This year, Dying Matters Awareness Week takes place during week commencing 13 May, and this national coalition of groups working to increase public conversation around death, dying and bereavement has chosen to ask, ‘are we ready?’. The idea of the theme this year is to consider whether communities throughout the country are ready to prepare for end of life care, and the decisions which must be made at the end of life, whether these be around how we wish to be looked after, to how we would like to be remembered. For Freeman Brothers, this means asking whether our customers are ready to communicate the wishes of their loved ones to us, and are we ready to arrange the appropriate funeral for our friends and family? The company has found that many people are not ready to arrange a funeral when the time comes, as most have not had a conversation prior to their loved one’s death regarding their wishes.
Whilst contemplating the death of a loved one – or, indeed, ourselves – prior to it happening can be an uncomfortable process, research has repeatedly found that the matter of greatest importance for those arranging a funeral is to carry out what the Deceased person would have wanted*. Despite this desire, people remain reluctant to talk about funeral wishes, meaning that their goal is impossible to achieve. With this in mind, Freeman Brothers is encouraging people to discuss their thoughts and feelings around what they would like their funeral to be like prior to their death, or to simply record them privately so that they may be acted upon when the time comes. Freeman Brothers has prepared a range of resources in order to help facilitate these conversations, and prove how straightforward they can be. These resources include leaflets to assist with funeral planning, a booklet which outlines the funeral arranging process, and a series of events to give people the opportunity to discuss their wishes in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
Community Co-Ordinator Becky explains further: ‘In 2018 we ran events in our Billingshurst and Crawley branches, plus at AgeUK Horsham District’s Lavinia House day centre during Dying Matters Awareness Week. This year, not only do we have a fourth branch which is running an event in Hurstpierpoint, but they all have a slightly different twist on the theme. Our Billingshurst event will remain a lunchtime affair, but in Crawley we are offering a wine and cheese evening this year. Hurstpierpoint’s first ever event will be an afternoon tea, and in Horsham we have partnered with social enterprise The Butterfly Project, who are running a pop-up café for us. It’s an exciting series of events, and one which welcomes people of all ages to come and chat to us in an informal atmosphere.’
Becky with The Butterfly Project team
Members of the public can attend any of Freeman Brothers’s events free of charge during Dying Matters Awareness Week – the events will be running on the following dates:
- Big Deal, Small Talk at Freeman Brothers Billingshurst (31 High Street) – Tuesday 14 May 11am until 2pm
- Big Deal, Small Talk at Freeman Brothers Hurstpierpoint (126 High Street) – Thursday 16 May 1pm until 4pm
- Big Deal, Small Talk at Freeman Brothers Crawley (25 & 27 Brighton Road) – Friday 17 May 3pm until 7pm, with complimentary wine tasting from 5pm
- Big Deal, Small Talk at The Butterfly Project (31 Springfield Road, Horsham) – Saturday 18 May 11am until 2pm
Death is a subject which the Freeman Brothers team is accustomed to confronting, and as they discuss it on a daily basis, they can balance practicality with sensitivity. The company is keen to impress upon members of the public that talking about death does not make it happen and that people should be encouraged to raise the subject in order to get more comfortable with something which is inevitable. Helping people put plans in place for when the time comes has benefits not only for their own peace of mind but also for family who do not then have to worry about what decisions need to be made. The team will guide you through the process, whether you simply wish to decide upon the basics or go into more detail, and whether you’d like to choose by yourself or in collaboration with those around you.
Big Deal, Small Talk in Horsham demonstrates an additional side of the company’s business – its commitment to the local community. Freeman Brothers has supported Horsham charity The Butterfly Project since November 2017, and looks forward to seeing them achieve a goal they have had in mind for over a year – helping the people they support to gain new skills by operating a café. This begins as a pop-up on Saturday 18 May, to trial the concept and assess their current needs in terms of effectively supporting young people in a hospitality provision environment.
Details of all events can be found online. If you aren’t able to attend but would like one of the company’s leaflets, please telephone one of their offices or call in, the team will be happy to help.
*all results from the Funerals Matter (2016) report, commissioned from YouGov by the National Association of Funeral Directors and Cruse Bereavement Care