We speak to Johann Camilleri, director of Active Assistance Services Limited, better known under the family name of Camilleri Funeral Directors International.
Most individuals dread having to visit a funeral agency and only do so when it becomes essential, usually in a time of sorrow following the loss of a close relative. For this reason, many associate funeral companies with sadness and death, picturing dark and gloomy offices displaying funeral-related products.
Camilleri Funeral Directors seek to change that association by providing a welcoming environment, where people can visit to plan funeral services or cremation arrangements in advance and not only at time of need.
“Our aim is to make the funeral organisation process as comfortable as possible. Our caring and professional funeral planners are ready to support grieving families, assuring peace of mind in delivering complete arrangements according to their wishes,” Johann Camilleri, director of Active Assistance Services Limited, says.
Most funeral agencies place their entire focus on the choice of coffin, cars and related products. “We also offer a selection of quality coffins, latest model hearse and professional staff to attend the funeral services. However, our primary concern is to provide guidance and support to the family, looking after everything in detail, to ensure a caring and professional arrangement throughout.”
Social commitment is another way by which this company stands apart. Earlier this year, Camilleri created a benevolent fund providing financial support towards funeral costs in special circumstances. The fund covers 50 per cent of funeral costs (up to €500) in welfare cases and complete funeral costs for children under the age of 12. This initiative is financed from the company’s own reserves and is intended to assist those who do not have the financial means to pay for a dignified funeral for their loved one.
According to Camilleri, fourth generation funeral director and entrepreneur, funeral planning should not be left till after the loss of a loved one. “Planning ahead allows for rational choices to be made in a time of lucidity, not in a moment of pressure and grief.”
In many developed EU countries, England, Australia and the US, a large percentage of funerals and cremations are pre-planned. Yet in Malta most people remain averse to discuss their personal wishes or plan their own funeral arrangements in advance, usually leaving those worries to their families.
Funeral planning carries numerous advantages, including the reassurance that funeral or cremation arrangements are in accordance with the person’s wishes. Some may prefer a simpler yet respectful burial or cremation service with no fuss. Others may wish for a full memorial service or celebration of life, choosing all possible options in detail and in advance, from church service to music, printed material, flowers, cars and more.
We understand that everyone has different wishes
“We understand that everyone has different wishes so when pre-planning a service we tailor all arrangements in accordance with the individuals’ personal preferences.”
Planning in advance facilitates decision making and eases financial burdens off the loved ones left behind. When organising a funeral in the last minute, sometimes in an unexpected moment, families must make a lot of choices on the type of funeral or cremation arrangements. Some choices can be very difficult in a time of grief especially if the subject was never discussed with the person during their lifetime. Camilleri Funeral Directors offer the possibility of planning one’s funeral or cremation arrangements ahead of time, in confidence and with full peace of mind.
Many wonder whether cremation will ever be available in Malta? The law was passed in 2019, following an application submitted by Camilleri two years earlier to build Malta’s first crematorium. Three years later, despite government having announced on more than one occasion that the way forward for cremation would soon be set, the law is still officially not in force keeping the project on hold.
The crematorium project submitted by Active Group (Camilleri’s parent company), comprises a 7,500sqm memorial park laid on company-owned land, located behind the Addolorata cemetery. The park is to surround a fully equipped crematorium building, with private viewing rooms, a multi-faith hall (for religious or social gatherings), indoor and outdoor facilities for dignified storage of urns containing cremated ashes. The project is planned to include all related facilities to provide a welcoming location for a dignified memorial service or celebration of life, as well as a peaceful environment where the ashes of dearly departed could visited from time to time.
“Despite the hold on our application, we are still committed to make cremation in Malta a reality, hopefully in the not-too-distant future. Until then, we shall continue to arrange complete cremation services overseas as we have been doing for the past 30 years.”
Most recently, in May 2022, Camilleri entered into an exclusivity agreement with Misterbianco Cremazioni, Sicily’s newest crematorium in the vicinity of Catania. The latest technology equipment, caring staff and welcoming environment offered by this facility make it an ideal venue for professionally managed and dignified cremation services for Maltese residents.
“By virtue of our exclusive partnership with Misterbianco Cremazioni, we can provide complete, faster and more professionally managed cremation services, at a convenient location and at lower costs.”
For British expats residing in Malta and anyone planning to have their ashes taken to England, Camilleri have partnered with Pure Cremation, the UK’s foremost provider of direct cremation services. Pure Cremation also offer a delivery service throughout the UK.
Anyone preferring to be cremated can now register their wishes in advance, using the online registration form available on the Camilleri Funeral Directors’ website. Registration allows anyone to record their personal choice and since we do not know when cremation in Malta will become available, registration remains valid for services carried out in Malta, Sicily, England or elsewhere.
Many believe that expressing one’s choice for cremation in the will is sufficient to ensure this is carried out. In Malta this does not necessarily apply, as in most cases, it takes several weeks for a will to be opened, which may be too late to carry out one’s wishes in time.
“We have dealt with several families reaching out to us weeks after burial of a loved one, asking whether it would be possible to exhume the person and arrange cremation. They would not have known of the person’s wish and only find out once the will is opened weeks or months later. To address this problem, we offer the possibility of registering one’s choice for cremation directly with us, separately from their will, to ensure this wish is carried out when the moment calls for.”
Registration is subject to an upfront fee, serving as a deposit, which will eventually be deducted from the final costs payable at time of cremation, irrespective of where this will be carried out.
More information about pre-planning services or registering for cremation can be found on the Camilleri Funeral Directors website or by visiting one of their offices in Iklin, Qawra or their original office in Gzira, opposite the Parish Church which is due to re-open by end June.
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