Funerals are a rip-off

13 September 2011

Why is it no-one is prepared to discuss the business of death? This week a report came out warning us all that dying now costs £7,248. Yep, apparently shuffling off your mortal coil is a very expensive thing to do. The various costs ranging from funeral flowers to cremation have risen by £400 since last year. Cremation costs alone have risen by around £1,000 in the past few years to £2,720. And don't think a burial will be cheaper; it would set you back £3,462.

If this were any other cost the obvious reaction would be to ask why. Has the price of raw materials risen? Well I suppose rising energy prices must have an effect on the cost of cremation but Sun Life's Annual Cost of Death report admits that cremation costs have risen as councils look to increase profits following budget cuts. But instead of pointing this out, news reports just state that funerals are expensive and insist we should be saving for them.

Well I'm planning but I'm not saving. There is no way I'm spending £7,248 on a party I won't even attend. My family know perfectly well that should I pop my clogs anytime soon I want the cheapest funeral possible. If it was legal I'd just have my body chucked on the nearest bonfire. Instead, I keep meaning to fill the forms out so my body is donated to medical research. That ought to save a lot of money, then my family can just use £1,000 to throw a good wake and that's that.

However, there is a wider problem here beyond my own funeral. Why are we letting death prices rocket? The truth is that as a nation we don't like to talk about money and we don't like to talk about death. This is a combination that allows the industries associated with death to constantly up their prices. Who's going to haggle with an undertaker after all? Personally, I think it's time we did – I'd love to know if anyone has and what the reaction was. I've heard of cutting wedding costs by pretending you are organising a birthday party in order to avoid venues adding a ‘wedding premium'. We should all do the same for wakes.

As for the soaring cost of cremations, it's time we all took a stand against the councils' blatant profiteering.