Thursday, December 9, 2010

Post Ninety-Six: All Dressed up.

I attended the most elaborate and amazing funeral service yesterday. A much loved and widely respected individual passed away and thousands of people mourned the death. It was a breath-taking experience, yet one that made me think about those that pass that don't, for one reason or another, have any sort of send off at all.

A shift in popular choice from burial to cremation has occured over the past 40 odd years, and with this came the reluctant advent of the NSNA. An NSNA arrangement in funeral director jargon means 'No service and no attendance.'

For funeral homes, this is the still respected yet least favourable arrangement, as the costs are so low that as a business there is little to make any money from. As you can probably tell from the last ninety-five posts, I'm not so keen on making profit from grief so that side of the NSNA arrangement doesn't phase me in the slightest.

I understand also that some dying people, as a final request, ask not to have a funeral service. Makes sense to me. Some selfless people would prefer their familes to use that money for a holiday or for the grandkids trust fund. Other people just don't want any fuss so they prearrange and opt for a no frills attached 'essential' coffin and meet their maker without much further ado.

I pause for reflection however when a John Doe is transferred into our care. Of course, as they have no known family or friends, the government pay for only the bare essentials. It's a similar scenario when family members have no money at all, and the deceased doesn't get to tread indulgently into the afterlife draped in silks and fineries.

In all NSNA's; un-healthy, un-wealthy, unwise or wise, each deceased person gets the same level of care and compassion as the next. I figure, when you're dead you need a friend in the fridge (and that's me).

So, even though no-one is going to see them I paint their nails and blow dry their hair. They even get a spritz of chanel and a slick of lippie (only the ladies, or the men if requested and they're that way inclined). In the mortuary everyone gets treated the same regardless of whether or not the lid will be lifted ever again. Word.

This post is dedicated to you, my unsung NSNA's. You are somebody to me.

Peace. x


  1. My husband's great aunt opted for a NSNA. It was so low key that it was only when I asked my siter-in-law how Aunt Betty's battle with cancer was going that I learnt she had died 2 months previously. (There's a whole other rant about my inlaws and their secretiveness that I shan't go into!)

    Whilst it's her death, so it was her choice, I personally want some sort of service to mark the fact that I lived. Which is my ego speaking, but that's not a dirty word, is it? ;-)

    Great blog, Sarah!

  2. What beautiful words Sarah
    You are truely a beautiful caring person. I hope when it is my turn to go I have someone as caring as you to look after me. I love your blog.

  3. A few years ago a neighbour of mine passed away alone in his flat. I didn't know him very well, just to say hello around the traps, but when I heard that there was no-one in his life except his workmates, I couldn't bear to think of someone just dying and not having anyone acknowledge them. While I was unable to attend the funeral myself, which I do regret, I was able to co-ordinate some of the other neighbours and his colleagues to be able to go, and then a shared drink amongst the tenants later to send him off.

    It makes me feel so much better that people like you are there for those that have nobody else at the end to send them off with dignity and respect.

  4. You are a very special person, Sarah. xxx

  5. I dare you to write a post that doesn't make this hormonal and heavily pregnant woman cry.

    hell, no I don't. Keep writing homeslice. you rule.