Sinead Moriarty: How you can have the last word on your funeral
Published 08/11/2013 | 02:00
Benjamin Franklin said there were only two things certain in life: death and taxes. He could have added a third – that the funeral business is recession proof.
With the average cost of a funeral in Dublin estimated at about €8,000, many people are now taking control of their own affairs.
We can't be in charge of our births, our mothers have the last say in that event, but we can organise our own funerals. Some people like the more traditional route of hymns and prayers, but others are now looking around for something more ... .colourful.
Options are opening up with funeral shows becoming more commonplace. A two-day 'Funeral Times' trade show recently took place in Mullingar. One of the stands piquing a lot of interest was the motorbike that can bring the coffin to its final resting place. The Triumph Rocket 3 has already been used for a number of funerals.
Funerals in Ireland have always been big business. Up until about 35 years ago, it was most unwise to go to one without a few quid in your pocket. The practice of Offerings used to be popular and you didn't want to be shown up. Funeral attendees had to walk up to the collection table and hand their two shilling piece, or half crown, to a teller who then called out the amount and the name of the contributor. Imagine the shame of turning up empty handed.
Irish wakes are famous around the world and not just for the quality of the mourning, but for their merriment and devilment too.
In the past, some wakes became so rowdy that the corpse was taken out of the coffin and twirled around for a dance. I can't quite see that happening these days.
Then again, sympathisers used to be offered snuff, tobacco and strong liquor. These days you're more likely to be offered a cup of tea and a sandwich.
Probably a wise decision if you want your beloved's body to remain safely in the coffin.
Nowadays people have more choice, a wake is not the only option. If you are an environmentalist you can choose to have a green funeral. The Green Graveyard Company, opened the first natural burial ground in Wexford in 2010.
It offers sustainably sourced coffins for green-minded people. Instead of the traditional solid timber coffin you can have a much less expensive one made from water hyacinth, banana leaf or even cardboard. Also less expensive than a traditional burial is a cremation. If you'd prefer to be cremated, you can choose from four different locations in Ireland.
Three are in Dublin and one in Cork. All Christian denominations allow cremations. In fact the only religions known to forbid it are Orthodox Judaism and Islam.
Or perhaps you'd like to be buried in your own back garden, beside your favourite rose bush.
That can be accommodated too, but is best organised in advance. You will need to go through all of the details with your local authority.
An Environmental Health Inspector will have to inspect the proposed burial site to ensure that the ground goes down at least eight feet, and that a burial there would not pose a pollution risk for the local water supply.
But if you'd like something more colourful you might consider being buried in China's Donghai region where it is considered lucky and a mark of honour to have as many people as possible to attend your funeral. Relatives hire strippers to pull in big crowds, giving the term 'drop-dead gorgeous' a whole new meaning. I kid you not. And at rural funerals in Taiwan you will find strippers' swinging around poles.
For a small sum, these scantily clad women arrive on the back of a neon-lit truck called the Electric Flower Car. They then proceed to dance and strip in front of the deceased and their mourners.
Suddenly it seems even more urgent and important to control your own funeral. God forbid some relative would take over and decide to bury you in a giant banana leaf, surrounded by strippers gyrating to the sounds of 'Another One Bites the Dust'.
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