Funeral costs can be grave...but there are alternatives for our loved ones
Only two things in life are guaranteed, it is said: death and taxes. Although most people will have to organise a funeral at least once, the costs can overwhelm, especially at a time of grief.
Unlike other big events such as a wedding, a funeral is rarely planned or saved for, leaving many nursing huge bills, although nobody would deny a loved one a good 'send off'. This week I'm exploring what's involved, and how funerals have evolved with changing consumer patterns.
Research from market leader Fanagans shows one third of funerals involve cremation with increasing demand for one-day ceremonies. In Dublin, cremations account for around 40pc of funerals, while it's only 13pc in rural Ireland, but new crematoria in Cavan and Shannon are expected to increase this number.
The two-day church removal and mass is losing its appeal, especially in Dublin. Civil ceremonies are increasing, as are cremations. Rural families prefer waking overnight at home, rather than in a funeral home or church, while the opposite is the case in cities.
Secular funerals are also on the rise. The Humanist association says these can take place in funeral parlours, hotels, community halls (as long as they will accept the body), gardens or a private home. Many opt simply for a crematorium. A civil service can combine religious elements also. Expect to pay around €250 for a celebrant. See www.humanism.ie or www.aftering.com for details.
Research from An Post found the average funeral costs €4,602, but this doesn't include the grave plot, disbursements or a grave stone. While a plot in a rural churchyard might set you back €500, a double plot in Dublin's Deansgrange cemetery could be over €30,000.
Location, in death as in life, is everything. Most cemeteries are run by councils, but many are full (only four of the 17 in Dublin are open). Trusts and private operators run others and plots can cost up to €10,000 in a city location.
Wood, plastic, eco-friendly, bamboo, even rented - coffins come in all types. A simple plan wood coffin is around €400, wicker is around €950 but if you are cremating in Mount Jerome, you can rent a coffin for display (the corpse is contained in an inner, plain box which is cremated along with the body).
Donating your Body
Trinity College and University College Galway operate donor programmes for medical science. Your application, made in life, must be signed by your next of kin. Normally the body is returned after three years for interment or cremation and the college bears the cost.
The bereavement grant is no longer paid by the State, but you can take out funeral insurance with minimal underwriting. CUsafe, via credit unions, offers €5,000 to €10,000 up to the age of 75 from around €10- €30 per month.
Alternative ways to go
We are all but carbon in the end so it's possible to turn ashes into the most special carbon of all - a diamond.
www.lifegem.com uses hard core heat pressure to make a ring or pendant from your loved one's ashes. Prices $3,000 to $20,000 depending on quality.
Fancy going out with a bang? www.heavenlystarsfireworks.com will place your ashes in a firework and organise a display, from Stg£995.
Music lovers can have their ashes pressed into a vinyl record for Stg£250 (or £2,000 for 30 discs including music, poetry, recorded messages) at www.andvinyly.com.