The reason is that they don’t write down or talk about their wishes. The difference between what people actually wanted and what they end up having can be poles apart. It happens because ‘buying’ a funeral is a stress purchase and with no guidance from the person who has died, their families with their emotional energy already sapped, buy the default set piece.
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.
The options on the board ranged from transport, coffin types and memorials, to dress code and drinks, with cider unsurprisingly beating tea by 55 to 28. Maybe a pint brings out the better stories at wakes? Concerning the more environmental topics, we found a considerable difference in choice between the options available. A wicker or hardwood coffin? 71 said wicker, 11 would prefer a hardwood one. A headstone or wildflowers? 6 wanted a headstone … the other 80 would rather have wildflowers on their grave. Eco-friendly or cremation? 56 to 29. The margins are huge.
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!
The results speak for themselves
Stories and thoughts from the Leedam camp.
We'd love to hear what you have to say. Use the 'add comment' button at the bottom of each post or contact us here.
You can also find us on facebook and twitter, where we engage in debates, post updates about the burial grounds and more.