The Freedom To Do It Your Way

We spoke to Jo, Jo and Jules from A Graceful Undertaking about their mission to to reclaim death and keep it in the hands and homes of family. Read more in our Business Directory…

A Graceful Undertaking

A Graceful Undertaking is the inspiration of three women, Jo Samuel, Jo Moselen and Jules Palmer, who believed that what they wanted for themselves and their loved ones was not available in the local funeral service offerings. And they feel now that they have been proved correct in that thinking.

The business, which started in 2017, came about through mutual personal experiences over more than 20 years. Driven by their individual and collective experiences of being asked to support friends and family through the process of dying and then the subsequent funeral planning, bringing their skills of ceremony and ritual making to their celebrancy services, the women have developed a unique, gentle and accessible service.

Over a period of seven years, the death of each of their much-cherished mothers, and the increasing level of care and service that they were able to provide to them, only reinforced their commitment to developing a service that offers something more personable.

The women see themselves as new generation funeral directors, where creative thinking, engagement, empathetic problem solving, and individualised responses are of supreme importance. There are no rules about what a funeral should look like, or what it should contain, so there is no right or wrong and no one else’s expectations or sense of normal is relevant. Every life lived is totally unique and the way we celebrate and honour that life should be unique too.

A Graceful Undertaking operates from purpose-built premises set in peaceful, rural surroundings. The building was once a herringbone cowshed on a property with a long history in its area, and while efforts have been made to retain as much heritage as possible, has been completely rebuilt to meet requirements and to reflect the kaupapa of the service it accommodates.

The service offers home-based and in-premises after death care, and specializes in natural, low-intervention approaches and bespoke funerals. While embalming is often assumed as the current norm, this service takes the approach that embalming need only occur when it’s necessary, which they have found to be around 5% of the time. Whangarei is lucky enough to have a unique natural burial ground at Maunu Cemetery, inside a stand of mature taraire and puriri trees, filled with bird song and filtered sunlight, a cathedral of trees. Here the one meter deep graves are dug between the trees, placing the body in the active soil layer, a body cannot be embalmed to go here and there are conditions on the types of casket or shroud that can be used.

Sustainability is important and this is also reflected in the shroud and casket range on offer, which includes linen shrouds, woolen caskets, cardboard caskets, and caskets without metal components and an absence of plastic. And of course, families are welcome to bring their own caskets.

“We’re proud to be part of disrupting the traditional funeral industry and of the global movement to reclaim death and keep it in the hands and homes of family.”

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