I’ve just written a large cheque to a charity. I am, frankly, not the charitable type and also, I (obviously) don’t have money to spare. Yet I’m happy to have handed over a four figure sum to our local hospice. Here’s why. Earlier this year my elderly mother died. She had cancer but given her advanced age she (I think quite rightly, as well as bravely) refused any treatment bar palliative care. She died a few months after diagnosis as pain-free as possible in the caring, quiet local hospice. As far as death can ever be good, she had a good one.
So then came the funeral arrangements. My mother had no religion. She disliked ceremony. She also hated waste and was careful with money – she’d never had a credit card, overdraft or loan. So we (my brother and I) decided to reflect this in her funeral. She had the cheapest one there was (it still cost quite a bit more than £1,000). We pledged that once her estate was finalised, we would donate how much we would have spent on a more elaborate funeral to the hospice. It seemed a much better use of the money than flowers, headstones or a funeral service. Hence the cheque.
Yet I’m quite sure there are people who think our actions were wrong, disrespectful maybe. While our funeral director was charming and absolutely did not try to upsell services, I can’t help but think others would have done so. A report from Royal London says the typical funeral costs £3,675 and many people get themselves into the red to pay for their loved ones’ funerals. Surely that’s not a good way to remember anyone.