SAIF Launches End of Life Campaign

Increasingly, funeral directors across the country are urging people to break the taboo and discuss with family and friends the difficult subject of their own end of life care. For many people this is a subject to be put off as long as possible, but as many funeral directors know from personal experience, this can mean that your own wishes are not known about when the time does come.

With this in mind, The National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF), an industry body representing more than 870 privately owned, independent funeral homes in the UK, has launched a new booklet entitled “Five Things to Think About Before You Die”.

Inside, the booklet contains a number questions and points for you to consider in order for you to fully record your end of life wishes, both for yourself and for your loved ones. It is designed to give you the opportunity to ask the right questions about your end of life wishes and enable you to make the appropriate decisions whilst you are still mentally able to do so.

The booklet outlines five key areas to consider, which are laid out as follows:

  1. Make a Will

Outline your inheritance wishes, ensuring that your estate is divided according to your wishes. This section can also include details about your online or social media accounts so that your relatives can make the appropriate decisions about your various accounts and safeguard your digital legacy.

  1. Record your funeral wishes

This includes whether you wish to be cremated or buried, your preferred choice of venue, the details of your funeral itself (for example your choice of flowers, music, poetry or readings) and other aspects of your funeral wishes. This section can also help your family to avoid issues with funeral expenses.

  1. Plan your future care and support

This section covers many practical issues concerning your future care and support, such as where you would like to be cared for, if you need to incorporate any religious or spiritual beliefs into your care, any personal preferences and who should look after your pets should you own any.

  1. Register as an organ donor

Ensure that loved ones are aware that you are registered as an organ donor. If you are not already registered as a donor on the NHS Organ Donor Register, consider if this is something you may be comfortable with.

  1. Tell your loved ones your wishes

Leave any important messages and tell your loved ones your wishes concerning the location of important documentation (for example bank statements). Also, make sure that a trusted friend or somebody in your family knows where the booklet is being kept.

Above all, the booklet is designed to answer any questions that may otherwise go unanswered and give you the opportunity to record your wishes and choices. If you would like any assistance with any aspect of your end of life planning please visit us at John G Hogg Funeral Directors at one of our Sunderland offices.

John G Hogg Praised for help given to Sunderland families

John G Hogg Funeral Directors is proud to announce that we have been nominated for the prestigious Sunderland Echo Portfolio Business Awards. Being recognised by our local community is something that is especially important to us as we continue to work side by side with people going through an incredibly difficult moment in their lives.

At John G Hogg, our team of funeral directors work closely with people throughout Wearside from our funeral homes in Hendon, Pallion and Farringdon, guiding families through difficult moments and offering our expertise and services in whatever capacity that seems most appropriate.

As such, we were delighted to be nominated in two categories at this year’s event – John G Hogg will be standing should to shoulder with other leading companies on Wearside, competing for both the Small Business of the Year Award and the Business of the Year Award. John Hogg, Director of John G Hogg Funeral Directors, was quick to point to the “hard work, dedication and professionalism” of the John G Hogg team in obtaining nominations for two separate categories.

“Through the nominations for both awards, it celebrates excellence and professional commitment in one of the most difficult and challenging areas of serving the public,” he went on to say.

“The team at John G Hogg Family Funeral Directors has set a very high standard and are delighted to be nominated.”

This year’s awards will be presented at a ceremony taking place at the Stadium of Light on Thursday, October 15, and will bring together community and business leaders throughout Wearside.

The headline sponsor for this year’s awards is Make It Sunderland, who is sponsoring the overall Business of the Year Award as well as this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

This year’s Sunderland Echo Portfolio Business Awards will also see the addition of a new category which will recognise the contribution that social enterprises have for families in the city.

The Fair Funerals Pledge

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Promoting the Pledge

The Fair Funerals Pledge is a nationwide scheme designed to reduce the financial impact that a funeral can have on families up and down the country. Funeral poverty is affecting more and more people, and has increased by 50% over the past five years.

What is the Fair Funerals Pledge?

The Fair Funerals Pledge is a free and voluntary commitment to:

  • Recognise that funerals can be expensive and that many people struggle with the cost
  • Offer a more affordable option for people who are struggling and make this visible to the public including third party costs
  • Charge clear prices for goods and services so that people know what they are buying. Communicate prices in initial conversations and prominently display full price lists

The Fair Funerals Pledge is supported by the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF).

Alternative Funerals

When a family member or loved dies it leads to a decision about how best to lay that person to their final resting place, a decision that involves the whole family’s wishes and normally involves a traditional burial or cremation service. However, that’s not the only solution out there; in fact there are a number of alternatives that you may feel reflects the wishes of the deceased and provide better, more fitting care for them.

Cryomation

Cyromation is an automated process whereby the deceased body is lowered into liquid nitrogen up to a temperature of -196°C. This process relies on pressure to break up the human body into smaller particles; this allows for the separation and eventual removal of foreign materials from the body.

After this, further chemical and freeze drying techniques produce sterile granular remains which are void of any bacterial residue.

Incinerator Replacement Technology Ltd is a funeral company that specialises in producing Cryomator units, which are used throughout this process and requires no human intervention whatsoever, eliminating the risk of cross contamination and ensuring that the process is completely clean.

Cryomation offers a greener alternative to traditional cremation, and the remains of the deceased require considerably less land for burial.

Alkaline Hydrolysis

The body placed inside a specialist machine and then covered with an alkaline-based solution with a high pH; this effectively disposes of human remains whilst producing less carbon dioxide and other pollutants that are normally associated with cremations. After allowing time for the chemical reaction to take place, attendants then take the bones, wash them, take them out and form them into a fine white powder. Whilst the entire process lasts much longer than a standard cremation – anywhere between eight and twelve hours – environmental downsides and pollution are much reduced.

In short, the process is design to mimic the stages that the body goes through naturally during decomposition. Whilst a number of companies offer this service as an alternative to cremation it has yet to become a patented method of disposal of human remains.

Cryonic Preservation

A method normally associated more with science fiction than with reality, cryonic preservation is nevertheless a means for many people of preserving themselves until medical technology has advanced enough in the future to revive them. Around 270 people have thus far been put through this process as of 2013, and each of these is stored in a specially designed liquid nitrogen tank at a balmy -196°C.

The process itself involves a rapid cooling of the body immediately after death. Although procedures are carried out exclusively in the United States, a number of supporting organisations in the UK can prepare the body as a preliminary stage and then transport it to the US in order to undergo the full procedure.

Mummification

Not from Ancient Egypt, but from contemporary America comes the method of modern mummification, offered by Summum, a religious organisation who believe that this process offers the “only form of permanent preservation”. Whilst their service is not available in the UK, Summum do accept bodies shipped from the UK and only asks for a donation of £45000, in addition to covering the expense of shipping the body to the U.S. and back to the UK.

Whilst some reports have suggested that people were mummified by Summum, the majority of mummifications thus far have been carried out on deceased pets in accordance with the wishes of their owners.

Memorial Reefs

Another option comes again from organisations based in the United States. Two of these, private companies Eternal Reefs and Neptune Reefs, specialise in providing memorial reefs for the deceased. An Eternal Reef is an artificial, man-made coral reef, whereby families can give their loved one to the ocean and create a vibrant and environmentally sustainable habitat for marine life to prosper.

The casting of the reef is carried out in near to the designated reef site, and can be accompanied by a full and fitting ceremony. A plaque, including a personally designed inscription from the family of the deceased, can also be fixed onto the reef.

Family and loved ones have the option of being as involved as they want to, and can personalise the top of the reef with their own “hand” prints, as well as mix the remains of the loved one into the concrete itself in order to create the “Pearl” centre piece that fits inside the reef ball. At the end of the process, the reef is cast into its designated spot, and in time will come to provide habitats for a diverse range of aquatic animals who may otherwise not be able to survive due to their natural habitats being destroyed.

Whilst this service is an exclusively American one, ashes from the UK can be used is the proper methods for transportation are observed.

For more information you can visit the Eternal Reefs website at Eternal Reefs

More than 100 Bodies Uncovered in the Ganges

Residents near the village of Pariyar in Uttar Pradesh were stunned when over 100 bodies surfaced in one of the tributaries leading to the Ganges river in January this year. The mostly decomposed skeletons were “uncovered” following a drop in the water level of the river which revealed the corpses, some of which were half-burnt and many only leaving skeletal remains.

The bodies were considered too badly decomposed to carry out post-mortem examinations and it was not possible to formally identify any of the corpses, although DNA tests were subsequently carried out. The bodies were later buried in the riverbed close to the site where they were discovered.

Hinduism, as well as many other Indian faiths, conducts its funerals using cremation, after which the ashes are scattered into the rivers, many of which are considered holy sites. As such, the Ganges, flowing for some 2500km, has plenty of cremation sites along its shores.

However, this can be a problem for many people stricken by poverty, as the average funeral can cost somewhere in the region of 7000 Rupees (around £75). This can be far beyond the means of much of the population, and with this avenue closed many people are forced to dispose of their friends and family members through other means.

Without a proper cremation, many people attempt to burn the dead themselves, however without enough firewood many bodies are only partially burnt – often these are then floated into the river as they are. This can be the case with children and unwed women in many communities, and many of the bodies that were recovered in Pariyar were those of children in addition to decomposed skeletons from dismantled graves.

Although it is not uncommon to see bodies floating up the Ganges river, it is highly irregular for so many to be recovered at the same time, and this incident added to the concerns of many local residents and environmentalists, all of whom point to the increasing problems with pollution not just with burial remains but also with industrial waste, sewage and pesticide causing a serious problem for a river that supports many hundreds of millions of people directly.

Unusual Burial Sites – The Old Jewish Cemetery – Prague

One of the more curious tourist attractions in Prague is the Old Jewish Cemetery in the Josefov part of the city, which was founded in the 15th century and closed for burials in 1787. As the final resting place of over 100’000 people going back more than 500 years, there is certainly a story to tell here of the plight of Jewish communities throughout Europe; however, visitors are also pulled in by the truly distinctive appearance of the site which can reveal a great deal about its unique history.

The earliest gravestone is dated 23rd April 1439 and belonged to the rabbi and poet Avigdor Kara. Before long, however, the space in the graveyard had been exceeded, and Jewish communities were restricted as to where they could dispose of their dead. In addition, Jewish faith and traditions prohibit the destruction of gravestones or the removal of tombstones.

A unique solution was found, however – soil was heaped on top of existing graves and further burials were made, creating a layered effect. In fact, the Old Jewish Cemetery contains 12 layers of graves, with some 12’000 stones packed as closely together as possible to conserve space. A look at some of these tombstones will reveal historical periods ranging from the Gothic through to Baroque and Renaissance times, with some evidence of Rococo designs on display. Visitors can also see various pictorial representations on the graves, indicating the identity of those buried there. Look out for symbols like scissors, crowns and violins.

Some of the more popular graves to visit include that of Mordechai Maisel, the former Mayor of Prague Jewish Town at the turn of the 17th century, among others. The cemetery is also the final resting place of Rabbi Jehuda Loew Ben Bezalel, a prominent rabbi and the creator of Golem, a mythical monster made of clay that helps Jews through harsh times (The legend goes that Golem became violent and had to be destroyed himself).

In addition to the site itself, some visitors can go to have the dead grant your wish or request. The tradition goes that by writing a wish on paper and weighing the paper down with a stone taken from your place of origin, the dead will take listen and help you on your way. It is important, however, not to disturb the stones already in the graveyard or to take a stone from another grave, as this is disrespectful to the dead.

Survey reveals that 40% of families believe themselves to be incapable of covering funeral costs without getting into debt

A study conducted by Engage Mutual has revealed that some 40% of people surveyed in the UK believe that they would not be able to cope with the costs of their funeral, with one of the biggest fears being the debt that they would incur if they could not gain access to the deceased person’s estate within a week.

Making provisions for the future can be something that many people don’t want to think about. Whilst this is understandable, one of the great tragedies of modern society is not simply having to cope with death and loss of a loved one, but the debt that families can incur arranging for an appropriate funeral, with over three quarters of the 2000 people surveyed by Engage Mutual revealing that they had made no provisions for their own funeral.

It is important to know the specifics of your funeral arrangements, so that your loved ones are protected against debt should the worst happen. Few people in the UK give much thought to the costs associated with funeral expenses, with some overestimating and some underestimating the overall expenditure of a funeral. Today, the average cost of a funeral in the UK stands at £4,650 whilst the cremation costs some £3,239.

However, during their survey Engage Mutual found that more than two thirds of the participants believed costs to be below £4,000, whilst over a half of people priced an average cremation at £3,000 or lower.

Added to this is the issue surrounding probate and litigation. Whilst some believe that they will get access to the assets and estate of the deceased immediately, we stress that this is simply not the case, with the average length of probate cases taking around six months to conclude. Furthermore, more complicated estates (such as those that involve property or inheritance tax) can take a year or longer to resolve, which can leave families stranded who might otherwise have expected to pay funeral costs with ease.

Perhaps even more telling was that the majority of those surveyed (some 56% of total participants) had not drawn up a will – this can lengthen the amount of time spent on probate and litigation further still.

At John G Hogg, the last thing we want to see is families crippled by funeral debt, and our funeral directors can set up an appropriate scheme to ensure that this does not occur should the worst happen.

What are coffins made of?

We live in an environmentally conscious society. It is common to enquire about the effect on the environment. Coffin manufacture is no exception. We hope the following points will be of reassurance.

Who actually makes the coffins?

We use a specialist manufacturer J C Atkinson, who specialise in making environmentally friendly coffins for the funeral trade.

How are they Environmentally Friendly

J C Atkinson is an award winning company, voter ‘Sunday Times Best Green Company’ in 2008 and they are accredited by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The coffins are made in a factory with zero CO2 emissions, using Green Electricity powered by their own Biomass generator.

What are the coffins made of?

The majority of coffins are made using oak, mahogany style and elm style veneers, which are laminated on to chipboard or medium density fibre board (MDF). All are Forest Stewardship Council certified.

How is Chipboard and MDF made?

Both are made in a similar way. The chipboard is made with a high content (98%) of recycled wood waste from the urban waste stream. The balance of 2% is from other forest residues. The wood i cleaned and chipped then pressed with heat and glue to make a usable joinery board.

Is the chipboard full of harmful chemicals?

No. It is approximately 83% wood, 10% glue and 7% moisture. The glue has to contain a very small amount of formaldehyde, a natural organic compound which evidence supports to be harmless in such low levels. In one tonne of board the amount of formaldehyde is than 70g equivalent to two bags of crisps. This low level gives the board its E1 standard – the best available. No other toxins or dioxins are contained within the board or are produced in its manufacture.

How is the Coffin polished?

The coffin is polished using specialist lacquers. For the majority, a water-based, rather than solvent-based lacquer (which contain climate changing Volatile Organic Compounds – V.O.C’s) is used. The polish, when dry, is biodegradable and suitable for Burial and Cremation.

Is the Coffin suitable for woodland burial?

The coffin is biodegradable. During burial it degrades without any harmful residue. You may wish also to pay attention to the types of handles and lining used, as these can also be biodegradable.

Is the Coffin suitable for cremation?

During cremation, as the wood burns it aids the process of cremation without any harmful emission. As a result of combustion the amount of CO2 released is offset by the CO2 it used during its growing life as a tree. This is why wood is classed as a Biomass.

Sunderland funeral director named among the best in the business

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A FUNERAL director has been hailed for the help it gives family as they say their final goodbyes.

John G Hogg Family Funeral Directors has been voted Funeral Planner of the Year for the North East England region in the annual awards.

The Sunderland firm was named the best medium-sized firm in the prestigious awards, which were open to Golden Charter’s network of more than 3,000 independent funeral directors and run by the funeral plan provider.

The team at the firm, which has bases in Hendon, Farringdon and Pallion, won the award in recognition of its dedication and commitment in providing an outstanding service to the community.

John Hogg and Claire Ward received the award on behalf of the company from Ronnie Wayte, chief executive of Golden Charter.

In addition to the contemporary award and framed certificate, the Woodland Trust has dedicated 10 trees in the company’s name at Low Burnhall in Durham in recognition of its achievement.

John said: “The award recognises the hard work, dedication and professionalism of all my colleagues.”

Mr Wayte added: “This is the 21st year of these awards, and each year it becomes more difficult to choose a winner. Through these awards Golden Charter celebrates personal excellence and professional commitment in one of the most difficult and challenging areas of serving the public. The team at John G Hogg Family Funeral Directors has set a very high standard and we are delighted to recognise this achievement.”

Customers buying pre-paid funeral plans are protected against inflation and directors say customers benefit from peace of mind knowing their family will be able to pay for a funeral.

Article courtesy of Sunderland Echo read it here.

Fund Raising

John G Hogg, Paul Hodgson did a sky dive with the red devils team in 2011 in aid of Help For Heroes and raised a total of £3268. Show your support by watching their Youtube Video