Member Article

Funeral Director to Best Selling Author: Bringing Funeral Chat to the Coffee Table

On the back of community activity she undertook earlier this year for Dying Matters Week, which saw 38 year old mum of 2 Sarah Jones receive hugely positive feedback after speaking at a number of events within her local community about death, the MD of Full Circle Funerals felt she wanted to spread her message even further - and today celebrates becoming a best selling author, having done just that through her debut book.

In just 2 months Sarah has written her book, ‘Funerals Your Way - a Person-Centred Approach to Planning a Funeral’ and in just hours after it’s release the book is already riding high on Amazon as a number #1 bestseller.

All proceeds from the book sales will be going to Leeds Bereavement Forum and local hospices.

Triggered by seeing the benefits to people of being given some information and time when arranging a funeral, going from bewildered and vulnerable to empowered and in control when provided with basic knowledge, Sarah set about providing a resource that could reach further than just her Yorkshire clients.

An ex-doctor, Guiseley based Sarah is now hoping that instead of being feared by many, death and funerals will start to make it into mainstream conversation - in fact her goal is to get families talking funerals around their coffee tables. Through her knowledge sharing she hopes to empower people to make more informed choices so they are able to create funerals that truly reflect the person who has died and she hopes the book will gave them a framework for the decisions that they need to make and help them to discover new options, which they can then discuss as a family.

She said: “Working as a doctor, and then in the social care industry before setting up my funeral directors, I have seen firsthand many, many, times the impact when someone dies. This is never easy but it can made so much more challenging when people have no idea where to start. I am on a mission to stop death and funerals being a taboo subject - to get us to all recognise that it is inevitable, and so would it not be better to express our wishes and give direction to the people who will be arranging our funeral? I’m hoping this book could be a really useful conversation starter, and that families will start chatting about it over a coffee to get the ball rolling.”

Sarah, who’s making waves in the industry as a female entrepreneur bringing a fresh new take on funeral planning services covers in her book areas such as where to start when planning a funeral, beliefs and rituals, locations, people and involvement, and the role technology can now play in funerals as well as looking at the emotions to expect before and after a service. She sets out to tackle what she describes as ‘a bewildering and disempowering time’, intending to create a guided space to help readers make informed choices, without feeling overwhelmed. The purpose of the book it to give people the information they need, in an accessible step-by-step way so that they can make the choices that are personalized and right for them. She believes funerals should be helpful to friends and family, and in highlighting key areas to think about in advance, she hopes to make it then easier for them to progress their plans.

She is also passionate about raising the bar of what people expect from funerals and hopes to start a wave that encourages families and friends to strive for more personal experiences. She said: “If people have greater expectations of funerals (because they have the information and suggestions that they need) then this will spread like ripples on a pond and more and more people will expect the same.”

Bringing this book to life through Authors & Co, whose focus is on telling stories of those who are keen to inspire and share their experiences, Sarah describes her dream of writing a book to help others as “a truly empowering process”.

She said: “Both while working as a surgeon and supporting people to create funerals- I always felt that giving people the information and time they need could really help them. Since setting up Full Circle Funerals I have fully immersed myself into sharing my knowledge and the information, decision-making framework and suggestions in this book is an important part of that. The fact that it has become a bestseller so quickly shows that many people do want to know more about funerals and it feels like such a privilege to be able to give them the information they need to think about their own funeral wishes and to feel better able to engage in making funeral arrangements for others.”

With space for thoughts and reflections after each chapter, her vision is to give people a framework to really think through the simple personal touches they can add to a funeral to truly represent the character of the person who has died. Referring to families who have incorporated home grown vegetables into flower arrangements, a lollipop lady’s hat or a pair or walking boots being placed on a coffin and family members who have chosen a wicker or wool coffin to illustrate a loved one’s passion for crafts, her purpose is to empower her readers to embrace individuality and realise that these options are there for them to explore.

Sarah is hugely overwhelmed about her book’s instant success. She said: “I am so taken aback by the response this has had and so grateful to the team at Authors & Co for their amazing support. Hopefully it will help many people to be able to engage more confidently with funeral planning and as a society we can become a bit more open to conversations around this topic.”

Respected by others in the industry, the book is already getting rave reviews. Barbara Chalmers, Founder of Final Fling, an end-of-life planning website said: “Clearly written, with a focus on permission-giving, Sarah’s step-through-guide very much reflects the ethos and approach of Final Fling - do it your own way. I think it will be a valuable resource for those who are looking for reassurance and hand-holding, especially if a death is imminent and they are using reading as a way of preparing for the inevitable funeral.”

Sandy Weatherburn from Social Embers said: “The book is laid out in a way that allows you to record your own thoughts as you progress through the guide. My personal thoughts are that it would be an invaluable guide to almost everyone who will be involved in planning a funeral at some point in their lives.”

Keen to educate in a number of ways the team at Full Circle Funerals, who won the accolade of Best Modern Funeral Director just 1 year after opening, also undertake lots of other activities in the local community including workshops and training in partnership with care homes, the WI, and solicitors, speaking at events in their capacity as Dementia Champions to help train other businesses and they also work closely with local hospices.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Becky Hayles .

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