DIY Coffins?



Just in case :-(
Mary

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Andy Dingley wrote:

Either to assuage old fears of being encoffinated when merely tired and shagged out after the human equivalent of a long flight from the fiords...
...or so that Dr Who monstas can rise from their caskets on cue!
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I'm hoping to do one of those in September ...
Mary
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I've got this vision of the bottom dropping out as the 6 bearers are lifting the thing onto their sholders. Well, it would be a funeral to remember at least...
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Andrew Gabriel

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On 16 Apr 2005 21:44:32 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@cucumber.demon.co.uk (Andrew Gabriel) wrote:

Perhaps there ought to be Building Regulations for coffins/caskets.
Over to ODPM...
--
Frank Erskine

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On 16 Apr,

An addednum to schedulewotever of the building regulations?
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BD

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B Thumbs wrote:

There are already burial regulations.
NT
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Erskine wrote:

There are US states where the funeral director lobby have managed to get it made law that only a registered FD can sell caskets, thus stopping discount casket outlets from setting up.
Elsewhere in the USA ...
"CHICAGO From cradle to grave, Costco wants your business. Literally. The warehouse retailer, which peddles everything from baby cribs to giant jars of mustard to wood chippers, now hopes to close the deal on your final purchase: a casket ... Two Chicago-area Costco stores began test-marketing six models (all priced at $799.99) this week."
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our local kwik save does diy coffins. recomend u get ther on a dry day before the cardboard boxes have got wet
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On Sat, 16 Apr 2005 19:01:24 GMT, "Alan Holmes"
Yes, web search.
Then find a funeral director who will handle the thing (or _really_ DIY it). Funerals are a disgusting trade, replete with rip-offs and excessive markups. Part of this is the closed-shop attitude by most funeral directors (many of which are now a very small number of chains, operating under the name of old established local firms, whose founders are long gone). There are good funeral directors who are happy to use a coffin they didn't supply (or one they can supply at reasonable cost) but they're the minority.
As just an average furniture maker I can comfortably beat any coffin retail price, and do a better job.
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Nestle.
The people that tell you their food is healthy are burying the evidence - literally.
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in it ;-) ---
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For some reason i`m having problems finding cites to back this up at the moment, but if you ask any "independant" funeral director you`ll find out why they make such a big thing of calling themselves independant.
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That's a pity, I honestly would have liked to know more.

I have no intention of going near any of thembut I imagine that they'd all say that they were a centuries old faily business or the Co-op ...
... and I'd believe them as much as I believe Our Glorious Leader.
Mary

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Fisher wrote:

"Establised ...." and "family run" are pretty meaningless. Courtesy of the OFT firms owned by Dignity plc (was SCI and before that Great Southern/Hodgson/Kenyon) have to say so in their advertising and on their premises. Before that you had the situation here in Twickenham of two GSG owned firms advertising against one another to give the impression of competition.
SCI, an American outfit, bought out GSG and Hodgson Kenyon in the mid-1990's and were the subject of numerous media exposes thereafter as the American bosses tried to make money by putting pressure on the people at the sharp end (fancy a name and shame league table for funeral arrangers - who sold the most/least last month?). Basically it didn't work (apart from anything else the people being asked to act in these ways really took exception to it) and the UK management bought the business back from SCI renaming it as Dignity: from what I've heard they've dropped the bad practices but are just more expensive that most others.
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Mary

I know that, you know that. But they still try it on.

Many years ago I read The AmericanWay of Death. It sickened me and I determined then not to have anything to do with the awful business. The closer I get to death the more determined I am.
Mary
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Fisher wrote:

You can do it yourself if you really are determined to (q.v. the book 'Undertaken with love') but most of us would rather entrust what has to be done to someone who has the knowledge and experience and who will not take advantage of our situation. The same is true of people engaging emergency plumbers, motorway breakdown services and many other distress purchases of course.
I do think that there are more than a few firms in the funeral business who do want to work in an ethical way. When my father died the FD said [1988] "our cheapest funeral is 480: you can spend a lot more than this if you wish but we will give you the same service regardless of how much you spend" and there was no pressure whatsoever to spend any more than we wanted (which was one up from the cheapest). Ironically the firm concerned was taken over by SCI and ended up on World in Action for following a somewhat different approach. Since then there have been three series on TV following life behind the scenes in different London undertakers and in each case the people concerned have come across as just the sort one would wish to deal with if the situation arose.
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There are many resources, the best I've found are from the Natural Death handbook - which has far more information than how to do a funerals. Including how to make various coffins, to go back to the topic.

How do you know they won't take advantage of the situation?
A daughter used to baby-sit for someone who lived over a 'chapel of rest' (what a silly name, as bad as 'funeral home'). Their low rent was because they had the duty of allowing visitors to view the stiffs - sorry, loved ones. 'Stiffs' was the word the undertakers used.
There's a church at the bottom of our street, we have a lot of funeral services there. The undertakers, those caring people with knowledge and experience and with the utmost concern for the bereaved, loll around outside while the service is going on, smoking. It hardly adds dignity to the event.
As for taking advantage, when my mother in law died one of her grand-daughters, who makes her living as a cabinet maker, wanted to make a carved oak box for her ashes, it would be buried. The undertakers fought hard about this, they were going to lose money by not being able to sell one of their nasty plastic 'urns'. They said it would be illegal. That it would have to be exactly the right size and no girl would be able to make one to the right spec. That the cemetery only allowed their plastic (non-degradable) things.
Of course they were arguing with the wrong person, me.
Mother in law's sons and grandsons also wanted to bear her coffin, as with the cabinet maker it was to be their last act of love. I told the undertakers that this would happen, they said they couldn't, they'd look like ducks and be out of step, they'd drop it, that it was illegal (why they kept saying that I don't know!)
Their protestations were overcome, one grandson is a serving sergeant in the Royal Air Force, one son had been in the Army, the other in the Army Cadets. They trained the younger members and were perfectly disciplined. The RAF one wore his uniform, it was very dignified and moving.
Exactly the same procedures happened when father in law died, the undertakers by that time had learned not to argue with the (now) mater familias.
What knowledge and experience is needed? Unless, of course, you're thinking about the dreadful practices of 'preparing the body'. There's nothing necessary except, perhaps, washing, which can be done with love by those closest to the dead person instead of the indignity of being handled by strangers.
Do you NEED a black (or grey) car with uniformed driver? If an estate or van or SUV has been good enough while you're alive what's wrong with using it for your last journey?
What other services are provided by undertakers? Services can be planned and arranged and undertaken by family and friends instead of strangers, if they're wanted. Local authorities will deal direct with families instead of only through undertakers, no matter what the latter tell you. I really can't think of anything which isn't simpler and BETTER done by family than it is through an unknown third party.
Well there's the bun fight of course. Sometimes it's done in an hotel or worse, pub I find those miserable and time-limited affairs. The two best I've been to were when everyone came back here after m-i-l's funeral, unexpectedly, and we had biscuits and an impromptu slide show of earlier days and another when we all went back to the church hall for curry and dancing.

Those examples don't compare with preparing a body for burial and, indeed, burying it. It's the custom among many Caribbean families for the friends and family members to dig the grave. Spouse was once involved in this when he took the place of a son who wasn't allowed leave for a dear friend's funeral. Isn't it better for that to happen than for a JCB to do the job? There's no need for a 'chapel of rest'. Such places are modern developments, another way of making money. Mother in law stayed with her husband after she died, until her body was taken to the crematorium. It always happened in the past. We went back days later to bury her ashes - in the beautiful box bearing her name, carved not on a brass plate - and her son took a trowel and dug the hole without asking. The undertaker was redundant.
There are many modern practices - and more coming along all the time. They're now regarded as essential, they're not. A whole other industry has grown, such as 'bereavement counselling'. This always used to happen of course, families and friends, priests or other religious ministers and other professionals who KNEW the bereaved and the dead person would be there to listen and offer advice and actual help if it were needed. Now it's all done by specially trained professionals - strangers. I'm horrified when I go to funerals and the officiating person knows absolutely nothing about any of the participants. He has usually visited and gleaned some biographical details for his address but it doesn't work. In my mother in law's case the minister talked at length about her cycling activities when she was young. The hall was packed with the enormous family of which she was the progenitor, her great achievements in bearing and bringing up those people wasn't mentioned at all, they felt insignificant. Which is more important as a legacy of a life, wheels or people?

I'm sure you're right, but how do you know which they are?

That, with respect, is meaningless. What you see on television or in the papers is what's been chosen to be featured.
This is something I feel very strongly about as will have been realised by anyone wading to the end of this post - congratulations :-)
If people feel that they have to do something because it's the done thing that's up to them but it shouldn't be forced on those who think for themselves.
Mary

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Fisher wrote:

In many smaller firms the bearers are not undertakers as such, probably firemen on their day off (nice little earners like this are why you should take their pay claims with a pinch of salt)

That is the big question. And of course when SCI/Dignity or whoever buy a family firm the one thing they do not do is change the name so that they can trade on the goodwill of the formerly independent business, notwithstanding that the ethic may now be very different. One of the great scandals - IMHO of course - was in the late 1990's when SCI were getting so much bad press. The one party, Age Concern, who might have been interested said nothing whilst continuing to sell Age Concern branded SCI funeral plans for healthy commissions.
In any case recommendation can only take you so far, in that unless you are in the business or have arranged lots of funerals you are unlikely to know how good the firm really is - you probably recognise bad treatment, but not mediocrity: to get back on topic much as lay people employing plumbers and electricians: they just don't have the knowledge to know how good a job has been done - and why should they?
As I've lived in the same place all my life and have been in the same church since I was six I have been to ?50 funerals and have seen those who do a better or worse job of directing: IMO there's a fine balance between being too directive and failing to give that little bit of guidance that would be appreciated. And fortunately in most cases the funeral has been taken by someone who knew the deceased well and so can talk meaningfully about them: for me this is the biggest determinant of how 'good' a funeral is.

The three that have been in the fly-on-the-wall documentaries have obviously chosen to be so, and one would expect them to be firms who reckon that the exposure will do them no harm. One of them, Gillmans, www.funeral.org.uk (not quite sure about the ethics of that URL) has been a Natural Death Centre's award winner. Perhaps they are rogues but the open approach of their website with all the prices and an expressed willingness to help anyone who wants to DIY with free advice and menu pricing for particular services does strike a very positive note with me.
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...
The difference is that a bad plumbing or electrical job could be dangerous and you can always call the workmen back to make things good; a bad undertaking job is over and done with in a day with nothing to show for it. Except a bill. Nothing can be changed or made good.

Yes, that would probably apply if you're talking about one church community. I really don't think it's so of the general population.
Today my friend's husband died, she's relied on me for support and transport in the last few weeks. I was called to the nursing home where he was minutes after he died. Tonight she told me that his body was in the Co-op 'chapel of rest' so that they'd probably do the funeral. She was too upset to make any decision, the nursing home had sent his body there without offering her any option, just asking if it was alright. What could she say in the minutes after being widowed? I suspect that sort of thing happens frequently. I'm not suggesting that there's any kind of 'arrangement' between the nursing home and the Co-op but some might make that connection. Most people, hereabouts at least, don't know any other funeral director but the Co-op.

<television programme>

Good. But what you're exposed to is edited by the film makers.
I've seen too much to take things for granted, to believe that there's only one route and that that's the 'proper' one.
Some conventions are good for society but not necessarily for the individual. I suspect that undertaking depends on people not knowing of any other option. I know that when I asked my friend what she was thinking she was numb, she said that she didn't know what to do, where to go from here. She would let her sons arrange everything.
They have no experience either so they'll take the easy way out.
<sigh>
Planning ahead won't ensure that you'll have what you'd like but it's more likely and it gives some guidance to your executors.
Mary
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