Tuesday, 18 July 2017

What’s in a name?

In the past, funeral businesses were family-owned operations that would serve whole communities and in some small towns, this set-up still exists. However, larger chains have been gradually buying-out family businesses often, when senior members of the family retire.

These large funeral chains tend to keep in place, the name of the family that originally ran the funeral home.
Every branch of ‘Dignity’, a British funeral corporation, is run under a family name and 30% of Co-operative funeral homes – notably the largest funeral corporation in the UK, trade under a family’s name.

When these businesses buy ‘independent’ funeral homes, they purchase the use of the family name and consequently, their reputation and ‘good will’.
‘Many customers visit funeral homes with family names in the belief they are supporting a local, independent, business or because they would rather place their trust in a family-owned organisation rather than a large conglomerate’ – reports the The Guardian newspaper.

A recent article in The Guardian touched upon the subject of larger companies masquerading as ‘independent funeral directors’ within local communities. The Guardian also wrote about the large companies that buy-out the independent funeral homes but continue to operate under their name; the local community is usually, totally unaware of these facts and thinking they are still independently owned, use their services in the belief that they are supporting, local businesses.

Is it fair then, that a large company can purchase a local independent company and with that purchase, receive all the hard work and reputation built by the original predecessor?

True, independent, family funeral directors.

Fact: in the past five years, Exeter has seen a rise in funeral director services within the city and surrounding areas.
Focusing on independent family funeral directors, M. Sillifant & Son were established in 1906. Following on from Bernard Sillifant, Martin and Marc, the 3rd and 4th generations of the family, continue to serve their local community.

Although no longer owned by its original family, Le Roy Funeral Service was established in 1950 by Mr Stanley Le Roy Priaulx. Martin Wreford was appointed manager in 1968 and subsequently purchased the business in 1974 and located to their current premises in Alphington, Exeter in 1986 before expanding to Crediton in 2000 and occupying a third premises operating from Topsham Road in 2013.

In October 2011, the independent family business of Shoobridge Funeral Services, who are and have been based, primarily in Honition, East Devon since 1993 and more recently, added Exmouth & District Funeral Services, Exeter Road, Exmouth – expanded into Exeter’s Pinhoe and Whipton area at Pinhoe Road, (Polsloe Bridge), Exeter, bringing in excess of 60 years’ combined expertise and experience blended with the highest qualifications and training available within the funeral profession.

With the number of funeral premises doubling within such a short space of time, three more were still yet to open.

Shortly after the arrival of Shoobridge Funeral Services in Exeter, Tiverton based independent family funeral directors established in 1933, Walter H. Squries & Son also arrived on Pinhoe Road, Exeter and in 2016 they also opened another premises n Exwick, Exeter.

ISCA funeral services opened their first premises in Exeter on Oakhampton Street before recently relocating to Fore Street.

In 2015, the total number of funeral directors operating in Exeter rose to nine and the total number of funeral homes, to eleven. Then, the Plymouth based Walter C. Parson Group, opened the tenth funeral home premises on Topsham Road.
Walter C. Parsons was established in 1842 and has more than doubled in size from four offices to ten, in Plymouth, Plympton, Crownhill, Ivybridge and Exeter with ‘outposts’ now in Tavistock, Torpoint (Pidgen & Son), Saltash (Pengelly Funeral Services), Newton Abbot, and Torquay, (Hugh, Mills & Gaye)

Non-independent family funeral directors.

Established in 1860 and formerly known as W. Mitchell & Son, the company was purchased by ‘Dignity’ (UK funeral corporation), who still claim that, “They are proud to have served many generations of the same families for more than 150 years!”, which ‘comes across’ as somewhat, misleading as ‘Dignity’ itself was created in 1994 through the merger of the Plantsbrook Group and the Great Southern Group, both of which companies had been acquired by Service Corporation International Inc. (an American company and factually, the largest funeral company in the world), earlier that year. At present, Dignity (UK) own over 500 branches across the UK and conduct over 7,5000 funerals a year.
Regarding the funeral profession, the most recent ‘take-over’ in Exeter concerned Exeter and District Funeral Services located on Topsham Road, Exeter. Its original founder, David Albury, had many years of dedicated service and experience in the profession and as such, has ‘looked after’ many families throughout Devon. The funeral director company was purchased/acquired by: Funeral Partners, Funeral Partners Limited who were founded in 2007 by Phillip Greenfield who himself was formerly, a founding shareholder in the Fairways Partnership some years earlier. Funeral Partners now hold in their hands the ‘glory’ and reputation that was built up by its predecessor David and can easily be mistaken for an original local, independent funeral director.
The Co-operative Group (CWS Ltd.), also have facilities based in Exeter in the St. Thomas area. With over 675 branches across the UK, ‘Co-operative Funeral Care’ conduct around 90,000 funerals a year nationally making them the largest funeral company in the UK.

Why choose an independent?

By choosing to use the services of an independent funeral director, you are enlisting the help of a trusted professional.
Many independent undertakers firms are extremely well known and have been run by families who have served their communities for generations and as such, they are not distracted or bound by corporate rules ‘handed down’ from head office and shareholders but can be flexible and responsive to individual needs providing a highly personal and compassionate service.

“When you require the services of a funeral director, you should turn to the people who know your needs best – independent funeral directors.”

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Christmas Greetings from Shoobridge Funeral Services - 2016

Christmas Greetings from Shoobridge Funeral Services - 2016

It is truly hard to send 'best wishes' to our clients, past and present at any time but it is particularly difficult at Christmas.

Christmas, as we know celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. Amongst Christians, the importance of this event is both without question and also, a matter of debate.

To qualify this statement involves the inclusion of Easter and the crucifixion of Jesus.

Which of the two events is the most important IS the debate and an instance I experienced comes to mind.

Offering a 24-hour service restricts Bank Holiday planning for many vital services, none more than those we offer. As such, I was called to a family some years ago to deal with the passing of a male, over the Easter period.

With true feeling, I was empathetic to the family who surprised me with ‘Alleluias’ and praise and I was cordially invited to join them in prayers of thanksgiving. Somewhat puzzled and taken aback, I discovered the family to be practising Christians who were joyous that, though sad the passing of their relative, they were happy to celebrate the passage to Heaven at this poignant time! ‘To be with Jesus, the Lord, when He was taking away the sins of the world’ were words I recall only too well and I learned some valuable lessons from the experience, which I am naturally influenced by, to this day.

Commercially, irrespective of any and all religions, ‘we’ all know that Christmas is a time for family sharing, goodwill, seasonal cheer and generally warm feeling towards our fellow human beings. If we have grievances, we overlook them or put them aside. If we have stress, we postpone its effects until after Christmas.

There is no one I can think of that is unaffected by this event.

I have considered often in my years of being a funeral director, the ‘advantages’ or ‘disadvantages’ of people suffering loss. Whether it is harder for the survivors, those left behind, to deal with and cope without the person who was loved. I’d like to say, “Or the one who passed away?” but I have no knowledge regarding the answer to that question.

Does having a family help? Would ‘I’ rather spare them the pain of my loss?

Of course, there can be no definite answer - it is personal and individual. What I do know is this; to experience the pain of loss means there must have been a degree of love – another unquantifiable factor but a very important and fundamental emotion.

As a parallel, I have also considered the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of having children, having a family? I have pondered the question of loneliness and sometimes, finality when a partner dies. I have coupled all these thoughts together often but especially around Christmas and again, have never found a satisfactory conclusion as everybody is so different.

With these puzzles in mind, I return to my purpose: how to send good wishes to the friends we have made throughout the year and in the past as a result of the loss they have suffered or experienced?

I would like to think that we have given everyone, more than they needed; that we helped them take one step forward at a time. At the every least, that we met, if not exceeded their expectations whether they could identify them or not.

That they would look back at some stage and feel that my family and I, gave them a purpose or eased them gently into or through their bereavement process.

One could be cynical and discuss payments for our services and I would totally agree – to an extent but that would not convey our purpose. Not only do we, as a family feel this purpose from our inner core but we are committed to our customers, to help at such a strange and difficult time of ‘their’ lives. If we could perform this service freely, without financial mention, it would remain our chosen goal. That practically, we have to pay to be in business is the way of this world. In order for us to provide the commitment we do, unfortunately, requires that we too are in business and require payment.

And so it remains, for me, on behalf of myself, Penny, Paul and the staff who serve us and therefore ‘you,’ so well over the years to thank you for choosing us, coming into and being a part of our lives and beginning lasting friendships.

Strangely, as I wrote this, I also wrote some ‘greetings’ that at first were difficult. I soon found numerous ways to express our ‘thanks’ and send our ‘best wishes’ because you have affected us resultantly in such a nice way but, I have settled on one to convey that which is in our hearts. I hope this says as much as we feel and that it is received with the sincerity that we feel at this time.

Because the goodwill of those we serve forms the foundation of the trust you placed in us, we remember you at this difficult time and offer our personal "thank you" as we wish you hope for the future. May we assure you that you are truly remembered by us, often but none moreso than at this special time.

Terry, Penny & Paul Shoobridge and our wonderful team – ‘the staff.’

The Risng Costs of Funerals

The Rising Costs of Funerals
 Is It TOO Expensive to Die?


With the cost of living increasing rapidly, the last thing people want to think about is the cost of dying. But funerals and arrangements can absorb large amounts of money.

Prices and crematorium fees vary tremendously across the country - a cremation based funeral could cost anywhere from £1,700.00 to £5,000.00.

Burials, other than ‘Woodland’ or natural burials - and even some of these, run at much higher costs nationally, anywhere from about £2,400 to £7,000.00 - according to research.

“People don’t realise the costs involved,” says Paul Shoobridge, of Shoobridge Funeral Services - an experienced funeral pre-planner and certified, East Devon funeral director.

It is also a notable factor that some national funeral providers tend to upsell at a time when those who are grieving are at their most vulnerable, stressed and distraught - it is said.

However, there are ways to cut back on death-related expenses without economising on the ‘memory’ or significance of a loved one.

Consider ‘The Direct Cremation.’ This is one of four service ‘collections’ constructed by Shoobridge Funeral Services to create a ‘package’ that encompasses everything needed to complete a full funeral service but with some of the ‘frills’ removed.

This option is less expensive than a burial service (though a local, ‘eco’ or natural ‘Woodland’ burial rivals this price closely).

The body is removed locally, from home, hospital or a residential care facility during normal office hours then taken to the funeral director’s premises/Chapel of Rest.

Once the arrangements and administration procedures have been completed and a date set, the deceased will be transported to the crematorium for the funeral service.

Prior to the funeral, visits to the Chapel of Rest will be allowed during office hours and normal sanitization procedures do not include embalming which is sometimes necessary when more time is needed from the time of death to the day of the funeral.

This usually occurs when relatives are abroad or on holiday.

Many religious traditions such as Jewish and Muslim faiths for example, require that the family or community be directly involved in a person’s post-death care or preparation for burial or cremation.

Our staff welcomes this approach and have experience in accommodating such practices and traditions. Our staff also receive on-going training to aid their ‘knowledge’ as more and more approaches of this nature are common along with individual aims to demonstrate how a person’s death can be celebrated or remembered in a unique manner.

Such services can attract additional fees but numerous factors affect this outcome.

It is noteworthy that the Internet has eroded many myths concerning the subject of death and although attitudes are changing, we still essentially live in a 'death taboo' society. This is notable when the topic of pre-planning one’s own funeral arises – even between relationship partners. ‘Paul,’ remains optimistic that people will promote discussion concerning their own final journey, which he hopes will clarify the wishes of the deceased prior to their passing.

With regard to the collection or storage of cremated remains, you may be able to use an item of pottery or other articles of your choice but initially, the ‘ashes’ are collected in standard containers, mostly of a plastic construction, by the funeral director or other authorised person. The container is not designed to be attractive so much as practical and normally, the funeral director will transfer the ashes into the container you supply or a casket for interment (burial) if chosen.

An advantage of planning your funeral ahead of time is grounded in economy – financial savings. Numerous articles abound on our website and in the ‘Blog’ section describing the practicalities, emotional benefits as well as the monetary savings if pre-paid in advance Paying in advance also means your loved ones don’t have to negotiate or shop around at the time of mourning when everything is confusing, distressing or both.

In reference to questions of arranging a funeral, a contract between the funeral company and the individual making the funeral arrangements, I have heard it said, “When someone dies, that’s not the time to do business. You’re not thinking clearly, you’re not thinking there are options, and you’re not thinking to ask questions so you just sign the bottom line.”

Also for consideration is organ donation or indeed, whole body donation.

This generalises numerous concepts and ideas and whilst there’s a vital need for organ donors, a lesser-known option is to donate your entire body to a medical training facility so that future doctors, dentists, and other health professionals can use it for study and research.

The Human Tissue Association is well established in the UK and pre-death arrangements can be ‘finalised’ in advance thereby avoiding dispute, arguments among families, confusion and distree that can be apparent when relatives are informed.

Obviously, there is no ‘funeral’ service but usually, a Memorial service. The human remains are disposed of in the future and the details are varied but can be found quite easily. Often, a number of costs are eliminated though transporting the deceased to a facility will require funeral director’s transportation expenses as well as removal and storage. There will also be some administration fees to cover. Details are available from us and we would suggest you phone for an appointment – we can visit you in your home and make all the arrangements or give you the relevant information.

Not all cadavers will be accepted. The cause of death is of vital importance and people who have contracted infectious of notifiable diseases, will be assessed on numerous factors.

Sometimes, there is more supply than demand. Registered cases will obviously take priority over casual applicants.

Self-catering, after a funeral service, will undoubtedly save you money and supermarkets cater for special events or occasions  - you can shop-on-line and have the produce delivered to your home of directly to the venue chosen.

For further in-depth ways to save on funeral costs, please contact Paul or Penny Shoobridge who will give you advice without obligation.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Data Protection, Wills and Pre-paid Funeral Plans

Data Protection, Wills and Pre-paid Funeral Plans

Often I set out to write a topic that not only has interest but information or facts that are possibly, not widely known.

Unfortunately, I find it hard to stay ‘on track.’
Similarly, when I set out to accomplish a task, I tend to go off at/on, tangents. I might add that these deviations are not without energy, they are positively fired and much is accomplished. Mostly, the end target, which was the starting point, is also achieved.

One of my worst situations constantly, is to find a window in time or rather, a window of time.
If I see the chance of punctuality offering a five-minute early arrival, I will ‘find’ a job that fits into the interval – unfortunately, the five-minute job always takes longer and I become late for my appointment.
I should clarify that these are not funeral appointments or client meetings – more of a family or lesser priority demand arrangements.

My family know me well and would be in total agreement with my writings so far, hopefully, with a smile!

Getting to the point, I start an article and somehow, it seems to conclude with mention of the wisdom, in my opinion, of a pre-paid funeral plans.

As the subject is covered elsewhere comprehensively on this and our other websites, I will not repeat those articles here but as I prepare to write on the subject of Wills and to an extent, PoAs – Powers of Attorneys, my own experience regarding my mum’s Estate which my brother and I recently, ‘proved,’ coupled with the recording of Pre-planned funerals, led me to a valid point regarding the (UK) Data Protection Act.
I also know for a fact that other major civilised countries (I can’t say I actually know any ‘uncivilised’ countries?) also have data protection though the name differs, so this article remains applicable.
Anyhow, the question is this: where do people record the locations of their Wills and/or funeral Pre-paid plans?
The answer varies of course but generally, the next-of-kin or, more aptly the Executors, don’t know.

Sensibly, a search of local solicitors should produce a result – you’d think?

We can easily imagine this task would not be as easy as first thought. Some countries actually have a voluntary register for Wills and no doubt, for a fee, can be accessed.
Unfortunately, in the UK, solicitors will NOT release any information concerning their clients due to the Data Protection Act, apart from numerous security, moral and other reasons - in short, you’re ‘hooped!’
How about those funeral pre-plans?
Again, no definitive answers but if the deceased lived locally for a number of years, it follows that a pre-paid funeral plan would also be taken out with a local funeral director.

So, will the funeral director divulge the information?

I’m sure we can clearly see that the answer is NOT a danger or security risk persé and, it is possible business for the funeral director if no plan exists.
If that particular funeral director, ‘holds’ the plan, how can ‘he’ answer that he cannot reveal the information when clearly, the deceased engaged the services of that particular provider.
The only time the funeral director might be elusive, is in order to gain business but our principle is to be honest to the public whether they engage us or a competitor - the ‘PR’ aspect is in place apart from our duty to provide a service of information to people in difficult circumstances and IF, a plan turned-up later, how exactly would the funeral director’s position be explained?

Fortunately, with Golden Charter, the largest provider of pre-paid funeral plans to the independent sector of funeral directors, a ‘credit card’ type of record is supplied to the customer which can easily be carried in a wallet or placed where other important documents are filed or kept; I carry mine and my wife’s (she is younger than me), in my Passport wallet with my UK (EU?) Drivers Licence. My children KNOW this.

Other documents (eg. a Certificate) are also provided for customer records and a comprehensive database allows funeral directors to search names and addresses for information and to establish current plan values with the help of Golden Charter staff.

Articles on Wills will follow but mention is made here that all my articles are written with the best of intention and as such, are researched stringently but their accuracy is not a point-of-law or intended as such. They are composed on general guidelines and not definitive works for use in legal debate or presentation. They are written by a funeral professional but as a layman. It is hoped that members of the general public find them helpful, sometimes, hopefully amusing but mostly, informative and useful.
Terry Shoobridge

Mortality and Demographics in the UK

Mortality and Demographics in the UK

I guess few people outside of the ‘trade,’ read or are interested in, human mortality?

Quite obviously, as a practising funeral director, I need to be.

If we were to average-out the number of deaths per year and look back over a few decades, obvious things would be apparent – I think.
Much emphasis or focus is directed towards, ‘baby boomers.’ Whether you understand factors of this period really doesn’t matter greatly because the majority of those people born at that time are still with us – alive.

Consider this theory: those people born from 1920 onwards, young men especially reaching the age of 18, were probably called up to fight in WW II.
With the enormous number of casualties, it follows that there would be a ‘drought’ of mortality for the last two to three decades because the ‘normal’ number of deaths would be ‘short’ those that had previously died.

Up until recently, global population has increased. China took drastic action to slow-down the rise and economics, seem to be doing well in preventing family size increases too.
It is no surprise therefore that mortality rates are expected to increase significantly in the future.

We know or are told that our ‘senior’ population are living longer. We are told we won’t be able to afford or sustain financially, the care these folks need.
We all probably have heard of an instance when affordability cost the life of someone who didn’t ‘need’ to die - if not in our country, in other parts of the ‘civilised’ world.

By 2030, mortality is projected to increase by 17%. That’s just 14 years, not quite a generation.
If we look at funeral costs over the last 25 years when putting away £1000.00 for a future event would have given a chunk of change though it was quite unaffordable back then too, we should examine the acceleration of those costs relative to demographics or research.

I haven’t done this personally for two reasons: firstly, it won’t stop prices increasing and I can’t control those prices and secondly, I have a pretty good idea as to the answer from my own experience.
When I look at local crematorium rises in fees and remember back to 1990 when they increased from £138.00 to £141.00 and consider that presently they are closer to a £1000.00 – incidentally, the price mentioned above for a complete funeral; I wonder how we are planning to deal with the increases that are a certainty?

A young person asked me about pensions for the future – that there wouldn’t be enough money to support a system such as we have today; my answer? “Your generation has time to deal with it. The problem has been identified, the short-comings of ‘pension funds’ of the past has been addressed so get on with it, stop acting ‘entitled’ and make a solution – leaving answers to everyone else is simply delaying the inevitable, if you read the documentation in the future when you look back in time, it will be clear - with hindsight; your advantage is that it is also clear with, foresight!”

This article has changed in its direction. My research started by simply trying to find out how many people died in hospital each year compared to, at home and I stumbled on facts telling me that almost eight times more people wanted to die at home rather than in hospital; quite normal I imagined but, almost three times as many people die in hospital in reality.

This doesn’t indicate clearly the whole picture unless I convert it into percentages but, I don’t want to linger here – in fact, I would rather you see for yourself, if you are interested, by opening this link: https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/globalassets/archive/www2/pdf/patient-choice-v-cost_graphics.pdf

I like to see the different approaches or perspectives on these subjects as future planning for our business relies to an extent on the results of research of this nature and to be adequately prepared for the sake of our clients, is a serious responsibility.

Being able to afford a funeral in the future is also of great concern to me and to my family business – naturally.
With a realistic focus on future business planning and pre-payment funeral plans for our clients, we have to try to get the message across that, amongst all the other things we should try to afford, paying for our funeral today will save out loved ones £’s in the future.

With Trust Funds separately managed and the monies wisely invested for future-proofing, all payments made today are continually performance-monitored for the future and by law, if every funeral plan needed to be paid out at the same time, the funds are supposed to be available, immediately.

For this reason, having a funeral plan simply with a funeral director (company), would be folly. Many have set-up systems in the past and failed. As with some pension funds, the money invested also disappeared - forever!

Such occurrences led to the advent of professional companies whose sole purpose was to cater for the public, for the future.
Plan and pay (often by instalments) for a/your funeral at today’s price and ‘future-proof’ the finances for the event - that will occur one day!

As a funeral director, you wouldn’t think I’d bother pre-paying for a plan, myself? Wrong – I just didn’t do it soon enough; I waited until 2003. Ten years earlier and I (my Estate), would have saved so much more. Arguably, a better rate than investors can expect - possibly?
As it stands currently, I have pre-paid funeral plans for myself and my wife and a payment towards a Memorial too. I can monitor it to see how it is performing or keeping up with the current situation but so long as there is no variation to my plan’s structure, I will have nothing further to pay or rather, my Estate won’t.

One question that could be asked is how has paying for a funeral differed or changed over the years? How do we cope with an expense we cannot afford or haven’t made provision for?

I don’t have a definitive answer for you but assume that the ‘freedom’ offered to us by credit card companies, no doubt plays a large role in the answer to the question.

‘We,’ are happy to discuss pre-paid funeral plans with you, without obligation, at our office, your home, by telephone, mail or email.

Not only are we supported by the largest supplier of funeral plans to independent funeral directors (not corporations) in the UK – Golden Charter, but we offer a completely ‘tailor-made’ (bespoke) plan to accommodate your wishes within the realms of that which is allowable.
This bespoke plan is more often than not, less expensive than the ‘set’ plans offered.
The major charities, will-writers and organisations like Age Concern and Help The Aged, are supporters of such plans and pre-paid funeral planning.

'One' could argue about saving money of course, "Once I pass away: why should I worry about leaving my children 'more' money? "
Understandably, valid - I suppose but if it is a 'first death' then providing for a partner could be relevant and if you can afford it, why not save your inheritors money that would otherwise possibly, have gone up in smoke!

Friday, 9 December 2016

What Happens To Cremated Remains?

Without a Trace

Not to coin a phrase persé or borrow the title of the popular TV program from America; have you ever wondered, and I know the answer is ’No,’ where do ‘they’ go?

Where do who or what go? Ashes! Cremated remains or, their ‘owners.’

As a practising funeral director, rarely do I see any narrative regarding this subject but, it is a ‘real’ problem.

Can you imagine the sheer amount of cremated remains that could be left at a crematorium during the course of one year, three years, five of even ten years? It simply doesn’t bear thinking about so, what happens?

Generally speaking, if you make any one of us pay for a service, you will gain our attention.
Crematoria ‘shift’ the responsibility to funeral directors and, naturally so. It is us that dealt with the family or the executors and we have first-hand knowledge and contact details for all our customers – right? Right.

So, what do you imagine can go wrong? What is, ‘wrong’ exactly? Your perception is very different to mine but, the answers are truly unlimited so I will illustrate some of my personal experiences, views or, imaginations.

When we arrange a cremation, we ask for a signed authority for the Disposal of the Cremated Remains. Once ‘you’ authorise ‘us’ to collect them on ‘your’ behalf from the crematorium, nothing, save another authorisation from you, the family or executor, can change that procedure and we, duly collect them.

Due to some of the difficulties in the past (more about that later), we make very accurate records and, we advise you that we will keep ‘ashes’ in our ‘Place’ or ‘Chapel of Rest’ for a set period of time. Beyond that, we will inform you and charge you a monthly fee for their safe storage. This is after all, how it worked for the crematoria, so it should work for us funeral directors/undertakers? No, I’m afraid not.

We, as professionals have to balance tender emotions with practicalities, not only yours but also our own.
Once the funeral service has passed, there are so many things to attend to and life around you carries on regardless despite your feelings and grief situation so, let me ask a question, “Can you remember what exactly, amongst all those other unfamiliar things you told us, what exactly we said about the cremated remains?”

Often the answer is very doubtful at best but we too are busy people and cannot remember every detail about every family we deal with.

The idea of writing to every ‘owner’/inheritor of cremated remains is admirable but so often, impractical. That we further decide to remind you and offend you by charging a fee for storage is something we simply do not aspire to.
Being human too, the passage of time grows and now, trouble is brewing.

In the situation of further survivor deaths, people moving away - often to be with or close to, families, the disposal or sale of houses, keeping track of clients is difficult to say the least, apart from the time consumption element. I could add that there are no charges involved pursuing clients and sometimes, when solicitors or banks are involved with Estates, forwarding addresses get lost, staff move to other branches, retire or pass away themselves.
Add to this, The Data Protection Act and you can soon and easily see that, this task moves to the realms of impossibility.

As funeral directors, we have obligations. In truth, not so much a legal obligation as a moral obligation.
At what point do we cease to bother or input effort for no results? What options are we therefore able to offer or actions perform?
What can ‘we’ do to exercise ‘due diligence’ in the matter?

Practically speaking, we are under little justification to do anything from anyone BUT, our practice is to write to our clients, after the funeral date but not too far into the future, on a regular basis, three times to the last address given to us.

As the fee for cremation in England and Wales includes the ‘Scattering of Ashes’ in the Garden of Remembrance of the crematorium, once we, the funeral director, indemnify the Crematorium against further action, we are able to return the ashes and request that service.

As a consideration, we can announce publicly our intention and state a date for the occurrence but realistically, with the decline of newspaper purchases throughout the country, there is little point. That relatives may not live locally, is common so we are left with two options, our website and social media but since there is no compunction for either, to engage IT technicians at additional costs is another impracticality.

Generally, members of the public are horrified at this scenario – ‘forgotten Ashes’ - if made aware. Simply put, people forget and are not in a totally balanced frame-of-mind at the time of loss so really, quite forgiveable?
No doubt, opinions will differ but as people in a position of responsibility, we funeral directors sometimes feel that we just can’t ‘win!’

As a footnote, I will add that, on rare occasions, some funeral accounts are not paid. Often, we still hold the cremated remains in our Chapel of Rest.
One such occurrence after much effort and research by us, resulted in the discovery that the relative had returned to South Africa.
Despite our follow-ups and attempts to contact the relative, the situation remained unresolved for some years.

With reference to ‘our past experience’ mentioned above, the public generally don’t take into account family dynamics? Experience in our business shows that siblings sometimes have differences that manifest themselves at the time of the funeral - for example, we have known one sibling authorise a funeral and another to collect the ashes to the dismay of the organiser. Such events have led the industry to acknowledge the 'unlikely,' keep accurate records and ensure the authority of the claimant!

For information about the transportation or repatriation of Cremated Remains nationally or internationally, see our ‘Articles’ on this website.