DIY funerals: from Coronation Street to Co Down
As ‘Corrie’ characters Hayley and Roy consider a DIY funeral, one man who went the same route with his partner tells of his comfort in taking control of life’s toughest event
On the morning of the funeral, instead of a black hearse, Mervyn’s close friend Percy used his estate car to transport the coffin to the church. A beautiful spray of flowers prepared by a friend from Mervyn’s favourite garden adorned the coffin. Six pre-arranged friends acted as pall-bearers. Instead of the unfamiliarity of a chauffeur-driven black limousine, I was driven by a close friend in his saloon car. After the church service, instead of going to a hotel, home-made refreshments were prepared and served by volunteers in the adjacent church hall.
Transported by friends
A smaller group of mourners drove to the graveyard. As I sat in the saloon car following the estate car containing Mervyn’s coffin, my sister remarked to me “how comforting it is that a dear friend of Mervyn’s is bearing his body to the graveyard”. At the cemetery one of the volunteers brought straps to assist the pall
-bearers to lower the coffin into the open grave. This highlights the number of small tasks and items that can easily be forgotten and need to be included on the to-do list for your DIY funeral.
DIY funerals are not for everyone. There are many tasks to be undertaken at an emotional time in a short period. An anticipated death makes it easier, and detailed planning is essential. It requires the availability of reliable volunteers. Nevertheless, as our experience shows, a DIY funeral is achievable.
It is certainly more economical – a basic cost €600 (coffin plus preparation of corpse) compared with the typical funeral service’s basic package of €2,500. This difference is mainly accounted for by the saving on administration, personnel time and transport costs, which in our case were borne by volunteers.
Typically, there are additional expenses such as costs of newspaper death notices and the grave – the latter can sometimes be considerable.
We donated our savings from our DIY funeral to our favoured charity. However, as important as the economic advantage is, the personal satisfaction of directing it yourself is immeasurable. It felt more like my granny’s traditional funeral.
The contribution of family members and close friends, instead of strangers, transformed a very sad occasion into an unexpectedly positive experience.