Short on Friends? Hire Mourners for Your Funeral

Company capitalizes on odd tradition from China, Middle East
By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 7, 2013 7:24 AM CDT
Short on Friends? Hire Mourners for Your Funeral
Fog descends upon Calvary Catholic Cemetery in a section where the headstones date back to the beginning of the 20th Century Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012 in Evanston, Ill.   (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

You may be less than popular, but there's no need to appear uncool in death: For about $68 a head, a British company called Rent A Mourner will send "professional, polite, well dressed individuals” to your funeral or wake, Time reports. The industry is already well-established in China and the Middle East, says Ian Robertson, owner of the Essex-based business, but the trend has spread as Britain becomes increasingly multicultural: "We were actually inspired by the market growth in China," he tells the Daily Mail. "The Middle Eastern way is to provide wailers—crying women—as opposed to the quiet, dignified methods we use."

Rent A Mourner's founder says bookings are up 50% this year and he now employs 20 "moirologists"—or professional mourners. The actors study up on the life of the deceased before the event so they can mingle and chat with other grievers at the event. "Our staff will meet with the client beforehand and agree (on) 'the story,' so our staff will either have known the deceased professionally or socially," he says. "They will be informed of the deceased's background, achievements, failures etc., so they can converse with other mourners with confidence." (More funeral stories.)

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