With the incredible sunshine we had last week it seemed impossible to think that the summer was drawing to an end – but the cooler weather this week and increased traffic on the roads has reminded us that we’re now into the middle of September. But the summer hasn’t just passed us by – we’ve been real busy little bees!
This year we promised ourselves we’d get back out into the world again and share the stories and information with people that will help empower them when someone dies, and that we would continue our mission to make conversation around death and dying a normal and natural part of life.
Market stalls, a quiz, and a day at school
Kicking the summer off with a stall at the Kings Heath Artisan market in June, and then in August at the Moseley Community Festival Street Fair, we chatted with visitors and invited people to complete our quick quiz asking people if they would know what to do if someone died at home, plus a few other interesting questions – you can find the quiz here – have a go – you might be surprised about what you learn!
Later in June we spent a day at Camp Hill Boys school asking the boys to share their understanding of what happens at a funeral, and why a funeral might be important to us to grieve healthily. It’s always fun to help on these days as the boys ask all the questions adults generally feel embarrassed to ask. We’ve helped on days like this before and we always come back feeling like we’ve made it easier for young people to consider and discuss a difficult topic.
A day at the beach
At the beginning of August we joined the Northfield Community Partnership in their Compassionate Communities tent at the beach in Kings Norton.
It might sound crazy, but we had a fun-filled day challenging visitors to add their tunes to our funeral juke box, and were blown away by the children who spent hours designing coffins for us.
Death talks and Buddhism
In July Carrie was asked to speak at an event called “Let’s Talk about Death Baby” by East Village – the second of their ‘The Six PM Sessions’ where they create a safe space for difficult conversations. This event was for anyone facing death anxiety – seemingly 43% of us do! Carrie tells us that she was asked some great questions during the evening and feels sure that she managed to alleviate some anxiety while she was there.
And last weekend Fran spent a very relaxing Sunday afternoon at the Birmingham Buddhist Centre. She’d been invited as a guest speaker to talk about the options and possibilities for creating a final farewell as part of their day considering death, and how it is a part of life.
It’s always lovely to take part in these events. Once we start sharing the inspiring stories we’ve gathered over the years, then we find that the questions and conversations really flow. It’s hard to explain how such conversations can make people feel more open to thinking and talking about death but they just do!
Podcasts and greening the business
Work has also continued on our project to make A Natural Undertaking even more sustainable. From receiving initial audit results on our building, to implementing a new waste collection contract with a carbon-neutral company in August, we’re focussed on doing whatever we can to minimise our carbon footprint in the world.
Fran was asked to talk about what we’re doing, and what a green funeral looks like on the Aston University “Aston means business” podcast this month – if you have a spare half hour and fancy listening you can find the podcast here . Our funerals aren’t exclusively green funerals – that’s not what everyone needs, and as you’ll hear Fran explain, it’s actually not that easy to say whether one funeral is more green than another …
Funerals and new team members
In July we welcomed Kerri Dunn to join Suzy Nash in our team of undertakers – it’s been a busy summer so it really has been a case of jumping in at the deep end for her. She appears to have taken up the challenge well however, and is already taking good care of the families who come to us.
And of course, we’ve helped a number of families to say goodbye to people who have died over the course of the summer. From truly personal ceremonies at our local crematoria and local churches to simple ceremonies around the graveside at natural burial grounds. And with funerals using electric hearses, motorcycle sidecars or even Land Rover hearses, we have helped families and friends to say the kind of goodbye that will make them feel proud for years to come.