Poetic Endings

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Funeral Directors Category: London

  • Louise Winter. Possibly one of the most creative and insightful people involved with funerals anywhere in the world, Louise first attended a funeral as an adult when her grandfather died. Since then, she has absorbed herself with the hitherto unknown world of undertaking, and what she has found led directly to her setting up Poetic Endings in the summer of 2017 as the funeral service she felt that bereaved people needed, a service that she couldn’t find anywhere else in London.

    Louise is well known in funeralworld – just Google her name and you’ll see a snapshot of her tireless work over the last few years trying to raise expectations of what a funeral could be. She has hosted Death Cafes around the world, from Brooklyn to Bestival, from the Morbid Anatomy Museum to a farm in Essex and many in London, she was co-director of the ground-breaking Life, Death, Whatever – a month long ‘celebration of life, death and everything inbetween’ at The National Trust’s Sutton House in October 2016, she won a Death Oscar at the 2017 Good Funeral Awards, she has written on all matters of death and dying for national press and has been a speaker at Tedx.

    It’s probably fair to say that death is now her life, she’s immersed in it and is dedicated to improving it, for all of us. In her own words, describing Poetic Endings; ‘We’re brave and bold and leading the way at the forefront of modern funerals. Emotional intelligence and transparency – truly modern. This is not just a business, it’s a vocation.’

    Until the age of 25, Louise’s life had been a very different one. She had a high-flying career, working with a young entrepreneur as a creative communications and brand manager and creative strategist, and she worked for well-known brands around the world. In the transition to her founding Poetic Endings, Louise brought with her all her intuitive and creative skills, and in turn, after spending two years working as a celebrant across London and seeing the lack of the type of funeral director she felt was needed, her abilities culminated in transforming her former online information website into a fully functioning funeral director business.

    At this point, when Poetic Endings began providing undertaking services in 2017, Louise regrettably ended her role as Editor of the Good Funeral Guide because of the perceived conflict of interest for a funeral director in involvement with this not for profit social enterprise.

    She had been in this voluntary role for a year, and had helped transform the GFG, using her understanding of the importance of social media, among many other things. We declare this fact at this point, as the former relationship between the GFG and Louise could potentially be used to question the validity of her accreditation. For the avoidance of any doubt, Poetic Endings has gone through exactly the same accreditation process as any other funeral director seeking recommendation by the Good Funeral Guide.

    Poetic Endings is a funeral business that prioritises the funeral ceremony, and is, (unlike many others that profess the same values) truly transparent, open, modern and honest. From her time training and working as a celebrant, Louise fully understands the importance of the funeral ceremony and she will listen closely to every family to ensure she suggests exactly the right type of officiant to work with them creating the ceremony that they need.

    “Our funerals are important. They are our emotional legacy. If done well, they give the people who survive us a space to feel, and to accept and acknowledge that their lives will never be the same again,” she says in her inspiring Tedx Talk entitled ‘This May Be The Last Time’.

    While training to be a celebrant, Louise spent a week sitting in the gallery of a crematorium watching every funeral that took place, observing how some ceremonies were just templates with the names and eulogy details changed, how others lacked a sense of connection with the family, and how so much more could have been done to make the ceremonies unique and individual. She realised how transformational a good ceremony was, and yet how rarely these occurred, and she was determined to do better.

    For two years, she worked alongside some of the best and worst funeral directors and officiated at hundreds of ceremonies, experiencing many aspects of the funeral profession. What she realised was that, for many funeral directors, the ceremony itself was the least valued part of the funeral arrangement.

    Many undertakers didn’t attend the ceremony, preferring to stay outside or going to get a coffee. Others refused to pay any celebrant more than a specified fee, usually equivalent to – or less than – the cost of the flowers on the coffin, and less than a third of the cost of the hire of the hearse. And yet the words and the shape and the music of the ceremony, the experience of being part of it would be what guests remembered. The time spent with the family learning about the person who had died that was translated into a beautiful ceremony was not reflected in the fee paid to the person delivering it. This in turn meant that great celebrants couldn’t continue working in their roles long term, as their earnings were limited by the fees that they were allowed to charge.

    Frustrated and infuriated by the difficulties she encountered as a celebrant and aware that many families were being short changed, Louise began working with a very experienced funeral director in West London assisting him in his office. Don O’Dwyer had started his own company a year earlier, and was immensely successful very quickly. He needed someone reliable and knowledgeable to help with administration, and he had worked with Louise previously when employing her as a celebrant, so the arrangement worked well for them both.

    It swiftly became apparent that Louise was never going to stay sitting behind a desk, and she began learning everything that Don could teach her. “My training has been very much in the deep end, from day one,” she says. “I purposely partnered with a great funeral director with years of experience and he has taught me everything I know.” This works both ways too, Louise’s outlook and approach to her work undoubtedly complements Don’s more traditional ways. By the summer of 2017, Poetic Endings was ready to offer a complete funeral service.

    Keeping things beautiful and thinking of the impact of her every move on those around her is a big element of Louise’s ethos. When people who have died are collected by Louise and her colleagues, the functional plastic cover over the stretcher is draped with a calico sheet that has been impregnated with aromatherapy oils, not only softening the starkness of the sight of the stretcher, but leaving a beautiful scent lingering as the person is taken away.


    Specific Gravity

    Challenging the existing inadequacy of funerals on every level. Louise has created Poetic Endings to bring a beauty and an emotional intelligence to the experience of arranging a funeral, and this, together with her transparency, both personal and professional, means that this is an undertaker quite unlike any other in the London area.

    Her style is soft and quiet and unobtrusive – the most important thing a funeral director can do, in Louise’s opinion, is get out of the way (having made sure that every single aspect of the funeral arrangements has been scrupulously carried out and taken care of, of course). She has a gentleness about her that belies the core of inner steel which makes her unbending in her determination to inspire bereaved people to expect more – and fellow funeral professionals to provide more – and a tirelessness that means she is constantly working to improve the options available to each family.

    What’s Important?

    Raising expectations of what could be possible by providing a genuine, transparent, emotionally switched on, honest and forward thinking funeral service that is leading the way. With every Poetic Endings funerals, those attending can experience something special and every detail will have been carefully attended to.

    This is a small, flexible and agile business that can be completely responsive to the requirements of their clients. Louise and her colleagues pride themselves on being very much involved in any progressive conversation, and on offering pretty much everything worth offering. They are also fully inclusive, LGBTQIA friendly and experienced with many different cultures and faith groups.

    What’s Different?

    The freshness of approach. Louise’s life experiences and her previous career bring an openness and honesty to her service which is rare in this business.

    Even rarer is her absolute determination to make a difference with her work.

    She says “Direct cremation is on the rise. Poetic Endings exists to counteract that and help people see how healing, meaningful and important funeral ceremonies can be.”

    Her business is an extension of herself, an honest, ethical, progressive oasis where people are treated with kindness and normality, and offered a fully transparent service of exactly the type they want.

    And she always attends the ceremony. She’s often giving out pens for message writing.


    • Your first call will be answered by Louise or one of her trusted colleagues. Day or night.
    • Home visits – yes, whatever works for you. Louise is used to visiting families at a time and place that’s suitable for you.
    • Same sex person to wash and dress? Yes, just ask. And if you want to come in and help look after the person who has died then you’ll be encouraged to do so.
    • Embalming? Most of the time Louise won’t embalm. Every person in her care is assessed individually and a decision is taken based on their condition and what the family want from the funeral.
    • Ethnic specialism? Poetic Endings are based in South London so they are used to helping a mix of ethnicities and religions.
    • Home arranged funerals – Yes, happy to act as a consultant to anyone who wants to care for their dead person at home, or to refer them to a home funeral specialist.
    • Local celebrants – Poetic Endings only work with the best celebrants in London – some are listed on their website – and have just introduced a strict selection procedure for any celebrants who want to work with them. Louise will arrange for you to have a chat on the phone with any celebrant she suggests, and will make it clear you can choose someone else if you want.
    • Vehicles – If they’re important to you, vehicles will be important to Louise, but she is personally more concerned with the funeral software than the hardware. She recently was the first funeral director in London to hire the Brahms electric hearse for a family, and can obtain any vehicle you want from a large range.
    • Website – Beautiful website, clear and informative.
    • Client support – Throughout your dealing with Louise you’ll be completely supported, she will be completely available to you and will do whatever she can to ensure you feel empowered and able. After the funeral, she can signpost you to trusted grief professionals and resources if you feel you need further help.
    • Money matters – Very reasonable and transparent. All prices online, you can explore the different types of funerals available and look at the costs involved before even picking the phone up to Poetic Endings.


    Poetic Endings is the change that the funeral industry needs. It is the thoughtful, creative face of funerals, and the plethora of faux-Victoriana-loving undertakers should sit up and take notice. This is a funeral business for the 21st century, one that is open and questioning and ground breaking in its approach.

    We admired Louise when she was a celebrant, that’s why we invited her to come and help us at the Good Funeral Guide as our editor. Now that she is a funeral director, we are proud to be able to add Poetic Endings to the list of GFG recommended funeral directors. Our loss is the public’s gain.

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    Reviews from the old GFG site
    5 years ago

    A breath of fresh air
    Anita Stubbs reviewed
    Louise and her team handled my father’s funeral with a quiet sensitivity and graceful professionalism from start to finish. They are very modern and bespoke in their outlook, and seem to be a breath of fresh air to the funeral business. My father had a traditional funeral, however, it was very easy and comfortable to make sure that proper thought and attention was put into making it personalised and special for him, and not just to just feel like a formulaic, old fashioned, money making conveyor belt of an experience.

    Louise M
    5 years ago

    We used Poetic Endings for our Dads Celebration of Life in December 2018 and I have nothing but praise and positive things to say about them. We wanted to find a Funeral Director that would listen to what we wanted without trying to take advantage of us at such a difficult time, having heard many horror stories about other companies from friends and family. Louise and Jo treated us with such care and compassion and gentleness. We felt so safe and looked after by them and more importantly we fully trusted that they would look after our Dad when he was in their care. Jo said it was a privilege to do her job, dressing and taking care our loved ones and we really did believe her and we know he was well looked after.
    When I went to see my Dad, he looked really well and they made the whole experience much more bearable. I viewed him in a beautiful house overlooking the river and they set up the room so beautifully with candles and roses. I was able to spend time with him and say my last goodbyes. His funeral was amazing, we found a wonderful Celebrant, Jane, recommended by Jo and Louise. She really captured our Dad so well, despite never meeting him. The Camper Van hearse was brilliant, he would have loved it and the flowers we got from the florist, were so beautiful, as was the dressing of the wicker coffin, recommended by Louise. The whole day was treated with such love and care and everyone said how beautiful it was and how lovely Louise and Jo were in moving things along and getting people to where they needed to be.
    Thank you so much for being such a wonderful company doing such great work and with so much compassion and love.

    Sarah Bedi
    5 years ago

    I am forever grateful to Louise and Anna for handling my father’s funeral with such sensitivity and respect. They supported us in creating a ceremony that was personal and intimate. I have nothing but praise for them! Thank you.

    Wendy C
    4 years ago

    I will always be grateful to Jo and Poetic Endings for looking after us so well following the death of my father. I had stumbled across them by chance when looking through this guide and I am so pleased that I did. Jo was so kind and supportive, gently guiding us through the whole process with a calmness that helped me in turn to stay calm. She looked after my father wonderfully. I also found Poetic Endings to have an incredibly helpful website, and all of the choices (crematorium, celebrant, cars, flowers and urn) were of outstanding quality. And when the day of Dad’s funeral came, it became a celebration of life that was handled by Poetic Endings and the celebrant with such dignity and grace, that it was utterly memorable in a way that I had never thought would be possible and which I could not have achieved without them.

    Catherine Bedi
    4 years ago

    Louise organised the funeral for my mum which we wanted to keep small and intimate. She made the whole experience so stress free that as a family we were able to say goodbye without any third party getting in the way,

    Joanne Scarr
    4 years ago

    Jo and Louise helped me plan and prepare for my husband’s funeral. From the initial 2 hour home visit by Jo to the funeral itself, they were just wonderful. I felt supported and cared for throughout the process, and their suggestions for celebrant (Jane Morgan) and florist (The Fresh Flower Company) were perfect. No question was too small, and their ideas and guidance were excellent. I would wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone who is unfortunately in this position – they will gently hold your hand and guide you from start to finish with love and sensitivity. Amazing women.

    Hannah Jones
    4 years ago

    When our elderly mother died suddenly without making wishes about her funeral known, we were initially very unsure about what sort of funeral to arrange. Fairly clear about what we didn’t want, a traditional religious but impersonal service, but not entirely sure about the alternatives, I am very glad to have stumbled across Poetic Endings’ website. Jo was so reassuring from the start, careful to be led by us but extremely helpful in her suggestions and sensitive to our wishes at all times. She was able to guide us towards a number of celebrants who she thought could offer the sort of service we wanted and we were very grateful to find Natalie who was wonderful. We ended up with a funeral which was perfect for our family and with which I think my mother would have been very happy.

    Ian F.
    4 years ago

    I cannot praise the team at Poetic Ending highly enough. They arranged a wonderful funeral for my dear wife, which was a perfect and moving celebration of a unique life. All of the previous funerals I had attended were sombre religious affairs and I certainly did not want one of those. From the initial visit from Jo, which was relaxed and reassuring, she “got” my wife’s life and character, She recommended a superb Humanist celebrant and I felt a great sense of relief that all was in hand. The funeral went off exactly as planned so I have no hesitation in recommending Jo, Louise and Clare at Poetic Endings…..

    4 years ago

    I just wanted to personally thank you both for all your assistance with creating such a wonderful event on Friday.

    From my first contact with Clare I felt reassured and confident that I had made the right choice by instructing you..

    This was something which I did not have a great deal of experience of, but when we met and when you talked with the family it was clear that you understood what we wanted and were going to be able to deliver for us.

    Your professional advice was invaluable and your personal kindness and support was hugely appreciated

    Everyone who I spoke to was effusive with gratitude, amazement and praise about what we achieved together, a perfect way to commemorate a wonderful life, albeit one which was cut far too short,.

    You are the definition of the graceful swan – I know that there was so much organisation and arrangement going on in the background but none of that broke through to the surface,

    Thanks again for all your help both in the run up and on the and wishing you all the best.

    K Allum
    3 years ago

    Highly professional, compassionate, and caring. From my initial contact with Joanna of Poetic Endings on the day my partner passed away, onto making the arrangements with Louise (during a pandemic), everything was planned beautifully and without worry. If you find yourself in a situation, like I was, where you need to quickly find a funeral director, you cannot go wrong with Poetic Endings. The care and attention that I was given during such a difficult time was greatly appreciated. I am eternally grateful.

    Jennifer Cirone
    3 years ago

    Poetic Endings are a pleasure to work with, modern, flexible, friendly and professional. Louise and her team took excellent care of my Mum Joan in May 2020. Poetic Endings have a modern and fresh approach to helping those who have lost a loved one and are excellent at understanding and identifying whatever you need to help you decide on options. It’s nice to work with women who don’t view what they are doing as a job, sale or process but work from a genuine position of helping you identify what is right for you and your loved one. We picked the beautiful natural burial grounds at Clandon Wood. To illustrate how different it all felt, two of our guests spontaneously said “what a beautiful coffin” (natural banana leaf) – something I’ve never heard at a funeral before and illustrates how everything felt right and natural and how the service felt about celebrating life and transition and not stuck in sadness and grief. Everyone we worked with had a huge talent for tuning into what was the right thing for us. Poetic Endings and the people they work with made it easy and comfortable to create the service that was exactly right for us and I am extremely happy to recommend them to help others.