Along with grief death places a huge burden of responsibility on those left behind who have to deal with all the emotions and funeral arrangements. Choosing words for a headstone may be the last thing on the mind when death is recent. How can you sum up the life of a loved one in just a few lines?
While professional writers and poets may be able to put their feelings into words easily, for most people it will be a challenge. This often means resorting to standard phrases such as ‘rest in peace’ or ‘forever in our hearts’.
While you will find these inscriptions on many grave stones but you may be left with the feeling that you could have said more to sum up the person’s existence and what they meant to you and others in life.
For famous people who have achieved much in life, this process is easy. You can simply sum up their great achievements and their legacy. For most ordinary people their greatest achievement will be the family they helped to raise or a long and successful career.
To raise the inscription beyond the ordinary, however, you can do what no-one else can do and sum up what that person meant to you, perhaps reflect back on a good memory which sums up the kind of person they were.
Death is an inevitability we all have to deal with and for those left behind it is always difficult to come to terms with the loss of a loved one. But in recent years we have seen funerals that celebrate the life of a person rather than make them a traditionally sombre occasion. So which approach is the right one?
Celebrating the life of a person at a funeral is not a new idea, in Ghana for example, the deceased have a special coffin made to celebrate a person’s interests or passions. Funerals are thus more light hearted than the traditional funerals we have here in the UK where people wear black and coffins are build to a standardised design.
The celebration funeral is perhaps a reaction to this type of funeral. Increasingly nowadays people want to express their individuality rather than end their days like everyone else with everyone surrounding a coffin dressed in black.
Then there are people who prefer the traditions such as TV presenter Colin Brazier, who asked for people to wear black at his wife’s funeral.
It is easy to empathise with both sides of the debate. Those with strong religious beliefs will naturally prefer that traditions are maintained and that fun funerals miss the point about the finality of death and the passage to the afterlife.
The Victorian Cemetery in Wrexham has over the centuries become a local landmark and thanks to the investment of £1.1m, its long term future is now secure and its unique history preserved for future generations to explore.
The site covers seven hectares making it one of the biggest graveyards in local area with a total of 37,000 graves. While wandering around graveyards is not everyone’s idea of a pleasant pastime, the cemetery designer hopes that it will be seen as a park as well as a place of rest.
The cemetery features some impressive monuments funded by wealthy Victorian industrialists as well as war graves providing a snapshot of the town’s history and development through the great transformations brought by the Industrial Revolution and two world wars.
The work has been funded by the Heritage Lottery fund and work included restoration of the chapels gates and railings of the Grade II listed site.
The project even included the appointment of a development officer who will be working on telling the stories of people buried there.
The restoration comes hot on the heels of calls from the Church in Wales that ore space is needed for burials with many cemeteries running out of plots.
For those planning a funeral in Wrexham, it is worth getting more than one quote for a funeral director after a survey reveals that the town has the biggest difference in costs in the country.
The average cost of a funeral in the UK now stands at £3,700. This will cover the most basic funerals without even a headstone so saving some money on funeral director’s costs is important if you want to give the deceased the best possible funeral.
Though it is considered ‘an extra’ a headstone has to be one of the more important investments because it will leave a lasting reminder. It’s far better to spend what money is available on giving a person a fitting send-off rather than spending more than is necessary.
A study found that one funeral director was charging £3,157 in comparison to another who quoted £2000 less for the same funeral. Yet even the highest funeral director cost in Wrexham pales in comparison with Beckenham in London, where prices for a basic funeral are £5,372.
With the recent rise in the number of pauper’s funerals it is clear that something needs to be done to cap the above inflation costs of funerals which include both burials and cremations. This would allow people to give their loved ones a decent funeral without getting into high levels of debt.
The number of pauper’s funerals being paid for by local authorities is on the rise putting pressure on budgets.
Pauper’s funerals once the last send off for vagrants with no family or friends to pay for burials, are on the rise, costing council’s 1.7 million a year according to a recent survey. The cost of Pauper’s funerals has increased by 30% in the last 4 years alone as the cost races ahead of inflation. This increase may well be pushing families who are unable to afford to pay for funerals to consider the most basic of funerals for their loved ones.
The number of Paupers funerals, which is essentially a funeral without any of the extras associated with a standard funeral has increased by 24% in South East England since 2009-10. Despite being one of the richest regions this rise indicates that more and more people are either struggling to meet costs or there is an increase in the number of people who may have no-one left to help pay for their funerals.
A paupers’ funeral means that the deceased will be buried or cremated with no gravestone or lasting memorial. Instead they will simply be buried in an unmarked grave which is often a sad end to a life.
Many of the airfields which provided the bases for the RAF in World War II are still around today even if many have long since ceased to be in use. But one charity is making sure that the sacrifices made in defence of the country in the Second World War are remembered.
The Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust (ABCT) is a charity dedicated to preserving not only the country’s airfields but also the memory of brave pilots who are credited with saving the Britain from the threat of Nazi Germany.
Without winning the war in the air, the UK will have had to face an invasion that would almost certainly have resulted in defeat. Germany in the first half of the war swept many countries aside including, notably, France and Poland with its overwhelming air and land force superiority.
The Britain was left to face the might of the Luftwaffe alone prior to the United States joining the war.
Granite stone memorials have been placed at two disused airfield in Somerset by the ABCT which has erected a total of 51 stones since the charity was formed in 2009.
The Westonzoyland airfield, Bridgwater was opened in the 1920s and remained in use until 1957 while Culmhead airfield, Churchstanton opened in 1941 and closed following the end of the war in 1946.
A famous football manager famously said that football is ‘more important’ than life or death. So in an effort to bring football and death together, Championship football club Huddersfield Town are offering fans a football themed funeral so that they can be given a good send off in club colours.
The themed service is likely to prove popular with fans who may see this as an ideal way to celebrate their life and the team they supported. While there isn’t much happening for fans to remember with the club’s current league form, football fans can be a patient bunch and are unlikely to be put off by the £4,195 cost of a Huddersfield Town FC funeral.
Bill Shankly, a former manager of the club who also famously steered Liverpool FC to greatness once said, “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that”
Fans taking up the pre-paid funeral plan will get a blue and white or traditional coffin and a football shirt with the deceased’s name on it. There is also the option of having ashes scattered at the club’s stadium.
Death is inevitable for everyone. But a lot has changed about death since the dawn of the Internet age.
In some ways many people can be immortal when it comes to their online personas. Those who make their living from the Internet or even spend a good part of their lives using social media channels will have put together a lasting legacy.
This can be left in place for as long as the website is happy to host the content. On sites like Facebook and on search engine results – this could be indefinitely.
This is perhaps one of the more comforting aspects of death today. We can all leave our mark in a way which wasn’t available to our ancestors. But the other side of the coin is an interesting one. What happens to our passwords and various Internet accounts when we die? Who will take care of them?
This is where it is useful to put in place a plan for other people to have access to your Internet presence after you die. This will need to be someone you trust not to reveal anything you wouldn’t want people to see when you are gone or misuse the access they have.
This can be a difficult but necessary process to ensure that those you leave behind are spared the difficulty of trying to retrieve passwords and close social accounts if that is what they wish.
The last thing most people think about when buying a burial plot are the rules and regulations of the cemetery.
Buying a plot at a graveyard is often a decision made with little time to consider the small print. It may not be much of an issue to conform to the rules of a cemetery but when it comes to headstones, bereaved families can often be surprised to learn that their loved one will have a headstone erected in a place they feel is inappropriate and not in keeping with their religious beliefs.
This was the case for one family in Ireland who, despite wanting to have a headstone placed at the head of their relative’s grave, were dismayed to find that it would be erected at the foot of the grave.
This particular graveyard was a lawn cemetery where headstones were placed back to back so that they could be looked after more easily. In keeping with Christian rituals, bodies in the cemetery were laid out facing east with a plinth in the centre.
The family had not been made aware that the position of the grave would depend on what order the burials took place. The family were unable to contest the positioning due to council rules which stated that headstones would have to be placed on the foundation provided.
When a loved one dies it is a very distressing time for all concerned which is why choosing a good gravestone service should be high on the list of priorities to avoid the experience of one Manchester family.
The family had ordered a gravestone from a manufacturer in the hope that it would provide a fitting tribute only to find that the inscription on the stone was full of errors. To begin with, the article in the Manchester Evening News highlighted how the stone manufacturers has carelessly misspelled the word ‘brother’ so that it read ‘brohter’. They had also used the wrong typeface and spacing so that the end result looked nothing like what was intended.
This understandably added to the suffering of relatives according to the article. Unbelievably, worse was yet to come when after complaining to the gravestone manufacturers, the hastily re-written inscription on the same stone contained another glaring error. The words ‘too dearly loved to be forgotten’ replaced the error strewn inscription.
Unfortunately the experience of this particular family is not unique, which is why using a reputable gravestone company should be an important part of funeral planning.