China / Society

New funeral service for the childless elderly

By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai ( Updated: 2012-06-12 17:28

An ordinary memorial ceremony was held in Shanghai on Monday, but the unusual thing is it was organized by workers at a funeral home instead of the children of the deceased.

"It's a new service for elderly in the municipality who are childless. The project was launched in an effort to improve the living conditions of the elderly and remove their worries," said Wu Xiaogang, a manager from the funeral department of Shanghai Funeral and Interment Service Center.

The funeral ceremony for the 89-year-old man, surnamed Zhang, was performed after he signed a consent agreement in April with Shanghai Baoxing Funeral House.

The agreement records the senior's arrangements for the ceremony in detail.

The deceased in this case paid 1,000 yuan ($157) for the service.

But only six people have applied for the service since it started last year.

"It is a tradition in Chinese culture to bring up sons to provide for people's old age and hold a grand memorial ceremony with a full house," said Xia Xueluan, a professor of sociology at Peking University.

"Some old people might feel humiliated to sign the letter of authorization," he said.

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