Simple Direct Funerals

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There is in the media again stories about the cost of a funeral.  Often these stories are poorly hidden adverts for the benefit of Life Insurance companies or Funeral Homes.  It is the message that funerals are expensive and the expense is because it shows love and dignity. 

The story isn’t new.  This latest story in Stuff is aimed at the WINZ grant which is not nearly enough to cover even a direct cremation.

In the story the Funeral Directors Association of NZ (FDANZ) said the average direct cremation is $7,500.  And $10,000 for a basic funeral.  The WINZ grant is up to a max of $2400 – if you qualify.  The FDANZ want the government to increase the grant so the financial burden on families who can’t afford their funeral service is eased (and they can get more money).

The article said that this grant was a disgrace.  There was no mentioned of the emotional and deceitful tactics of funeral homes to increase costs to families. (e.g. – this post)

Does Dignity Come at a Price?

What stood out to me was the comment that families couldn’t have a proper farewell because of the costs.  One funeral director pointed out that cultural customs also couldn’t be properly observed.  So families are going into debt to cover funeral costs.  They also state that families couldn’t have a dignified funeral without the expense.

So how much should you pay for a dignified farewell?  $8,000, $10,000, $15,000??  Does the price reflect dignity?

There is so much emotional blackmail and pressure with the terminology they use.  No wonder families feel pressure to do the “right thing”.  But what is the right thing?  Who says so?  The Funeral Director?  The Family?  The know-it-all relative?  Naturally a Funeral Home will ways that the services they offer provide the right funeral experience.

Simple Dignity

I would say that some of the most dignified and moving funerals have been the simplest.  Because it was about the people – the one who died and those who mourn their passing. 

But we have gotten so caught up in a certain expectation that we have to do certain things to show our love and the person’s worth, that we get these stories now.

I remembered when my grandad passed away and the family went to inter the ashes at the cemetery.  We just sat around on the grass.  No funeral director, no funeral celebrant – just extended family marking the passing of a much-loved grandad.  I’ll never forget that day.  It was dignified, simple and a perfect way to say goodbye.  Beforehand there was a church service at the church he attended.  But there was no coffin – a photo and some of his tools and his favourite hymns.

Funeral Expense

To be fair a Funeral Home is expensive to run.  Buildings, staff, equipment… so being able to utilise all their options is what they will always aim for.  However, they have also set themselves up to be expensive to run.  So obviously the costs will be higher – but to say that this equates to a proper funeral is unfair at best and cruel at worst.

Like most things the cost of dying is going up.  Nelson City Council increased cremation fees by around 20% this year.  Way more than inflation.  And there will be people who are happy to pay whatever for a certain funeral service.  Absolutely they should be free to do this.

However what families also need to know is that a dignified farewell is never dependant upon having expensive funerals.  There is so much pressure out there – from ads promoting funeral insurance and the funeral industry now trying to get more money from the government because their costs are too high for many families.


We need to say that you can have a truly dignified funeral without the expense.  It will be different from the traditional approach, but it is no less meaningful – perhaps even better.  We need to realise that dignity is never showy and love is more than a single event.

People at Beach