ABC Riverina: Coffin on dragon boat one example of trend towards uplifting and creative funerals

Coffin on dragon boat one example of trend towards uplifting and creative funerals



Funeral directors are noticing an increase in uplifting and creative funerals as more people choose to personalise their final farewell.

The funeral for Wagga Wagga woman Sally Taylor had her friends and family smiling, despite their grief, after she organised to have her coffin rowed across a lake in a dragon boat.

Taylor had been a keen dragon boat racer, and many of her other hobbies and reflections of her life also featured on her cardboard coffin.

Helen Robb was one friend enlisted by Ms Taylor to help decorate her coffin with memorabilia.

“It was full of colour. It was pink and yellow and blue and white and red, it was fantastic,” she said.

Ms Robb said it had made many of Ms Taylor’s family and friends think about how they might personalise their own funerals.

“A friend of mine said ‘I’d never seen so many people with their phones taking photographs at a funeral’,” she said.

“It’s not really the done thing is it, but it was the most magical scene, to see her rowed across in the dragon boat.”

Celebrating life with colour

Funeral director Daniel Woods helped plan the service and said there had been a noticeable increase in funerals celebrating a life rather than mourning a death.

“Funerals used to be taboo and when it came time to arrange a funeral, decisions were made then, on the day,” he said.

“Because now we’re having conversations beforehand, it’s giving people time to consider and think about what they actually [want].”

Sally Taylor's cardboard coffin decorated with memorabilia from her life before being taken across Lake Albert in a dragon boat

Mr Woods said asking friends and family to wear colourful clothing was a common deviation from a traditional funeral.

“A funeral was a formal occasion and consequently, there were the dark hearses and dark clothes and more and more they’re saying ‘wear a colour’ to make that personal or to memorialise that person,” he said.

Consider more than just cost when planning funeral

Asha Dooley from the Australian Funeral Directors Association said it was a trend funeral directors across the country had been noticing.

“I’ve even noticed that more traditional Catholic services are getting an uplifting tone to them as well,” she said.

“It’s certainly still in the realms of a traditional mass but I’m finding that there is a lot more personalisation, even in more traditional services.”

Ms Dooley said the funeral industry encouraged people to plan their funerals beyond just making sure there was enough money to pay for it.

“That could be as elaborate as having a coffin on a dragon boat, which is amazing,” she added.

“Or it could be something little like everyone wearing mismatched socks because that’s what the deceased always did.”

Discover more about our funeral services: speak to our funeral directors in Penrith, Springwood and in the North Shore on (02) 4735 6900.