'BOOK YOUR OWN FUNERAL' OFFER OUTRAGES WIDOWER by Steven Hughes
January 05, 2005
A PENSIONER who had just returned home from a funeral was horrified to find a personally addressed leaflet waiting on the doorstep urging her to book her own funeral.
The 72-year-old widow, who asked not to be named, was extremely upset by the personally addressed notice sent by charity Age Concern, which was titled ‘It’s easier than you might think to pre-arrange your funeral’.
The letter started by saying ‘Time and tide waits for no man’ and was accompanied with a booklet with full information of the charity’s funeral plan package.
The woman, who works as a volunteer at the Mobile Information Centre which tours Wokingham district, had just returned home from the funeral of a close friend and was devastated to receive the letter, especially as her sister is terminally ill.
She said: “I just stood here in my coat and read this letter and it was very upsetting. I was astounded.
“I would understand if it was just a mail shot but to personally address it is outrageous. I’m not the sort of person to usually get upset about these things but there are lots of people living alone who would be traumatised to receive this.
“Pensioners are very vulnerable people, especially those on their own.
“They should change their name from Age Concern, because if they were concerned then letters like this would never be sent.”
A spokesman for Age Concern said the letter is only sent out to people who have previously expressed an interest in the charity and its funeral plans, something the woman, of Lidstone Close, Lower Earley, says she has never done.
“That’s totally untrue — I have never requested information about booking funerals,” she said.
“They should not be addressing these letters personally to old people. They seem to be more concerned with making a sale than people’s feelings — it was the personal side of it that upset me.
“I think Christmas is such a vulnerable time for old people anyway and it’s not the sort of time to be sending something like this.”
The woman’s daughter, who lives in Woosehill, contacted Age Concern and asked them not to send any more letters to her mother.
She said: “I don’t think it’s necessary to remind an older person that they are getting older. It looks like it was sent to make money, which is wrong.
“It was bad timing but even if it had not been she would have been angry and upset.”
The spokesman from Age Concern said the charity had not intended to upset anybody and the letter was intended to offer advice to those without family to help make funeral plans.
He said: “Our list of addressees for this mailing was made up from people who had previously expressed an interest in either Age Concern or funeral plans.
“We endeavour to do our best to protect people from any upset, and to this end our mailings carry the following warning on the envelope: ‘If recently bereaved, or if this has arrived at an inappropriate time, you may prefer not to open it. Return it to us and we will ensure that we don’t contact you again’.
“We are very sorry about the distress this has caused.”