By Rick Lauber
Staying the same seems have been the funeral industry’s mindset for generations. But, with today’s desire for simple vs lavish, reducing our carbon footprints and the continued risk of COVID-19 transmission at gatherings, change was inevitable.
It’s a buyers market and certainly one where the options have recently been blown wide open. So say good-bye to same old, same old, and hello to some tasteful, more natural and budget friendly option that you might want to consider:
Green Burials: An environmentally friendly alternative to concrete or steel caskets/coffins that aren’t at all biodegradable green burials provide for interment in a casket made of willow, pine, woven fibre, or even cardboard – all of which break down over the course of time.
Cremations: With their rate in Canada rising steadily, one could ask if it’s only the lower cost of cremation that appeals? While they are significantly cheaper than standard funerals, many prefer the fact that cremated ashes can be kept in an urn by family, passed between siblings, entombed in a special place, scattered, or made into keepsake jewellery.
Urns are also better for the environment, don’t require large cemetery plots space and can be more creative – stuffed teddy bears with compartments for ashes. On the lighter side, Fredric J. Baur, the designer of the Pringles Potato Chips can, requested that his cremains be kept in a Pringles can. Viewneral™ services are on-line celebrations of life that reduce both the risk of COVID-19 transmission and reduce travel time and costs for family members. Arrangements can still be made independently or by funeral directors who can virtually plan and organize all details of the funeral service and aftercare. Up to 500 family and guests can easily join the service. The family receives a recording of the service, a list of attendees with their e-mail addresses, and a virtual guest book with condolence messages.
“Nothing in life is certain except death and taxes.”
Funeral Fundraisers: Low on cash? Funerals come as a surprise sometimes and can have a steep price tag with unexpected extras like flights and hotels, child care, catering expenses and the cost of flowers. A simple website memorial fund can be an effective way to help cover the expenses. Designing such a site doesn’t have to be difficult. Numerous on-line, user-friendly tools exist with content and layout ideas. (www.everplans.com/articles/the-top-10-online-memorial-websites). Another option I’ve seen utilized is GoFundMe.com, an on-line fundraising tool that is free, easy to use and guarantee (ca.gofundme.com). Getting the ball rolling by making an initial donation yourself can be a good idea
Changing times: While traditionally funeral homes and relation have provided the cultural script for what is appropriate to do and say when a person passes however, things have and are changing. There are a myriad of dignified ways to respect a beloved friend or family member and support those who are dealing with the loss. And, these days, plenty of new and interesting ways to celebrate a life well lived.
Rick Lauber is a published book author and an established freelance writer. He has written two books, Caregiver’s Guide for Canadians and The Successful Caregiver’s Guide (Self-Counsel Press).
Government and Veteran’s Benefits
Canadian Pension Plan contributors and veterans can receive financial help from the federal government. Benefit applications must come from an executor within 60 days of death and the money received ($2,500) must be used for funeral costs. To learn more about the CPP death benefits: www.canada.ca.
Veteran Affair’s Last Post Fund can help cover funeral costs. Eligibility will be determined by the net value of the veteran’s estate. Veterans will receive a commemorative military gravestone. Submit applications on death. www.veterans.gc.ca.