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Sharon Hunter - September 2021

Mind If I Drive

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From the files of things you likely never knew comes this interesting nugget.

Did you know that the law allows anyone to drive a casket? It is not solely the domain of certain professionals, nor does it require a special licence. For the most part you simply need written acknowledgement from the funeral director or doctor, and then you simply load up, turn the key and hit the road. And yes, I mean with the deceased inside. It sounds a bit freaky but we’ve actually been transporting our deceased for a long time. When communities were much smaller and life centred around the village, men in the family simply carried the casket from home to church cemetery. If the distance was greater then a cart was put to work. We used to transport our own.

As we hanker for more personalised funeral services, taking on the task of driving the casket is one of the most overlooked ways to add that special touch, yet it’s a simple and profound way to add another layer to a Great Goodbye. And for those looking to reduce costs by taking on more of the funeral themselves, driving the casket is a great option.

So how might you go about adding a personal touch to this part of the funeral service? One way to is to use a unique vehicle to carry the casket. You might use their lovingly restored Chevy pickup truck. Or take the combi van that carried a load of mates surfing every weekend, constantly searching for that perfect left hand break. It might be one final journey across the farm behind the tractor. You might rent a glamorous classic car for your glamorous buddy.

When you open yourself up to the possibilities you get the chance to add a very special to the service. It’s the kind of moment that will have guests responding “that is just so Andy”.

But personalizing the transport of the casket doesn’t have to mean a unique vehicle. It could simply be getting behind the wheel of any vehicle large enough to carry the casket and taking that one final drive together.

"As we hanker for more personalised funeral services, taking on the task of driving the casket is one of the most overlooked ways to add that special touch."

I will always remember the story of a mother who drove her teenage daughters casket to the funeral service. Allowing herself plenty of time she took the long way round to the chapel, past the places her beautiful girl had spent time with family and friends. She drove along the beach where her daughter had been a surf life saver, through her high school grounds, and around the streets where she’d learned to ride her bike.

In my mind there is a playlist of her daughter’s favourite tunes on the car stereo. She chats to her girl as they pass through the familiar places, maybe even smiles as she recalls some happy time. Without doubt there would have been an ocean of tears, and she would have paused somewhere to gather herself before arriving at the service. It would have been the toughest drive of her life.

It’s not for everyone. There may be many reasons why the formality (and the logistics) of the funeral hearse works best for the Great Goodbye being arranged.

But before you dismiss it out of hand, consider the idea of making one last road trip together. You’ll never regret it.

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