Carol Shirley, Anna Loach and Sally Steadman have collaborated to create modern funeral packages. Photo: Jonty Dine.

Changing the face of funerals


A trio of Nelson women have teamed up to help change the way we grieve for our loved ones in the age of Covid-19.

Carol Shirley, Anna Loach and Sally Steadman believe a memorial should be a celebration.

Through their collaboration the women hope to move away from traditional funeral services and create a more relaxed environment to honour a life.

Sally Steadman says it was a ‘perfect storm’ that led her to the new venture.

Sally’s aunty passed away just prior to lockdown and her uncle during level four.

Unable to travel due to a health condition, Sally could not mourn with her family.

“I noticed a big gap that that left in me.”

To help with the grieving process, Sally created ‘RIP’ websites to share memories and stories of her relatives.

This eventually led her to contact Anna Loach from Simplicity Funerals who believed the websites would be hugely beneficial post lockdown.

Anna was herself trying to establish new ways for families to farewell loved ones when they couldn’t all be together.

“Prior to Covid, there was a trend of people choosing to have cremation immediately and a memorial service down the track. Because the body is not present, it changes the mood of the evening.”

Anna believes this trend will become more common with the coronavirus still rampant across the globe.

“With travel restrictions it could be up to a year before families can get together, so they have time to create that service and it also takes a bit of pressure off the grieving.”

The pair began to explore opportunities to create “something really special and different”.

Their journey then saw them reach out to Carol Shirley at the Beachside Conference Centre.

“We thought there was no reason you could not have a memorial service in the evening with some lovely food,” Anna says.

“When you come into this world there is a party, when you get married there is a party, so when you pass away people should celebrate the nice person you are.”