Shang­hai set for de­but of funeral plan­ning

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By WANG ZHENGHUA in Shang­hai wangzhenghua@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

We want to pro­vide fam­ily mem­bers with peace of mind.”

Xing Wei­dong, as­sis­tant to the gen­eral man­ager of Fu Shou Yuan in Shang­hai

Peo­ple in Shang­hai can now plan their own fu­ner­als by sign­ing a pre­paid con­tract with a funeral ser­vices provider de­tail­ing ar­range­ments for their last rites.

Fu Shou Yuan In­ter­na­tional Group, the largest death care and funeral ser­vices provider in China, has started to of­fer reser­va­tions for such a ser­vice in Shang­hai. It plans to of­fi­cially launch the pro­gram next year, a pioneer­ing move in a cul­ture where peo­ple gen­er­ally shun top­ics about death.

“We want to pro­vide fam­ily mem­bers with peace of mind and en­sure that el­derly peo­ple have no re­grets in life,” said Xing Wei­dong, as­sis­tant to the gen­eral man­ager of Fu Shou Yuan in Shang­hai.

“Many young peo­ple in China are the only child in their fam­ily, so a young cou­ple needs to take care of four el­derly peo­ple. They might be at a loss as to what to do when their loved ones pass away. This is when we step in and help,” Xing said.

Funeral plan­ning is com­mon in Western coun­tries and has gained pop­u­lar­ity in Ja­pan in re­cent years.

In Shang­hai, Fu Shou Yuan of­fers three fu­ner­alplan­ning pack­ages priced at 6,800 yuan ($977), 12,800 yuan and 21,800 yuan.

Peo­ple can pick ev­ery­thing from the burial cloth­ing to cre­ma­tion urns to flow­ers. The pur­chase of ceme­tery plots is not in­cluded.

Clients need to pay the ser­vice fees in a lump sum. Su­per­vised by the government, the com­pany will set up a trust fund to hold the pay­ment, which will be used when the client dies. The flow of money can be tracked by clients via the com­pany’s on­line sys­tem.

The con­tract has no time limit, so peo­ple can plan decades in ad­vance, and de­tails can be up­dated as needed, Xing said.

Ear­lier this year, the com­pany started a pi­lot pro­gram in He­fei, An­hui prov­ince, and re­ceived more than 300 or­ders in

eight months. About 80 per­cent of the or­ders have been for peo­ple between ages 65 and 70.

Statis­tics show that more than 36 per­cent of Shang­hai’s reg­is­tered pop­u­la­tion will be 60 or older by 2020.

Song Meix­ian, an 82-year- old woman at a nurs­ing home in Shang­hai, is con­sid­er­ing buy­ing the ser­vice.

“I have seen many old friends around me pass away without be­ing prop­erly at­tended to, so I think this ser­vice can be re­ally help­ful. It can en­sure that I have the funeral I want,” she said.

China’s el­derly pop­u­la­tion will dou­ble from 212 mil­lion in 2014 to around 400 mil­lion by 2050, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Health and Fam­ily Plan­ning Com­mis­sion.

Some peo­ple are re­luc­tant to em­brace the plan.

Xue Guom­ing, a 58-year-old Shang­hai res­i­dent, said he did not like the idea. “Dwelling on ar­range­ments re­lated to death will give me bad luck.”

Wu Shiqing, a 24-year-old woman, said the ser­vice sounds ap­peal­ing, but she would not buy it for her­self.

“The pack­ages with price tags are too com­mer­cial for a sen­si­tive topic like death,” she said.

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