New Funeral Product Finds from Exhibition

Freeman Brothers was first established as a funeral director in Horsham, West Sussex, in 1855. The company now has a further three offices across the county – in Billingshurst, Crawley and Hurstpierpoint – and continues to serve these local communities. Recently, several members of the team visited the National Funeral Exhibition. Community Co-Ordinator, Becky, shares […]

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Freeman Brothers was first established as a funeral director in Horsham, West Sussex, in 1855. The company now has a further three offices across the county – in Billingshurst, Crawley and Hurstpierpoint – and continues to serve these local communities. Recently, several members of the team visited the National Funeral Exhibition. Community Co-Ordinator, Becky, shares some of her favourite finds…

Many people outside of the funeral industry aren’t sure what might be involved in our kind of trade show. Held every two years, the National Funeral Exhibition is a business to business show which exists primarily to sell consumables to organisations within the industry. As you then might expect, the majority of exhibitors are in the categories of caring for Deceased persons – including manufacturers of mortuary equipment and coffins – or arranging of a funeral – which is a broader group, and includes those such as coachbuilders and vehicle suppliers, plus companies who provide funeral arranging software, or telephone call management systems. It’s useful to be able to see these products in person, and meet those who make and sell them, in order to ensure that the quality is correct, plus to build a relationship with the suppliers.

In addition to what I’ve already mentioned, there are an increasing number of suppliers linked more to aftercare of the bereaved. I’m really pleased to see more charities getting a chance to meet my colleagues in industry, and some of the perhaps more exciting or unusual products tend to come in the form of keepsakes and other gifts.

This side of the funeral industry has expanded significantly even since I joined in 2017, and it’s great to see a wider range of products than ever before which meet a diverse range of needs. Whilst I found lots of brilliant things at the NFE in 2024, I thought I’d highlight three of my favourites…

Ceramic flowers
As the world increasingly focuses on sustainability, we in the funeral industry are continually being pushed to look for different ways of doing things. The funeral industry is carbon emission-heavy for a number of reasons, so it often is a case of us taking smaller steps in order to make progress here. Many florists are now offering plastic-free floral tributes, including not using foam blocks within arrangements.

Some people prefer to use fake flowers, with fabric or paper options long having been available. Something that hadn’t crossed my mind until I saw it in person was ceramic flowers. These have been produced by hand and are such a striking display. Whilst they don’t carry the aroma of real flowers, they do last much longer, and can therefore be kept either to adorn an outdoor memorial space, or at home where they can be admired daily.

The colours and textures really pop in person, and I think that others will be as impressed by this product as I am.

Butterfly release
Dove releases have been used at all sorts of ceremonies for a long time, with the visual impact of the occasion being quite striking. What I hadn’t considered was that this would be possible with other creatures, namely butterflies.

This would be another option which may satisfy those who are looking to make a positive environmental impact, thanks to the opportunity to introduce these insects into a new environment. Provided by Insect Lore this is a more subtle choice than live birds, whilst being along a similar theme of releasing new life into the world to mark the end of a human life. This would undoubtedly also be less noisy, and is something that requires no outside help – the box is ordered to arrive at any domestic residence the day prior to the occasion, and it is smaller and easier to transport than live birds are. Altogether, a more accessible option, whilst invoking a similar response as a bird release.

Buddy bag
I saw a huge increase in pet-related products at the NFE this year, particularly in terms of keepsake items. Something that really caught my eye was the Buddy Bag – a small mammal domestic burial kit.

I’ve known many people both before and since working for a funeral director be uncertain of what to do when a small pet – such as a gerbil or hamster – dies at home. I know that, often, the much-loved pet is placed in a small receptacle such as an ice cream tub, and buried quietly in the garden.

This kit was developed when the owner’s child understandably wanted a more compassionate way to say goodbye to her pet, and also to help her process the emotions of her first bereavement, and the Buddy Bag was born. It’s customisable by the user, meaning that you can draw or paint on it prior to laying the animal to rest, and the bag will also biodegrade along with the remains. A lovely option which is also easy to use.

There were may more things I saw which I’ll share during the coming months – come back to find out what else we found!

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Written by Becky Hughes

Community Co-Ordinator

July 10, 2024

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