Funerals—the rise of the cheap and cheerful

By Danny Curran, Finders International’s founder and CEO

Recent figures have shown that the average funeral price has increased by 122 percent in fifteen years—with an average cost of a basic funeral reaching £4,270, although there is an argument that the cost comes closer to more than £9,000 when you add in a wake, memorial, death notices and the professional fees needed to administer an estate.

Recent years have also seen the rise in popularity of so-called affordable funerals which amount to cremation only—i.e. the funeral director picks up the body and it is cremated, and then the ashes are returned to the family.

No hearses, no ceremonies, no grave stones, no wakes in expensive hotels or flowery notices in a newspaper’s Hatches, Matches and Dispatches section.

David Bowie’s funeral

The late David Bowie chose this option. While needing to save money probably wasn’t his objective, perhaps the simplicity appealed. Or he decided to save his family the bother of having to invite people and go through a very public form of grieving?

Money saving tips include opting for cardboard or wicker coffins. The added bonus of these are that they are biodegradable and will return a body to the earth much more quickly, which appeals to the green-minded.

Natural burial sites are more common these days and they are cheaper than traditional burials and funerals because the body is not embalmed, the coffin has to be biodegradable and the funeral service is usually the ‘home-made’ version.

Party in the pub

Orders of service can be created and printed by the family, and a service does not need to be led by a vicar, priest or other celebrant. Many people choose to forgo the traditional wake, opting instead for an afternoon in the pub or a small party in the house where people can gather to laugh, cry and remember the person they have lost in a way that feels more meaningful.

At the other end of the spectrum, the late Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997 is said to have cost an eye-watering £9.3 million in today’s money.  When the princess died in a car accident, the Royal Family initially refused to let flags fly at half-mast leading to huge public outcry. Her ceremonial funeral which more or less brought London to a halt involved a procession from Kensington Palace to Westminster Abbey, speeches, tributes, prayers and Elton John’s Candle in the Wind, originally written for Marilyn Monroe.

Most people would agree that a funeral isn’t a time to spend lots of money, and most of us would rather the estate we pass on to our loved ones isn’t missing a decent chunk because of these costs. With the average cost likely to increase even more over the next few years, we predict a huge rise in direct cremations.

 

Finders International offer a next of kin tracing service. For more information or to refer a case, contact us on  0800 085 8796 or [email protected].