Grave pair offer ghostly presents

THE LATEST wheeze for the morbidly minded comes from the depths of Hertfordshire. A husband and wife team have formed Bereavement Express, a service to dispatch gifts from beyond the grave.

Their idea is that if you drop dead, your ghostly presence can continue to celebrate a special anniversary or birthday. A gift from yourself to your child or spouse will be delivered on the appropriate day with a pre- written note.

'Chris and Pat had been married for over 30 years when, without warning, Chris collapsed and died on the golf course. It was a great shock to Pat but she bore it very well,' the company's brochure says.

'But then her birthday arrived. Chris had always bought her a bouquet of spring flowers - daffodils and tulips. She secretly hoped her children would remember her love of the flowers. But the day arrived; the flowers didn't. She broke down and cried.'

If only Chris had had the foresight that Richard had, as the brochure explains.

'Richard died in February and by Christmas Mary had not come to terms with his departure. Then suddenly, amazingly, on her wedding anniversary came a bunch of daffodils. And a card written in his own handwriting] She suddenly felt less alone.'

John and Barbara Graham, who launched the service in February, are for perhaps obvious reasons aiming it at pensioners. So far they have had no commissions, but much interest.

'We are trying to restrict the gifts to flowers and chocolates at the moment. Clients would make a clause in the will and the cost of the gifts would come out of the estate,' Mr Graham, 41, an accountant, explained.

The floral or edible offerings can be delivered annually by Bereavement Express from its Radlett office for up to 10 years - by which time the surviving spouse may have remarried. The only cost to the donor before death is a pounds 29 fee.

Had Mr Graham considered that the recipient might find such a gift - accompanied by a note in the dead donor's handwriting - somewhat distressing?

'Yes. Our feeling is that some people will feel positive about it and others less so,' admitted Mr Graham. 'Perhaps if the gift was sent from a grandparent to a grandchild they would feel more philosophical.'