Green burials, scattering ashes and memorials

Ceremony to scatter my sister’s ashes on a hill in the Cotswolds, July 2017


I regularly take funeral ceremonies at Hereford, Shrewsbury, The Forest of Dean and other local crematoria, and today over 75% of funerals take place in such settings. But for some people a ceremony in a crematorium is never completely satisfactory, however much it is all about the person who has died, because there are very real constraints of time and what the venue will allow. So increasingly people search out other options.

One option is to choose a woodland or green burial. There are several such sites in the local area, which provide a peaceful and permanent resting place together with the opportunity to have the farewell of your choice without constraints. It’s also possible to have an indoor ceremony prior to the burial in a local village hall, or indeed in the family home, and some of the most personal and moving ceremonies that I have had the privilege to conduct have been in such settings.  Local green burial sites include the Humber burial site outside Leominster, Offa’s Orchard in Gladestry, and the newly opened Hay Meadows site at Glascwm near Llandrindod Wells:

If you chose a ceremony at a crematorium, there are also options after the funeral to remember the life of your loved one. A ceremony to scatter ashes makes for a very personal farewell in a spot that was special both to the deceased and to the family, and can take place some days or weeks after the funeral at the crematorium.  It is helpful to make a visit in advance to plan exactly how you would like the ashes to be scattered, what you would like to be said, and who you would like to be there. I’m happy both to advise and to conduct such a ceremony. In my experience it works better to have good pre-planning, some structure to the event, and some forethought as to what will be said rather than something more spontaneous on the day.

Some people like to have a small family event at the crematorium, and then to follow this with a larger memorial ceremony. Memorial events can be held anywhere you like: an events venue, in your house or garden, in the back room of a pub, hotel etc. It is good to have lots of contributions from people who have known the deceased over the course of his/her life, with time for anecdotes, stories and plenty of music. Such events are often a mix of laughter and sadness, and allow a real sharing of experiences between everyone who is there. Again, I’m happy to advise and/or to lead such a memorial.

‘Thank you so much for all you did today and all the work you put in. I thought both burial and memorial were truly wonderful and I’m certain dad would have been really proud of what we put together and how well you delivered it all. I’m really grateful.’ CJ for EJ’s burial on farm, followed by memorial event. 

‘I wanted to let you know how very grateful we all are for the way you gave my father such a perfect send-off yesterday.’ MW for JRW, Humber Burial Ground.