Monday, February 2, 2015


The Nirvana Memorial Garden (above) is expanding its existing premises to house more niches in a new block at its existing compound in the next five years. -- ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN 

As world population ages, funeral services have risen in demand. Death is a thriving business, and after-death service providers like Nirvana and Xiao En are expanding to cope with the rise in demand for niches in columbariums.

'Carving a niche in after-death services' (ST)
In land-scarce Singapore, we can forget about purchasing a burial plot. Cremation is the way to go. Charges for niches in columbarium can be as high as SGD20,000 and more. If money is not a problem, Nirvana Memorial Garden in Singapore offers an opulent eternal resting place for the dearly departed.

In Malaysia, the next-of-kin of an EPF (Employees Provident Fund) contributor is entitled to receive a sum of RM2500 to help defray funeral expenses. Click here for more details about EPF's Death Withdrawal Benefits.

This is the reality for many families whether in the UK or Singapore. One reason why columbariums are gaining popularity.
Source: The Independent, UK

Planning Your Own Funeral

Cheh! The Chinese would say. Such bad taste to talk about death, especially one's own death. But why do we encourage people to plan for their retirement, but balk at going one step further - encourage them to plan ahead for their death? Perhaps it is to do with cultural superstitions. The mere mention of death may hasten one's demise, so the Chinese would have us believe. But if we don't do it while we are still alive and kicking, when then? I have attended wakes and funerals that made me wonder if the deceased would have preferred their final goodbye to be more of a celebration of a life well-lived than a mourning of a life cut short.

Funeral costs are skyrocketing worldwide, but there is no guarantee that you get your dream funeral. So why not plan your own, down to the smallest details like your favourite flowers and the music you want played. You can choose what outfit to be clothed in for your final rites. You decide whether you want a simple exit from this world, or an elaborate one with plenty of fanfare to herald your departure to the next world. That way you have control over the expenses.

Over the years I have come across some refreshingly creative obituaries in the local papers. I wouldn't be surprised if they were the result of a visit to the Life Before Death website. helps you plan your funeral the way you want it. Give it a visit out of curiosity, if nothing else.

Back in July 2010, I wrote about planning for death in my blog article 'Before we kick the Bucket...'. The time is right to re-introduce the Life Before Death website to more folks who may want to have a hand in deciding how they want their last farewell to be. Kudos to the Lien Foundation, Singapore, for taking the initiative to commission the Economist Intelligence Unit to collate data from 40 countries and come up with the Quality of Death index. It is a useful guide to gauge, for example, the cost and quality of palliative care in each of the 40 countries, and the level of government involvement in end-of-life care.

Overall ranking in the Quality of Death Index. UK tops the list, Singapore is 18th, and Malaysia is 33rd out of 40 countries that were surveyed. Governments can learn from the UK model what they can do to improve end-of-life care.

Aside from the QOD Index, the website provides a comprehensive guide to help you prepare for that very important farewell party, from choosing your happy casket to selecting your funeral playlist. It also includes suggestions for your bucket list, choosing your favorite photos and writing your own obituary. The whole idea is to dispel taboos surrounding death, give the soon-to-depart a bigger voice in planning their funeral, and make the last goodbye a more positive and dignified experience for the bereaved family and friends.

There are other websites that offer pre-planning for your funeral or memorial service. A standard checklist is available at Everplans website - a very useful guide for your next-of-kin to give you the kind of memorial service you want. Another website to note is My Wonderful Life. Read what the Wall Street Journal has to say about the website in 'Planning That Final Party'.

When my time comes, I want my family and friends to give me a fun-filled send-off party to remember me by. I know what flowers, food, and music I want. Definitely no black mourning clothes. Everyone must come in bright colours. Most important, no filing past my open casket for everyone to have a last look at me. It will be a closed casket. I refuse to be put on public display. I am sure my children will see that my wishes are honoured.

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