The rise of alternative funerals

When Rosie Grant’s mother died following a terminal illness, she fulfilled her mum’s wish to have a personal and unique funeral.

coffin

Rather than choose a typical Victorian-style service offered by many traditional undertakers, Ms Grant and her brother arranged for the ceremony to be held in a thatched barn, followed by a woodland burial, with a tree planted on top of the grave.

“It wasn’t the slickest funeral ever, but it was lovely, and so many people contributed in different ways,” says Ms Grant.

rosie grant

The event also sparked a light-bulb moment for the 46-year-old, who decided she wanted to enter the industry, to help other people looking for more unusual, eco-friendly, or bespoke, funerals.

“It started off as an interest for me,” she says. “I wanted to help families create their own farewell rituals.”

Rosie Inman-Cook, manager of the Natural Death Centre, a charity set up to facilitate natural funerals, notes that many of the new, alternative funeral directing businesses are being opened by women.

She adds: “Many are starting such a business because they’ve experienced a dreadful funeral for a family member and thought, ‘I can do so much better’.

“They don’t do black, shiny cars and twirling silver canes, unless that’s what the family wants.”

When the bereaved visit one of Green Endings’ three branches in London, they might be offered champagne to raise a toast to a family member, or a slice of cake as they sit on the sofa.

“We don’t want people to feel like they’re applying for a mortgage,” says Jeremy Smith, who took over Green Endings in 2008 when the previous owner retired.

“We want to be more natural, not pompous, and we don’t ask if they’d like to see the brass handles [on the coffin] and all that horrible nonsense, when someone has died,” adds the 55-year-old. “We want to treat people properly.”

When the bereaved visit one of Green Endings’ three branches in London, they might be offered champagne to raise a toast to a family member, or a slice of cake as they sit on the sofa.

“We don’t want people to feel like they’re applying for a mortgage,” says Jeremy Smith, who took over Green Endings in 2008 when the previous owner retired.

“We want to be more natural, not pompous, and we don’t ask if they’d like to see the brass handles [on the coffin] and all that horrible nonsense, when someone has died,” adds the 55-year-old. “We want to treat people properly.”

Like Natural Endings, Green Endings, as the name suggests, focuses on creating eco-friendly funerals. It also uses a bright pink hearse, and even a tricycle, to transport coffins to funerals.

“In the 15 years I’ve been working in this business, I’ve seen the rise of the green burial site as a key trend,” says Mr Smith.

“There’s so much more interest in being buried in a natural environment without regimented lawns and marble memorials.”

Source: BBC News 7/01/16

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