Wake up and find some end-of-life style
Dusty plastic flowers. Droning dirges. A cut-and-paste eulogy that uses the phrase ‘member of the community’. Instant coffee. Squeezed into twee rooms with bad carpet where there’s no room to talk properly and hushed tones are preferred over cataclysmic crying.
I’ll have a cookie cutter funeral over my dead body.
It’s so crushingly depressing that the most marvellous people can still have the grimmest send off.
But you don’t need to be Carl Williams or Whitney Houston or Michael Jackson to have a cracker farewell – you just have to get past the marketing and stonewalling of the funeral industry. Did you know that you can organise a DIY funeral? That all you really have to do is get a death certificate signed, register the death, and organise the final disposal of the body?
The bland, non-specific service and cream brick pot pourri surrounds are optional extras. Optional expensive extras. And much less fun than a rocking wake.
The industry is on a pretty good thing, so plenty of people may not be aware of all the choices they have. They’ve cornered a market that will keep on keeping on, especially as the Baby Boomer bubble squeezes through.
Their customers are often not in a position to shop around, get a range of quotes, cool off. They’re vulnerable.
Consumer group Choice found funeral directors’ fees “fluctuate wildly”. Transport of the body, for example, can be $129 or $1995. They point out that prices for coffins start at $700, but “the ones you’ll most likely be introduced to will cost between about $4000 and $9000”, and you can pay up to $28,000.
You can imagine it would be easy to upsell to the best of everything when people want the comfort of letting someone else take care of all the details.
So, if you want, you can bury your loved one in particleboard or get a cremation with no service and walk away.
That would be sad, because funerals are actually really important. Like other rites of passage they are common to most cultures, because humans have a basic need to mark big occasions, to move on.
What you can do, though, to avoid rorting by Big Funerals, is work out whether you want to go out with a bang or a whimper and tell your friends and family. Then, if you want, you can take all the money that was going to go on a flash box that would be seen for a short while then burned or buried, and spend it on something worthwhile.
You can go straight to the wake.
Spend the thousands of dollars on strippers or Grange or live music or a meditation garden or a memorial sculpture. Or get a gold-encrusted coffin. Whatever.
The choices are theoretically endless, and increasing.
Being of soundish mind and body, here’s what I’d have: A quick cremation with the ashes sprinkled on newly planted trees to make up for the pollution, followed by a bonfire somewhere with lots of delicious food, and everyone to bring a bottle of whatever we would have drunk together, and the music we would have listened to. A Speaker’s Corner where people could tell stories if they wished, far enough away that no one has to listen.
What would you do?
Finding eternal life on Twitter: @ToryShepherd
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