The act of arranging a funeral or memorial can be challenging and confusing. It can be overwhelming. It can be expensive (extremely expensive). And it can be really, really sad.
“I did one recently for a young man and his family just wanted to take him home. They didn’t want a service, they didn’t want anything,” explains Nastassia Jones, co-founder of The Last Hurrah Funerals. “The whole arrangement was just reassuring them that they don’t have to do what they think they have to do. They can do whatever feels right for them and their person.”
“It was beautiful,” Kimba Griffith, the other half of The Last Hurrah, adds. “We went over to get him and all his friends were there. They all took turns lying on his bed with him.”
The two women are bucking the idea that funerals need to be a certain way. Instead, they offer unique funerals and memorials, tailored to what you want. You could have a traditional service in a church or a casual event in your backyard, a funeral at the pub with a Viking metal band or a shamanic service at the beach. You can have a custom-made casket, a cardboard one or a shroud.
You can have a viewing with family and friends (Kimba and Stass encourage bringing along some wine and cheese, which sounds macabre but demystifies the experience and makes it more casual). You can even, as mentioned, bring your person home for a few days. The Last Hurrah specialise in providing services in the way that you, or your person, want them.
A quick note on language: Kimba and Stass don’t use words like ‘loved one’ when they’re taking care of your person. “We don't ever assume anything. Most of the time it is someone's loved one, but by using that language, we might be alienating someone. We also have no judgment about family constellations or dynamics.”
Running their own funeral company is something the pair has always wanted to do, with a passion to create end-of-life send offs that weren’t, according to Stass, “boring and dull”.
Stass spent years working in a ‘normal’ funeral company, but always felt that there wasn’t any representation for people like her. “There’s this whole ethos that, as a funeral director, you’re not meant to be visible,” she says. “But we don’t want to be invisible. We want our families to know that we’re there, and we’re there for them.”
Kimba came into the industry from a death doula/life-cycle celebrant perspective. “I was doing a lot of funerals where I’d do the ceremony and the party afterwards, but I couldn’t look after the deceased person,” she recalls. “I couldn’t have that connection, and it felt weird not to do all of it.”
They’re also fervent supporters of the LGBTQIA+ community, and have a strong ethical base. “If we found out someone was getting misgendered in death, we wouldn’t do that funeral.”
For every service held, The Last Hurrah invests $100 into philanthropic fund to provide funeral support to people who are struggling financially. They also deliver free memorial services for any person who dies in custody. And each year, The Last Hurrah hosts a tree-planting day on Stass’s family farm in Tarrengower, where you can plant a native tree to commemorate your person, while enjoying music and food, and meeting others who have also experienced loss.
Kimba and Stass’s values extend to the services they use too, and they’ve been banking with Bank Australia since they opened in 2020. “We wanted to bank with a company that really looks after its people,” Stass says. “Whenever I’ve spoken to people at the bank, they’re super happy and super friendly. So it feels like Bank Australia look after their people. And that bodes well for looking after us.”
For many people, organising a funeral is extremely difficult, but the two women have the ability to develop close connections with strangers in the smallest amount of time, with warmth and compassion. They make themselves available to answer questions about anything: how many speakers to have (“As many as you want!”), what sort of music to have (“Whatever you like – even a marching band!”), or whether it’s weird that you find some comfort in having a glass of wine next to your person (“Absolutely not!”).
“We’re professional in what we do, but we’re not professional in some sort of manner that we adopt,” Kimba says. “We try to be incredibly familiar with people, because it’s such an intimate thing that’s happened. So many people are affected by someone dying, but how it hits you, the person who has to talk to us? It’s so intense.”
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