Tuesday, 16 December 2008

On the 3rd day of Christmas...

On the 3rd day of Christmas my accountant said to me “I don’t have a will” – * needle scratches record* YOU DON’T HAVE A WILL?? You have to be kidding me right?

The reason this conversation started is because he’s reading a Jeremy Clarkson autobiography - apparently Jeremy talks about the fact when you hit 40 years of age you begin to spend every day for the rest of your life thinking about your death (I’m sure Jeremy Clarkson has a much more humorous way of writing than I do)… anyway

Since my accountant has turned the ripe old age of 40 he has in fact developed an irrational thinking of death - he fears his man flu is going to turn into throat cancer and his aching old leg joints are thrombosis, his acid indigestion is a heart attack, and the effects of last night curry is going to cause certain death!

So if you think this way how on earth can you not have a will??

“I’ve been meaning to do it for years”
“All our money will just go to the kid’s, right?”
“I suppose the kids would go and live with my sister”,
“Actually my sister in law is a control freak and she would want the kids”
“My brother and his wife would be best for the kids”
“Yes I suppose the whole family would feel they’d have right to our kids”
Gosh I’d never thought of that
“I just assumed we wouldn’t really need a will”

It costs about £100 for a will and about £150 for 2 wills

For peace of mind and for the sake of any family disputes why would you not
make a will?

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

'stepping up, stepping in and facing the facts'

I am about to face some facts - the fact is all the people I work with or the people I work for are either dead or dying. They are not 'passed on' and they are not 'lost' - they are dead! It hurts for me to say it but from now on I'm going to say it! No skirting round the truth!

When I say 'I'm sorry for your loss', what I really mean is 'I really am bloody sorry your mum died and I see your pain'. But I don't want to say it because I feel it may hurt them and I don't want to hurt them anymore than they are already hurting - So
I skirt round the truth, fluff it up and say anything but the reality of the situation!

When we speak to the bereaved, we say 'she had a great life' or 'she was loved'. Yarda yarda yarda - If there's a window of opportunity not to be sad then hands up, I'll take it, as will everyone else if they are to be honest. Its the easy option... but what about the people we are driving off from? Leaving them on the side of the road to find their own way home just to save an uncomfortable journey!?

By skirting round the truth, we are putting the bereaved into a situation where they end up looking after us, the non bereaved. They save our feelings because we are uncomfortable and they know that. So they try to save us from any more uncomfortable English situations! The bereaved protect our feelings by being positive or changing the subject, we act all polite (and thankful for our escape), then we make our excuses and bugger off on our own to have a cry for being so bloody useless, leaving the bereaved to bugger off on their own for a cry because everyone is being so bloody useless!!!

Now - I'm really good at my job because people come to me, they want my help, they open the door for me to come in and so its easy(ish) for me to help - but when my own distant family die I find it really hard to step up because I don't want to invade - I have no idea why I feel this way... its ironic really - however something is tapping me on the shoulder and saying - things need to change, not just with me but with the whole of the UK!

Suggestions on a postcard please!

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Funeral Favours

I was reading the daily undertaker today, the author wrote an article on parting gifts (what I call Funeral Favours). Here at Sentiment, we love 'Funeral Favours'. If you love giving gifts and you are pre-planning your own funeral, then why not leave a little something as a thank you to your friends and family - it doesn't have to cost anything.

Some people have sugared almonds as a traditional wedding favour (apologies for any one who had them at their wedding, but yuck!!! ). These days there is a craze for bending the rules of tradition and giving something unique. For my own wedding we hand painted (*roll of the eyes*) Yes HAND PAINTED 130 glass tea light holders!!! At 5am in the morning and with 50 still to go, it dawned on me that it wasn't the best idea I'd had! However, I have a friend who went one better.
Hillary ever so stupidly thought that making an assortment of home made Jams to give to each of her 120 guests was a great idea - she didn't sleep for a week! (They did taste good though)

Ok so we're not talking weddings here, we're talking funerals. And I'm sure most of my clients have better things to do with their short lives than paint tea lights and make jam!

For one young lady (Sarah), we came up with the idea of handing out
Cadbury's chocolate bars at her funeral. Sarah loved Cadbury's chocolate (don't we all? As I type this blog, the other half of my brain is planning my escape out of the office and down to the newsagents to buy myself a Cadbury's Cruchie!) Back to my point... Sarah imagined her friends finding the time to sit with their chocolate bars, with a nice cup of tea and reminisce about the good times they had together. Her other reason was that chocolate helps release endorphins and this would help her friends and family smile!

Here are a few other funeral favour ideas we have used:
Packs of Gardening seeds
Tribute DVD
Candles (scented)
For me - I'd give everyone a mix cd with 20 of my favourite songs. I like the idea of my friends hoovering their houses on a Sunday morning playing my CD on the highest volume and singing their heads off, or maybe on a road trip, or lying a beach somewhere. Or evening better - listening to my mix on their iPod's when they run their charity
'Race For Life'.

So what would be your Funeral Favour? Do you think the whole idea is awful? Please let me know your thoughts.

Friday, 21 November 2008

"We don't want your business. Yet"

I was very impressed in the initiative used by a Willowfield Funeral Services in Ireland who came upon with the idea of advertising their business by promoting a message about drink driving at Christmas.


A great way of publicising your business and getting an incredibly valid message across.

Hooray for forward thinking funeral directors.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Its not all about death you know!

I spent the weekend relaxing by the seaside with my husband, daughter and a few of our friends in Suffolk. The weather was amazing for November; not a cloud in the sky and the sun actually felt warm. So much so, my 2 year old daughter insisted on running around the empty beach with her wellies full of sea water! I sat outside the beech hut watching my friends and daughter playing on the sand and I had 'one of those moments' when you look at the sky, breathe in the fresh air and look at the world carrying on with its life . You just 'get it'. You understand why George Weiss & Bob Thiele managed to write the utterly perfect song - 'Wonderful World'. Its all a bit cheesy, I know, and I maybe want to shake myself for even writing and admitting to these feelings, but to be honest I get them a lot.

Sometimes we'll be working on a
tribute film and I have hold back any tears that may want to fall during the editing, but when I sit back and watch the final cut on the big TV, I'll be overcome by the exact the same feelings as I had on the beech at the weekend. I'll shed a tear because watching my clients life in film , seeing what they have done in their lifetime, makes me - well 'get it' - It shows me just how wonderful life really is.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Is wanting to innovate the funeral industry such a wacky idea?

Two years ago I set up Sentiment Ltd. I suppose the idea came in many forms, things I’d seen on TV, a string of family funerals both good and bad, my own experience in event planning and production, my brain running overtime at 2am in the morning. It all just merged together and then ‘shabang’ I came up with the crazy idea of funky funerals and video production!!!

There is nothing in the world I love more than being able to bring comfort to people, make them smile, make them laugh or do something that overwhelms them. I like to push the barriers out, do something that will have a positive and lasting impact on people for the rest of their life. Allowing them to celebrate the life of the person they had lost in a way most befitting the person.

I think I had some sort of calling, not so much in the sense a priest or a vicar gets a calling. No god whispered in my dreams to tell me I was destined for greater things – just a true desire to offer people something more and perhaps change the traditional thinking around funerals.

Two years ago, if you mentioned the idea of
photo slideshows and montages to funeral directors, they would look at you as if you were barking mad and reply in their flat funeral directors tone “explain to me what it is you do again” or “no no no, people don’t ask for things like that” or “umm well if anyone asks for such a thing we’ll call you” - in other worlds leave your leaflets on the side and we’ll drop them in the bin when you leave!!!!

After the brush off I got from 99.9% of Funeral Directors, I would normally then not bother to mention the great ideas I had of releasing butterflies, or hosting a funeral in the local caves with canapés and cocktails!! – “they think your weird enough already!”

However the funeral industry seems to be waking up to new and innovative ideas. There are more colourful coffins on the market and the demand for green and eco funerals, wicker coffins, recycled coffins, pink coffins, ashes into diamonds, ashes into the sea is on the increase. We are a different generation now. We have access to so much and want so much more. Will the baby boomers, the hungry yuppies of the 80’s, the free spirited hippies of the 70’s or even just Joe Bloggs down the road want more than just a conveyer belt funeral for Mum? I truly believe
Sentiment will not be seen as such a wacky idea after all!

Do you think it is such a wacky idea? What would you want at your funeral to represent the person you truly were? Fine wine instead of tea? French cheeses instead of curly sandwiches? Or make your final lap in a Formula 1 racing car?

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