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Thursday 28 September 2017

Snapchat at funerals is now a thing!

The idea of using your phone to take ‘selfies’ with an app that has features like dog-faced filters and an obsession with watermelons and cat ears seems to go against the etiquette of a typical funeral in Ireland. But these times they are changing and funeral etiquette is evolving and revolving around social media as is the case with all celebrated life events. 

While customisable Snapchat Geo Filters have yet to come to Ireland, they are huge in the US where birthday, wedding and other life events are celebrated. “Happy 21st Birthday Mia xx” or “Congrats Steve and Jane” are the norm but a new trend that is closely following, and indeed enhancing, the ‘selfies at funerals’ craze is the Snapchat Geo Filter at funerals – “RIP Trae” or “See you in Heaven Tyrese” along with a cartoon depiction of Trae or Tyrese are finding their place on peoples’ Snapchat stories.

One family embraced the idea when their 37-year-old brother (to Stephenie) and son died.  The Buchanons celebrated their son's life and asked friends and family to ‘snap a photo’ and swipe until they saw the words "T's World" and "We love you, Tarrence, rest in Heaven", superimposed over the taken ‘selfie’. Rather than be offended, funeral goers began taking selfies and embraced the experience.  

A US company that specialises in custom Geo Filters, Buy Custom Geofilters, gets about 300 requests a month for Geo Filters and the majority of them are for birthdays and weddings. Andrew Lee, the company's founder said that over the last three months requests for Funeral Geo Filters have been on the rise. When he received his first funeral request in August 2016, he never expected that his Geo Filters would be used as tributes to the dead. "The whole, 'sad funeral' and 'everybody wearing black' isn't as common these days," he said. "People are using the funeral to celebrate the lives. Geofilters are just another step to doing that."

The millennials are a generation that grew up on social media, with a camera always in hand, it’s how they communicate and celebrate life’s milestones. Stephenie had even nicknamed her brother "the Snapchat King," before his death which is something his friends now remember fondly and the Funeral Geo Filter seemed appropriate to celebrate Tarrence’s life.

Wednesday 27 September 2017

Top 5 tips to save money on funerals in Ireland

Today I was asked to speak on Newstalk FM (and Irish nationwide radio station) on the fact that recent research by Royal London had found that two out of three people underestimate the cost of funerals and almost one-third significantly underestimate the cost of funerals in Ireland, putting it at between €1,000 and €3,000.

I gave as much info as I could in a 20-minute conversation with the ever eager and fascinating Ivan but I did want to follow up with a top 5 tips on how to save money...I don't know if you want them now (and are listening to me and my PREPLAN!!! advice) or if you might need them at a later which case you probably won't be googling this.... but how and ever, here they are.....

  1. Shop around!!! This might sound tacky and the last thing you want to do when you have lost a loved one, which is why I recommend PREPLANNING, but it is entirely possible to cover a few different funeral director visits in a few hours physically, or even better phone them up. Even better again? Have someone else you trust do this research for you as you will be under immense pressure and emotional stress and the last thing you need is more stress.
  2. Go with Natural/Woodland burial - try the guys. They do all sorts of coffins and you lose the headstone costs, the embalming costs etc so worth checking out. Plus an added bonus is it is good for the environment and oh so pretty.
  3. Cut out the frills! No Cars to escort you (most have our own or can borrow), no flowers, no headstones, posh-all-frills coffins etc. Ask friends to help with graphic design and printing of the booklets, memorial sheets. Have friends provide the music, be a celebrant etc. All these cost cutting ways often make it more personal too. My book has more info on this!
  4. Direct to cremation - no church, chapel, service at all. No embalming, coffin etc. When you get the remains back you can have a shindig in the house...I might go for this option myself...might put it in as a backup, depending on available funds!
  5. PREPLAN/Prepaid funeral plans obviously have their advantages if I haven't stated them enough? It pays to think ahead. Let's leave it at that. The LEAST you should do is fill in this plan here, tell someone where it is and at least you're being helpful! ;-)

Monday 25 September 2017

Have Your Say in Life and Death

This October the Irish Hospice Foundation holds its Forum on 'End of Life’ which will reveal interesting findings of Ireland's 'Have Your Say' survey (held last year) where thousands of people across Ireland shared their personal thoughts on dying, death and bereavement. Main findings show people fear 'dying in pain' and want dignity, comfort and care at end of life. People worry most about their family and bereavement support.

“You and I get only one chance to die and 2,500 people had their say last year on what makes a good death. By sharing their thoughts they are helping us create an Irish charter on death, dying and bereavement. We believe in quality end-of-life care, supporting each person to live as well as possible to the end and enabling those left behind to grieve well. We are looking forward to revealing all survey findings on October 10th at our Forum,”
Angela Edghill, Advocacy, and Public Engagement Manager, Irish Hospice Foundation.

“Conversations around death are never easy but people are more than willing to share their views when asked.  They only need to be encouraged. This is the aim of Forum 2017 ‘Your Life, Your Death, Your Say – allowing the conversation to continue about dying, death and bereavement in Ireland’.

“Our last Forum was fully booked attracting 350 people from all walks of life. This year the inspirational Justice Catherine McGuinness will speak about human rights at end of life. RTE Broadcaster David McCullagh will chair a panel discussion on pain, grief, and dignity. Panellists include Senator Marie Louise O’Donnell, Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh, and Dr. Tony Foley.  Keynote speaker is Professor Jenny Kitzinger from Cardiff University who co-directs the ‘Coma and Disorders of Consciousness Research Centre’ and she will examine the challenges around how decisions are made when the patient has lost the ability to make choices for themselves,” said Ms Edghill.

Forum 2017 includes several workshops such as ‘Children Grieve Too’, ‘Supporting Staff through Loss and Bereavement’ and ‘Planning for your Future: What Should we Ask Ourselves?’

Attendees will hear people’s views on a range of issues such as challenges facing health professionals when discussing pain, treatment decisions, death, grief, dignity and caring for people at end of life.

The event takes place in Dublin Castle on Tuesday 10th October from 9am – 4pm and all are welcome. Early registration is advised. Tickets are €60 including lunch and refreshments with €30 Concession tickets (limited availability for students, non-working, and senior citizens). Online registration is at or call 01 679 3188.