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13th Oct 2022

‘Funeral crasher’ fascinated with death and cemeteries has attended send offs for 200 strangers

Charlie Herbert

Funeral crasher fascinated with death and cemeteries has attended send offs for 200 strangers

She now gets invited to strangers’ funerals

Say to hello to the ‘funeral crasher’ fascinated with death and cemeteries – who has attended the funerals of 200 strangers.

Jeane Trend-Hill, 55, has travelled around the world visiting cemeteries and began attending funerals after accidentally crashing one when she walked into a church when a service was going back in 2012.

After being a regular visitor to graves, cemetery workers at her local haunt started to contact Jeane when the deceased didn’t have any family or friends – to see if she could attend a funeral.

Now people contact her to ask her to join to make sure no one is cremated or buried alone. Jeane also spends hours photographing and tidying graves.

Jeane, an actress, photographer and artist, from Islington, London, said: “I’m proud to be that person that goes to strangers funerals when there is no one else who can attend.

“I’ve always been fascinated with death since I was a child.

“We would go to cemeteries, and I’d walk around looking at all the graves. They are like outdoor art galleries.

“I accidentally walked in on a funeral at a church but raised as a Catholic I knew not to leave once there. Even though I didn’t know the person I was deeply moved.

“When cemetery workers started to invite me to services for veterans who had no one else to pay their respects I obliged and went along.

“I realised that everyone has a story to tell, everyone has lived a life and should have someone around to remember them when they die.”

Jeane lost her father, Joe, 56, when she was just 14 and her mother, Mary, 57, when she was just 20, and began to feel at home in cemeteries and crematoriums.

She would spend hours sketching and photographing London’s sprawling Victorian cemeteries and has visited graves all over the world, travelling to destinations like Paris and Venice.

“The first thing I do when I get somewhere is see where the closest crematory is,” she said.

“I did a PhD in mortuary science and became a cemetery historian.”

Talking about the first one she attended in 2012, she said: “I walked into this pretty church and realised a service was on.

“I was raised as a Catholic and told that it’s then bad to then leave, so I stayed and sat at the back.

“It was a complete stranger, but I was moved. Shortly after a cemetery worker reached out and asked if I’d attend a funeral for a veteran.

“Now I’ve attended nearly 200 funerals for people I don’t actually know – although I have lost count of the exact amount.”

She’s become something of a minor celebrity, and people reach out to Jean on Facebook to ask her to go along to send offs.

“No one should ever be cremated or buried alone,” Jeane said.

“If I’m asked and I can go, I will.”

Jeane is still passionate for caring for graves and has even restored the plaque for British architect Arthur Beresford Pite and unveiled it in Victorian mourning dress.

Her family even joke and call her a ‘rent a mourner’

“It’s a name they gave me and it’s a bit fun,” she said.

“Of course I’d never actually make anyone pay for my attendance at a funeral. I’ll wear mourning dress to funerals if people ask me to.

“Death has never worried me. I hope I can make death feel less scary for people.

“It’s my way of giving something back.”

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