This man is called Pepe Jordana. His mother very sadly died of coronavirus in April 2020 in Madrid. “She was wonderful, she was a volunteer in a local nursing home” Pepe explains.
But the hardest thing to believe is what happened just after her passing – when the funeral quote arrived.
We have had the privilege of talking to Pepe because his story seemed so unacceptable to us, and what he chose to do afterwards is a great example of how one person can go against an established industry if they feel it is wrong.
Here is Pepe’s story in his own words…
Pepe Jordana’s story
Pepe’s mother had no insurance. Pepe explains: “In the hospital they told me that they had called the funeral home and that I didn’t have to do anything, that they would take care of everything. They called me from Parcesa [a big Spanish company that offers funeral services, crematoriums, funeral homes and cemeteries in the community of Madrid] and they told me that I couldn’t have a funeral, a wake, or anything due to the pandemic. And that everyone prefers cremation anyway. They send me a quote, and I can’t quite believe it: 5,000 euros! ” ($5,515 / £5,352)
Pepe did not know at the time that this funeral home is managed by a large private company, which, when they received his case, gave him a quote for a complete funeral service. Customers can choose different suppliers, they do not have to contract the full service package from the same company. But most of the time they don’t know this. Also, many do find it more comfortable that way.
“I have some research since and it turns out that, in normal times, if you opt for a public funeral home, it costs around 3,000 euros plus VAT ($3,250 / £2,610), but if you do it with a privately-owned funeral home it is around 4,000 plus VAT ($4,330 / £3,480).” So why did I receive a quote of around 5,000 euros then? ($5,520 / £5,350).
“They are trying to increase profits with the corona virus pandemic”
When Parcesa sent him the quote, it included detailed items. It included a basic coffin (1,095 € / $ 1,185 / £ 950) and a ‘special coffin interior finish’ (an additional 325 € / $ 350 / £ 280). These concepts are questionable according to experts since the Ministry of Health in Spain sent a circular with the procedure to follow for handling the corpses of cases of Covid-19. It clearly specifies that the coffin can be normal. Inside the coffin, the corpse must go in a waterproof zippered sanitary bag, that is the only requirement. Sources in the sector estimate that this costs less than 100 euros. It is not necessary to use a ‘special interior finish’ by any means.
In addition, the quote included 446 € ($ 480 / £ 390) for the hire of a funeral vehicle, 450 € ($ 490 / £ 380) for conditioning and the same cost again for conservation. These should also not be included. The conditioning includes the corpse conservation practices, which are common when there is a wake and the deceased person is exposed to the relatives. But the Spanish government has temporarily suspended all funerals so all of these items are not necessary. The charge for the body conservation – keeping the body refrigerated before a cremation – is also “inflated” according to national newspapers.
“When I saw the quote, I realized that it was absurd,” continues Pepe Jordana. “Most of the items were not justifiable, and they were charging me around 500 € ($ 540 / £430) for each of them. They justified everything by the additional coronavirus security measures, but I thought to myself: ‘This can not be'”.
“In my humble opinion, it is a lot of money and it is only fair that we know exactly what will be done with the bodies of loved ones, and why. We need full transparency”.
“They told me that I need everything, and of course, you start to mistrust them. It is an expense that you will only make once or twice in lifetime, and depending on how stressful the whole situation is, you may not be able to pay close attention to it. That seemed so unfair to me, that they just automatically added unnecessary items.”
Although Pepe Jordana was grieving after the loss of his mother, he decided to do something about it.
He opened a petition on Change.org (the signature collection website when one is trying to lobby for a general cause).
The petition is titled ‘Dying of coronavirus is more expensive. The State must intervene! ‘, where he told his story and denounced the situation.
“Nobody has thought that there should be exceptional measures to unify the price nationally. We are all worried about whether we will be paid a salary next month. It cannot be that dying now is more expensive than a month ago.” According to the press which is all over Pepe Jordana’s case, other sources in the sector acknowledge that many funeral homes have raised their prices between 200 and 300 euros ($ 220 – 330 / £ 170 – 260) to include “special” measures required by the protocol and that some have even doubled it.
The petition was an overnight success. Over 170,000 people signed it. And 3 days later, the Spanish Government started forcing funeral companies to apply the same pricing as the one prior to the state of alarm.
“Thank goodness they have taken it seriously,” he concluded.
“My mother always fought for what was right”
Pepe Jordana’s mother “had been a fighter for what seems right all her life. She had enormous vitality and had always tried to use it to the benefit of all. She fought for those affected by the rapeseed, also for the Bosnian refugees and then for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees .”
“My mother was a fighter, so why not give the same fight? And this was when I decided to start the petition.” Pepe feels that what he has done is a small tribute to his beloved mother.
May she rest in peace and may Pepe’s efforts during one of the most difficult moments of his life not be forgotten. Things can be different from the current status quo. At Bios Urn® it is our reason for being. The idea for our urn emerged from an understanding of the burial process in a broader and more sustainable way. Since its creation, Bios has not stopped working to offer intelligent, sustainable and ecological solutions to tackle an inevitable phase of human life – death. Hearing stories like Pepe Jordana’s only makes us want to continue fighting for what we believe in. Thank you to all who support this movement.
What do you think of Pepe Jordana’s story? We would love to hear from you in the Comments section below!
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