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HomeFeaturesBurial with dictionaries, pets: Weird requests appall London’s funeral services

Burial with dictionaries, pets: Weird requests appall London’s funeral services


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The act of burial dates back thousands of years, offering a final resting place for the departed. Even in the excavations of the Indus Valley civilisation, the burials used to take place, where a dead person was buried with pots of grains and necessary items that would help the person transition into the afterlife.

Gradually, there were advances in the burial methods, wooden coffins with special burial requests or even the place of burial were selected and customised.

But these days for some, the journey into the afterlife comes with unconventional requests that challenge traditional norms. From dictionaries to dumpsters, individuals are making their final wishes known in ways that defy convention.

Susie Dent, renowned for her role in Dictionary Corner on the TV show Countdown, recently shared her burial request on the podcast ‘Where There’s a Will, There’s a Wake.’ She expressed her desire to be buried with all 20 volumes of the Oxford English Dictionary. While Dent’s devotion to words is undeniable, one can’t help but wonder about the logistical challenges of accommodating such a vast collection within a coffin.

Carol Vorderman, another familiar face from British television, opted for a more unconventional approach. She expressed her wish to forego a traditional burial altogether, instead preferring to be cremated and have her ashes scattered at sea.

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Similarly, comedian Bob Mortimer joked about being tossed into a bin, likening himself to a mere black bag of trash.

But these celebrity requests are just the tip of the iceberg. A recent survey of funeral directors uncovered a plethora of peculiar preferences. From a farmer requesting a hay-lined coffin to someone desiring a burial in a full Father Christmas ensemble, the requests vary widely in their eccentricity.

In the literature available on the internet where people have shared the weird requests for burial while working in the coffin industry, a lady had demanded to be buried with her pet, poodle. The woman, embalmed, and a living poodle by her feet, fulfilling her wish to be buried alongside her pet. The aged dog was euthanised for the purpose.

Another peculiar request involved dressing a deceased man in casual attire post-funeral service, contrary to tradition. After the service, they swiftly changed his attire to soft jeans, a sweater, and comfortable socks, honouring the family’s unconventional request before placing him in the hearse.

Both instances illustrate the unique final wishes honoured with care and respect in the face of death.

Yet, amidst the whimsy, funeral directors face real challenges in fulfilling these requests. Imagine the logistics of arranging a costume change for the deceased between the funeral and burial requests, as one family requested, or accommodating a live poodle alongside its departed owner.

The unconventional wishes for a funeral service in London include taking the deceased on a tour of the city, attendees dressing as clowns, arriving in an American rig lorry, and dispersing ashes in a firework display. A Star Wars-themed funeral, complete with a Darth Vader funeral director, adds a unique touch.

The congregation is led in a conga line, with attendees donning wellies and bringing their pets. Some opt to be buried with a whistle for fear of waking up, while others choose a milk float for transport.

Instead of flowers, plants and vegetables adorn the venue, and guests adhere to a Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings dress code. A motorbike procession or beach wear attire may also feature, and some prefer to have their ashes transformed into jewellery, creating memorable and unconventional farewells.

While some may find these requests amusing, they showcase the deeply personal nature of death and the desire for individuals to assert control over their final moments.

(With inputs from The Guardian)


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