Having been shown much disrespect by the ‘authorities’ and a contracted funeral undertaker, when losing my son as a result of the injuries he sustained as a passenger in a vehicle collision, I created a campaign for the Rights of the Bereaved.
Many would not like to think so, but we are all potential victims to bereavement. I am striving to raise awareness about one]s private and consumer rights if/when faced with a death.
In knowing one's rights, it helps to understand one's options to make an informed decision to who will care for the deceased and in making arrangements for a funeral, that extend beyond the need to using the services of an undertaker (currently known as a director).
My campaign is diverse, but focused on dispelling the assumptions that people are aware of their rights and I am especially mindful of the public that may be bereaved as a result of suicide and other sudden traumatic death.
I aim to convince the relevant public officials, that education to know what to do in the event of a death is, as valuable as the education afforded to us about many other private and, consumer related issues pertaining to life.
I have established evidence to suggest that public officials have relied upon bodies of the funeral trade for direction, when preparing literature for guidance to the bereaved.
Whilst there is some published information on personal rights, this is more obvious to professionals than to the dying and their families.
What has also become obvious to me is, that many make assumptions that the funeral undertaker will provide the bereaved with personalised support and guidance needed at a very difficult time, which in some instances has resulted in the bereaved being misguided, coerced and taken advantage of, which I equate to abuse.
With the vast majority of people purchasing the services of a funeral undertaker, it is now time to give proper consideration to the most vulnerable – those who are forced to use this service.
In law they are the ‘consumer’, but in real terms, they are the bereaved, and far more vulnerable than a mere consumer purchasing general goods and services.
Your rights are the same as any other purchase of service and goods, from dry cleaning to hairdressing etc. Statutory rights are protected under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 / the Sale of Goods Act 1979 / the Supply of Goods and Service Act 1982 / the Unfair terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 and in general contract law, but funeral contracts are more specially dealt with.
There also exists the Common Law whereby it can be considered a civil and criminal offence to commit an indignity upon the dead, or prevent a decent burial.
The Milton Keynes Citizen News (2007), reported my own unfortunate experience, to be one of the most remarkable ever to be heard in Milton Keynes County Court.
I believed that I lived in a society that had a lawful democratic system, to protect the vulnerable public when at need, but I sense that the system remarkably let me down, in many different ways.
My contributions to SpinProfiles:
- Charter for the Bereaved (reprint)
- Funeral Industry
- National Association of Funeral Directors
- What to Do After a Death in England or Wales
- Citizen Newspaper Citizen website, accessed 14th August 2009