A display of coffins.
  • A new product allows app users to pre-plan their own funeral.
  • Family members will be responsible only for making a single call to put the funeral in action.
  • You can select a pre-set funeral packages that include booking the cemetery, preparing the body, registering the death, and other related paperwork.
  • For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

South African app Sendoff now allows users to pre-plan their own funerals, from beginning to end, leaving family members only to notify the company when they die.

It is one of Sendoff’s newest products and they’ve chosen the Hospice Palliative Care Association (HPCA) as their social investment partner. The HPCA will receive a percentage of profits.

The funeral pre-plan function was designed specifically for people who have been diagnosed with terminal illnesses who don't want their families to go through the process of planning the funeral, Zolani Matebese, CEO at Sendoff, said.

"And also, it gives them a bit of control because one of the areas where they kind of struggle is the loss of control," Matebese said.

When users purchase the pre-planned funeral package, Sendoff will fill in a "transition file". The file holds the client's information, such as their Facebook and Twitter details, and any other non-familial notifications, down to every last detail of their life.

The client will then request either a family member or a hospice, if they are under the care of one, to notify Sendoff via a phone call about their passing.

"Once we get the notification, we then take over from that point. We basically take care of every single thing from picking up the deceased either from a hospice or a hospital down to a tombstone if that's what they've requested," Matebese said.

In general, the app simplifies funeral planning using its in-app checklist, which helps users through the process, including registering the death and claiming funeral insurance. It eliminates the burden of having to phone around searching for the best service providers and keeping track of them by managing the tasks for users in the background.

Sendoff, which launched in May and is the brainchild of CEO Matebese and Thabisile Sethaba, was born out of Matebese's frustrations with the traditional way of planning a funeral.

"Trying to get an understanding of what to do, where, how, was exceptionally difficult, visiting funeral homes to choose packages and caskets was traumatic and the constant upselling was disturbing," he said.

"There's a lot of compounded trauma that happens when you have to keep reliving this experience and its bad enough that you've lost someone, and when you have to go through it and relive it; all of it is exceptionally difficult," he said.

Sendoff's COO, Sethaba, said people have been receptive to the app, with the case for it strengthened by the Covid-19 pandemic – with people still afraid to visit funeral homes and parlours.

"So, it makes sense to have such a platform so that they [funeral homes] are able to still provide their service without putting their clients at risk," Sethaba said.

The app offers custom funeral packages that customers can choose from, starting at just over R14,000 and going up to R88,000. The packages include the hearse, the casket or urn, cemetery booking, gravesite decoration, body repatriation, tent and chairs, transport, picking up of the deceased and death registration, and other related paperwork. It also has full-service cremation packages starting at R22,430.

Sendoff funeral packages.

The list of services includes booking a pickup of the deceased's body from a hospital, a hospice, or their home. They can also use the app to order caskets and urns and arrange for the burial or cremation.

The app also has church and hall listings that can be used for funeral services. Users can also book transport services for the funeral, flower arrangements, tombstones, catering, and cleaning.

It also allows family and friends to send groceries and or flowers to the bereaved family.

Matebese admits that the idea of a funeral app seems weird and can make some uncomfortable and said that introducing the concept in the funeral industry proved a challenge.

"Death has always been a taboo topic, and when it was discussed, it was done by the elders, and the tradition has been to call and visit funeral homes. Sendoff disrupts that model, and the idea of major change in a very traditional industry has been a challenge," said Matebese.  

Sendoff currently operates in Gauteng only and plans to expand nationally in September. It has more than 15 service providers so far.

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