Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search

 

Funeral poverty – whose responsibility is it?

Funeral poverty – whose responsibility is it?

How do you intend to pay for your funeral? It is not a topic most of us feel comfortable discussing. Death and finances are two topics likely to create awkward silences, especially when combined.

Now a new book, featuring a chapter from Massey University Master of Applied Social Work graduate Philippa Thompson and her supervisor Dr Polly Yeung, focuses on the idea of responsibility for funerals.

For her research, Ms Thompson interviewed professionals who had assisted to arrange a funeral for someone who would not otherwise have had one, in order to understand their motivations and explore whether there was a role for social workers in supporting clients in this way.

“If you are young to middle aged and in reasonably good health, you’ve probably never thought about it. Unless you have recently helped arrange a funeral, you may have no idea how much it’s likely to cost. It’s easy to assume that when the time comes there will be someone to make our final arrangements for us and the funds to pay for it. But what happens when there’s no money and no one else willing or able to pay? This is the experience of funeral poverty,” Ms Thompson says.

“My study found the best support social workers can offer is by encouraging clients to plan funerals in advance where possible, as it’s easier to make decisions when we are not grieving.”

Together Ms Thompson and Dr Yeung were invited to contribute a chapter on the topic to the book Death and Dying in New Zealand, published by Free Range Press and released earlier this month. The book covers a wide range of perspectives on death with chapters contributed by a doctor, an architect, a coroner, academics, counsellors and many others. In this chapter, they focused on the idea of responsibility for funerals – does it rest with the deceased, the bereaved, the community or the state?



“For many of us, a funeral is an important part of the grieving process and the pressure to do it ‘right’ can be significant. Funerals are expensive, and with the cost of living already so high, funeral poverty probably affects more people than we realise. There needs to be more research done, to know just how many people this affects,” Ms Thompson says.


“For those who don’t have money, a grant of just over $2000 is available from Work and Income to assist, or a larger grant is available from ACC if the death resulted from an accident. However, neither grant is sufficient to pay the average cost of a funeral.”

Both Ms Thompson and Dr Yeung emphasis that while the topics of death and money may be uncomfortable to many people, it is important to talk about them. “Social workers and other professionals can assist by encouraging families to plan in advance and by using their networks to access services, such as finding affordable venues. But the government also needs to accept that people deserve dignity in death, which means reviewing how much support is available,” Ms Thompson says.

‘Is a funeral a right? Exploring indigent funerals from social work perspectives’ was published in the Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work Journal in 2015.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

PM Announces Royal Commission Into Christchurch Attacks

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that there will be a Royal Commission of Inquiry into security agencies following the Christchurch terrorist attacks... The inquiry will look at what could or should have been done to prevent the attack, Ms Ardern said. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Ridding The Net Of White Supremacist Propaganda

Although it won’t be a walk in the park, gun law reform will be an easier job than neutralising the Internet hate content that (a) recruited the Christchurch shooter, and (b) confirmed him in his beliefs. More>>

SCOOP COVERAGE: CHRISTCHURCH MOSQUES TERROR ATTACK
For the Latest: Scoop Search - Christchurch
 

PM's Post-Cab 25/3/19: Royal Commission On Mosque Attacks

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern began by announcing cabinet's decision that the inquiry into the events leading up to the 15 March attacks at mosques in Christchurch would be a Royal Commission... Ms Ardern also announced a long-expect trip to China. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The School Climate Strike

Locally, the school strike has won a ton of support for bringing climate change to the fore. Yet the strikers don't want mere expressions of support. They want action. More>>

ALSO:

"Grabbed And Struck In The Face": Greens Co-Leader Attacked While Walking To Work

Green Party co-leader James Shaw was the victim of an unprovoked attack when he was walking to work in Wellington. More>>

ALSO:

████████ ████ ███: Latest OIA Statistics Released

The latest statistics cover 110 agencies that collectively completed 18,106 official information requests between July and December 2018, a 16.4% increase on the 15,551 requests for the previous six months. More>>

ALSO:

'Hit And Run' Inquiry: New Legal Action Over Secrecy

The lawyer representing the Afghan villagers in the inquiry into Operation Burnham has launched legal proceedings calling for a judicial review in the investigation. More>>

ALSO:

From Hydro Plan To...: Mokihinui River Land To Join Kahurangi National Park

A total of 64,400 hectares of conservation land in the Mokihinui River catchment on the West Coast north of Westport, including 15 km of riverbed, is being added to Kahurangi National Park. “Adding this area, roughly half the size of Auckland City, to Kahurangi is the largest addition of land to an existing national park in New Zealand’s history,” Eugenie Sage said. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels