It is a funny business, the funeral business, if you’ll excuse the use of the phrase. Because of the milder weather there have been fewer serious colds and influenza events and this has led to fewer deaths. Bad news if your main client base is families shopping for a funeral provider.
This story by Emma Koehn: ‘We need people to die’: funeral businesses worry about slowdown in deaths (SMH Business section 18 August 2018) demonstrates once again how the commercalisation of dying and death has become big business with profit margins impacted when we citizens don’t ‘play the game’ according to the number crunchers within a product based industry.
Says Koehn: Australia’s funeral businesses are facing a difficult truth: not enough people are dying. To be more exact, vendors are saying numbers point to “softer” market conditions in recent months – meaning a drop off in death that hasn’t been great for business.
While the bigger companies are experiencing a drop off in numbers, one of the reasons is because there are more businesses opening and offering more choice. It’s hard to keep on top of the jargon used within the funeral industry but one of them is “cookie cutter” funeral options. This is a way of describing the one size fits all, standardised product offered to families. Often sold on the bases of price, it has meant that smaller companies are entering the market to provide more personalised funeral ceremonies at the same or cheaper prices.
We would hasten to say that all this ignores the fact that we can take charge of our own final disposition without calling in the services of strangers and external providers. What is made to sound complicated and beyond our ability is absolutely doable and well within our capacity to deliver. None of this would make the business pages. Death has become big business. Death needs to be reframed with final farewells being proportionate to the situations encountered at the time of death. In many instances the would then be not only respectful, dignified and family friendly. They would also be affordable.