Memorandum by Denise Williams (CEM 120)
Re: Article in Manchester Metro news
on 5 January 2001.
I am a Black British woman born of an English
mother and Jamaican father. The reason I state this is because
of there are two completely different ways of burial from both
sides of my cultural heritage. This needs to be taken into account
when deciding how burials will take place in the future.
The traditional English funeral is a very quick
event, you attend a short service and proceed to the cemetery
say a few prayers and leave. The gravediggers then fill in the
grave. Were as the traditional West Indian funeral hold wakes
for the deceased from the day of death up until the funeral were
people come to your house (whether you welcome them or not) to
pay their respects.
On the day of the funeral which is usually an
extravagant event should the family buy the most expensive casket
opposed to a coffin, with the thinking that no expense would be
spared. A typical Black funeral fills the church with hundreds
of mourners, the service is long with songs and tributes followed
by viewing of the body. Mourners buy thousands of pounds worth
of flowers, once at the cemetery the mourners themselves fill
in the grave while onlookers sing graveside songs. Whilst the
grave is being filled in a mourner goes round with a hat and does
a collection for the gravediggers. Finally all the flowers are
unwrapped and placed in the ground then they go to a reception
where cooked food is provided.
My point is there are cultural differences playing
a major part in the changes of burial patterns as caskets take
up more space than coffins and bigger plots are now being dug
this has directly impacted on the layout of cemeteries to day.
In 1996, I buried by mother in a grave I bought next to my boyfriends
who was buried in 1989. Because I chose to buy a casket I was
told I could not put her in the plot I had bought. Finally, I
had to agree to a shallow grave for only two people because they
were unable to put the casket any further down without the graves
on either side collapsing. My mother would have preferred cremation
but neither my sister nor myself wanted that. It is too detached
where as you can maintain a grave and know they are there. I do
hope what I have said here is of some help, as I would not like
the situation to arise where there is no choice, but to cremate
your loved ones.