A RESPECTFUL send-off is fundamental to our society, yet, for many who die alone – far from the solace of family or friends – the final journey begins and ends with minimal fanfare.
Hundreds of people with no known relatives die each day and are buried in what were previously known as paupers’ graves.
But, thanks to caring individuals at Crib Point Cemetery, the new Essential Services burials share much in common with more emotionally charged and expensive funerals.
A funeral director for 20 years, Brian McMannis, of Mannings Funerals, Cranbourne, handles about 30 services annually at the “more economical end of the market” for State Trustees.
To solemnise proceedings he arranges for crosses to be erected at the heads of the graves stating the deceased’s name, date of birth and death, and ensuring that only one person is buried in each plot.
This is an improvement on past practices where some funeral homes didn’t see the need to even identify the graves of paupers.
“If there are no family or friends I will arrange for a minister or priest to conduct the service and say a few words for the deceased and give him or her a respectful send-off,” Mr McMannis said.
He says cremations are not recommended as disagreements could arise over where the ashes should be stored.
“Who knows, sometime in the future, maybe 50 years hence, a relative or friend may be searching for the deceased, perhaps needing confirmation of a date of death or final resting place, and we will have all the details,” Mr McMannis said.
“I usually try to find relatives, but it is amazing how many people out there just don’t want to know.”
Crib Point Cemetery treasurer Clem Kleinig said about 250 Essential Services plots had been established in a “really special section of the cemetery”.
“Everyone should be buried with dignity,” he said. “Everyone is worth something. Brian has introduced this and made it really special.”