Latest News:  
Beijing   Cloudy/Sunny    27 / 17 ℃  City Forecast

Home>>China Society

Childless elderly arrange own funeral services

By Zhou Wenting (China Daily)

08:21, June 14, 2012

An ordinary memorial ceremony was held in Shanghai on Monday, organized by funeral home workers instead of the children of the deceased.

"This is a new service for elderly people in the city who are childless. The project aims to help those people and relieve their worries," said Wu Xiaogang, a manager at the Shanghai Funeral and Interment Service Center.

The deceased, an 89-year-old man named Zhang, who had lived in a nursing home for years, had signed a agreement in April with the Shanghai Baoxing Funeral Home, which is affiliated with the service center.

The agreement records Zhang's arrangements and details about the ceremony.

"I just want my close friends to say goodbye to me and my ashes cast into the sea," reads the letter of authorization.

Zhang paid 1,000 yuan ($157) for the service. Wu said the charge varies according to the services requested.

The pilot program started in March last year after the municipal government required the elderly-care industry to do more for old couples with no offspring.

More than one in five Shanghai residents are aged 60 or older, almost double the national average, according to the Shanghai Municipal Population and Family Planning Commission.

"We've established a fund of 1 million yuan to assume the additional costs brought about by inflation and provide discounts for people who have little savings," Wu said.

Only six people have applied for the service, and all declined interview requests.

"The elderly usually shun topics related to death, which explains why we've received hundreds of phone calls for consultation, but very few people signed the agreement," Wu said.

Li Huizhen, a 79-year-old childless woman in Shanghai, whose husband has died, inquired several times about the service but finally gave up the idea.

"It will bring bad luck to think too much about this matter while I'm still in good condition. I'll still have the community committee to help me in the worst case," said Li, who has had osteoporosis for 10 years and is mostly confined to bed.

Some elderly people who have no children are reluctant to entrust a funeral home to arrange their final ceremony because of Chinese traditions, experts said.

"Chinese people believe it's important to have their sons support them in old age and hold a grand memorial ceremony for them," said Xia Xueluan, a sociology professor at Peking University, adding it might be hard for people to accept the new concept within a short time.

The Shanghai Funeral and Interment Service Center said it intends to promote the service to people whose children are seriously ill and cannot make arrangements for their parents.


Leave your comment0 comments

  1. Name


Selections for you

  1. 4th Minorities Art Festival to open in Beijing

  2. Lanzhou MAC holds military transportation professional skill contest

  3. The thousand-year-old Tibetan paper

  4. Blue-green algae gathers in E China lake

Most Popular


  1. China unlikely to undergo local govt debt crisis
  2. Plan to buy Diaoyu Islands a political farce
  3. Beijing Summit features five new aspects
  4. China’s courier industry primed for an overhaul
  5. Why China, US argue over PM2.5 data
  6. People's Daily Commentaries
  7. Nation needs private capital for resource demand
  8. Int'l board could give local stocks a run for money
  9. SCO is strategic choice for members
  10. Conditions not ripe for farm land privatization

What's happening in China

New system solves record number of criminal cases

  1. China wins saw blades dispute against US at WTO
  2. Police come down hard on economic crime
  3. Foreigners to tell their Beijing stories
  4. Shanghai now costliest city on China's mainland
  5. Expats' donations 'help ease blood shortage

China Features

  1. Beijing Summit features five new aspects
  2. A visit to Qiang Nationality in S.W. China
  3. 2012 West Lake Lotus Expo kicks off in Hangzhou
  4. Innocent photography: Sleeping baby
  5. People's Daily Online seeks English editor

PD Online Data

  1. Spring Festival
  2. Chinese ethnic odyssey
  3. Yangge in Shaanxi
  4. Gaoqiao in Northern China
  5. The drum dance in Ansai