By Jeanne Hambleton ©
With comedian Billy Connolly doing a TV programme this week, looking at attitudes towards death, I wanted to add a few words to the discussion. My story is about the cost of dying. Last year I was faced with an unexpected family death. Time is a great healer and I can talk about it now and review the huge sum it costs to die these days.
But my first message is the funeral really should be a celebration of the life of the lost one. Recall the fun times, the laughter and the good times. It is so important. Do consider celebrating a life instead of mourning someone who has died. Our Minister took us in this direction and we were so glad he did. We had laughter, smiles and we remembered the good times. Why be sad. You cannot make any changes to what has happened.
I was totally unprepared – the paper work, post mortem, the number of death certificates, the funeral directors, choice of coffin, music, poems and flowers. I was overwhelmed. Thanks to my daughter who was a great help. It was over 20 years since I lost my Dad and funerals and even copies of death certificates were a whole lot cheaper then.
We had received emails about funeral plans and ignored it until April 2013 when the latest email warned the cost of dying was rising. You could say who cares when you are dead but sadly someone has to pick up the bills and sort things out. In a weak moment we decided to invest in a plan with monthly payments. It would only cost more next year…not that we had any plans to make use of this service. We agreed to pay the two plans in year. It might encourage younger couples to join if it could be paid over four years, like buying a car.
We were seven months into the funeral plan when I had a funeral to arrange. The plan covered crematorium expenses, funeral director and their services, the minister, the coffin and hearst. There was an extra car option. The part of the plan we managed to pay before the death, was a substantial saving when the bills dropped on the door mat. I was thankful we had invested in funeral plans. Our charter turned out to be golden. I now encourage my children and friends to do this. Sadly delays in starting a plan only mean funeral costs will be even more expensive.
It is the knock on effect of dying that sends the bills up and the expenses become endless. We opted for family flowers and donations to our fibromyalgia research charity. We knew too many people to have a few nibbles and a glass of wine at home. So there were added costs for a venue. By now we were into thousands of pounds plus half the plan to pay, flowers, a reception and that was without anything black we would need to wear. Our boys lived in jeans – not suitable for a funeral – so we had to hire suits. The family also needed some black items and the bills crept up and up. The notice in the paper and all the letters we sent added to the costs. We chose hymns, music, speakers, poems for the Service Order.
The cremation, funeral directors and all of that cost over £3,500, plus flowers, and a modest reception for about 25 family and friends. I am now busy making my own plans.
Do get yourself a funeral plan and pay it off before dying. Also I cannot see why a funeral plan could not include family flowers and a sum towards a modest reception. It would make more sense to have a complete plan and paid up front it would certainly help with the finances when you have enough to worry about. Back tomorrow. Jeanne