Entrepreneur Holly Clarke, 39, says that while there’s a place for the traditional funeral with a procession led by a hearse, containing an oak casket, followed by the immediate family in a limousine, there is room for alternative farewells.
Holly a former artist, turned funeral director, of Station Road, Tenterden, also says that death can be embraced and is running a seminar in Tenterden called Reflections on Death and Dying.
The mum was inspired to set up her business after her own and husband Andy’s experiences of funerals led them to believe there were other ways of saying goodbye to a loved one.
Andy, 52, was a marketing manager in London with a passion for designing and he found himself drawing more friendly-shaped coffins in a notepad in his spare time.
Meanwhile Holly discovered she had a passion and a gift for helping bereaved people and is now training to be an end-of-life doula offering spiritual support and guidance to bereaved relatives.
The two combined to set up Holly’s Funerals, which is run from the Pickhill Business Centre on Small Hythe Road, with Holly taking inspiration from her visits to the Ideal Death Show, which are run by the Good Funeral Guide and include death cafés where people can share their experiences of bereavement.
Holly, who has one son and is stepmum to three boys, said: “I want to help bereaved people be aware of their choices and it is about creating a personal funeral. It’s about allowing people to take control of their loved one’s funeral and become empowered.”
Her service includes direct cremation, in which the body is cremated a few days after death, without a funeral service, with the ashes returned to relatives who can then hold their own private memorial.
She said: “Direct cremation was said to have been chosen by David Bowie who didn’t have a funeral service.”
Holly’s Funerals also offers advice to people who want to plan their farewell service for a loved one and pick and choose from a range of support.
The funeral director is keen to stress that traditional funerals can be offered for those who prefer them and she said: “Lots of traditional funeral directors do incredibly good work.”