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?

Comments Please …


  1. Well, it's great to know you're out there, Louise. I'm not surprised you've found it difficult to ignite undertakers with enthusiasm for your cause: the industry has been fast asleep for years. Where there's no perceived appetite among consumers for innovation there is, understandably, no desire to innovate. It's not all their fault. People have had very low expectations of funerals. But there's an awakening, now, to possibilities, and suddenly everyone's talking about them.

    I think that what you are doing is exactly what people want. It is very exciting. And you bring a skills set to your enterprise which predisposes you to be very good.

    I look forward to reading your adventures with interest. Per ardua ad astra. Labor vincit omnia. The early days are going to be the most readable.

    Good luck! And, as we Romans like to say, Excelsior!

  2. I totally agree those Funeral Directors are hard nuts to crack but they are the ones that have to start offering their clients something more. People do not realise that they can celebrate the life that is lost through so many ways.

    Everytime now when I sadly hear of a death of a loved one - I let the family know that there are lots of options and I know the lady who can help.

    I have already told my husband that when I go I want one hell of a party !! Champagne, music, dancing ..

    The wackier the better ... stay passionate Louise x

  3. I wish I had known about Sentiment when my father died 2 years ago. We had a great farewell day for him, but it took a lot of searching and help from friends to get exactly what we wanted. The photo montage service would have been a real blessing, we had such a nightmare getting it sorted, the laptop, projector and screen all came from different places.

    You are offering a truly wonderful service, Louise, and I look forward to helping you to spread the word of what you can offer to many.

  4. Thank you all for your support and lovely words