Saturday, 24 September 2016

Funeral Directors - cremation/burial or something else??

A recent survey carried out by U.K. Company YouGov (a self-proclaimed community of 4 million contributors around the world) of 1,546 adults showed that 58% of those asked would currently opt for cremation, in comparison to 17% who preferred the idea of burial. Of those in favour of cremation, 79% wanted their ashes to be scattered. In response to the results, YouGov said there was a “strong shift in preference towards cremation as people get older”. While 42% of 18-24 year olds wish to be cremated, this figure rises to 71% among the over-65s. Have you found this in your Funeral Home?

That’s nearly 6 out of 10 people with cremation as their preferred final journey when their day is done. Perhaps more interestingly, 25% (which is still more than burial) opted for something else or were unsure, which means we still have a role in educating the market to help people with their choices and decisions OR that there needs to be more options available.
Currently, the most common ways to dispose of a body in Ireland are burial and cremation (earth versus fire), however there are constant developments in technology and new methods will be introduced in the coming years. These include Resomation (where bodies are dissolved into an alkaline hydrolysis liquid), Promession (a process which freeze-dries bodies in nitrogen) and Irish company ecoLation (who use freezing pressure and heat which results in an inert powder where all toxins and chemicals are neutralized).

Burying someone and erecting a headstone or having a grave marker can provide a family with peace as they have somewhere physical to visit to feel close to the deceased. This is one of the reasons a lot of people opt for burial instead of cremation. However there is also the environmental factor to be considered, as has been seen in Ireland with the increase in demand for green burials, a trend which has not been missed by the new technology companies mentioned above.

A new video has been doing the rounds online showcasing Promession, which got me excited that this new technology might be ready to market. However, with further research you can see that the video is in fact 6 years old and nothing seems to have moved forward for them in terms of bringing the product to market. Resomation is available in parts of the USA but that is it, or at least that was all the information I could find on it. ecoLation seem to have come on leaps and bounds since I last covered them in my book ('Say Farewell Your Way') and they have units rolling out in at least 4 different countries in 2017 which is great news for Funeral Directors, their clientele, and Ireland as a country to have such innovation coming from its shores. So the question is the 25% - will they choose either of these 3 options as they become available?

Things to remember about scattering ashes

  • There will be bones and larger pieces that most people don't expect. It doesn't look like fireplace ash which is what most people assume it looks like.
  • Decide whether you want to scatter all the ashes in one place or do you want your loved one to travel all over the world? Decide how many people or locations you want and divide accordingly. I usually suggest more than one location because you might move house or out of the country. You never know where life will bring you!
  • Ziplock bags will be your best friend - especially if you want to scatter ashes in a few locations or give to friends and family.
  • Figure out the wind direction!! NO one wants to inhale their loved one or have them stuck in their lipgloss or blinding them!
  • Check out the site before you do 'your thing' because it might not be as you remember or visualize it.
  • Using flower heads when throwing ashes into the wind or over water helps you to continue to see the ashes even when they go far away because ash can become difficult to see - it IS after all ash! It also makes it that bit more natural and beautiful.
  • Be careful when traveling with ashes, get permission from the airline if going as carry on and if not carry on then you run the risk of the airline losing your luggage which is not good.
  • Take photos of the area, the day, whatever you do. Keep a memory of it.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Something Beautiful Remains

Something Beautiful Remains

by Martha Vashti Pearson

 The tide recedes, but leaves behind
Bright seashells on the sand.

The sun goes down but gentle warmth
Still lingers on the land.

The music stops and yet it lingers on
In sweet refrain.

For every joy that passes
Something beautiful remains.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

I See Dead People: Dreams and Visions of the Dying this talk. PLEASE. I think it's great. Seriously. I had a similar experience (well I didn't but I heard about it through my mother) when my grand mother passed away 10 years ago. 

I lived in Washington DC 10 years ago and was training for a marathon in Miami. I got a call Friday morning at 930am to say my grandmother had been brought into hospital with panic attacks. I was flying to Miami the following day. My phone rang at 930 pm on the Friday night and I knew immediately that she was gone. I spoke with my mom about her final hours and she said the strangest thing (I thought at the time). She asked my mom when was I next home and when she replied two weeks, my grandmother sighed in resignation. Mom said she knew she wouldn't be around to see me. Then all of a sudden she looked sad and when my mom asked her why she replied "I really liked this world." So she completely knew that she was dying and that it was going to happen soon. 

This Ted Talk is very interesting and I completely agree with Dr. Christopher Kerr. In fact, Id love to know more - does anyone have any experience similar to mine or his?

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Ireland - Advanced Healthcare Directives

12 key things you NEED to know according to the Irish Hospice Foundation

  1. Advance Healthcare Directives are recognised in common law but until now there was no legislative framework
  2. Under the new provisions, a person aged 18 and over who has capacity can prepare an Advance Healthcare Directive
  3. They must put their decisions on future medical treatment in writing and their Advance Healthcare Directive must be witnessed
  4. A person will be able to revoke an Advance Healthcare Directive at any time – verbally or in writing
  5. No-one will be under any obligation to create an Advance Healthcare Directive – people are free to make them but are not required to do so
  6. Having witnesses to the Advance Healthcare Directive is geared to prevent people being forced to make certain decisions
  7. You can nominate people who will be legally recognised as acting on your behalf at a time when you lose capacity and can ensure your Advance Healthcare Directive is enforced
  8. An Advance healthcare Directive only comes into force when you have lost capacity and cannot make a decision
  9. Having an Advance Healthcare Directive helps healthcare professionals in caring for you the way you want
  10. Having an Advance Healthcare Directive helps families as it removes doubt about what care their loved one wanted
  11. If there is any serious doubt about an Advance Healthcare Directive, a person can go to the courts
  12. This is not euthanasia or assisted suicide. These acts are and continue to be illegal in Ireland. An Advance Healthcare Directive is a method of obtaining consent for treatment in advance.

Friday, 22 April 2016

ICCFA in New Orleans or “The Crescent City”, “The Big Easy”, “The City That Care Forgot”, “Nawlins”

New Orleans, Louisiana or “The Crescent City”, “The Big Easy”, “The City That Care Forgot”, “Nawlins” and/or NOLA might have a number of nicknames but one thing is for sure it is widely known for its nightlife, vibrant live-music scene and spicy, southern creole cuisine reflecting the melting pot of French, African and American cultures. What a location for the ICCFA Annual Convention and Expo 2016! I fell in love with New Orleans completely, despite a stolen purse, missed flights and the typical Irish weather dampening the experience.

 The welcome was superb. A taste of a true Nawlins funeral and wow what a send off!. You can see a video clip of it on my blog – It was definitely the best part of the expo for me. But what else was there that was new or interesting?

 There was UPD Urns – the Always bust is sculpted by world class 3D artists or bronze sculptors. The bust sits on top of a flat cremation urn where cremains can be safely stored. If ordered before a passing (preneed) the bust can be delivered so it is present for the funeral and the cremains interred after the cremation process and the bust can then stand in a family home as a lasting tribute to a loved one. It takes 6-8 weeks but as it is based in Oregon I would allow a further 2 weeks for shipping to Ireland. See more

As always, I’m delighted when I hear of some Irish lurking at these shows and usually I can find at least one! This time it was PLOT BOX. Having already covered the cemetery in DĂșn Laoghaire and currently commissioned to do all of the graveyards in Carlow, these guys are set for big things. The Plot Box team map cemeteries, from old closed historical grounds to 200 acre fully functioning sites. Especially important in Ireland where we still rely so heavily on paper for everything, these guys digitize existing paper trails into high resolution maps. Ancestry researchers will love this as life will get a whole lot easier as they can browse online databases to find graves and records of their ancestors. See more

One of the strangest booths at the show and one that may not be for everyone was Save my Ink Forever. These guys have developed a unique process of preserving a person’s tattoo after they have passed on. The embalmer removes the tattoo from the body following the directions provided by Save my Ink and sends it in a preservation box to the guys who then return it ‘preserved’ and framed. Its certainly not for the faint of heart but I can imagine it will appeal to some. Check out for more info.

 I have to give a big shout out to AP Lazer who gave me my very own personalized mini coffin – hopefully I wont need the real one anytime soon! These guys are trying to change the way we think of death care by focussing on memory care. Their laser machines are amazing and would allow a lot of funeral homes to personalize countless products at the touch of a button saving both money and time for them and the families they care for. For more info check out

All in all a great show with lots of innovation and also a lot of familiar faces which shows long term investment and stamina in the industry which isn’t easy. I absolutely fell in love with New Orleans and as I said despite the stolen purse, missed flights and the rain I still got to taste all of what New Orleans has to offer and she is vibrant for sure!