It is the last journey we will make and, as with any form of travel, there will always be some who want to mark it in style.
Wooden coffins and metal caskets have been the traditional means of carrying the dead to their final resting place, but more people are looking for an alternative form of carriage, illustrating the changing face of the funeral industry.
In the digital age, personalisation is at a premium.
Coffin supplier Desmond Stephenson has noticed a growing trend for bespoke funerals and coffins.
“It could be an expressive design that would evoke memories and start a conversation,” he said. “It is unique to that person.
“If grandad was a long-term Northern Ireland football team supporter, or a fan of a particular GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) team, we can do it.
“There is a woman from Lisburn who is a big music fan and she has put in a request to have Elvis Presley on her coffin with the words ‘Love Me Tender’ on it.
“Her husband said he would like a lone piper on his coffin.
“Other people might like an image of the Mourne Mountains or the Fermanagh lakes on their coffin – an image that is special to them. We can also put on a photo of the loved one in happier times – the coffin design can have a photograph of the person celebrating a birthday or on holiday.
Ian Milne is a Northern Ireland representative of the National Association of Funeral Directors and has been involved in the business for over three decades.
He says bespoke coffins are another example of the transformation of funeral practices in the region during the past five years.
“I would say that people feel easier about expressing their wishes at the time of death now,” he said.
“In society now, we have a greater density of faiths and non-faiths.
“I have carried out funerals for people who would describe themselves as high priestesses and wizards.
“There are a lot more humanist funerals now. The number of cremations has also increased dramatically. There is a lot of change, the number of religious-based funerals seems to be decreasing.
“The time that people stay in a funeral home has increased. Some people have booked their holiday and they simply cannot cancel it – the longest we have kept any body here is six weeks.”
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