How the NAFD’s Scottish members support families of larger-sized clients

Members of the National Association of Funeral Directors in Scotland, as in other parts of the UK, have made provision for the increase in obesity in the UK by investing in equipment such as rise and fall decks in funeral vehicles, bariatric stretchers, larger-size mortuary refrigerators, appropriate training for staff and dedicated lifting equipment. Their primary objective is to ensure that all clients – and their families – are cared for with respect and treated with dignity in line with the NAFD Funeral Promise.

They are all finding that they need to order increasing numbers of larger coffins each year as the numbers of obese persons passing away continues to increase.

Standard grave sizes generally accommodate most larger-size coffins, with the occasional exception, although some cemetery owners do levy an additional charge for the much larger American-style caskets.

Our members are seeing considerable investment by local authorities in Scotland in larger cremators and catafalques at crematoria. South Lanarkshire Crematorium is a relatively new facility that is often used by our members at present, however facilities are currently being installed at Glasgow Crematorium, whilst Falkirk and other local authorities are set to follow suit within the next couple of years.

NAFD members are experienced in handling the differing requirements for the funeral of an obese person in tactful and considerate ways. For example, tradition in Scotland is for members of the family to lower the coffin into the ground using cords and tassels on the handles of the coffin. However with a larger coffin this may not be possible or advisable and so our members talk gently through the alternatives, with most of the families choosing for the coffin to be lowered into the ground prior to the family’s arrival, either using a hoist system or by a larger team from the funeral firm. A graveside service can then still be held, preserving the dignity of the deceased and sparing the family from distress.

In our members’ experience, almost without exception, the families involved are realistic about the differing needs of their deceased loved one and what this might mean in terms of their funeral. The choices they go on to make though, generally depends on local facilities.

For Anderson Maguire in Glasgow, for example, most families have been willing to travel the short additional journey to South Lanarkshire Crematorium, until the facilities in Glasgow are ready. However for Thomas Cuthell & Sons in Falkirk, some families do choose to switch to burial rather than make a much longer journey to the nearest crematorium with larger-size facilities.