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The lavish funeral syndrome: how relevant is this rite?

BY: Ann Bediako

Death they say is inevitable, it comes when we least expect and very painful to lose a dear one.

Some are able to overcome the sudden shock whereas others end up with a scar that could last forever. Many become sad or confused when hit with such news, not because of the loss but how to prepare a befitting burial for the deceased. Every weekend, we are likely to witness funerals in almost every community here in Ghana ranging from extravagant to modest ones.

Sometimes one is tempted to ask whether the dead are really being mourned because of the opulence associated with the organization of some funerals. From the one week celebrations which are alien to some tribes, people are forced or pressured to observe with expensive brochures, high-priced funeral announcements and finally to the burial rites itself. A lot more days are allocated for organizing funerals and a lot of money is being spent on sympathizers and relatives in the provision of accommodation, food and drinks.

Sometimes, the corpse is kept in the morgue for many months kicking expenses a notch higher. Most family members do not want their dead relatives to be buried anywhere other than their hometown which adds salt to injury just to cater for transportation for sympathizers, relatives and all other people ready to walk that path. There are instances where relatives are forced to transport their dead relatives from very far, even from Europe and America back home adding a lot of cost to the funeral budget.

In a nutshell, funerals are supposed to be a solemn moment to reflect on one’s life on earth and sympathize with the families of the deceased but in our part of the world, it looks like it’s a time to make merry as funerals are turned into parties with cartons of alcoholic beverages made available for people to drink to stupor. Loud music blurting from speakers with funeral attendees drenched in their sweat as a result of incessant dancing, varieties of dishes prepared to serve loved ones and souvenirs given out.

Meanwhile, all these inflates the cost of the funeral and this is a sign of showing gratitude to the deceased for being good to them when they were alive as believed. Others choose to buy expensive caskets which does not add any value to the corpse, engage the services of funeral homes making the funeral home business a booming one. However, in a way it also offers employment opportunities to people who have interest in these activities.

Additionally, it is a good reason to show gratitude, but the worry is when one has to borrow money to organize such luxurious funerals just to impress people. They end up with heaps of debts not knowing how to service such mountainous debt. These acts in return tarnish the image of the deceased’s family. It seems society is obsessed with funerals and one can be tagged as poor if a modest funeral is organized for a loved one. Those who push for such grand events in families are the ones who do not even have the cash to pull the strings.

They would not rest until they satisfy their selfish interests. Speaking to some people who have once organized a funeral, these were their plights;

Sister Akosua,
“I don’t think it’s good for people to celebrate funerals as though a party. Prove your love to people when they’re alive not when they’re dead. But its so pathetic, people only care about the dead than the living”.

“I will hold a befitting funeral for my parents when they’re no more, if I’m rich. Because, they’ve been through alot for my sake. I don’t even mind buying a casket worth GH50,000. I will make sure the funeral goes down in history”.

“Funerals are not parties. Although it’s good to have a befitting funeral. Notwithstanding, it’s my duty to hold one for my dad Because he toiled to see me through my education.
But I don’t support the necessity of holding a huge funeral If the family cannot afford. That’s why I prefer Muslim burial to that of Christians”.


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