Lets have straight forward and open conversations about funerals and demystify the funeral industry.
Knowing what to do when someone dies is something that most people struggle with. The absolute shock of someone you love no longer being here coupled with the lack of understanding around the practicalities of death and the legal requirements that arise when arranging a funeral, leads people to feel quite overwhelmed and lost. This is then compounded with a number of other factors such as cultural and societal pressures to provide certain types of funerals – ‘the best funeral, the best quality’ for the person who has died. Time pressures when faced with making funeral arrangements further adds to the stress of arranging a funeral and also can play a significant role in decision making.
All these things can mean bereaved people may not be getting the most suitable funeral services and products for them, or they may be being overcharged for services and there is evidence showing that most people who arrange funerals do not really fully understand, due to not making these types of purchases often, what exactly they are paying for.
The funeral industry is now worth a staggering £2 Billion an increase of £1.2 billion in the last 20 years, that inflation has occurred with no actual changes to the function and role of the funeral directors business. The amount that people spend on funerals is the the same across all income levels, an average of £4300 – meaning the cost of a funeral for the lowest income households is 40% of their annual expenditure and some people can’t afford to pay for a funeral at all. The significant cost implication of a funeral catches the most vulnerable and the least financially secure in the most inhumane ways.
The funeral industry is a complex one, employing around 20,000 people but only around 4000 are ‘undertakers’; with corporate businesses and large organisations at one end with small ‘one man businesses’ at the other and varying sized companies in the middle – all competing for your business with absolutely no regulations covering any aspect of the industry. This puts the aims of the industry in direct conflict with the needs of the bereaved.
Funeral Services are businesses and it is fair to acknowledge that, they operate 24 hours a day and do have a right to earn a living for doing a job that most of society considers an essential service. But, that said, making profits of millions while people are having their ability to grieve healthily impeded by over inflated costs and inhumane terms and conditions is entirely unacceptable.