THE cost of dying is going up at such a rate I may never be able to afford to go.
Sun Life says the price of a basic funeral has risen for the 12th year in a row and stands at £3,693. Add on all the extras for everything from cars to flowers, headstone to legal fees, and that figure can be boosted to an average of £8,126.
At that price, I don't think I'll bother.
SunLife's managing director Dean Lamble says: “People are still not comfortable talking about death or their funeral wishes, which means that the vast majority of those organising a funeral are unware of the preferences of the deceased.”
My only preference is that those in charge make sure I'm not just in a deep sleep and really have gone. Apart from that, I'd be quite happy if my chum Peter dug a hole and planted me in a quiet part of his allotment. I might help his cabbages grow, which would be a first. I've never had any success at gardening before.
The only real point in saving for a funeral is so your family will not inherit the expense. Otherwise we'd all spend up in advance and be happy with a pauper's plot. Once I'm gone, I'm not bothered what happens as long as there is a few quid left over for folk to have a drink and say: “By heck. How old was he? A hundred and 12? I thought he'd never go.”
The basic cost in Yorkshire is £3,550 but in London it's £5,068, which takes the breath away. Londoners, who don't feel well, might consider taking a Ryanair flight to Northern Ireland where the cost is £3,203. Plenty left over for a drink before and after.
Considering the cost, it makes sense to talk about your last arrangements and leave a few guidelines behind as to your final farewell. Like what to take with you.
Items Brits have requested go in the casket include cigarettes, beer, the ashes of a pet, football scarves and, on one occasion, a cardboard cut-out of Doctor Who David Tennant.
“Now then, Doctor. Get us out of this one.”
When my mother died, I placed her shopping bag in the coffin: she had previously taken it to every other funeral she had attended: “Just in case we pass a shop on the way.”
Horror film actor of the silent screen Bela Lugosi was dressed in his Dracula cape. Tony Curtis was buried with a Stetson, an Armani scarf and his iPhone. Just in case.
A lady in California was buried in a red Ferrari and Sinatra had a flask of whisky. A fast food fanatic had the cortege visit his favourite drive-through on the way to the cemetery to pick up a Burger King Whopper in case he was peckish on his final trip.
Among the most poignant was the golden whistle Lauren Bacall put in the urn with husband Humphrey Bogart's ashes which echoed her famous line in To Have And Have Not. Whenever he wanted her, she said, all he had to do was whistle.
I like that.
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