There is no question funerals often come as a very unexpected and unwelcome expense. In Canberra alone, around 40,000 people are living below the poverty line, with many more in the greater region. Even those with ‘good’ incomes can find themselves unable to manage a bill of $2000 if they aren’t anticipating it, especially with the cost of living increasing so substantially in recent times.
While planning and saving can help dramatically ease the cost of a funeral when it arises, sometimes this simply isn’t possible. Families can find themselves in real financial distress. When this is added to the grief families are likely to be experiencing, it’s a recipe for disaster. It’s hard to think clearly and make sensible long-term decisions in the midst of grief or stress.
Sometimes families feel pressure to spend money they don’t have, or they aren’t able to take the time to investigate all their options and end up in debt. This can take years to pay off. Tender Funerals was founded after the Port Kembla community realised how much debt was being incurred by its members to pay for funerals.
So if you are struggling to meet the costs of a funeral, what can you do?
Decide what’s really important
There are so many ways to create a beautiful, authentic funeral which do not cost much money. Whether that’s choosing a cardboard coffin for everyone to decorate, or holding the funeral at home, you have choices, and you shouldn’t be afraid to make them.
Call on the power of your community
You know how everyone always says ‘Let me know if there’s anything I can do’? Now is the time to tell them.
Who do you know who can contribute $50 or $100 to the funeral fund? Can attendees bring a plate to share? Who can bring some flowers or foliage from their garden? Anyone can be a celebrant – who in your circle would be good? Is there a relative who plays the guitar?
If you’re worried that this is somehow going to look cheap, or you’re embarrassed to ask for help, please remember that funerals were, until very recently, the epitome of community action. You’re not asking for charity; you’re inviting your community to be part of the final moment for your person who has died. This is not just a benefit for you; it’s a gift to the people you’ve asked to be part of the process. When we actively participate in grieving, we process it better and we heal faster. What a wonderful thing to do together!
Explore financial assistance programs for funerals
Depending on your location and your membership of certain groups, you may be eligible for a range of funeral assistance.
- In the ACT, Residents who meet the eligibility criteria can apply for assistance from the ACT Funeral Assistance program to cover the costs of a basic funeral.
- In NSW, funeral assistance for people unable to afford a basic funeral is provided through the Local Health Areas. Contact your local council for more information.
- Members of our First Nations communities in NSW may be supported through the Funeral Fund of the Aboriginal Land Council. Transport NSW also offers support to community members travelling for Sorry Business through their Aborginal Funeral Transport Program.
- Individuals receiving Centrelink benefits may be eligible for payments from Services Australia.
- Veterans may be able to access funeral benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
- Some industries, unions or communities have specific programs to help their members. For example, professional musicians may be supported through Support Act.
- No Interest Loans are available from a range of responsible providers to individuals meeting their criteria.
Can Tender Funerals Canberra Region help?
While we’re not able to offer funerals yet, we can still provide advice at no cost, so feel free to call or email for assistance to explore your options. Once we’re open in 2024, donations to our Benevolent Fund will be used to assist with funeral costs for people in financial need.
- Know your options to create a meaningful, affordable funeral for less
- Invite your community to be part of the solution
- There are financial assistance programs
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