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Tackling the taboo of death in York

Source: YorkMix
Source: YorkMix

Families in York face paying almost 50% more for a funeral if they turn to a national chain, according to data provided to The Yorker.

The city is pretty forward thinking when it comes to encouraging discussion and openness over death, what with the work of the Death and Culture Network based at the University of York. It even recently hosted the second annual York Dead Good Festival with the primary aim ‘to encourage people to be more open about dying, death and bereavement’.

However, James Dunn, co-founder of funeral comparison website Beyond, said its figures indicate more still needs to be done.

He said: “When dealing with arrangements for something so sensitive as a funeral, people are vulnerable to paying over the odds purely because they don’t feel it right to question things or shop around.

“It’s our belief that if people of all ages felt more able to discuss death and funerals and make their wishes known, these vast differences in what people end up paying for similar services would be more exposed and less likely to exist.”

Figures compiled by the firm show the average cost of a funeral in York in 2018 to be £4,380. The cost, however, varies wildly depending on the provider.

Those who went to funeral directors who were part of a national chain paid £4,869 on average, 49% more than those who used an independent firm at an average cost of £3,263.

The Dying Matters Coalition behind Dying Matters Week, which takes place annually in May, states on its website that its research shows most people haven’t taken care of the practical aspects of death.

The York Death & Culture Walk is one innovation already on offer in the city to ‘inspire the imagination, provoke conversation, and provide insight and knowledge into death as a cultural matter.’ The city centre walk can be completed via a downloadable map and associated podcasts available from iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud and PocketCasts. The walk touches upon sites including St George’s Graveyard, Ouse Bridge, Cholera Burial Ground, Museum Gardens, and the Minster.

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