In ancient Rome it was common, even expected, that rich people would hire mourners for the funeral procession to make it seem like the deceased was missed by the masses. These days people are usually more focused on supporting family and friends than impressing the neighbours but at least one company thinks “professional grievers” could come back in fashion.
Rent-a-mourner, based in Essex, hires out actors at a rate of $70 Cdn per hour to attend funerals with the goal of making the deceased seem popular and beloved. The service includes the employees crying openly and behaving as if they knew the person in front of their friends and family.
"We are typically invited to help increase visitors to funerals where there may be a low turnout expected," the company's website reads. "This can usually be a popularity issue or being new to an area, or indeed, the country. We can supply professional, polite, well dressed individuals to attend funerals and wakes."
The company currently employs 20 "mourners" who are well briefed on a deceased client's history, background, accomplishments and relationships.
"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," company founder Ian Robertson told the Telegraph, adding that the company had booked 52 gigs since the company was founded last year - and turned down 60 more due to travel concerns.