How the funeral Industry deprives you of choice and what you can do about it
Funerals are one of the biggest sources of conflict among families. At a time when emotions are intense, the business of organising and paying for them can be extremely stressful.
The first potential for conflict comes when a family has to agree on the type of funeral their loved one would have wanted. In the absence of clear guidance from a Will, other legally binding document or even a Record of Wishes left by the deceased, families find themselves caught in a trap of wanting to do the best to honour the life of their loved ones usually without a clue about how to achieve that.
High funeral costs cause untold stress This dilemma is compounded by the high cost of a funeral. A study by the University of Bath Institute for Policy Research found that, in 2014, the average cost of a funeral was £7,622 and more than 100,000 people were unable to afford to pay for a funeral.
Researchers from the University of Bath also found that the costs of burial and administration had risen by 7.1% in the past year and that these costs would continue to rise. Perhaps most startling of all is the fact that the cost of a funeral has risen 80% between 2004 and 2013.
We are all mortal, we need to accept it
A refusal to face our own mortality means that most of us are wilfully ignorant shoppers who simply accept the funeral industry view that a decent funeral, whether religious or humanist, involves a burial or cremation with a ceremony and mourners, limousines, floral tributes and a glossy Order of Service.
The local authorities running cemeteries and crematoria also count on this public ignorance, it means they can increase their fees (which make up a very significant proportion of the final total) year on year without question or challenge.
If this continues, we will have an ageing population who can’t afford to die. You can, however, do something about it. You are not under any legal obligation to have a traditional funeral and there is an alternative known as a direct cremation.
A direct cremation is simple, cost-effective and liberating. It is conducted without a service or any mourners being present. It will save you a substantial amount of money and free your family to say their personal ‘goodbyes’ at a time and place not dictated to them by the funeral industry.
It is this freedom from the funeral industry that motivates an increasing number of people, including the rich and famous, such as David Bowie and Anita Brookner, to state clearly in a Will or Record of Wishes that they want a direct cremation.
If you want to free your family from the burden of making a costly decision at an emotionally difficult time, then it is important to make your wishes known before you die.
In a society where death is not as visible as it once was, only a minority of people under the age of 50 plan their own funeral and that minority doesn’t increase dramatically even in later life. Part of the reason for this is the belief that there are few alternatives to choose from and it’s best left to the professionals.
Direct cremation gives you back the power over your own funeral and you would be wise to exercise it.