How We Became a B Corp

By Sarah Jones

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.

Flower seperator

By Sarah Jones

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.

Flower seperator

By Sarah Jones

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.

Flower seperator

By Sarah Jones

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.

Flower seperator

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.

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.

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.

By Sarah Jones

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.

Flower seperator

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.

5th Anniversary highlights

Government rules

Flower seperator
Full circle logo

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.

Flower seperator

By Sharon Malone

Mindful Memorials
Mindful Memorials

Have you ever thought when you’re “gone” how you would like to be remembered?

The reality is very few of us do other than perhaps a fleeting thought alluding to the hope that you are remembered for “all the right reasons” as the saying goes. So, given that you probably haven’t thought that much about how you’d like to be remembered, it stands to reason that you probably haven’t thought at all about how others, your loved ones, may want to remember you, have you?

As a nation, the British are not very good at talking about death and loss – we’re only just now beginning to acknowledge the importance of supporting the bereaved through a range of different offerings from counselling through to expressing our grief through artworks and memory walks.

It’s no surprise therefore that very few of us make our wishes known surrounding our death and how we want our body to be treated – if indeed we have a preference at all.  The ramifications of this can be far reaching when it comes to memorialising.

Mindful Memorials
Mindful Memorials

When my father-in-law died, we came to the awful realisation that none of us knew whether he would have preferred to be buried or cremated, let alone what hymns he might have liked at his funeral.  Even though he was not in the best of health at the end, sadly, we hadn’t had that conversation with him.  He hadn’t included any instructions in his will so when the question was asked of us, we were at a loss as to what the answer should be.  This was somewhat distressing – shouldn’t we know him well enough to not be in any doubt?  We opted to have him cremated.  This decision was to shape everything that followed.

Whilst there is a variety of ways of storing, scattering or preserving the ashes of a loved one, if a more traditional headstone is preferred options can be limited.  Not a lot of people realise this until it is too late. Most Churches, for example, will only permit a small flat plaque with room for the most basic of inscriptions, in a plot surrounded by other similar plaques in the part of the Churchyard dedicated to the burial of cremated remains.  Likewise, most cemeteries will limit the size and style of memorial acceptable for the commemoration of ashes.

Mindful Memorials
Mindful Memorials

Options for memorials on graves containing a body in a coffin or casket are more extensive but the drawback for coffin burials is that the final resting place needs to be chosen very quickly at the height of raw grief.  Interestingly, however, many families who choose a full coffin burial will also have chosen and prepaid for their plot, often purchasing multiple plots either next to each other or sharing the same grave.

For these families, the memorial, and the way they are remembered, they are guaranteeing that a record of their life will endure.

In conclusion whatever your choice of final resting place it could affect what your memorial may look like, so consider carefully how you would like to be remembered and, above all else, make your feelings known.

© Sharon Malone 2021. mindfulmemorials.co.uk

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By Sarah Jones

A Day In The Life Of A Funeral Director

Traditionally, funeral directing has happened behind closed doors creating an air of mystery about the profession and everything surrounding it. Funeral directors often joined the family business having grown up in it, and it was deemed respectful and dignified for the care of people who have died (and arranging funerals) to happen privately and out of sight.

For this reason, and perhaps a post-war desire to be less exposed to death, choosing to work in  funeral care isn’t considered as proactively or readily as other branches of health and social care.

We recognise that the privacy surrounding funerals makes it very hard for people to know what it’s like to be a funeral director. It can be hard to know what questions to ask.  As a modern funeral director that is seeking to encourage more open conversation about funerals and funeral directing as a career, we are keen to answer some of the questions people have and talk about what a typical day in the life of a funeral director is really like in 2021. My personal experience tells me that most people are naturally very interested in what it is like to be a funeral director and have many questions.  Some people have many practical questions (often starting with “Do you also look after the dead people”), other are fascinated about funeral choices and many want to understand the emotional labour involved and what it “feels like” to help people to arrange a funeral.

As always, breaking down something complicated and human into its composite parts can end up oversimplifying it.  However, I believe that there are six key strands to being a funeral director and I’ll try to tell you a little more about each one below.

I must also caveat everything by saying that the UK funeral industry is unregulated and there are no minimum standards to adhere to.  This means that funeral directors can choose their own ways of working so it is hard for me to judge whether this blog would apply to every service.

We have also make a short video to compliment this blog so if you are interested, then please take a look at that too!

 

1) Looking after people who have died

After someone has died, we go to the place where they have died and bring them into our care (and usually look after people until the day of their funeral).  Depending on the circumstances and the wishes of the person who has died and their family, this may involve delivering personal care, dressing someone, or doing their nails, hair and makeup.

Sometimes people also need some care which is exclusively for people after death.  This depends on specific circumstances and we would always try to facilitate a family being involved in these decisions (gently and only if they want to).  Most people have heard of embalming, which is an example of such a procedure.

 

2) Supporting people to make funeral arrangements

We spend much of our time helping people to understand what is possible and then creating time and space to support them to work out what works best for them.  We start by trying to understand what is important to the person who has died and their family and friends and then expand on these ideas by structuring the decisions that need to be made and sharing ideas.

This might include needing to do some research about new options, places, or people so that we can suggest things which are specific to that individual.

Once the decisions have been made, then it is our job to pull everything together.  This usually involves sourcing some funeral products (like coffins and urns), liaising with other people like Minister and celebrants and ensuring all the necessary paperwork has been completed in a timely manner.

 

3) Support on the day of the funeral

On the day of the funeral, we are there to make sure that the event is as the family and friends wanted it to be.  In many cases, this involves ensuring that all the carefully prepared plans and timings are adhered to.  However, sometimes that also involves navigating the unexpected and being able to make quick judgements and decisions about how to adapt the plan in response to unforeseen circumstances.

Roadblocks which have popped up in the hour since you last checked the route, an unwell funeral attendee, a hearse that refuses to start or a last-minute change of plan about whether family members would like to carry the coffin, are all things which we need to navigate calmly and quickly.

 

4) Pre- and post-funeral support

As funeral directors, we are well placed to support people to understand and write down their own funeral wishes or purchase a pre-paid funeral plan.

We know the benefit of people leaving funeral wishes and see how consoling it is for people to be able to gift the fulfilment of these wishes after someone has died.  Many people we have supported to decide and articulate their wishes tell us that they have found it a positive experience and feel like an important task has been completed.

Similarly, because we support people who have been bereaved, we are well-placed to share helpful information about bereavement support, activities to support the development of continuing bonds and signpost to other services and organisations which might help.  We also run a peer bereavement support group at our services but that is not the case for all funeral directors.

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5) Raising awareness and standards

The more that people know about funerals, funeral choices and how funerals costs are calculated, the better.  We believe that sharing this information gentle and carefully while people are not immediately faced with planning a funeral is best because they can then call upon this knowledge when they need to make many funeral decisions in a relatively short space of time.

We spend time sharing blogs (like this one), raising awareness about funeral choices, hosting talks and workshops and other educational events.  We encourage other professionals allied to funeral care to come and share their perspective.

We also lead and contribute to funeral and bereavement research with several different universities so that we can help to gather the information that is needed to make sure that funeral directors know how to deliver the best possible (evidence-based) support to people who have been bereaved.

Sarah presenting at a conference

 

6) Having a positive impact on our communities and the environment

As funeral directors, you are an important part of your local community and it is rewarding to be able to make a positively contribution to this community.  We do what we can to understand what individuals, groups and organisations are doing and try to provide support where we can.  This can take many different forms, but the key is that is it driven by the needs of the community that we are in.

Like many people, we take our responsibility to the environment very seriously.  We consider how to minimise the impact that we have as a business, try to make a positive contribution to any sustainability work taking place in the community and work hard to raise awareness about greener funeral choices.

Every single day is different, every individual that we support is special and our job is truly a privilege.  We meet the most amazing people (personally and professionally) and are constantly reminded of how incredibly resilient people are – and it is an honour to be able to help.

 

If you have any questions about what it is like to be a funeral director (or anything else funeral related) then please don’t hesitate to get in touch via our Contact Us page or by emailing [email protected]

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

By Gemma Wood

Gemma
Rose

Art After Loss

Creative activities can be immensely helpful after any major changes in our lives, including bereavement. Being creative is mindful, absorbing and allows the unconscious release of emotions and feelings without the need to find the right words.

Grief is different for everyone

Grief isn’t just associated with death. We can also find ourselves overwhelmed by feelings of loss when important relationships end, if we move somewhere new and after a change in career or financial circumstances.  Simply growing older brings change, loss and new adventures.

The complex emotions involved can take us by surprise and everyone’s experience is very individual. Some people find it helpful to express how they are feeling in groups or one-to-one, whereas others prefer to grieve privately.

Art after loss

The world’s most famous painters have created masterpieces after loss, although the benefits of artistic expression can be felt by anyone, not just those who already consider themselves to be artists. Creating and viewing art has helped lots of people acknowledge and cope with their feelings and the ‘art’ can take many forms – painting, sketching, printing, sculpting, mosaicking, collaging, photography, sewing and writing, for example.

Art helps us reflect on and express grief. It can also promote positive thoughts. Creating art can help people to relax and be present in the moment, instead of dwelling on what has already happened or worrying about what might happen next.

Painting By Bea

Using art to support wellbeing

Art to support wellbeing after loss is not just for people who consider themselves to be creative or artistic.  It is for anyone who thinks it might be helpful to create something.  Whether the creation is technically sophisticated or basic, it doesn’t matter.  If possible, quality assessments such as these should be thrown to the wind.

Using creativity is accessible to us all, whether we are professionals, regular creators, or complete amateurs with no experience at all.  Often children, with their natural openness can show us how to use art to explore some of our more challenging feelings and express the unspeakable.

All you need to get started is a quiet place and time to reflect. If you have paints or a pencil and paper to hand, keep them close and see what happens. Your artistic activity may be as simple as going into the garden and picking flowers to arrange in a vase or gathering scraps of material to create a collage. You might be inspired to write a poem or song. Our creative responses are as unique as our experiences of loss and there is no right or wrong way to use art to support your wellbeing.

Photo by Harriet Yuen

Full Circle’s virtual gallery

Many people that we have supported have told us about the art they have created and how this has helped them.  Some of them have even shared their art with us, which has been a great privilege.

With this in mind, we have created this online art gallery to celebrate and share some of the beautiful and meaningful ways that people have used art to help them after a loss or bereavement.  We hope that this provides a platform for people to share their art, and that it may inspire others to use art to support them after loss or bereavement.

Our virtual art gallery is an open and welcome space and if you would like to contribute something to be safely shared with others then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.  If you would be happy to share some information about the loss that inspired the creation, or about the artwork itself then that would be really helpful.

Please take the opportunity to look at the gallery, even if you choose not to take a contribution.  If you have any questions or would like any support then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Lisa Baldry Photography

By Jane Wood

Jane Wood
Image of lungs

Jane Wood is a practicing acupuncturist and has written a guest blog about her perspective of Chinese medicine, and how she believes it can help those that are grieving. If you have any questions or would like to find out more about Jane’s work and Chinese medicine you can visit Jane’s website.

 

Grief and Chinese Medicine

Grief through the lens of Chinese Medicine

Chinese medicine sees emotions manifesting in the organs; the heart feels the emotion of joy, the spleen pensiveness, the liver anger and frustration, the kidneys fear. And the emotions of sadness, grief, and worry affect the lungs.

We can see similarities in our own everyday language; something may make your heart sing, if you’re out of sorts you might describe yourself as feeling a bit liverish. And our breath changes when we’re upset, whether that be with sobs of grief, shallow breathing, or holding our breath.

 

The physical impact of grief

Western medicine sees the brain almost as a Commander, sending signals via the nervous system to other parts of the body as if they were its troops.  Chinese medicine sees all parts as equal, with organs affected directly by emotions. Either way, there is no doubt that your emotions affect your body and health.

The first thing to say is that grief is a normal experience, one that binds the whole human race.

Although everyone will have their own experience of bereavement, the loss of a loved one is generally accepted as a major cause of stress and anxiety. Responses in the nervous system change our biochemistry. A cascade of hormones release telling us that we’re no longer safe and need to prepare to fight, flee, or freeze.

The first responder to stress, adrenaline, gives us the impetus to move quickly or be completely still. It diverts blood to the skeletal muscles, heart and brain so you we can fight or flee and dilates our pupils so we can see where we’re going! Extremely useful if we need to jump out of the path of an approaching bus, but not so great for going about our normal lives as that extra diverted blood has to come from somewhere, such as the digestive or reproductive organs.

We need this stress response to get through life. We wouldn’t last long without it. But we also need to be able to relax when the stressor has gone. It is normal for us to move between stressed and relaxed states, which are governed by two branches of the nervous system. Problems arise only when we stay in a stressed state for too long without periods of relaxation.

If stress continues, the body releases steroid hormones such as cortisol, to prolong the stress response. Cortisol is essential for life.  In normal times, it helps to break down food to give us the energy for life. But the increase in cortisol from long term stress is less helpful, leading to a range of health issues.

 

How acupuncture can help

Our bodies are always looking to maintain a constant internal environment to keep our internal organs safe and maintain the right environment for life. It’s a bit like Goldilocks wanting the porridge to be exactly right, we can’t be too hot or too cold. This state is called “homeostasis”. Long term stress moves us away from homeostasis, keeping us in “fight or flight” mode for too long.

Research into acupuncture has shown that it can reduce the stress response by:

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Making changes to the nervous system, which sends signals to the body to tell it to make changes such as increasing or slowing the heart rate, to bring it back to that middle ground, homeostasis.

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Improving heart rate variability. While it might seem that a heart rate as steady as a metronome is something to aspire to, we need a heart rate finely tuned to change to the environment. Higher heart rate variability is associated with better health overall.

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An area of the brain called the hypothalamus releases neurochemicals when the body is under stress. Acupuncture can calm this response.

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Increasing the release of endorphins, the “feel good” chemicals that play an important role in regulating responses to stress such as pain, heart rate changes, blood pressure and digestive function. ​

Self-help

Breathe well

Going back to the lungs, one of the simplest changes we can make is working with the breath.

Our emotions affect our breath, it really is a barometer or benchmark of how we feel. But the reverse is also true. Changing how we breathe can send signals to the body to let it know that we’re safe.

In times of stress the breath tends to be quick and shallow and may feel uneven. When we’re relaxed our breathing is deep and even, with longer breaths.

Breathing is an automatic function of the body, but we can also directly control our breath.

Here’s a simple breathing practice.

Start with good posture – how we hold ourselves has a very physical impact on the breath. By standing/sitting straight and relaxing the shoulders down and rolling them back we allow the ribcage to expand, increasing lung capacity and allowing more air into the body. With that air comes oxygen, needed by every cell of the body to help it function.

You might also notice that changing your posture also changes how you feel.

Now observe how your breath is in this moment. Is it shallow and fast, or slow, deep, and even? Then bring your attention to your posture, whether seating or standing imagine a string at the top of your head lifting you towards the ceiling. Begin to count each in breath and out breath. Don’t strain, just count the breath as it is.  You might notice that the breath becomes softer and longer over time. Next you can begin to make the outbreath just a little longer.

You can try this at any time and can also work with the breath while lying down.

What else can you do?

Relax

Although it can be difficult to relax, see if you can find something works for you. It might be a walk in nature, talking things through with a friend, listening to music, or a nice warm bath. Everyone is different and what works for someone else might not work for you, and vice versa.

Diet

Nourish yourself with good wholesome food. Being off your food is a normal reaction to grief, as is turning to junk food for comfort. Although it may make you feel better for a short while in the longer term, it can prolong the stress response. Common stressors include coffee, alcohol, and sugar.

Take time to eat. Your digestion will thank you for eating slowly, chewing properly and sitting calmly. And if it’s possible, try and eat your meals at roughly the same time each day. Strange though it may seem, your body gets used to this rhythm and begins to prepare itself to digest food.

Sleep

Insomnia is a common side effect of stress. But even going to bed and getting up at the same time, perhaps listening to soft music, a gentle audio book, or recorded relaxation can help to maintain the Goldilocks state of homeostasis, and you may find it easier to return to a normal sleeping routine later down the line. Gentle stretching or breathing practices in a dimly lit room before bed can sometimes help.

And finally – Accept grief

Grief is normal, but the biological impact of long term suppressed grief can impact on health. Culturally, we’re sometimes encouraged to “keep things in” but grief is a normal part of life, a common experience that binds us as humans. The loss of a loved one is stressful, but expressing grief in whatever way works for you, and for as long as you need to, releases stress hormones just as running away from danger does.

If you would like anymore information or have any questions please contact Jane Wood via e-mail [email protected] or visit her website https://janewoodacu.co.uk/

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