To Shroud or not to Shroud: What is a Funeral Shroud & why use one?

By Dee Ryding, Divine Ceremony in Bristol

I have long been a shroud convert, preferring to gently wrap someone with care and with love, and place them in their final resting place; their coffin. However, many families are keen to know what a funeral shroud is and why we do it.

As an Undertaker, I see the funeral as a two part process. At our premises, The Sanctuary, in Bristol we work alongside our families to care for their loved ones. (I should say that Covid 19 has challenged this process, but the ethos remains the same – even if we are not able to work alongside families at this present time.)

For the team at Divine Ceremony, Part One involves the preparation of the person who has died for their funeral; honouring their body – the ship in which they have sailed for the duration of their life. Shrouding or swaddling the person who has died is an intrinsic part of this process. It is seen as a return to the way we arrived in the world – swaddled with love by our parents to help us come to terms with simply being. It is a wonderfully gentle way to show respect, and a much less intrusive experience than dressing someone.

The perfect funeral shroud

The search for the perfect funeral shroud has been a mission of mine for some time. The fabric should be made of soft, natural fibres, easy to wrap, and the Musgrove Willows shroud is just that.

Funeral shroud
A Musgrove Willows shroud

It is a lovely cocoon in which we place the person who has died. We carefully wrap their body with the material, tucking in their feet and swaddling their body. The ties from head to toe, gently hold the fabric in place, and helpfully enable families to tuck in letters or flowers, or little gifts and keepsakes.

We arrive at the experience of arranging a funeral for someone we love from many different perspectives; many of my families have never experienced or thought much about the process of how we care for our guests – this is not a criticism, rather an acknowledgement that we are used to being removed from the process. However, my families also tell me how comforted they are to know their loved one is all “tucked up”, and ready now for the final journey of their lives; Part Two of the Funeral – the Ceremony, which will honour and celebrate their life and their achievements.

X