Humans by nature are ‘meaning markers’, we design rituals around emotionally significant occurrences because it helps us to process our way through these experiences. A funeral service for your departed loved one is a wonderful way to celebrate their life, and the service can also play an important role in assisting you and others as you begin to move through the stages of acceptance and grief following such a loss.
The passing of a loved one is a very emotional time, and while a funeral is a wonderful opportunity to commemorate their life, planning their funeral service can be a very overwhelming and quite daunting task. For some it can feel purposeful to have something to focus on, but for others it is very much an unwanted duty. Added complications of financial pressure and being required to make decisions at a time when you are often emotionally and cognitively not at your best can make this a stressful time.
However, regardless of financial circumstances, everyone has the right to be honoured with a service that is both affordable, compassionate, and beautiful. We have been somewhat conditioned through movies about how a funeral should ‘be’, yet modern farewell ceremonies can be completely tailored to your unique preferences and resources. By gaining clarity on what would have been most important to your loved one and is in line with their religious and cultural beliefs and personal wishes, you can make decisions from a position of strength and be guided by what is right for your situation, without the pressure to do everything that is ‘expected’ or on offer.
Considering budget when planning a funeral does not mean that you need compromise on quality, dignity, or beauty of service. Keeping things simple and selecting options that are meaningful to you and your beloved can be far more important and impactful than choosing the most expensive options.
At such a painful and confusing time, the assistance of a funeral director is invaluable in the planning process. A funeral director will talk you through all your options and assist with some of the tasks that need to be done. It is important to acknowledge that whilst you will be presented with many different alternatives, there are packages to suit all budgets and you can be confident in tailoring options to suit the personal needs of you, your family, and your budget. Seeking pricing transparency from any service provider is important, as you do not necessarily want things bundled together, nor be upsold or be faced with hidden costs. Request an itemised quote so that you can see exactly what each element costs hence giving you the choice of things you want included and ensure you do not waste money on things that may not be necessary for your service.
The type of service you select will have one of the greatest impacts on your overall costs. There are no rules about what a funeral must entail, and options available to you include a funeral with a burial, a funeral with a cremation, a bespoke memorial or ceremony, or you may choose to forego a ceremony with people in attendance.
To create a beautiful funeral when funds are limited, cremation is a good option to consider as it is more affordable than a burial. A burial can cost at least twice as much as a cremation, however there are many variables to consider, and your funeral director will be able to assist and talk these through with you in detail. Cremation has become a popular choice in Australia as it eliminates the cost of the burial plot, headstone, and the burial itself in addition to reducing the cost of the actual coffin.
Opting for a cremation also provides some flexibility with regards to the type of ceremony you choose. You may hold a traditional funeral with your loved one present prior to the cremation. Alternatively, you may hold a memorial after the cremation, or opt for an informal gathering to scatter your loved ones ashes. You may also opt to have no ceremony at all, in which case your costs are reduced as you need to pay for the cremation only.
A simple memorial with a close group of friends and family, or a scattering of ashes in a place of significance can be beautiful options when your budget is limited. Regardless of the style of ceremony you choose, rest assured that you will be able to add personal elements to even the simplest of ceremonies, and these elements can create a lovely reflection of the personality and life of your loved one.
Many of the costs associated with a funeral such as funeral home service fees, transportation fees, care of the body and the cost of a casket or urn are unavoidable, however, there are many variable costs in which you can make selections based on what fits comfortably within your budget. The venue you select and how many people you wish to have in attendance will be an important consideration when choosing plans to suit your budget. You may opt for a private venue, a chapel or a church service, or a free public space such as a park or beach. The style of coffin or casket you choose is another opportunity to seek a lower cost option as there are great variations in price in the choices available.
Music, use of audio-visual tools, flowers and memorabilia are all beautiful ways to personalise your ceremony to reflect your loved one without huge cost. Having photos of your loved one present at the ceremony or having some of their favourite things present can remind you of the wonderful times they experienced in life. You may choose to do your ceremony flowers yourself or ask guests to bring a simple flower each in remembrance rather than investing in costly floral arrangements. Often these simple gestures serve to bring the congregation together and pleasantly soften the intensity of the ceremony.
The gathering of friends and family, and the sharing of memories and stories at a wake following your service can be an important part of your farewell ritual. In keeping your post funeral gathering costs within your budget, you can opt to hold it in a park, or at someone’s home, or explore local council spaces for hire, as often there are low or no cost community facilities available for this purpose. To minimise catering costs, you may ask people to bring a plate of food to contribute or gather at a local venue where people can order their own food and drinks. Remember that simple is lovely, and the addition of low-cost personal touches to conjure fond memories of your loved one will make the wake a cherished celebration of their life.
Planning the funeral of your departed loved one is an emotionally intense task, but you can rest assured that together with your funeral director you will be able to identify options that fit within your price range, and with the addition of uniquely personal touches, you will be able to create a beautiful yet affordable funeral. Remember to seek total transparency on the cost of all elements, and that the final decision is always yours. You should trust yourself to make the right decisions in choosing to commemorate your loved one in a way that feels right for you and brings you a sense of peace in a beautiful service at a reasonable price.