The following article appeared in a section of laterlife.com which seems to be no longer accessible however the content still has relevancy.
- A celebration of life
A recent survey
found that 80% of people questioned wanted funerals that celebrated life rather than marking death. It
seems that the taste for Victorian style pomp and heavy mourning is declining, and
theres a move towards farewell
parties that reflect
the life of the departed. Even
so, the UK populations
reluctance to address this emotive subject can cause difficulties when someone dies. Grieving relatives can be left to pay for the
funeral out of the deceased persons estate, planning what they think their loved one
would have wanted, often without having any clear idea about what that might involve. The choices are
many. Funerals today might include music
associated with the person who died, poetry, a humanist or non-religious ceremony, even a woodland burial
survey showed that people want welcoming funeral parlours (even the word is Victorian),
customised coffins, maybe a release of doves and scattering ashes out to sea.
And why not? The liberalisation of the funeral is partly due to
the growth of consumerism, in which choice is the key word, and a sense of individualism
traditional ritual. Its not everyones cup of tea: for some mourners ritual is comforting and
predictable, but for others it is an unnecessary interference with their personal grief
and their relationship with the departed.
Traditional funerals survive also because most people do not
wish to contemplate their own demise and dont plan in advance. But leaving clear instructions and
getting the ending right can add meaning and give extra comfort to those who mourn.
burial is one newly developed option, proving increasingly popular in the UK, as many
people find traditional mourning customs of black dress and hearse, and cemeteries with
headstones impersonal and inappropriate to their wishes
What is Woodland Burial ?
the planting of trees as living memorials, allowing families to have a service which they
feel is most appropriate to their loved ones wishes, whether religious or non-religious.
Where do they take place ?
woodlands in rural areas of natural beauty. Hinton Park woodland burial ground in
the Christchurch New Forest of Dorset has been in existence for nearly 7 years. During this time over 850 burials have been
carried out, with a further 3,000 burial plots being pre-purchased for future burials.
There are woodland burial ground sites in almost every county in the UK. In total there are over
200 woodland burial sites
in the UK.
do they work?
burials plant trees as living memorials after the burial and do not use headstones. The
trees produce growing woodland for the years ahead. There is usually a wide choice of
trees and many woodland burial grounds also have small name plaques to go with the tree.
Location and surroundings
Burial Grounds are set in areas of natural countryside and for many families the beauty of
the surroundings help make their sad situation that little bit easier. The burial grounds
support a variety of wildlife and some have added features such as Hinton Park in
Christchurch which has a deer paddock, Shetland pony fields and a lake.
What kind of service?
Whatever is wanted. Services are arranged in strict
accordance with the wishes of the deceased and their families. Even time of day may be a
matter of choice. Some woodland burial grounds have hearses and vehicles which are not
black, with drivers dressed in grey or dark green. Services can be traditional religious
services or more tailored to personal wishes. Families can even organise and conduct the
funeral service themselves or make very specific requests about how they would like the
service to be. These have included a bagpipe player in the distance, a New Orleans style
jazz band playing at the burial, poetry being read, music requested and even fireworks.
What does a Woodland Burial cost?
traditional burial today usually costs between £1000 and £1600, excluding the headstone.
A traditional cremation costs around £1,100. Woodland Burials cost on average between
£600 and £1,200 depending on location. If no outside funeral director is involved, the
total cost will almost certainly be less. Some woodland burial grounds also arrange
cremation, with costs usually less than £800.
The Help the
Aged pre-paid funeral plan gives you the opportunity to plan and pay for your funeral in
advance. The plan is provided in partnership with British company, Golden Charter, is inflation-proof
and you are guaranteed acceptance, regardless of age or condition of health. Help
the Aged website: www.helptheaged.org.uk
Facts and figures about funerals
Europeans are far more comfortable about discussing death and planning for
their funeral than their UK counterparts, and this relaxed attitude has led to more than
half of the funerals taking place in many European countries being planned and paid for in
- Only 2% of the
600,000 funerals held in the UK each year are currently paid for and planned in advance.
- The value of the UK
funeral market is estimated at £1 billion annually, with around 4,000 funeral directors
currently in practice.
- The average
cost of a basic funeral in the UK is estimated at around £1,000 according to the Office
of Fair Trading.
- A WHICH report in January 1999 estimated that while
UK inflation had risen 29% in eight years, funeral prices had increased by 59% over the