Today, on Dying to Know Day 8th August 2016, our CCN blog is focusing on funeral and memorial ceremonies.
On the local radio in Batemans Bay NSW last week, people were talking about the prohibitive cost of funerals.
One young woman had turned to crowd funding to try to raise the $9,000 she needed to bury her father. Another pensioner couple talked of the hardship they faced in paying off the $9,000 on their credit card for the burial of their son. It is a fact that the cost of a funeral can cause great hardship on top of the pain of the loss of a loved one.
Thinking and talking about your options well before a death occurs, should be a priority and today is a good day to start. It is not easy to make rational decisions when a loved one has just died. So most people will immediately turn to the local funeral director for guidance and they will help you build a “package” for a burial or cremation.
The choices are endless.
Before long you may find you have agreed to a fancier coffin, printed orders of service, flowers, ceremony, mourning cars and hearse, newspaper notices, on-site refreshments and more on top of essential legal costs. Finding out the approximate costs of these things before you have to make choices will help you decide on an appropriate but affordable package. For some people, forward planning for the expenses makes a lot of sense and ASIC has some good advice on ways to plan.
So what are the options – can you reduce the costs without being disrespectful or uncaring?
Of course you can.
Did you know, for example, that you can ask a funeral director to collect the body, complete the legal requirements and arrange for an unattended local cremation for around $1600?* A few days later the ashes are available and you and your family can start to plan a fitting memorial ceremony at a time and place that suits you all.
An independent civil celebrant can help you design and conduct a memorial ceremony or Celebration of Life that truly honours your loved one and meets the needs of you and your family. The time and place can be chosen to suit you and the scale of the celebration can suit your budget. You may want to wait a while to enable family to travel from overseas or interstate – that’s no problem.
A weekend may be more convenient for the family – again there are no restrictions on day or time. You might want the ceremony at home, a local hall, a club, a beach a park – your celebrant will probably know locations that you had not even thought of. Family members can take their time and play their part in bringing together the ceremony. Younger tech-savvy people might want to create a slideshow from old photos and set it to music. Others may like to prepare to read, or speak or sing, or play an instrument.
As family and friends talk, reminisce, laugh, cry and combine their talents to create the ceremony under the gentle guidance of the celebrant, there can often be a great sense of shared purpose and the beginnings of healing.
*information from Cremations Only - www.cremationsonly.com.au/unattended-cremation/