The past few weeks have been incredibly testing for the funeral industry. As a manufacturer of willow coffins, our staff have listened to some very upsetting stories from Funeral Directors and their families.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, those associated with the funeral industry have certainly had to adapt quickly in order to provide the best possible service to the bereaved (and often without much clear guidance from the government).
Although our family business is based in Somerset, our successful ongoing relationship with JC Atkinson enables the coffins we make to be distributed to Funeral Directors across the UK. It has been interesting to notice a couple of trends which have emerged nationwide over the past couple of months.
One of the devastating effects of social distancing has been the restriction on the number of people allowed to attend a funeral service. It is hard to imagine what it must be like to decide who can and cannot attend the final commemoration of a loved one.
As a result, many families appear to be spending more time designing the coffin and incorporating personal touches. For us, there has certainly been a move towards coloured willow. Sales of full colour and rainbow themed coffins have increased and more coffins are being designed with coloured bands and/or handles. (Only natural dyes are used to colour the willow.)
Perhaps, unsurprisingly, there has also been an increase in orders for coloured coffin liners and pillows. Our weavers and seamstress always endeavour to help with special requests. Recently they combined to incorporate a favourite scarf into a design.
Families of loved ones are usually welcome to visit our Somerset willow farm to see how willow is grown and then actively participate in weaving the coffin they have chosen. Many find the process incredibly cathartic.
Clearly, during the past few weeks this simply hasn’t been possible. To circumnavigate this, our weavers have turned to modern technology. Several families have enjoyed watching a live streaming of the coffin they have chosen being made. It provided the family with the opportunity to really feel part of the process (particularly if they weren’t going to be able to attend the funeral service.)
Feedback on the streaming service has been incredibly positive and it will be with us long after COVID-19 has (hopefully) left these shores for good.