This is what we've found.
During the summer we attend a number of agricultural shows. As well as spreading awareness of our natural burial grounds, it gives us the opportunity to meet and speak to local people. This way we can find out how they feel about what we do and they can ask us questions. Compared to the horticultural tent and cheese vendors (which are both fantastic!) our stand offers a completely new topic of conversation. And as you can imagine, it gets people talking.
On the morning of the Frome Show James had an idea for one of our blackboards. ‘What would you choose?’ was the question we posed, followed by a list of funeral options chosen to provoke thought. It was a new idea, and we were excited to see how people would react.
Within a few hours, the board was full. It really grabbed people’s attention as they walked past and they couldn’t resist adding their thoughts. The idea was to make people think about what they’d like and tell someone, rather than leaving those left behind to guess.
The results from our blackboard. Click to enlarge.
If you follow the choices made to their logical conclusion you would be right in thinking that the average UK funeral would be a colourful, eco-friendly one. But it’s not. We’re taken off in an oak-veneered chipboard coffin in a shiny black hearse plus one limo to the gas guzzling, featureless crematorium by funeral directors dressed like Victorians.
When a funeral is given some prior thought, the experience can become a more memorable one, one to cherish rather than endure; "many of those who attended my wife's funeral were surprised that a natural burial was possible - and commented very favourably on the whole experience (particularly in contrast to recent cremations in the family.) … Finding an alternative to traditional graveyards and crematoria was important to her. Being able to plan her service and a resting place which reflected her personality was a source of great relief. The day itself, when it came, was peaceful and dignified and a truly moving experience for her family and friends" – a testimonial from a funeral at Cardiff Natural Burial Meadow.
Other results indicated that people would rather be carried by their mates than undertaker's bearers, for a Robbie Williams track to play them out instead of Frank Sinatra, and that the pub is the most popular place to go afterwards. Ultimately, the results demonstrated that somehow we’re not given the day we’d really like. We’re denying ourselves our final wishes.
So what’s going wrong? People are forgetting to write it down and/or talk about it. Do it today!