Growing trend of being buried with prized possessions

Britons are increasingly returning to the pagan custom of being buried with their most prized possessions.

New research among UK undertakers has shown that some of the most popular items put in coffins include packets of cigarettes, cans of beer or bags of lollies.

Many people are buried with their favourite football scarf, or accompanied by letters or teddy bears with deep personal value, according to a survey of funeral directors.

One undertaker recounted how one of their clients was even buried with a cardboard cut-out of the Dr Who actor David Tennant.

And, with echoes of the ancient Egyptian practice of mummifying cats, birds and crocodiles, one of the most common choices is to be buried alongside the cremated remains of a much-loved pet.

At the same time funeral directors reported a marked decline from the use of hymns and Christian readings amid a shift away from church funerals and a trend for more “personal” send-offs.

This echoes developments in wedding fashions.

The burial trends emerged from a survey of undertakers carried out as part of a wider study of funeral practices in Britain by the insurer SunLife.

The survey showed that 55 per cent of undertakers had noticed a decrease in the use of hymns at funerals in recent years.

And 52 per cent said the same of religious readings – a decline mirrored by increases in the use of secular music and poetry.

One in five said they had noticed a rise in the number of people asking to be buried with a specific item.

Dorset funeral director Anthony O’Hara said: “You see anything from someone’s favourite perfume to cheques that will never be cashed, typically family photos to love letters from the war that have been kept for years.”

“People now put mobile phones in with a message ‘ring us when you get there’.”

But he said that while in ancient Egypt and other cultures people were buried with items representing their status, modern Britons are simply buried with things which represent them personally.


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