What we have come to: “Mourners for hire”

A snapshot of our fractured world in 2013, from the Telegraph:

British mourners are renting “professional sobbers” to blub at funerals to make people believe the deceased was really popular.

For £45 an hour, the fake mourners can be rented to cry for the duration of a funeral service in order to swell the numbers at funerals.

Ian Robertson, the founder of Rent-a-Mourner, in Braintree, Essex, admits the idea may be unfamiliar to the British, although the phenomenon is popular in places such as Asia.

The mourners-for-hire are briefed on the life of the deceased and would be able to talk to friends and relatives as if they really had known their loved one.

Rent-a-Mourner has 20 staff on its books to hire out for funerals, which Mr Robertson said were friends of his rather than professional actors.

He added that they are not required to well up, but are mainly there just to make up the numbers.

“We were actually inspired by the market growth in China,” said Mr Robertson.

“The Middle Eastern way is to provide wailers – crying women – as opposed to the quiet, dignified methods we use.

“Our staff will meet with the client beforehand and agree ‘the story’, so our staff will either have known the deceased professionally or socially. They will be informed of the deceased’s background, achievements, failures etc. so they can converse with other mourners with confidence.”

Mr Robertson set up Rent-a-Mourner in January last year, and said he has had 52 bookings since the company began, with 15 in the first six months.

“It is growing in the UK – our bookings are up 50 per cent year on year,” he said.

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