The Good Funeral Guide Blog

No service by request

Friday, 5 March 2010

One more go at Canada’s Times Colonist. A rich seam, this.

There are 13 obits in the paper. Of those, 3 opt for no service; 3 opt for a celebration of life (I’m not sure exactly what that is, but at least one of them’s not a funeral); 4 opt for a memorial service; and just 3 opt for a funeral (all burials by the look of them). That means 8 out of 13 of these dead people will duck out of/be spared a conventional funeral. By UK standards, unthinkable.

There seem to be three reasons for the decline of the Canadian funeral.

First, older people (okay, seniors if you insist) move to retirement places and, uprooted from the place where, all their lives, they have done what was expected of them, feel disconnected from social conventions – fancy-free and free for anything.

Second, having moved to a retirement centre, these people suppose that there’ll be no one to come to their funeral.

Third, having been to awful funerals in the past, these (liberated, it has to be said) people reckon a funeral is not for them, so they specify: no service by request.

The local funeral director, McCall’s, is clearly so concerned by this that they have put a half-hour discussion of the no-funeral option on their website in the hope that people will reconsider.

In the UK we have retirement centres and more than enough experience of bleak and meaningless funerals.

So, why is it taking us so long to catch up?

Listen to the discussion on the McCalls site here: No Service By Request

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