Death of Death on the High Street?
January 14, 2021
After tights and chewing gum, in the post – War years America gifted the UK another legacy. The funeral car.
In the post – War boom, as cars became more central to domestic living globally, the UK’s flashy American cousins introduced the funeral limo. It wasn’t long before it became de rigeur. Caretaking the body, shiny cars and a new set of rituals involving men in suits, newspaper notices, and floral arrangements, became the way to go in the modern age. Clean, functional, professional.
Calling the nearest High Street funeral parlor has been the norm now for over 50 years, and until recently, 97% of people continued to deal with a funeral as a distress purchase – no plans or provision, no shopping around. But things are shifting.
“When mum died in 2008, we wanted to do something a bit different,” said Gill.
“It was really hard work trying to find information and help, understand the rules, source stuff. The clock was ticking and we gave up. When dad died last year, it was a different picture.
“It was incredible how much the landscape had shifted in just a couple of years.
After dad had his second stroke, I Googled “good funerals” to start my own mental and emotional preparation for the inevitable.
Up popped the Good Funeral Guide with heaps of information and advice. I began to feel more in control already. I saw a link there to Final Fling: a website for end of life planning. Dad was a bit of a technophobe but I took my laptop into the home to sit and chat through things and record his wishes. We used the planning tools to updated his Will and make an Advance Decision – he didn’t want to be resuscitated if things got any worse.
I set up a network with my siblings so I could share the information and I think it’s probably saved a bit of squabbling… Dad wanted a cardboard coffin which my brother didn’t approve of. We didn’t have to argue the toss. It was dad’s choice.
We followed a link from Final Fling’s directory of services and products to comparethecoffin.com. It was surprisingly good fun shopping for the right coffin and honestly, we’re a normal family! It had all the ease and familiarity of online gift shopping.
“It wasn’t about saving money. It was about having choice and control.”
On Final Fling, we could compare the cost of funeral plans, get ideas for music and readings. On Compare the Coffin we could pick the coffin. Across the 3 sites, there was advice, tips, 10 step guides, hints on the paperwork we’d need to sort out. The best thing was that it just normalized death and dying.
On send-off day, my sister and I read out poems my dad wrote. My brother spoke. We all wore bright colours and had a celebratory lunch at our family’s favorite restaurant. I know dad would have loved it. I’ve already started my own plans.