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Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the North
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Steve Whitaker
Literary Editor
@stevewh16944270
7:22 PM 16th December 2018
arts

Preparing For The Worst: Funerals Your Way By Sarah Jones

Sarah Jones
Sarah Jones
You could barely call Leeds funeral director, and former surgeon, Sarah Jones’ new guide timely; this subject matter is never timely: the prospect of death is something we tend to shield ourselves from, if not to actively shelve, until it affects us directly.

Which is one of Jones’ many profound points here: the pace of modern life, and our mental investment in forever moving forward, detaches object from subject and dissociates us from that which is most disturbing and inevitable. Her book is a corrective to a certain kind of complacency.

A thorough and comprehensive inventory of every stage of the funeral process, from initial confusion through to committal, Jones’ well researched work is incredibly detailed, leaving no stone unturned in its quest for clarity. Intended to provide support at very difficult moments, and full of useful suggestions and information as to decision-making at this most disorientating of times, Funerals Your Way, as the title suggests, negotiates a clear path for both the recently bereaved, and those seeking to prepare for all eventualities.

Written in a large bold font and easily navigable format, Jones’ book is highly accessible. Each section deals with a sequential element of the relatively complex, and often expensive, funeral process. Punctuated with italicised comments from bereaved individuals who have direct personal experience of organising the arrangements, it becomes clear that funeral directors are much more open to client questions, and suggestions, than the reader might expect.

The diversity of options is staggering, and the guide acts to gently nudge clients towards the making of difficult choices which suit, firstly, the deceased’s wishes, and secondly, the preferences of those of family and funeral attendees. Decisions as to funeral type, coffin style, transport, ceremony and venue need to be established, bearing in mind potential cost, religious affiliation (or otherwise), and consideration for the wishes of others.

Sarah Jones’ concerned and solicitous approach is, of itself, an admirable homage to the art of listening: we tend, in times of crisis, to overlook the one thing that it is most needful – a measured, calm and careful approach to planning. This thoughtful and intelligent guide through dark times shows, perhaps above all, that good directors will listen, and are on hand to give practical advice on very much more than immediate funeral arrangements.

Funerals Your Way: A Person-Centred Approach to Planning a Funeral is available in paperback and e-book formats from Amazon