Saturday July 23rd
Lucy Coote, Community Ambassador at Rosedale Funeral Home, opened up the questions for us. With her experience of thousands of funerals, she relayed the diversity of questions asked, and more sadly the consequences of questions that we do not ask, which gives rise to such family anxiety, stress and tension, sometimes lasting a generation. Sort the questions out now, was her message. ‘I may all know what’s best for my family, but does the rest of my family know and think the same as me?’ In the same way as pregnancy doesn’t just happen, a persons death needs some careful preparation and awareness.
It is an Act of Kindness, she said, to be prepared.
A theatrical scenario:
Characters: Lucy, funeral Director, Kevin and Rachel brother and (much older) sister who’s father had just died. It’s a tension between Lark Ascending and Bat out of Hell, cremation and burial. Can it be resolved?
Here are some of our questions and answers:
Can I be buried in my garden? YES! But you need to check on the water table with the water board. And consider what happens to your home and garden after you sell. It may effect the market value of the property.
About 20 people have asked Lucy if they can be buried in their garden.
Can I make my own coffin? Yes, but you need to check with the funeral director or crematorium regarding the material you propose to use.
What will happen to my dog after I die? If you have not made provision for your Pet, the Executors of your Will have that responsibility.
Will Dignitas come to the UK? Yes many consider that some kinds of dying with dignity would come to the UK eventually, with adequate legal and personal provision to safeguard misuse.
Can I still take my loved one home from hospital? YES. But do consider the body and it’s deterioration in the recent heat wave.
My husbands Jewish religion stipulates he must be buried within 24 hours of dying. Suppose this is not possible? The funeral directors will try to meet this criterior but there is some flexibility in this strict time due to fulfilling paper work.
Can i write my own Will? Yes, but this has to be done correctly signed correctly, to be valid. so may be best to seek legal advice to be sure.
Role of the Executor – this is a very serious role, with grave responsibilities. Do make sure you check with the person is up for that responsibility.
Lucy mentioned The Dash – a poem by Linda Ellis, referring to the dash between the birth and death.
Deidre Luff, End of Life Doula UK, described living wakes, often for people who knew they had a short time yet to live and wanted to see their friends again. There is a term Wedding wakes where people marry toward the end of their life.
Beverley Bulmer a Funeral Celebrant who facilitates bereavement groups and is the creator of Leaving Gracefully introduced us to her Leaving Gracefully cards, which we worked with in small groups, some of us answering only one question on them, such was the breadth of that question and what conversation it provoked. More information about the cards and on line workshops are here
I am the front of the queue, now.
Rachel ended with the story of the Buddha and the Mustard Seed – a story of a woman who’s child died and she sought the buddha to find an end to her grief. He instructed her to bring him 3 seeds each from a house untouched by death. In every household she tried, she found a story of death and so began her conversations and demonstrates how suffering and death is everywhere and is unavoidable.
Our light lunch naturally included Baron Bigod.
Talked about in our conversations, the Coffin Book case
This is part of our year long Compassionate Communities, Time of our Life project starting and ending with Samhain. A joint venture between the Pear Tree and Kinda Education, this is funded by Suffolk County Council, embracing a conversation within the local community.
Beverley’s main role is as a Funeral Celebrant and she also facilitates bereavement groups, which all adds to her deepening experience with those who are grieving.
On looking to prepare her own end of life wishes, Beverley was inspired to support others in this process by writing and publishing a pack called Leaving Gracefully.
The Leaving Gracefully package offers information and support in all that is required when choosing to make plans to consider and record your end of life wishes. It comprises of an information booklet, a loose leaf section to record your wishes and an Advance Care Planning document too.
To support the process further Beverley has developed the Leaving Gracefully Discussion Cards. Each pack contains 47 cards with questions that cover 7 relevant sections as we look to consider our end of life plans.
Both the Leaving Gracefully package and the cards are presented in an easy to use, non-confrontational format that invites us to get to the bottom of what are sometimes considered ‘difficult questions’.
But actually, are they only ‘difficult’ because they are left to late?
Lucy Coote has been working in the funeral profession for over ten years, initially working for Rosedale in Beccles. Following eight very happy years assisting families to arrange funerals, Lucy’s role within the company evolved into one of a Community Ambassador, a role that enables her to use her skillset to deliver training and bereavement support.
Lucy’s wish to support the bereaved led to her working alongside Dr Bill Webster from The Grief Journey and subsequently developed a programme for bereavement support that is delivered from all the market towns in which Rosedale has a presence, with Lucy facilitating the groups in Suffolk and having personally supported hundreds of bereaved families through the 8-week programme.
Lucy is a Mental Health First Aider as well as a qualified trainer for Mental Health First Aid England , she is ASIST trained (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) and works as part of the Norfolk SPIG (Suicide Prevention Intervention Group) and the Norfolk and Waveney Suicide Awareness Partnership and an active member of the Compassionate Community Network and the Action for Happiness Community.
Lucy’s drive is to ensure the bereaved are properly supported and signposted to the organisation that will best serve their needs and in 2021 became an Ambassador for At a Loss a national Bereavement Signposting charity. www.ataloss.org