining high and can actually lead to increased anxiety, depression and even obesity, both directly, by causing people to eat more, or indirectly by decreasing sleep and lack of exercise.

Over time this chronic stress will take its toll on our physical and psychological health.

So, how do we motivate ourselves to move?

How can we make ourselves be active and engage in exercise when it’s the last thing we feel like doing?

Perhaps we need to “fake it ’til we make it”. Pretend to ourselves that this is what we really want to do and eventually one day we realise that we are no longer faking.

Here are a few ideas:

Arrange to walk or exercise with a friend or family member.

If you have a dog then it will need exercising but if you don’t have one, perhaps you can offer to walk a friend or neighbour’s dog.

Join an exercise studio – a little bit more complicated at the moment but there are lots of great online options available.

Join a litter picking group, perhaps a beach or canal clean.

Volunteer to plant trees, lay paths or general conservation.

Check out your local council’s website for volunteering opportunities and to find a list of parks (information for Leeds can be found here).

11 reasons we need to move and exercise

Movement has the power to transform our minds and our bodies.

Movement and exercise help to release our endorphins, our ‘feel good’ hormones and reduce our stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol.

Exercise deepens breathing, relieves muscle tension and induces calm.

Committing to doing a form of exercise each day will give structure to your day.

Exercising outdoors in a natural environment (Green Exercise) has been proven to have a positive effect on self-esteem and improving mood. It has been noticed to be especially beneficial for people struggling with depression and anxiety. If you enjoy solitude then immersing yourself in a forest or walking around a lake could be just what you need.

Making time for yourself. Often there are others we need to care for and we end up neglecting our own wellbeing. Finding time for self-care is not selfish, it is vital.

Exercise will help you to clear your mind by focusing on the natural environment, the particular exercise you are doing or how your body is moving and responding to the exercise.

Exercising as part of a group, whether in person or virtually, will allow you to engage with others without you being the focal point. This way we can ease our way back into social settings without having to engage with others on too personal a level.

With regular exercise our body will start to tone and strengthen and our self image improves.

The discipline of regular exercise can help us to achieve other goals through focus and a sense of achievement.

Regular exercise can improve our ability to sleep which in turn reduces stress. Pilates, Tai Chi and Yoga combine fluid movements with deep breathing and mental focus all of which help to induce calm.

Try to commit to just 15-20 minutes of exercise every day but don’t worry if you miss a day. The important thing is to find something that you enjoy doing and can commit to on a regular basis.

Life is precious. The very fact that we mourn the loss of someone is precisely because we know how precious life is. Make the most of yours.

Space Fitness and Wellbeing have recently launched their free Free 5 Day Pilates Fitness Journey – follow the link to sign up.

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Sabine

Bereavement can often leave us feeling rudderless and not in control of our lives. We can feel overwhelmed by even the simplest tasks and want to just dive under the duvet and never come out.

I understand how overpowering grief can be and the eternal question ‘What is the point?’. But I also know, first hand, how being active, keeping moving and doing exercise has the power to (if not completely heal) at least help us cope with our loss.

Why is movement and exercise so important?

Stress, anxiety and worry are often by-products of grief but thankfully exercise has been proven to be one of the most effective ways of relieving them and something as simple as a daily walk has the power to transform not only our physical wellbeing but our emotional wellbeing too.

When stress affects the brain the rest of the body is impacted too. But when we exercise, the brain produces endorphins – natural painkillers. Endorphins are also known as the ‘runners high’ because they stimulate the brain in a similar way to recreational drugs but without the harmful side effects. Endorphins give us a feeling of relaxation and optimism.

Stress also causes the release of the body’s stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones are the ones known for our fight or flight response, helping us to escape danger such as a speeding car, quickly. The muscles contract, the jaw tenses, the heart beats faster, we breath more rapidly and blood pressure increases. Unfortunately, prolonged periods of stress result in the levels of adrenaline and cortisol remaining high and can actually lead to increased anxiety, depression and even obesity, both directly, by causing people to eat more, or indirectly by decreasing sleep and lack of exercise.

Over time this chronic stress will take its toll on our physical and psychological health.

So, how do we motivate ourselves to move?

How can we make ourselves be active and engage in exercise when it’s the last thing we feel like doing?

Perhaps we need to “fake it ’til we make it”. Pretend to ourselves that this is what we really want to do and eventually one day we realise that we are no longer faking.

Here are a few ideas:

Arrange to walk or exercise with a friend or family member.

If you have a dog then it will need exercising but if you don’t have one, perhaps you can offer to walk a friend or neighbour’s dog.

Join an exercise studio – a little bit more complicated at the moment but there are lots of great online options available.

Join a litter picking group, perhaps a beach or canal clean.

Volunteer to plant trees, lay paths or general conservation.

Check out your local council’s website for volunteering opportunities and to find a list of parks (information for Leeds can be found here).

11 reasons we need to move and exercise

Movement has the power to transform our minds and our bodies.

Movement and exercise help to release our endorphins, our ‘feel good’ hormones and reduce our stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol.

Exercise deepens breathing, relieves muscle tension and induces calm.

Committing to doing a form of exercise each day will give structure to your day.

Exercising outdoors in a natural environment (Green Exercise) has been proven to have a positive effect on self-esteem and improving mood. It has been noticed to be especially beneficial for people struggling with depression and anxiety. If you enjoy solitude then immersing yourself in a forest or walking around a lake could be just what you need.

Making time for yourself. Often there are others we need to care for and we end up neglecting our own wellbeing. Finding time for self-care is not selfish, it is vital.

Exercise will help you to clear your mind by focusing on the natural environment, the particular exercise you are doing or how your body is moving and responding to the exercise.

Exercising as part of a group, whether in person or virtually, will allow you to engage with others without you being the focal point. This way we can ease our way back into social settings without having to engage with others on too personal a level.

With regular exercise our body will start to tone and strengthen and our self image improves.

The discipline of regular exercise can help us to achieve other goals through focus and a sense of achievement.

Regular exercise can improve our ability to sleep which in turn reduces stress. Pilates, Tai Chi and Yoga combine fluid movements with deep breathing and mental focus all of which help to induce calm.

Try to commit to just 15-20 minutes of exercise every day but don’t worry if you miss a day. The important thing is to find something that you enjoy doing and can commit to on a regular basis.

Life is precious. The very fact that we mourn the loss of someone is precisely because we know how precious life is. Make the most of yours.

Space Fitness and Wellbeing have recently launched their free Free 5 Day Pilates Fitness Journey – follow the link to sign up.

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Man with beard

Songs hold memories. We all have songs that take us back to particular moments in time, first dances, singing along on road trips, concerts with friends. Even the memory of hearing a special song for the first time can stick with us.

Songs are also alive, every time they are sung fresh life is breathed into them. They grow with us, the voices singing them mature and their lyrics can take on new meaning to match our experiences. They accompany us through our lives and are always there when we need them.
I believe everyone has a song, and everyone’s song deserves to be sung. One of my all time favourite lyrics from the great Bob Dylan is “May your heart always be joyful, May your song always be sung and may you stay, Forever Young”. The image of someone’s song always being sung makes me smile.

Since 2017 I have been supporting people dealing with a bereavement to write their own original songs. This can be a way of honouring someone, creating something unique to them that can live on and can also be very therapeutic as a way of processing grief. The songwriting process enables us to reflect on experiences, explore and express our emotions and create something unique to add to someones legacy.

Songs can be about the person’s life, about your relationship to them, about your favourite memories of them, your experience of the bereavement or even their legacy going forward. Songs can be about anything really, the important thing for me is that they are true to the writer in whatever they want to say. People often worry that they can’t write a song, we specialise in making the process easy and enjoyable. All you need are your experiences, your way of using words and your ears. We help with the everything, finding your words, creating some music based on other songs you like and then ensuring your words with the music we have created. You don’t have to sing but if you would like to we are happy to help you do that.
When a song is finished the writer has the choice of keeping that song private and just sharing it with whomever they choose or making the song public and sharing it on our website.

It gives me great joy to hear that songs that have been written through this project regularly get played on anniversaries of peoples deaths, on birthdays, family gatherings and other occasions when we may really miss someone. The vision of The Swan Song Project is a world where everyone’s song may always be sung.

Grief doesn’t have time limits so we are here to help whether your loss is recent or years down the line. If you would like to find out more we would love to hear from you.

Ben Buddy Slack

www.swansongproject.co.uk

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Lisa Lund
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For those who want to offer emotional support to someone who is grieving – whether they’re a partner, relative, close friend or colleague – it can be difficult to know what to do or say.

You may ask yourself, what if I say the wrong thing? Could what I say add to their distress? It’s completely normal to feel unsure as to how to support a loved one through a very tough time, and as a result we can feel confused, distanced from the bereaved and our efforts can even feel ineffective.

The good news is there are lots of things you can do to let your loved one know that you’re by their side, from listening to them about their feelings to helping them with everyday tasks.

Here, we’ll have a look at the different ways that grief could affect someone and some common beliefs and misconceptions that people might have about grieving. We’ll also talk you through the ways you can help to support someone in your life who has experienced loss.

How does grief affect us?

Grief is a natural response to the loss of a loved one. It’s very common for people to feel shocked or “numb” when they first find out about their loss. Many people experience disbelief or a sense that what’s happened isn’t real.

While each person reacts differently to loss, many people have described feeling strong denial or confusion, while others say they have felt anger, yearning, guilt or sadness.

Most people have heard of the “five stages” of grief, and many of us can even name them. The stages – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance – were first developed by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, a psychiatrist whose work did much to soften the stigma around terminal illness and grief.

The five stages, which were originally developed to describe the emotional journey that patients follow, rather than their loved ones, have become shorthand for what is actually a very complex process.

The five stages of grief don’t typically happen one after the other. In fact, everyone grieves in their own diverse ways and can experience a wide array of emotions. As well as the original five stages, people who are grieving can experience many more emotions and could find themselves “skipping” stages, repeating them or experiencing multiple stages at once.  For example, they might experience an immediate period of melancholy or depression only to later have feelings of anger or denial. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, and it’s essential that the bereaved receive support and validation no matter what way they grieve or the timeline the process follows.

Supporting the bereaved person

Whether you’re a friend, family member or colleague, you can play an important role in helping the bereaved receive the understanding and support they need. Here are a few key ways to do so…

Ask… then listen

Begin with the simplest of questions, ‘How are you?’. If you know the person well you may feel comfortable asking them directly whether or not they want to talk about their feelings.

The bereaved person might find it soothing to discuss their feelings, or share memories of the deceased. And while you may encourage them to speak with you about it, ultimately you should take your lead from them in each conversation. After all, they may want to speak in detail about their feelings, but just as equally they may not.

Offer help

Let the bereaved person know you are ready to support them. This could include offering to attend an event held in honour of the deceased, or offering your company on holidays such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or Christmas. It may help to be aware of dates and anniversaries which could cause strong feelings to surface so that you can offer support in those times.

Ask if there’s anything they need, and if they seem unsure, you could suggest specific things, such as cooking them a meal or doing their shopping.

Be observant

Many people report physical symptoms which come as a result of acute grief, such as stomach pain, loss of appetite, intestinal upsets, sleep disturbances and loss of energy.

Mourning can place significant stress on the body’s natural defence systems, and loneliness and feelings of isolation could worsen existing health issues. As a friend or family member, you may wish to be observant of the physical and emotional health of the bereaved, and gently suggest seeking the help of a doctor if existing health problems worsen or new symptoms emerge.

Be patient

Being nudged or pushed to confront many difficult emotions at once can be unnecessarily painful, and put a strain on your relationship with the bereaved. Therefore take a slow and patient approach to supporting your loved one, and remember that processing and healing after loss take a great deal of time. Mourning can progress over months and years. Avoid setting a specific timeline for someone to “move on”, or comparing them with others’ experiences or expectations around grief.

Resources that can help

There are many organisations that offer emotional support, and a phone call or online chat following a bereavement.

Many charities and organisations have come under strain during the pandemic, however, either as a result of decreases in funding, an increase in enquiries, or adjustments to new ways of working and/or staffing. NBS has recently launched an all-new grief support and counselling helpline, to help charities and other organisations that have been overwhelmed or lack the resources to offer a full-time support and counselling helpline.

The dedicated free-phone number, giving people direct access to bereavement support, is available from 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 2pm on Saturday.

For those who prefer not to speak to someone about the difficulties they’re experiencing over the phone, NBS has also introduced a live chat feature on its website. The live chat function automatically appears as a pop-up when a visitor accesses the site and they can choose to get in touch through it, or continue browsing. Providing real-time responses to questions or concerns from the same trained advisors who answer NBS’ phonelines, the live chat facility is an alternative contact method that ensures those in need of help following a bereavement can reach out in a way that’s easiest for them.

No matter how people choose to get in touch, NBS can provide immediate help with support and counselling services developed in partnership with the expert team at St Giles Hospice. On a case by case basis, NBS can provide assessment and signposting to further assistance, which will either be provided by trained specialist bereavement support volunteers, or, where counselling is required, by a BACP-registered practitioner.

Visit the National Bereavement Service’s website

Government rules

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There are no legal limits on the number of people who can attend funerals or commemorative events.

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Actual maximum numbers that can attend will be dependent on what the venue can safely allow (see details for Yorkshire crematoria below)

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Symptomatic people should not attend funerals

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People who are self-isolating or who are in quarantine following international travel may be present at a funeral where a legal exemption applies.

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Local Crematorium Rules

Cottingley
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14 in chapel and 16 outside

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Professional pallbearers only

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No touching the coffin

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Rope barrier around coffin

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Officiant only at lectern

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Any attendee readings must be done from seats

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Seats have been separated

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Curtains to remain open

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Maximum of 6 for ashes scatterings

Huddersfield
Lawnswood
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The main chapel will seat 70 attendees and the overflow, 80 (150 total)

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Seated attendees only

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Barrier will remain around coffin

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Whilst not required, attendees are encouraged to wear a mask

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Family pallbearers allowed

Nab Wood
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No limit on the number of attendees

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Use of masks encouraged

Park Wood
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56 seated attendees allowed

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Chairs are in rows of 4 – these cannot be moved

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Family pallbearing allowed

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Whilst not required, attendees are encouraged to wear a mask

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Barrier will remain around coffin

Rawdon
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The chapel will seat 80 attendees

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Seated attendees only

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Barrier will remain around coffin

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Whilst not required, attendees are encouraged to wear a mask

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Family pallbearers allowed

Scholemoor
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No limit on number of attendees

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Use of masks encouraged

Skipton
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66 seated attendees in chapel only

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No restriction on the amount of attendees outside

Stonefall
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90 attendees allowed inside

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No attendees allowed in foyer

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Additional attendees allowed outside

York
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The White Rose chapel will seat 95 attendees, and the Ebor chapel 25 – no standing attendees allowed

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Meeting room
Tea set

Local Burial Rules

Bradford
Calderdale
Craven
Harrogate
Kirklees
Leeds
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Hole for coffin
Rock with flowers on

Registering a death

General Government Guidance
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If the person died at home or in hospital:
A relative should register the death but if this is not possible the following may register

Someone who was there at the time of death

An administrator from the hospital where the person died

Someone who is in charge of making funeral arrangements

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If the person died somewhere other than at home or in a hospital:

A relative should register the death but if this is not possible the following may register:

Someone who was there at the time of death

The person who found the person after they had died

Someone who is in charge of caring for the person after they have died

Someone who is in charge of making funeral arrangements

Bradford
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Telephone 01274 432 151 to book an appointment for the registrar to call you. If the person died in either BRI of AGI you can make an appointment through their bereavement officers. For BRI telephone 01274 364477 and for AGI telephone 01535 652 511.

The Medical Certificate of Cause of Death will be sent directly to the registrar.

Calderdale
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Visit the below link to book an appointment for the registrar to contact you.

https://ebooking.calderdale.gov.uk/eRegistrar/

Registration of death is only being carried out over telephone.

The hospital or GP surgery will scan the registration paperwork to the registrar.

Harrogate
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Use the below link to book an appointment for the registrar to ring you:

https://myaccount.northyorks.gov.uk/registrars/death-booking

Or, call 01609 780780

You will need:

Details about the person that has died

Confirmation that the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death has been emailed to the registrars

A credit / debit card to pay for any death certificates

Kirklees
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No registration of death is to be done in person, only over the telephone

Use the below link to book an appointment for the registrar to ring you

http://zipporah.co.uk/contact

You will need:

Details about the person that has died

Confirmation that the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death is with the registrar

A credit / debit card to pay for any death certificates

Leeds
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Registering the death by phone

A member of the registrar team will call the next of kin usually within three days of the person’s death and over the course of the phone call they will register the death. If the next of kin is unable to take the call someone else can speak to the registrar – the next of kin can pass the phone to them or they can give the registrar additional contact details. The other person must be:

A relative of the person that has died

The funeral director or someone making the person’s funeral arrangements

York
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Email: [email protected] or call 01904 654477 to arrange an appointment to register a death by telephone; details you must include are:

name of the person who has died

date and place of death

name, contact number and email address of the person registering the death

name of the funeral director (if known)

Registration of deaths is only taking place over the telephone.

The Medical Certificate of Cause of Death will be issued directly to the register office.

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Art work
Hand in sleeve

The want to live and create sustainably envelops Francesca’s work; this much is evident to anyone that glances at her Instagram and website posts where photographs of delicately embroidered fabrics and organic forms in stitching are accompanied by comments frequently referencing her natural inspiration. These organic forms in thread have not come about for aesthetics’ sake alone; Francesca is part of a movement that is challenging the way we produce and consume garments. Through her studies at the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, from which she has recently graduated, Francesca’s mission to challenge the impact our consumption has on the planet has been guided, strengthened, and found its voice in the creation of sustainable and eco-conscious burial garments presented in her final year’s project. I spoke with her about this project, her impressions (as a textile artist and relative outsider) of the death industry, and her plans for the future.

Could you tell us a little bit about your burial garment project?

Every life has an ending, and for humans this is a heavily contemplated advent. However, even with the existing sustainable options for burials, the materials that that body is clothed in are not often considered. It is estimated that 65% of all fibres used in the clothing industry are made from synthetic material. Long after a body has decomposed these materials remain in the ground and take hundreds of years to break down, releasing harmful chemicals in the process. Using the slow and thoughtful process of embroidery, I have designed textiles for burial-wear with fabric that is eco-friendly to produce and 100% decomposable, such as plant and animal-based materials and natural dyes. Bio-degradable matter, once dead and decomposing, adds nutrients to the ground which allows for new life to grow. This life cycle closely connects people to nature and provides the visuals for my design. I have drawn from disintegrated leaves as a reminder of our place in the environment, one that we must look after for the next generations in the cycle. Some of the techniques and materials used are inspired by traditional Irish crafts and the ancient burial rituals of my predecessors. Textiles have great significance within society, throughout history and across cultures; they tell stories, provide warmth and comfort and play an important role in specific occasions and rituals. New life is often accompanied by textiles, the swaddling blanket helps the baby feel safe and contained as it adjusts to life outside the womb. The same is sometimes done with the deceased; as a salve, a cover, for remembrance and memorial. My project aims to open the discussion around death and the rituals and practices that surround it. With beautiful, thoughtful textiles in natural materials we can return loved ones to the earth with ceremony that has aligns with the balance of nature.

What is the background to your project, and what inspired you to delve into the niche of burial clothing?

I was speaking to a family member who went to a funeral where the deceased was buried in a wicker casket, and I thought that was very cool but I automatically questioned what she wore in the casket, since I study textile design I’m always thinking about materials. This family member was also helping me figure out a concept for my final year project, and he thought shrouds for the grave was a great idea. At first I said no way, because I’m 22 death isn’t something that crosses my mind often and I thought it would be too morbid. But the more research I did the more I realised I could incorporate the themes that ARE of a great concern to me (environmental impact of textiles) and make the project a positive one.

What research did you do for the project?

For my project’s concept I began researching ancient Irish traditions and celebrations i.e. pagan traditions and mythological beliefs, and most of these things were connected to death and the afterlife, and compared this to how we view death today. For the visuals of my project I looked into folk art, traditional Irish crafts and other artists and designers who incorporate or mimic nature in their work. The most interesting research for me was discovering innovative and sustainable textiles, e.g. fabric made out of seaweed, algae or nettles. Of course none of these fabrics are commercial yet, so for my project I stuck to traditional cottons, linens and silk, with Irish made linen being the star feature.

What, if anything, surprised you most about the ‘death world’?

During my research I discovered that eco or green burials are gaining popularity, but I almost couldn’t find anyone who had considered what the body will wear in the grave. I asked a friend who works at a funeral directors what people wear for a green burial and he said people are just dressed in a plain robe sort of thing for their burial. I think it made me realise just how little most people know about, so therefore consider, what their clothes are made from.

Another thing I realised during this project is that in other countries around the world death is kind of more accepted, and a bigger fuss is made out of funerals. This could be because of their different beliefs of the afterlife or maybe because more people die at an early age. But in the western world especially, death is scary, and we put it off for as long as possible, and everyone wears black at the funerals and it seems like the worst thing in the world. I’m not saying either of these views of death is wrong, I just found it interesting once I thought about it.

Do you think you’ll be making the garments to sell in the future?

As of now I have no plans to actually make and sell burial garments, even though I think there is a gap in the market for them. But hopefully now that more people are thinking about a green burial, more people will start making sustainable burial clothing.

What is something you would like people reading this to know?

I can’t think of anything else I’d like to add about my project, but I guess in general I’d like more people to think about what their clothes are made from and who has made them. If you buy a £3 t-shirt in Primark, what did the person making it get paid? And isn’t it better to spend money on well-made, ethically made clothing rather than continuously buying cheap clothes that wear out fast? Also, if your clothes do become unwearable, never ever throw them in the bin that goes to landfill.

Francesca’s website is:

https://www.francescareatextiles.com/

You can also find her on Instagram

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