Dying Matters Awareness Week blog 2019 – day two

The second day of our Dying Matters Awareness Week blog focuses on memorialisation, read on to find out more...

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Today’s blog topic is memorialisation, a broad topic which could mean a variety of things.  For the purposes of this blog, we’ll be specifically considering ways of remembering Deceased people pertaining to options for what to do with ashes following a cremation, and memorial stones in cemeteries and churchyards.  Community Co-Ordinator Becky takes up the topic today…

Prior to working for Freeman Brothers Funeral Directors, I only knew a little about the possibilities for ashes post-cremation – I was aware that they could be kept in a container or scattered (and, like many people, thought it was illegal to scatter them in public), and I knew that there were options available to have ashes made into keepsakes such as paperweights or jewellery.

As my day-to-day role doesn’t generally involve advising customers regarding ashes, it was a while – and for personal reasons – before I explored certain aspects.  When my Grandad died last year, my family had queries regarding the scattering of his ashes, and it was for them that I looked up the full answer.  During this process, I found some very helpful information, and Freeman Brothers now carries a stock of leaflets supplied by this company.  Scattering of ashes is considered the disposal of human remains, and the truth is that, in the UK, it is allowed providing those scattering have the permission of the landowner.  For example, scattering ashes or interring them in your own garden is fine, but if you wanted to scatter the ashes in a park, on a beach, or at another venue which is meaningful to you but that you don’t own, this would require permission of the landowner in order for it to be legal.

It was also around this time which I discovered the option that I am most drawn to for my own wishes: having investigated ashes scatterings and learned that it’s possible to book scatterings via air or sea, I also found that ashes can be made into fireworks.  There are a variety of options here (including a variety of companies which provide this service), allowing for a range of budgets, but more importantly to suit different wishes – if your desire is to have a fairly simple affair, you can opt for a ‘self-fire’ firework (whereby anyone sets up and lights the firework), but if you would like a larger occasion, more complex fireworks can be made, whereby a pyrotechnist runs the display, which may also be set to your choice of music.

Growing in curiosity, I thought about what might be popular in other parts of the world.  Knowing the culture fairly well, I wasn’t all that surprised to find a company in the US which produces ammunition using ashes.  Not something that I suspect will catch on in the UK, but good for those who desire it to have a service which suits their requirements!

Having mementoes manufactured using ash is a personal choice – for some, it is a step too far, and the thought of the materials having been a person’s body is inescapable, but for others it is a great source of comfort to have a piece of their loved one nearby.  An increasing number of options are available, from items for the home or office, such as paperweights, to wearable items such as earrings, rings and cufflinks.  When using some suppliers, customers can also engage with the process, with some factories offering the opportunity to visit and watch your items being made.

A variation on the theme of items using ash is those incorporating fingerprints.  This involves a different decision-making process, as fingerprints must be taken prior to burial or cremation, however, recent technological innovations are useful here.  Many people find it difficult to contemplate memorial items in the immediate aftermath of a bereavement, and we often find that customers prefer to order items in time for significant occasions – such as anniversaries and birthdays – rather than soon after the death of their loved one.  In order to support this, some companies now offer to take fingerprints of the Deceased person digitally – which is also easier and more accurate – and store these securely until such time as customers wish to place an order.

More traditional memorials remain popular in the UK, and again follow the pattern of tending to be requested in time for significant occasions.  Freeman Brothers operates a sister company – J. Gumbrill Monumental Masons – in order to support this.  J. Gumbrill offers a range of options within headstone and tablet memorials, taking customers through from design and production, to positioning of the stone, plus cleaning and maintaining it, or additional inscriptions if appropriate.  Administrator, Annissa, handles all queries from initial enquiry through to quotation, gaining necessary permission from the churchyard or cemetery, and instructing the craftsmen who will complete the work.  J. Gumbrill’s fully-qualified fitters will ensure the stone is in place when the time comes, and provide advice so that customers may effectively care for their memorial.  Having this service in-house at Freeman Brothers allows us to offer a continuity of care to our customers, and for them it gives the peace of mind that they will receive the same high quality of service as they have with the funeral itself.

With new methods and technologies developing all the time, an increased range of products in the future seems likely, and customer feedback allows us to source new suppliers of pass ideas on – if there are items that you would like to be available, but can’t see, do ask us, as we may be able to help.  Remembering those we love is important, and so, therefore, is doing so in the way we find most appropriate.

Freeman Brothers is celebrating Dying Matters Awareness Week by hosting a series of ‘Big Deal, Small Talk’ events. These are free to attend and open to all who are interested. With events in a variety of locations and at different times, there should be one to suit everyone – you can find details of the events here.


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Written by Becky Hughes

Community Co-Ordinator

May 14, 2019

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