Funeral homes in Malaga are adapting to foreign clients' expectations

Karen Peeters, Sandra Wrightson and Jaime García.
Karen Peeters, Sandra Wrightson and Jaime García. / J. RHODES
  • When it comes to funerals and wills experts' advice is "be prepared and aware" of cultural and legal differences between Spain and home

As more and more foreign people come to live, and inevitably die, in Malaga, Spanish-run funeral homes are having to accommodate the wishes and cultures of a host of different nationalities, at least this is according to Jaime García Fernández, an advisor with ASV funeral services who spoke to Nerja residents at about the subject on Wednesday .

Foreigners' Officer, Jacky Gómez and foreign residents' councillor, Jorge Bravo, introduced the talk which was held at the town hall. Around 20 people attended the event at which barrister, Sandra Wrightson, and lawyer, Karen Peeters, from De Cotta Law also spoke.

“Be prepared” was the crux of both García's and Wrightson's talks. García highlighted the importance of knowing what to do in the event of a loved one passing away and not being “pressured into doing anything.” He gave examples of people- especially without a good command of Spanish - paying for two funerals when a funeral plan has already been arranged, but medical staff either at the hospital or in the person's home call a local funeral home and in the confusion and communication breakdown documents are unwittingly signed with another company. While this is uncommon, it is something to be aware of.

A number of questions were asked during the session about Spanish funeral culture; people at the event had “heard” that cremations are either unpopular or even unheard of in Spain. The funeral advisor confirmed that while in the past burials were the norm due to religious and traditional beliefs, the majority of Spanish funerals nowadays are cremations. A Spanish funeral home should not be taken aback at the idea of having someone's ashes scattered and will be able to advise on the legalities and practicalities of doing so. Repatriation of bodies is something that, while it adds significantly to the cost of a funeral plan, they are experienced in organising.

He also confirmed that with a growing number of foreign people using Spanish funeral services, companies are generally fully aware that many countries like the UK do not hold services as quickly as in Spain and that with relatives often having to travel to attend a funeral, families wish to delay the ceremony for longer than the normal Spanish time scale. Traditionally in Spain a funeral will take place one or two days after the death and the burial or cremation happens 24 hours after the death, as long as the person has died of natural causes. However, in the UK it is normal to wait over a week for the funeral to take place.

Embassies are also a good source of advice on what to do in the event of death. The message was clear: be prepared and be informed.