Funeral costs have skyrocketed in recent years and many Aussies now feel they have become too expensive, adding an extra burden to an already difficult time.
Maxine Shea recently organised the funeral of her grandmother and said she didn’t realise just how expensive it would be.
“I’d gone to Melbourne to see my grandma to do a recording of her life story and, when I turned up, she was not in a good way. Within four days of me being there, she had passed and it was a bit of a shock to be honest,” Maxine told Yahoo Finance.
“We’ve got quite a big family so organising a funeral with a lot of people was difficult and it ended up being just my auntie and myself helping organise.”
The funeral cost $10,000 altogether, with various family members chipping in to help cover the costs. But Maxine said it was her grandma Cynthia’s foresight that helped take the stress out of the funeral process for the family.
“Nanna had already talked to the funeral directors and she’d chosen her coffin and had paid for the service already … that was around $6,000,” she said.
“I think if Nanna hadn’t paid for it upfront then it probably would have been a bit of a stressful situation.”
The family then had to cover $4,000 for the cost of the wake, cremation niche and engraving.
Funeral costs skyrocket
Funeral costs have surged in recent years, with a new survey by Australian Seniors finding costs have increased more than 20 per cent since 2019.
The average cost of a funeral is now $9,076, according to the organisation’s survey of 1,200 Aussies aged over 50. Burials are significantly more expensive than cremations, with an average cost of $11,039 compared to $8,045.
Almost nine in 10 believe funeral costs are too expensive. Worryingly, a third of older Aussies who’d helped pay for a loved one’s funeral in the past two years said they had experienced hardship as a result.
About two-thirds said it had taken them months to recover, while almost a quarter said they were yet to fully recover after chipping in.
Funeral costs breakdown
Here’s a breakdown of some of the more expensive costs:
Coffin/casket - $2,808
Headstone - $2,107
Burial plot - $1,773
Cremation fee - $1,381
Cemetery/grave fees - $1,146
Other associated costs including funeral catering ($957), funeral cars ($634) and flowers ($459) can add to the overall expense.
Maxine said one way her family cut costs was by forgoing professional flowers and instead asking their 120 guests to bring their own contribution.
“Nanna really liked garden flowers, so we asked people to bring flowers from their garden or if they wanted to buy flowers they could. It was just a really nice contribution to the funeral,” Maxine said.
Aussies urged to talk about funerals
When it comes to who should pay, the majority of those surveyed (74 per cent) believed the deceased should be responsible for covering their own send off. This was followed by the partner (36 per cent) and children (16 per cent).
Clinical psychologist and end-of-life care researcher Dr Kerrie Noonan said attitudes towards funerals were changing and more people were acknowledging how important it was to plan ahead.
“We all have a role to stop perpetuating the myth that death is a taboo topic. And while uncomfortable and difficult, people do want to talk about death because they know the emotional and practical cost of avoiding it. They also know that it can reduce the burden on their families after death,” Noonan said.
Maxine recommended people talk to their loved ones about what they wanted for their funeral, who they wanted to invite and making sure they had good photos for themselves at hand.