What is ‘direct cremation’?

This term came to public attention when David Bowie specified that his should be a direct cremation. Put simply, it means that the person’s body is delivered for cremation without a ceremony at the crematorium chapel.

But most people requesting direct cremation are still planning a ceremony to help them recall and celebrate the life of the person who has died. They just want to do it at a time or place that’s not connected to the cremation itself. That frees them up to choose to hold an event at home, in a beautiful location or even in their local pub. There, friends and family can gather to remember the person at their own pace, in the place that feels right, and perhaps hold a reception or a wake (with the body present) in that same place. Anything’s possible.

If this sounds appealing, let me know as soon as you can. We’ll need to discuss some logistics, and I’ll be glad to help you arrange a really memorable and unique celebration of the person who was so special to you.

Cruse Bereavement Care

I recently enjoyed attending a course in ‘Loss & Bereavement Awareness’ held by the wonderful national bereavement support charity, Cruse. The day, during which we discussed loss, grief, models of bereavement and how best to respond, was a good reminder of how helpful a listening ear and a good funeral can really be.

Website – Cruse Bereavement Care

Cruse crocus image

How ever recent your loss, you’ll find help and advice about coping with bereavement on their pages. Take a look.

Talking to Teenagers about Ceremonies…

A great session assisting as a Humanists UK schools volunteer at Streatham and Clapham High School last week.
Pavan Dhaliwal and I spoke to Year 10 and 12 students about humanism, human rights and the work of Humanists UK, and also about my work as a celebrant. Some interesting ideas emerged for the girls’ own funerals! When I mentioned that a humanist funeral can be personalised to reflect the character, likes and dislikes of the deceased, the most memorable suggestion put forward was a Pick-and-Mix stand in the chapel. I think I like it….

Looking after yourself following the death of a loved one

Grief doesn’t begin – or end – at the funeral. It’s not even a process with a fixed end in sight – the ‘five stages of grief’ aren’t an orderly procession; they’re more like a pick-and-mix on any given day. I hope that you’ve already started to realise this, and to allow yourself simply to feel whatever you feel, as and when you feel it.  But how can you do that whilst still clinging on to normal life?

Some tips from people who have experienced grief include these, below.  I hope something in here helps.


Crying – don’t beat yourself up over doing it a lot – or not at all. There are no rules except not to work hard to conceal your feelings. That won’t help in the long run.

Friends – many will, but some might not handle your loss well. Much may depend on their own experiences of loss and how they have coped (or not), so try not to judge too harshly. If you need more support, find new companions who will understand through a support group such as

Counselling – numerous studies reveal its benefits. If you’ve never tried it, now’s the time. Really.

Exercise – yes, you’ve heard it all before; but you’ll be amazed at how much better it makes you feel. Get out and take a walk.

Help – ask for it. People love a job at a time of crisis.


A Mother’s Letter

A sad and beautiful letter to her baby girl by a bereaved mother…these are touching words whose sentiments may be familiar and which may bring some comfort during a time of similar loss.

“I strive to lead a more meaningful, loving life because of you, for you. I will dedicate all I do to you, honouring your memory. I want to make you proud, to be worthy of you. Yet each new day, moment and milestone without you hurts. You will always be missing. I have been told that the pain becomes less sharp over time, and I expect that will be the case, but I will continue to feel the weight of your absence.”

Read the full article on The Guardian website, here.