Campbell Live recently aired a two part report on current funeral practices in New Zealand. Journalist and Celebrant John Sellwood investigates alternatives to traditional funeral services provided by conventional New Zealand funeral homes.
John is accompanied by Sally Raudon, a Winston Churchill Fellow, who recently researched contemporary funeral and mourning practices in five countries.
In Part One, John focuses on the costs of engaging a traditional funeral home and argues that a family can legitimately take care of all the arrangements themselves – resulting in significant savings. He suggests bereaved families directly contact their local council cemetery or crematorium and purchase a casket direct from a manufacturer.
Optimistically, a final figure of $1400.00 is quoted – however, possibly as a result of editing, this figure does not tally with his previous discussions with service providers. Stated costs were $550.00 for cremation, $330.00 for venue hire and around $1000.00 retail for a casket. Standard fees charged by a Doctor to sign the Cremation Certificate (around $100) and Registration of the death ($27.00) have not been accounted for – bringing the total to roughly $2,020.00.
This figure assumes that family or friends donate their time, skills and emotional energy to transport and care for the deceased, manage all administration and cover costs of discretionary disbursements generally associated with a funeral; newspaper notices, catering, flowers, service sheets and someone to capably lead the service.
In Part Two, John interviews alternative funeral service providers who enable families to be ‘hands-on’, reclaiming funeral rites and providing natural care of the deceased. Those interviewed have an obvious sense of satisfaction and ownership for their decision to be more involved.
Sally Raudon’s report “identified one significant trend: families want to engage more with their dead. They want to spend time with them, care for them, bring them home for a period, perhaps uplift the body, and be more involved in care and final preparation of their family member” A trend, she suggests, observable throughout the Western World.
On a subject we prefer to avoid, I think these discussions are positive and beneficial for the consumer to make informed choices about funeral planning. Discuss your choices with family members; consider a natural casket and natural burial or conventional burial or cremation. You can detail your music, flower, catering, venue choices and order of events.
At Broadbent & May we actively encourage families to be confidently involved in all aspects of the funeral. We see our role as facilitators, supporting families by capably managing some or all of the arrangements, depending on the needs of the family.