Friday, June 08, 2007


There is a new book being published this month by Robert Larkins, called Funeral Rights: What the Australian "Death Care" Industry doesn't want you to know. (Viking $32.95)

The book not only lifts the lid on the Industry's aggressive sales tactics but also explores the history of death rites. Larkins highlights the short use-by dates for graves, grave sharing, lack of industry diversity and big coffin mark-ups.

I didn't know the funeral business here is unregulated or that it's worth about $700 million a year and how couldn't they make a profit, charging $700 for a chipboard coffin worth $80. If you want an eco-friendly cardboard coffin, it costs as much as a wooden one. Larkins isn't in favour of elaborate stone memorials either.

I was really interested in his views since I've pre-arranged my Mother's funeral. I dealt with a small firm and there was no high pressure sales pitch involved although that could be because they weren't dealing with a recently bereaved and distraught woman. We did go for the chipboard option which was Mum's suggestion after she looked at coffin prices and I've kept my promise to make an elaborate casket quilt to hide it. (like the wedding dress superstition, I haven't put the last stitches to it until the time comes)

The flowers were a set price but I could have gone higher or lower but working within that set price I got exactly the roses that Mum specified. I was also asked what I wanted to do with them. When I said we wanted them to go on my Father's grave, they offered to do that at no extra charge. The girl also explained to me about donations to the Cancer fund, the wording means that funds go towards research or to purchase equipment which is another thing I didn't know.

The cost of the funeral isn't extravagant but we have no way of paying for it upfront so for a fee of $250 they will wait until the estate is settled. I also engaged The Blight as a celebrant and I bet he has the cheek to charge me but since I'm writing the eulegy I'll make sure I write something he'll choke on having to say it.

If I had my way there wouldn't be a funeral service at all. I object to being nice to relatives and friends who turn up to a funeral but never came to see her when she was alive and would have appreciated a visit. And it was the relo's who annoyed me most when I was making the arrangements. What gives them the right to put in their two cents worth? "It's our final goodbye" was the standard answer to that question. I rather think a "first hello" and a bunch of flowers for the old girl now would mean a lot more.

I had to make one more promise to Mum so I have to be polite and see her off in a dignified manner. So unlike my wedding day, there will be no punch-ups with the relatives and no free booze.


Steph said...

What about cremations? People pay all that money for elaborate coffins and then they go up in smoke anyway.

Middle Child said...

Nah...special ciffins for cremation...notice they don't carry thewm by the handles because they are for show...

I know what you mean about people turning up and you have to be nice to them. I looked around at Don's funeral at all these so called friends and a worthless brother who never once in 25 years of Don's injury visited and offered one smidgin of help...they were nocticeable by their abscence

all those long months when he was bedridden, one year for six months straight, and apart from one good friend and the kids...we were on our own...and it was awful at first...but we became self sufficient except for paid nurses... and now they are ringing me up wanting me to be social...apart from the one good one pffft to them...

or as Don would say in his quaint way when someone really annoyed him, "You can pack up and piss off" ha ha ha laughing now...good memory

Middle Child said...

(I meant coffins not ciffins)

JahTeh said...

Steph, the only reasons we've having refreshments is the food is good but we're having it there not at Mum's place, that way they have to piss off and leave us alone. Sis and I are planning to head for the pokies.

MC, I could have cheerfully strangled my father-in-law at my son's funeral. He walked around telling everyone how glad he was to be able to pay for a good turn for the boy. Fcuking old bastard wouldn't give him the same amount to go to university on a mature entry. I never forgave him for that day and I still spit on his name at the cemetary.

Unknown said...

When we get together I will tell you about the funeral experience when my dear departed Dearly Beloved died.

JahTeh said...

And I, in turn, will tell you the inglorius wedding day. I will make it up there Miss Eagle and I think I have told you that my grandparents lived in Upper Gully.