Charles 4 Comments


The dolts at The Co-operative Funeralcare have quarried another groundbreaking wheeze. Undistracted by the implosion of Thomas Cook, with which Co-op Travel ill-advisedly merged earlier this year, the blue-skies thinkers at Effcare have cooked up a… wait for it… headstone plan (which they inflatedly call a memorial masonry plan). 

Yes, now you can buy tomorrow’s gravestone at today’s prices. More than that, you can compose your own epitaph and choose the style in which the lettering will be gritblasted by an indifferent machine. 

This is a  thoughtful thing to do. When we die the cognitive powers of our nearest and dearest will, as you know, be paralysed by grief or summick and they’ll find it impossible to express a preference for any hideous shade of imported Chinese or Indian granite let alone be able to come up with something to say on it. In the words of The Co-operative,  “The plan ensures family members are not left with the emotional and financial burden of making these decisions at a very difficult time.”

Asked why the service thought people would want to write their own epitaphs rather than leave it to their loved ones, a spokeswoman said people were increasingly wanting to make personal additions to their own funerals.

She said: “The feedback we are getting is that people want more specific things and they want it to be a celebration of their life. We are getting people to take that one step further … making it more personal and more about you.”

So there you have it. Left to our descendants, our epitaphs will lack both a personal and a celebratory touch.

The thinking is obviously flawed and illogical. Taken with pre-need  plans, this gravestone plan is just another way of shutting out the bereaved from creating fitting memorial events for their dead.

A word to the dying. Say what you’d like, write them a cheque, then butt out; you’ll be dead. This does not apply if there will be nobody close to you looking after things when you’re gone. 

Will anyone, we wonder, explain to those who take out one of these prescriptive plans that the wishes of the living are not legally enforceable after they’re dead? What will the Co-op be saying to people who say ‘We don’t like it; we want something else’? 

Dismal press release here

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Gloria Mundi
Gloria Mundi
12 years ago

Vintage stuff from you, Charles. You draw to our attention further progress in the commoditisation of bereavement. Perhaps the ultimate aim is anaesthetic; to relieve us of the messy business of grief and enable us all to pretend that nothing much has happened. How kind. Compassionate capitalism at its best. On the couple of times when a family has said to me something like “he told us we should…..but mother doesn’t really want that, so we thought we’d…” I feel a sneaky sense of relief and freedom. Incidentally, it may be worth reminding ourselves that in order to avoid the… Read more »

Rupert Callender
12 years ago

Professor Brain Goodwin who we buried a couple of years back, in his local churchyard has a wooden head, er, stone. A thing of great beauty.

12 years ago

For upwards of £1000, headstones are an unexpected whallop a year after the funeral. So a pre-paid ‘stone is a gift for the family.
Do they come giftwrapped, though? Or is it just part the dreary predictable, impersonal, arms length brown paper package that was on offer for the funeral itself.
Funerals ‘r the name, market share’s the game.

12 years ago

PS. I loved the little tablets pictured in the post. I like to think that’s more the spirit alive in most of us.