The Midweek Sun
Let’s stop serving food at funerals
The passing of a loved one is a time of deep emotional turmoil, and funeral arrangements can add additional stress, both emotionally and financially. It is not right that bereaved families spend thousands of Pula on buying expensive caskets, slaughtering animals and food to pull off massive feasts during the send off of their loved ones.
In many instances families do not actually afford to feed all the people for all the days leading to the burial, but are forced to do it because of the pressure of society. They are expected to host and feed extended family and relatives who even have to travel from far-flung areas to stay for days.
In some instances, especially in rural villages, neighbours even relocate to the mourning family homestead for a few days in the name of support. It is normal to hear someone say, “Ke tla ja ko lesong.”
In not-so well off families, friends and extended family have to chip in and contribute financially to ensure that there is plenty of food and keep up appearances. Some turn to loan sharks to cover the ‘unnecessary’ cost that leaves them in more devastation. If people have come in numbers to offer support for the mourning family, why should the same people put the family under further pressure? It is understandable that funerals in Botswana have always had a social and cultural aspect but they should not be an avenue of waste of money.
Instead of expecting mourning families to set feasting tables before guests, let us rather bring meaningful gifts and offer both emotional and material support that will make a positive impact in the bereaved family long after the pain of loss has subsided. This is one of the areas that we need mindset change, to realise that funerals are for mourning and paying last respect for departed loved ones, but not about pulling off impressive feasts.
It is true that sometimes there is some good that comes from even the worst of situations. The good that came from the Covid-19 pandemic was that no food was allowed to be served in funerals. The least that was offered were light snacks that guests would take at the end of proceedings on their way out.
Besides food and drinks, there are additional expenses that the family has to deal with including the actual burial or cremation expenses, grave plot and headstone or tombstone. Other costs are for transportation expenses, such as transporting the deceased, family members, and flowers.
Finally, there are miscellaneous expenses, including printed materials like memorial programs, obituary notices, and any additional services or amenities requested.
Let us just agree that we need to change our mindsets regarding unnecessary funeral costs.