The start-up putting 'sausage factory' funerals to rest
The founder of funeral package comparison site Dead Right believes tech is the key to getting people the funerals they want.
The start-up lets people seek out and compare funeral plans, offering packages from traditional religious ceremonies to themed occasions based around the things they love, like their favourite football team.
“Death is out of step with the lives we’re living today,” says Dead Right founder and CEO Felicity Stinton.
“We do price comparison, funeral director comparison – by going online you don’t have to default to the dominant brand or bloke down road.
“There are choices out there and when you understand more about the way the market operates you can make more informed choices.
“For some it’s about spending the least but for many what’s more important is how you spend it.
“They want to spend the money on things that matter to them and what makes sense for the individual that died rather than being pushed down a sausage factory.”
Alongside allowing people to have the funerals they want, Stinton says that data shows that by shopping around people can usually save around £1,000 on the cost of funerals.
However she explains that comparing funeral directors can be like comparing a Travelodge and the Ritz so it’s more about people getting a good fit.
One example of this is the rise in eco funerals, so the website has a partnership with a tree urn company that lets people put their ashes into a tree urn.
In return the company makes a charitable donation to plant a tree in a South African forest and donates to a rural employment programme for women.
“There are some innovative things going on, like we offer people who book with us a Headspace trial for meditation to support them through the bereavement process,” says Stinton.
“We’re trying to come up with a range of things that can demystify the process and on a practical level make things as easy as possible.”
Technology can help make things easier in other ways too, believes Stinton, like chatbots which are currently being developed in the US to answer questions about death.
“Tech can certainly help people have conversations and get organised and informed,” she says.
“By doing those things it enables people to take more control around an event which is ultimately beyond their control, so it gives a degree of reassurance.
“It’s not going to make someone less sad but if you’ve had a conversation when the worst happens at least you know it’s what they would have wanted and you can remove that element of pain.
“One of the hardest things for families when dealing with loss is the addition of uncertainty or family discord – people saying ‘mum would’ve hated that’.
Although tech has been accused of being disrespectful – such as the recent craze of teenagers taking selfies at funerals or the rise of funeral live streaming – Stinton doesn’t see this as cause for alarm.
“Funerals follow the fashion of life and all these behaviours are things that are happening in mainstream life,” she says.
“If taking selfies made sense for the deceased and their friends why not continue to behave like you did when they were alive?”