–by Leda Nutting
In the weeks following pop music icon David Bowie’s death after battling cancer, much has been made by the media of his choice to have no funeral or memorial service. Bowie was reported to have asked his friends and family for a “no-fuss” funeral, and they did just that. He was cremated with no family or friends present.
Many of the calls we receive at this office are from those who have experienced a recent death and who are attempting to scrape together what little money they have and are stunned by the high cost of putting together a “full service” funeral at a funeral home. People often report feeling as though they are failing their loved ones when they are unable to deliver a big funeral for them. I often suspect that many of these people are more worried that they will be perceived as cheap by the living, than of letting down their loved ones, if they don’t put themselves into debt trying to pay for a funeral beyond their means. Some unscrupulous funeral directors have ways of encouraging this feeling with terms like “welfare casket” for a simple burial container or “immediate disposal” for direct cremation.
In spite of the sadness of Bowie’s death, it is nice to be reminded that those who most certainly could afford otherwise might choose conservative funeral arrangements, or to eschew the funeral entirely. Direct cremation is not only reserved for the poor. It is a perfectly dignified funeral and an arrangement that my own family has chosen multiple times for personal and practical reasons. Public funerals are not for everyone and grief is not expressed through one’s wallet.
This article on our website has many suggestions for those who can’t afford the funeral they imagined, or for those simply looking for an inexpensive or simple arrangement.