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The cost of mourning the death of a loved one

18 Dec 2018

A funeral checklist for a dignified send off

Dealing with death, particularly the loss of a loved one, is traumatic and agonising. This is probably one of the reasons that discussing death is not a conversation we like to have. The unfortunate reality is that these conversations will have to take place whether we want them to or not.

For example, we all know that deaths due to road accidents increase significantly over the festive season. Statistics by the Road Traffic Management Corporation shows that 14 050 people died in road crashes in South Africa in 2017. The road death toll in December last year alone was at 1 527 and there's nothing to indicate that this year will be any better.

If someone you love became one of these sad statistics, would you be prepared for the fall out of arranging a decent send off for them? Would you know exactly what you need to do after you receive the dreaded news that your loved one has passed away? Who would arrange and pay for the funeral?

 Acting Managing Director of the Liberty Emerging Consumer Market (ECM) division, Lindiwe Monyae says, "the death of a loved one is one of the most difficult things to process and accept - planning their funeral not only brings emotional strain, but financial strain too. The true value of the appropriate and well thought through funeral plan becomes relevant in times like these."

Funeral proceedings that you need to plan and budget for

  1. Family meetings
  2. Before you arrange the actual funeral, the surviving family members will need to meet to discuss the arrangements. These meetings should help everyone to understand their roles and responsibilities in the days leading up to the actual funeral. There's often more than one meeting and providing refreshments to all the guests can be expensive.

  3. Death Announcement
  4. Once you've let the immediate family know about the untimely passing of a loved one, it is important to let the greater community know too. In the past, obituary announcements in the newspaper would have been common place - However social media and instant messaging has made this a pragmatic process today. Unfortunately you'd still need to spend money on airtime and data.

  5. Mourners visit the home
  6. As the week progresses, mourners will descend on the family home to pay their respects. Every visit will require someone in the family to host these guests. Making tea, serving biscuits and trying to hold conversations can be physically and emotionally draining, so it might be a good idea to ensure that more than one individual carries the responsibility of hosting mourners.

  7. Meeting with the priests and community leaders
  8. To arrange the burial, you will need to arrange meetings with the priests and community leaders. This is where you will decide the actual proceedings of the funeral. What hymns will be sung? Who will give the Eulogy? Who will be a Pallbearer? Where and when will the event take place?

Planning the funeral

There are many things to consider when planning a funeral that will put your loved ones to rest with dignity. It is important that you don't allow anything to slip between the cracks. From choosing the cemetery to selecting the coffin, everything comes with high responsibility and a significant cost.

Here is a funeral checklist to guide you through the process:

Funeral Planning Checklist

  • Select the cemetery where the body will be buried
  • Choose a coffin or a casket
  • Find the right tombstone for the deceased
  • Identify the priest that will conduct the ceremony
  • Find the right church/venue for the service
  • Family transport to and from the funeral
  • Clothes for the family to wear to the funeral
  • Catering for the mourners at the deceased's home
  • Marquees and chairs and supporting technical equipment to host the mourners at the home
  • Accommodation for mourners travelling long distances
  • Electricity to manage the influx of family and friends
  • Gas canisters and fire wood to accommodate all the cooking if the funeral is being held in rural areas
  • Food - a cow for slaughter and cooking

"These costs may differ depending on your culture and religion.  Costs of funerals can leave a significant dent in the financial well-being of the surviving family members. Insurers such as Liberty offer standard and comprehensive funeral cover with benefits that pay out towards covering costs associated with burying a loved one."

Speak to your financial adviser to find the right solution that will ensure all your funeral costs are covered.


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Liberty Group Limited (Reg. no 1957/002788/06) is a registered Long Term Insurer and an Authorised Financial Services Provider (FAIS no 2409).