You can have money piled to the ceiling but the size of your funeral is still going to depend on the weather.

I spent a sunny afternoon last week taking a trip around one of the local cemeteries & garden of remembrance with my Dad, not because I’m ghoulish but because it is steeped in history and I love the quietness. This particular cemetery which we frequently visit has views of Dartmoor in the distance which provides the location for the famous prison and where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was inspired to write “The Hound of the Baskervilles”.cemetery 011 As we continued on our walk, we visited the war graves, those of the Greek merchant seaman who had lost their lives in the English Channel and were buried so far away from home & their families like so many other casualties of war. As Plymouth was a main naval port for the UK during the war, the bombing was relentless and there were over a 100,000 casualties of the blitz in this city alone.

In one corner of the graveyard there is a small tree-shaded copse where many of the old gothic tombstones have been recovered and I was sad to see that even death does not command respect judging by the amount of fly tippers.cemetery 007 In fact, whilst we were there a couple of workmen erecting a hand rail had deposited a couple of cement bags on some loved one’s memorial plot during their endeavours. Am I alone in thinking that someone working in this environment should demonstrate a basic level of integrity at the very least? I was also dismayed by the signs promoting the sale of burial plots in much the same way as Estate Agents or Realtors promote the sale of properties. In addition I realised that most cemeteries become more about the living coping with their grief than the much lamented deceased. Like most of my generation, I have little concern about my eventual demise (which I hasten to add I hope is not for a very long time) but I do remember my grandparents paying into a funeral plan with the co-operative for their eventual funerals. With funerals now costing on average between £3,000 to £4,000 ($4,500 – $6,000), many will not be able to afford these hefty charges. It saddens me that there are people who will still make a substantial profit from the vulnerable and grief-ridden. Nearly one hundred people since 2008 in the city of Plymouth alone were buried in paupers’ graves. The local council will pay the charges of £950 ($1,500) each time for the transport of the body (hearse), coffin, officiant, and burial or cremation. As many elderly people will struggle on through a bitter winter without heating as they can ill afford to pay the utility charges, it is unlikely that they will have sufficient savings to pay for their own internment. After all why would you struggle to pay for a better afterlife when you can barely afford to survive in this one?

My Dad says that a bin liner and a bonfire will suffice him “when he goes”; my mother suggested we have a trial run; if I’m honest I think that maybe the cake incident still rankles.

56 thoughts on “You can have money piled to the ceiling but the size of your funeral is still going to depend on the weather.

  1. I’m with your dad—a bin liner and a bonfire. Except that our dead bodies are considered hazardous waste, and I believe burning them over a bonfire is prohibited, but if you find a place that allows it, please let me know 🙂 And perhaps he should stay away from your mum for awhile.

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  2. I don’t give much thought to what will happen to me after I go but I suppose it’s more important to those left than those going. Living in a foreign country, one of my greatest fears is something happening to my husband. The idea of burying him somewhere we might not settle is hard. I’d hate to leave him in some distant land. Does that sound strange?
    But I suppose, with the passing of time it seems less important. My second child, whom I miscarried, is buried in the garden of the first house my husband and I bought together and somehow it doesn’t seem so heartless to not still be there anymore.

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    • I can’t begin to imagine the pain of losing a child and I am truly sorry for your loss Aisha. I completely understand why you would want your loved ones buried somewhere safe but I also think that memorials are comforting to those left behind and may help to ease the grief

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  3. Aww, I love you more and more every time I read your posts. We would have such a wonderful time cemetery-hopping together. I love the beautiful old markers and cemeteries. Agree that it’s ghastly to have promotional signs anywhere around them, and that those workers should pay more respect. How awful about the paupers, still.
    Incredible title. Brilliant, actually. ❤

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    • I have laughed at this as funnily enough I had planned to do a coach tour of all the stately homes with my best friend when we’re both in our dotage a bit like Miss Marple! You can come to the cemetery with my Dad and me anytime, Marla!

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  4. There is something about visiting a cemetery – you meet remarkable people.

    “The cemetery is an open space among the ruins, covered in winter with violets and daisies. It might make one in love with death, to think that one should be buried in so sweet a place.”
    ― Percy Bysshe Shelley, Adonais

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  5. I like to explore cemeteries, also, and for the same reasons as you.

    After years of joking that I should just put her in a Hefty bag (heavy duty trash bag) and set her out on the curb, Mum has made arrangements with a funeral home in a (relatively) nearby town for her cremation. She’s paying it off monthly and told me that she’s got a reason to live now — she needs to stay alive long enough to pay off her funeral. *rolls eyes* *sigh*

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  6. I think cemeteries are just… I dunno… They’re depressing, for one. They can be peaceful, but I always remember that undertone of “there’s dead ppl here, most of which probably no longer even have visitors.” And then just the fact of the egregious waste of money AND space BURYING dead people in expensive boxes… Seems weird to me.

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  7. When my grandmother died, I remember my dad having to finance her funeral, and even so, it took forever to finally get a headstone for her. My mind was blown in a really foul way by the fact that my poor Maw-maw was incurring debt even in death. Here in the states, you always have the option of going with the basic burial supplies that can be bought with the death gratuity from the government, but really, who wants to put their loved one in a corrugated cardboard box? It’s insane. The funeral industry is such a racket.

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  8. Yeah, I dunno. I am not into cemeteries much. Probably because everyone in my family prefers cremation, so I never actually had to bury anyone. The thought of people in a box makes me very, very uncomfortable. So there you have it.
    Loved your ending. Your mom does have a sense of humor. Right? 😉

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  9. I told my son to cremate me and scatter the ashes because I NEVER want him to feel obligated to visit or display anything on my grave because I won’t be there. I hope he complies with my wishes; the thought of being displayed on someone’s mantel makes me ill.

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    • I wouldn’t want my ashes to be displayed or used as an ashtray especially as I’ve never smoked. There are companies now that apparently can make either ornaments or pendants out of your ashes – how bizarre!

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  10. I’m behind on my Crazy Train blogs! This is a somber one and bears thought. My mother had eight years of taking care of my father after his first stroke and then cancer surgery to carefully plan his funeral. She spent a couple of years getting herself all situated and her burial paid for. She’s planned it down to a T, including the obituary. All I have to do is show up. Thank God for organized mothers!! I wish I was one. There are so many options today. There are “green” funerals in some U.S. states. I suppose if we were child Pharaohs or something, we’d want to be preserved, but, the average person doesn’t need a concrete bunker with a steel casket inside to hold our bones for a few hundred years. Right? PS, what was the cake incident? – Kaye
    http://www.youtube.com/user/kittrellkaye

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    • I haven’t even thought about my demise but I certainly wouldn’t want a fortune spent on it – a basic cremation with no fuss would suit me fine! At the annual village fair my Dad dropped my mother’s cake entry into the competition scuppering her chances of first prize!

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  11. My mother is another one of the ones who wants to get cremated. Her reasoning is that cemeteries are running out of room anyways (which is true) and she doesn’t want to be rotting in a box under ground. I think it’s easier to cremate and scatter the ashes. Having a grave to tend to means you need to take care of it and have some kind of obligation to visit it.

    I never really understood the point of visiting a grave stone. I always feel weird about going to the cemetery to visit my grandparents’ graves. They aren’t there–all it is is a rock with some names engraved on them. Thinking about their bodies buried below the Earth makes me feel uncomfortable. Their souls are gone and have moved on to wherever it is the deceased go and if their spirits still roam the Earth, I doubt they would linger in the place they were buried since the place has no significance for them.

    Other than that, I don’t have a problem with cemeteries, apart from visiting ones where direct relatives are buried. I don’t have a connection to any of the graves in other cemeteries and they are such obviously very peaceful places with a lot of human stories buried underneath. It’s so interesting to see the different headstones and the different epitaphs on the graves.

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    • I do spend hours reading all the gravestones and whilst I would never want someone to spend all that money on me, I understand how for some it’s a large part of their grieving process. But when I sit there looking across to Dartmoor on a sunny spring day surrounded by daffodils, lily of the valley and crocuses, I think many would approve of their final resting place.

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  12. I saw an idea that appealed to me the other day, having your cremated remained potted in with compost and a tree seed and planted. a tree of rememberence sounds ideal, I have always loved them. but as you say a lot of the funeral arrangements are about the people still living wanting to have something tangible tol hold onto in the intense pain of grief so maybe the living should have the final say. lol at your mum 🙂

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  13. Ha, I was under the impression your dad’s guilt was never uncovered thanks to the vicar!
    Our funerals are simpler, but I have instructed my daughter to do away with all related rituals and have a party with close friends …whichever is still alive – instead 🙂

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    • One of the ladies at the WI grassed us up Madhu – safe to say she won’t be getting any dandelion wine this Xmas. I like your idea of a small dignified send off too but again I do hope its not for a very very long time

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  14. Yeah it’s a generational thing and older people are more bothered about things like that. It’s funny when I was in the postoffice today they tried to sell me a funeral plan: ‘only 7 quid a month’. Does that sound an awful lot or is it just me? I mean it’s not like I’m quite that near to the grave yet (or hopefully not). The woman thought it was selfish of me not to care, because ‘your next of kin will have to pay for you’. I’m with your dad; I don’t care what happens to my body once I don’t need it anymore.

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  15. I like cemeteries, especially the much older ones you have in your homeland. There was a big hoo-ha here recently when some grounds contractors demolished a few rows of baby graves, it was supposed to have been a tidy up to remove ‘unauthorised decorations’ but they took it a bit far. You do see some graves that are massively decorated and yeah, it’s totally to help the grieving process. My will / instructions say to burn me and sprinkle me off the coast of where I grew up and where I live now. I don’t want to be in an expensive and lonely grave that no one visits!

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    • Desecration of graves is disrepectful and incredibly hard on those left behind to grieve and I can’t help but feel for the parents of those babies. However, I like that idea and I don’t want people spending shedloads of money when I’m gone either but let’s hope it’s not for a very very long time eh?

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  16. Well Dallas you have come up with a good post again. I’m with your Dad all the expense is so unnecessary. People coming from miles away that you haven’t seen for decades, big expensive box, and all the trimmings etc etc. Actually Jack and I have just recently been discussing this very subject and an acquaintence just recently lost her husband who had been slowly dying of cancer and they had plenty of time to get their affairs in order and he insisted that they just take him to the crematorium without any one being there and use a cardboard coffin. Then a few weeks later close friends gathered at their garden and all brought along a plate to celebrate and remember the good times.
    PS I also have a very definate view about expensive weddings…

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    • I am now in complete agreement with you regarding the whole wedding reception thing, particularly as I didn’t turn up for mine and my mother spent weeks moaning about the barrel of sherry which no one drank! The Turkish know how to party – every one just rocks up and dances and its also more important that you share in the occasion than what you wear – my kind of party.

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    • Me, you and Marla could spend a lovely afternoon walking around our favourite cemetery (Marla could take all the pics as I’m pants at photography). We could sit on a bench with a picnic overlooking Dartmoor – what a fab way to spend a day! Bet there’d be more than a few laughs too

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  17. I love the title of this post. I must admit, although I love graveyards, I don’t like funerals and have told my nearest and dearest that I don’t want one. What they do is up to them mind you, since I won’t be there to decide. I do think graveyards ought to be looked after nicely, and certainly respected. It makes me sad to see graveyards where people (unemployed and disenfranchised yoof, no doubt) have vandalised or pushed over gravestones.

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    • I think that would be a really constructive way for the unemployed to spend their time, although I do think that as the local council receives quite a hefty payment from every one for a burial plot they need to step up and ensure that cemeteries are maintained properly

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  18. I remember when my parents bought their cemetery plots, years ago… that’s something I will never do. I just don’t even want to think about it. I do however, like going to the cemetery and putting flowers on the graves of my loved ones and I hope someone will do that for me one day…

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  19. Rich and I have ridden the motorcycle (very slow speed, very quiet) through his church’s large cemetery many times. He always points out family and acquaintances I never knew. We stop for a while at the graves of his mother and father, and gaze for a few minutes at the empty space beside them. It is the plot where we bill be buried; his mother and father gifted it to us shortly after we were married. It was either a loving gesture to be sure we would be buried next to them, or they thought we would kill each other right away, and they wanted to be prepared.

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  20. Your Fossils sound so much like mine. My Dad is English and has told us to take him down to the dump when he snuffs it as funerals are a waste of money. Have only read twomposts so far, but you are a kindred spirit methinks. My Dad is paranoid about identity theft and the Internet and thinks I am mad writing a blog (“and I better not talk about family matters” hee hee). Dude…I’d need an encyclopedic series for that!!

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    • I think you maybe right! Fortunately, none of my family read my blog, my Dad prefers the photography and gardening ones and he can’t understand why anyone would be interested in reading about us – I keep telling him it’s because we’re a bunch of eccentrics! Well they all are, I’m the sane one!

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  21. Ha ha! Love it. My Grandma (the English one of course) wanted her children to bury her at the bottom of the garden. Talking about the money making side of things… do you know there is a UK website called rentamourner dot co dot uk? Yup. It does what it says. Nuf said.

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