Rising cost of living in Estonia leading to more modest funerals

Memorial candles (photo is illustrative).
Memorial candles (photo is illustrative). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Inflation has also made its effects known in the funeral business, with rising prices causing many people to look for more affordable ways of burial, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Monday.

Funeral costs have risen about 15 percent over the past year, AK reported, affecting burial service prices, wreaths, the hosting of wakes etc.

For reasons of economy, many funerals are now using an urn, if the deceased has been cremated, rather than a coffin.

Toomas Daum, head of Tallinn mortuary Funeral Home (Tallinna matusebüroo) told AK that: "The overall theme has been that burial is being abandoned, while those who really have difficulties are using cremation without any additional services."

This on its own starts at €550 AK reported; burial with a coffin starts from around €1,200, along with the cost of purchasing the grave site, while tombstone prices can range from €300 to as high as five-figure sums.

Another factor has been the reduced circle of friends and family modern society has brought about. This has led to a rise in the hiring of pallbearers – since finding four or more strong individuals from within the family circle to carry a coffin sometimes proves impossible.

Another tradition to have faded is having a photograph taken – with the deceased, in effect, in the case of an open-casket service – while the volume of wreaths and flowers purchased has fallen away too.

The forested area of Nõmme, on the southern approaches to Tallinn, is home to several cemeteries.

Aivi Aun, owner of the Nõmme Lill florists, told AK that two or four flowers or thereabouts was the norm for people to take to a funeral (even numbers of flowers are in Estonia traditionally brought to funerals; odd numbers to happier events – ed.). Wreaths cost around €150 now, she said, somewhat up on prices in the recent past.

Toomas Daun said coffins on average cost about €400, though cheaper variants are available, while many older people prefer more ornate, oak coffins, which can cost over €1,500.

In some cases, this has prompted older people to save up to purchase their own coffin; those who pass away unexpectedly are often in the more price-sensitive range when it comes to their funeral, Daun said. Others need to take loans out or pay in installments.

Other changes to have been observed include having a memorial service or other means of remembering the deceased, some months after they died, while wake meals with the mandatory vodka are increasingly becoming a thing of the past also, said Marju Muldia, who owns a restaurant, the Nõmme Jaamarestoran ELSA, which is often hired out for that purpose.

The number of guests attending wakes has also been falling, she said.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Barbara Oja

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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