The Right to an Affordable Death
By Yumna Abbas

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is revered for declaring every manís right to life, liberty, and security. How convenient that the constitution didnít specify oneís right to a peaceful death! Perhaps when the constitution was being written, nobody thought to include oneís right to death because it was unimaginable that one day Canadians would have to pay thousands of dollars for burial services! Or maybe it was intentionally excluded so that the burial process could become a highly profitable business.

Of course there are costs associated with a burial. Are they worth $5000 and upwards in Canada? I donít think so.

The following demonstrates the average costs of funerals in US dollars:

USA: $12,000 - $15,000 (starting at $6,000)
Japan: $14,000
UK: $11,000
Canada: $10,000 (starting at $5,000)
Italy, Spain, Portugal: $4,000
China: $1,200 - $2,600
Russia: $830

When I first read that funerals only cost $830 in Russia, I thought, "that's great! Itís so cheap!" Upon further contemplation, I realized that $830 is still quite a bit for someone to pay for a burial. Is all that really necessary? Shouldnít it be the government's responsibility to support a family after they have suffered a loss?

Instead the government mocks us: I, the government, realize you just lost a loved one and are probably going through the deepest loneliness of your entire life but itís important that you pay thousands of dollars to bury your loved one into the earth where their body will decompose becauseÖwellÖthatís just the way it is.

Now, I would have asked my family to throw me in a ditch, or bury me in the backyard because I donít need a casket and a ceremony. I would be dead so what do I care. However, being of a Muslim faith, there is a certain method prescribed to burying the dead. And due to my beliefs, I would hope that my burial followed Muslim procedures. So I decided to look up how my local mosque would charge for a burial, and what the costs are for.

Transportation: $800
Burial registration: $50
Kafan (a white cloth the body is buried in) and the casket: $300
Grave/lot: $2,000
Grave opening/closing: $988.75

Total: $4,138.75

Why does it cost $800 to move a dead body?
Why does one need to register in order to be buried?
Does it really take $300 to make a profit off a casket and a piece of white cloth?
Does the lot space really cost $2000? After all, the body will only decompose there, so what is the money going towards?
Why on earth is a grave opening/closing so expensive? Does it not involve the simple act of digging the ground? Why bring in fancy machines and pay one thousand dollars for it? Hand me a shovel, I'll do it myself! After all, Harry Potter didn't need anything fancy to bury his beloved house elf, and he has magical powers! I think we could all take a page out of his book (pun intended).

Life is hard enough as is! Is it really necessary to make death just as difficult? Shouldnít we, the community, find a way to make the burial process easier for our fellow peers?

On the other hand, we could always try and plan our death to occur in a country where one is not charged for a funeral.


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