There’s a strong feeling among funeralistas that making money out of death is wrong, naff, reprehensible. This is good news for consumers. I’ve met a good many vocation-driven undertakers who could charge far more than they do but they won’t because they think it’s… wrong. Ironically, even the greediest, porkiest undertaker will lend his or her voice to indignantly and righteously denounce a celebrant who charges much more than a retired priest.
My own credibility (such as it is) is founded in the fact that I can’t make what I do pay. In any other industry this foolhardy indigence would earn me derision. In Funeralworld it is my indispensable calling card, my most disarming attribute.
I don’t buy all this. I think that the labourer is worthy of his or her hire. If you can be of use to someone, send them a bill which reflects your value and their ability to pay. Wish I could.
The newly-launched end-of-life planning service Lovingly Managed has attracted some tsk-tsk-ing. But it serves a need which no one else is serving, a need which is going to grow as the population ages, grows spectre-thin and dements. There are aspects to end-of-life planning which, to many, will be either difficult to get your head around or just plain tedious. Necessary, though. Will writing. Lasting Power of Attorney for the time when you lose your wits. An ADRT for the time when you want them to leave you alone. Information and guidance about body donation, assisted dying, tissue donation, financial planning, funeral planning. Who’s going to look after the dog? There’s a lot to it. Lovingly Managed sit down with you, take you through it and fill out the boring paperwork – just like my accountant and, recently, my brilliant mortgage person. “Sign here.” Done. Worth every penny. You love people like this too.
Lovingly Managed is run by expert, ethical people headed by a solicitor. They present no threat to anyone else in Funeralworld: they are plugging a gap. Have they got the tone right on their website? Not yet, perhaps, in places, I don’t know. No worries. They’re bright so they adapt. I’ve spoken to Denise Jones who heads it up. I like her. A lot. People need what she and her team are doing.
Another busy bee in this emerging niche market of end-of-life planning is Paul Hensby at MyLastSong. This is one of those sites where you record your plans and wishes – you buy yourself a virtual box and fill it up. When I first saw the site and detected its commercialism I tsk-ed a bit. It gets to you, this sniffiness, doesn’t it? Well, he’s working bloody hard to make it work. He’s a nice guy. Is MLS what people want? Don’t know til you try, do you? I really don’t see why not.
To do something new requires vast reserves of self-reliance and stubbornness and reckless optimism. You think you’ve got a winner, that’s what sustains you through the dark days. The best ideas and the worst ideas, we remind ourselves, are greeted equally by cries of “It’ll never work!” You never know til you try. Let’s acknowledge the courage it takes to take risks.
Check out their websites. While you’re at it, vote in the poll on the MLS website – top right on the home page.