Disenfranchised Funerals

September 2, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

By

Hazel Speed

There used to be a phrase said as a humorous remark to someone who took ages to get ready to go out, or who arrived late at an event – “You’ll be too late for your own funeral!”

In winter months mostly, certain TV stations aim commercials at older people because the programmes were invariable classic hit shows of former years, even decades ago.

If they watched these all afternoon elderly people could soon become depressed by the TV ads as they comprise of pitches to sign up with various Funeral Insurance Companies so that when one died then the funeral would be paid for and your Family may be given extra monies thereafter depending what one paid in each month.

Obviously there was small print on the screen, ironic that many older people may not be able to read the same, and the word “death” was not used in one advert but “passed on” – whispered in its place. (Yet in other adverts where relevant for health products the word “pee” is said loudly in 2 year old style, rather than the word urine).

The various funeral ads stress it is not fair to put a financial burden on one’s family when you, the viewer of this TV ad, dies.

Then other adverts appeal for funding for worthwhile charities both here and abroad in respect of children and then for animals.

I am surprised the TV Broadcast Regulators permit this type of money-oriented marketing constantly repeated.

Also, the funeral insurance companies leave elderly and vulnerably people open to grooming by family, friends, cleaners, carers, etc, or strangers, e.g. “Do not worry, we will pay the monthly fee, it is not expensive for us as we are working so it can be put in our name.” Do they explain about any extra money they will get when their friend/contact does die and do the Insurance Companies check into these aspects on behalf of their client?

One hears of the elderly being attacked by the very people they trust in their lives.

The worst story though I came across relates to a pensioner who saved up enough money to go directly to a National Funeral Company and offer to pay for their funeral in full but were refused because they had no Executor.

Apparently, they had heard on the radio that for anyone in that position, they can appoint their bank in their Will and it is legal whether the Bank is told or not.

The person had no family, at least not one they wanted to admit to, (which amounts to the same thing), but what they did have was a typed service sheet on A4 which just required the date of death to be added. A fifteen minute service was all that would be required, I was told.

It gets worse. This person had the typed A4 service on disk and hard copy but was told they do not accept that in case of a virus nor would they keep the service sheet on file.

As they could not align the date of death in the correct place on the service sheet it would have to be retyped by them before the funeral but the pensioner would lose a special image of their coloured religious cross at the top of the page.

Then it came to the music. All that was required seemingly was one song from a choral CD. The CD was rejected as the Executor would have to take that to them at the relevant time.

The lyrics were included in the service sheet and the Assistant at the Funeral Parlour said they could only use approved music i.e. Their choice not yours.

The pensioner did obtain permission in writing from the composer for use of his hymn in this way but that did not matter, if the music was not on their list it could not be used.

Comparative to buying clothes, the basic coffins were limited to three styles and no options of mix and match re handles, etc.

Two appointments took place as the pensioner wanted to return with what I thought was a touching idea to hand to every mourner who may attend the funeral.

On their second visit this was flatly refused and by then the poor soul was close to tears. During their first visit they were advised the item would be allowed so they should return with the same.

Preference of route taken to crematorium was doubtful though often agreed to and many Funeral Services offer such facility for sentimental reasons associated with this type of request.

Choice of chapel was doubtful as was the way ashes would be scattered in the grounds close to one of their relatives. The pensioner cancelled the whole thing feeling totally rejected and a failure.

One of the florists they knew was disgusted by hearing the story and offered to set the person up with a more honourable Funeral Company.

They declined I believe. Around £7,000 for a wooden box, only one car required to take the coffin to the crematorium, no reception, one floral ring and some loose flowers to hand to mourners. Scattering of ashes – even in the manner chosen were all refused. How humiliating and degrading which is really telling a person, tacitly, that they really are not worth very much as a human being. So sad and most cruel of the Funeral Company.

Well it transpired that the person’s bank do require notice if they are to be an Executor, and they have an outside Company one has to pay and sign agreements with, so if a person is poor, then no doubt the cost for that Executor’s Service is too high.

After a few tears the poor old person got their humour back and remarked “well there is always my Council green wheelie bin and the garbage is collected once a fortnight. I will fit in one of those. Anyway”, they joked, “after I’m dead what does it matter, they can do what they like with me!”

No they can not – I think this is a dreadful story. Everyone wants to put their affairs in order before they die, and have every right to do so.

Our country has millions of pensioners whether married or widowed/widower, but for anyone of any age and especially so those without family or friends who therefore have no Executor, then who protects those vulnerable people who die worrying, what will happen to their body, as it deserves a good Christian (or other Faiths) burial or cremation?

There ae creams to deter wrinkles, plastic surgery such as facelifts, everything modern science and technology can offer, and all preclude fear of displaying ageing, but the above story really does scare old and young alike due to a different kind of fear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hazel Speed

Photo (c) Hazel Speed – used by kind permision to Tuck Magazine

Hazel Speed is a Philosopher, Writer, and Artist with various creative projects at differing states of development. Her flaship project is an animation which has produced a film short: www.thepinkprofessor.com.

Art sites: www.candystoreart.comwww.terrificart.comwww.artbadges.co.uk.

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