Ireland’s expanding waistlines and obesity problems are becoming a growing issue for the nation’s funeral industry.
Over 40 percent of the Irish population is now classified as overweight as medics try to tackle the issue.
The Sunday Independent reports that two out of 10 Irish people are diagnosed as clinically obese.
Now, the paper reports, super sized coffins and caskets are being specially made to accommodate corpses too big for standard designs.
The report adds that with Irish people now taller than a generation ago, weight and size issues are following them to the grave.
Funeral directors, pallbearers, gravediggers and those who run the country’s crematoria have told the paper they are being forced to deal with the issue of larger people who have died.
They are following the lead set in the US and the UK where funeral directors have refitted funeral parlors to include hoists capable of lifting weights of up to 700lbs, larger refrigeration facilities and wider doorways.
JJ Kennedy, Managing Director of Dublin-based Legacy Funerals, told the Sunday Independent that his staff must now discreetly enquire about a deceased person’s weight in order to assess the type of coffin needed and the number of attendants required to transport.
Legacy Funerals recently purchased two super-sized reinforced gurneys that expand to a larger size and can hold weights of up to 630lbs.
Kennedy said, “We’ve never had them up until now. One woman’s final request that she rest at her home prior to her burial had to be denied because the coffin needed to accommodate her wouldn’t fit through the front door.
“You’d have to stand the coffin up and turn it on its side to get in the door, which would cause the body to move, which we wouldn’t do.”
Kennedy confirmed that clients are getting larger.
He added, “As a base figure, about two or three out of 10 are obese and that figure is growing.
“We now have to order specially-made super-sized coffins which are considerably larger than the standard coffin which measures 23 inches across.
“For us the biggest issue is the logistics around transporting larger bodies and determining how many attendants are needed to transport the body or to carry the deceased as pallbearers, without putting their own health and safety at risk.
“If a person passes away at home, we have to handle their removal with professionalism and sensitivity.
“We may have to ask the family discreetly if they are large, which can be very upsetting for a family that is grieving.
“I’ve heard of situations where people had to use the fire brigade to get a person out. That may be the way it’s going.”