Family Funerals

A radio broadcast suggested that people need advice on funerals and their high costs – but from whom? The local minister or priest was seen as the one best placed to advise.

Funeral firms can be reluctant to publish their prices, claiming that costs vary according to type of coffin chosen, number of limousines required, bringing the coffin into church the night before, service sheets, individual requests, etc. We understand the reluctance but also know that in the emotional turmoil of arranging a funeral people will be afraid of seeming mean (some firms play on that) and want only what they think is best.

Your loved ones are not honoured by your paying a funeral firm a great deal of money. We all want to arrange dignified loving funerals, but we need to be practical. To be later faced with a bill far in excess of what we had estimated because we had been afraid to ask, is a most unpleasant shock. Going into debt benefits no-one – but refusing to pay, as some of our families have done, is plain dishonest and inexcusable.

The costs of the funeral firms differ even by thousands of pounds for the same services. One firm charged £650 for “Administration” and when queried it amounted to two telephone calls and “being available” The parishioner refused to pay. Was he right?

Coffins can cost hundreds or thousands. You choose. Be careful of being pushed.

Church fees are only a tiny proportion of the total cost. Yet churches are sometimes criticised for charging any fees. Expenses need to be covered.

Don’t buy a pre-paid funeral plan. Recently, I took a simple crematorium service on a plan that cost £5,000. I could have easily arranged it for less than £2,000. On another plan, I was assured the cost of the reception in the hall after the Requiem Mass was covered. It wasn’t. The parish had to pay hundreds of pounds and I felt we were badly cheated.

I work comfortably with all the local firms but the people of the parish are my first concern and the firms know that. But sometimes people arrange a funeral with no intention of paying. What should I do when I discover that later?

God bless us,

Fr John
(4th February 2018)