Planning a funeral can be an emotionally and financially tough time – especially when it becomes a priority without any warning.
As well as dealing with the sudden loss of a loved one, those left to plan a service can often be left struggling to pay for a fitting send-off.
In Dundee, where thousands of people live in poverty, funerals can bring extra unwelcome stress.
In the past we’ve told countless stories of locals who have relied on strangers’ generosity following a bereavement.
However, Dundee City Council has launched a new package in partnership with four local undertakers to ease such struggles in future.
The Respectful Funeral Service aims to deliver a fitting send-off with savings of between 20-34% on the typical cost – starting from £1,775.
It includes collection, care and preparation of the deceased, a choice of coffin, a place of rest, a hearse and family car and arrangements on the day.
Other extras can be requested at additional cost, such as a celebrant or an order of service.
Those behind the scheme hope it will help at the most difficult of times – but they also hope, in the long term, to encourage locals to think about the unthinkable in advance.
Derek Miller, financial inclusion development officer at the council, said: “People are committed to giving their loved ones a good send-off, often because they worry about what others will think of them if they don’t. This isn’t going to fix all of the problems of funeral poverty but it is a contribution – one of a number of measures to help.
“We also want folk to think about this long before – even though we know it’s difficult to face. I don’t think people really want to think about comparing funeral prices within 24 hours of a relative dying.
“Maybe we should all think about having a funeral plan.”
Elaine Zwirlein, executive director of neighbourhood services, added: “It is so important to get the message out there that there are options like this.
“We’re trying to tackle poverty in a number of ways, but in ways people are comfortable with and that they feel are fitting.”
The initiative is one of several aiming to tackle costs following the formation of Dundee Funeral Poverty Action Group.
Its research led to the formation of a support service, Funeral Link, which offers advice to anyone planning a funeral.
Councillor Anne Rendall, Dundee’s older people’s champion, said its advice has already helped her personally.
“I have a relative in a care home and we’ve had to put in place an end-of-life plan, but I didn’t realise the options we had open to us until now,” she said.
“Because of where they stay it wouldn’t be appropriate to have a normal service.
“But we have arranged for a direct cremation first – which I didn’t know about – and then we will have a celebration for everyone at the care home.
“Having a charity that can give advice like that is really useful.”
Environment services manager Rod Houston said 130 partners such as Funeral Link were on board to advocate the service, inspired by a similar scheme launched in East Ayrshire two years ago.
For more information on Respectful Funerals, call 01382 431536.