Funeral in Russia and worldwide

Funeral expenses in Russia comparing to other countries

Comparing the cost of a funeral in different countries is much more difficult than it might seem at first glance. Many factors need to be considered: are there any state subsidies and burial compensations in the countrу, what is the ratio of the cost of a funeral to the average salary, what is the social pressure on the families of the deceased regarding the prestige of a funeral, etc. The data presented in this text is by no means an objective rating of the most expensive and cheapest, simplest or over-regulated funerals in the world. This article aim to compare the ways people arrange funerals in different corners of the globe and their funeral spendings.

The minimal cost of a funeral in Russia is one of the lowest in Europe, both in absolute and in relative terms, comparing it with the average salary and living standards. The record holders here are Germany and Switzerland, where the average cost of a funeral is about 6000-8000 euros. The cost of an average funeral in Russia in about 40-60 thousand rubles (800-1000 USD), while the average monthly salary is about 43 thousand rubles and median monthly salary according to the results of 2019 amounted to about 34 thousand rubles. This means that on average, Russians spend about one or two monthly income of a family member on a funeral.

Comparing to many other countries - especially non-European ones - the situation in Russia is not as heavy as it is, for example, in many countries in South-East Asia where the extremely high cost of funeral makes families carry a high level of long-term debts for generations.

Families of deceased in Russia are entitled to funeral compensations and benefits that help them to lower funeral expenses. Many families can take advantage of the so-called “social” funerals when a minimum set of funeral services is provided entirely at the expense of federal government and municipalities budgets. This option is a good solution for low-income families.

Many families wish to perform religious rites when organizing a funeral and provide a deceased relative with a more worthy funeral ceremony than just putting the body into the ground with a minimum set of farewell services and attributes. This raises an average funeral costs to about 800-1000 USD that is way above low-level 300 dollars funeral.

Almost in every parts of Russia except few, funerals are not prestige driven. At the same time, in many Asian countries it is a question of life to show the wealth of a family in someone's eye at whatever the cost. For the sake of demonstrating the family status, they often sacrifice everything: money savings, real estate, cars, take huge loan, etc.

Russia in this regard is moving in the wake of most Western countries tradition: the funeral in here is an important social ritual, but people wouldn`t sacrifice the future of the living ones for the peace of the dead.

How confessional traditions affect the cost of a funeral

In some countries, religious institutions have been in charge of funerary practices for centuries. In many Buddhist countries, for example, in Thailand or Cambodia, even all funeral infrastructure is owned by the Buddhist temples. Their dominance in the cultural ways and habits over the centuries has not only led to the fact that the main method of burial in these countries is cremation, and alternatives are quite rare and expensive, but also to the fact that everything that the family needs to arrange the funeral is owned by Buddhist temples. They own farewell areas, provide staff for ceremonies, a place for burning, arrange catering, etc. Funeral director in these countries is no more than an intermediary between the family and a temple. Quite different in this regard are Muslim countries, even theocratic ones. In most of them, commemorative premises can be rented anywhere, there are many state-owned cemeteries, all necessary funeral attributes can be bought or rented from many owners, etc.

But what if we compare how much funerals cost vary for representatives of different religions within one country: for example, how much funeral costs differ for a Christian or Muslim in Kazakhstan? According to statistics, the difference will be negligible, despite the fact that many aspects of the funeral ceremony differ dramatically. This refers also to many other countries where people belong to different confessions. The main factor affecting the cost of a funeral is not the type of religious ceremony, but the economic situation in the country and the degree of development of its funeral infrastructure.

Despite the fact that the minimum cost of funerals for Christians and Muslims here is more or less the same, the average cost of Islamic funerals will be higher due to the custom of convening dozens and often hundreds guests for a funeral feast.

Green or eco-funeral

There has been a real boom of “green” funerals in the beginning of the 21st century in many developed countries. The term “green” refers mostly to ecological and space saving considerations while arranging funeral. First green cemeteries, where the remains of people are enrich the roots of trees in future parks or even forests, came up in North America and Europe, but in the last decade, China is stepping out as the leader in eco-funeral trend.

Due to the extreme shortage of cemetery spaces and harsh environmental problems, the government of China launched an impressive campaign to introduce green cemeteries and the ideas of eco-funerals to the people. Among the instruments of the campaign is the opening of green cemeteries at the expense of the municipal budgets and repressive measures against those who, contrary to government directives, continue to bury their dead in the ground in a coffin. Chinese media has been repeatedly published an allegedly leaked information about the police digging coffins out the ground and punishing those who use a traditional way of burial in a coffin.

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