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Departing with Distinction



“Bespoke” is a wonderful word. At one time, it was just used in phrases like “bespoke tailor” and “bespoke cobbler”. They made clothes and shoes after careful discussion with their clients, using their special skills to create something unique and exactly suited to their clients’ needs.

Nowadays we don’t just have bespoke tailors and cobblers, but bespoke web-designers and sound-system installers too. But what about a bespoke funeral-director? That might sound strange at first, but the word fits perfectly. A funeral doesn’t last as a long as a suit or a pair of shoes, but getting it just right is also a job for someone with special skills – someone who can discuss the needs of their clients with care and understanding and come up with exactly the right solution.

Louise Winter is a bespoke funeral-director, which already makes her unusual. Add to that her youth – she’s only thirty – and her short time in the funeral industry. She trained in fashion and worked there for several years. But her work involved long hours and high mileage. It wasn’t being her the satisfaction and fulfilment she had hoped for, so at the age of twenty-seven she left fashion and re-trained as a funeral celebrant.

It wasn’t the leap in the dark that it might seem. She had always been interested in mortality and in how people face loss and tragedy. Now she could observe these things close-up and help to make funerals better serve the needs and emotions of those who attend them. She has the right skills for the job. She’s calm, quietly spoken and thoughtful – just the qualities that are needed in someone who deals with the bereaved and plans the best possible funeral for the loved one they are mourning.

They’re not the qualities you need in fashion, which thrives on energy and excitement, but Louise Winter thinks that the funeral industry could benefit from two other things needed in the fashion industry: creativity and innovation. No two lives are the same, so why should there be a standard funeral? There’s nothing wrong with following a tradition, but the choice should be there for those who want to depart with distinction. Louise Winter is there to help people do just that by planning a bespoke funeral.

To do that, she has to be a good listener and be able to absorb details quickly and accurately. But it isn’t her job to tell people what to do. Like any good funeral director, she’s there as a guide and enabler, someone who can make suggestions and clarify thinking. The proof of her ability is in the pudding, you might say. Most of her work comes through word of mouth, as satisfied clients recommend her to future clients.

And now, after only three years in her new profession, she’s ready to take her ideas and innovation to the next level. She has founded her own funeral company, Poetic Endings, with another funeral director. Funerals are never going to go out of fashion, but Louise Winter hopes to bring new fashions to funerals. More and more people today try to live special lives. That’s why they want to say special farewells when they reach the end of their lives. Louise Winter is there to help them do exactly that.

National Federation of Funeral Directors