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. 

Woman picking lavender

Flowers from the garden of a friend or family member are a great way to increase meaning and reduce costs.

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.

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. 

Key Takeaways
  • 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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Photo of hands with a request to donate to Tender Funerals