10 things about death in the Netherlands

10 things about death in the Netherlands

Enough of the jollity and fun. Never let it be said we shy away from difficult topics. So here’s some useful information about death in the Netherlands1. Insured for death 60% of Dutch households have funeral insurance –  the Dutch love insurance after all and this is one policy which is bound to pay out at some point. But no matter how much you pay for your funeral in advance, there are always stories in the papers about grieving relatives being fleeced by funeral insurers for extra cars and coffee and cake.2. Group of death Every year in the Netherlands a handful of people die alone, with no friends or family. In 2002, a poet known as F. Starik came up with the idea of the Poule des doods – a pool of poets who write and read a poem for the people who have no mourners at their funeral. Details of every funeral, plus poem, are on the website. Don’t read unless you want to weep.3. The cost of death A funeral – service and cremation or burial – will cost you upwards of €5,000 depending on the extras. The dreaded coffee and cake for 50, for example, will add around €250 to the bill. But there is a new trend in the Netherlands towards budget funerals with no ceremony at all – a bargain at €1,200. By the way, if you have pallbearers they may well be students. It is a popular student job. 4. The crematorium Research by the crematoria association in 2010 showed Dutch crematoria only collect an average of 50 grammes of gold and other precious metals per body, but they could collect up to 150 grammes. The money raised from selling the gold, jewellery and other recyclables is, they say, given to charity. 5. The ashes Once you’ve been cremated, the funeral home will keep your ashes for a full month. This is in case they are needed for a criminal investigation – that is the official line anyway. After that, you can pick them up. But scatter them where ever you like? Oh no. This is the Netherlands, so there are strict rules about that. You need to ask permission from the landowner and that, if it is a local authority, can be rather expensive as well. Upwards of €1,000….6. Graveyards Still, getting buried in the Netherlands will cost you a whole lot more. The shortage of space means graveyards are scarce – so most people tend to ‘rent’ a grave for 10 or 20 years. After that, unless your family coughs up to keep you in place, your remains will be cleared out and placed in a mass grave.The most expensive council-run graveyard in the country is the Esserveld cemetery in Groningen, where a 30-year lease on a grave costs nearly €7,000, according to research by Dela.The cheapest council graveyard is in Littenseradiel, a group of hamlets in Friesland, where a 20-year plot costs just €456.7. Funeral music According to funeral insurer Dela (yep, them again), the most popular song at Dutch funerals is Time to Say Goodbye by Andrea Bocelli & Sarah Brightman, followed by Eric Clapton’s Tears In Heaven and Marco Borsato’s Afscheid Nemen Bestaat Niet (there is no such thing as goodbye).8. Causes of death: In 2014, there were almost 140,000 deaths in the Netherlands. Cancer (led by lung cancer) accounted for 31% of all deaths, followed by cardiovascular diseases which caused 27%. There were an official 1,825 suicides in the Netherlands and 600 people died in traffic accidents, of whom 75% were male. 185 people died in bike accidents.Last year, 123 people were murdered. Seven in 10 victims and nine in 10 murderers are male. You are most likely to be murdered by a member of your family or a criminal associate – if you are a criminal that is.9. After death Don’t worry if you have not made a will. This being the Netherlands, there are very strict laws to cover wills and inheritances as well.  That’s why there is a special breed of expensive lawyer, known as a notaris, to take care of it all.For example, you cannot disinherit a child no matter how much you would like to because they have a legal right to a percentage of your property and cash.  You can, however, refuse to accept an inheritance, especially if you suspect it may be made up of debts (like unpaid funerals).10. Death in a proverb And if you are adding up the cost of dying in the Netherlands, do remember this very useful Dutch saying:  De een zijn dood is de ander zijn brood – one man’s death is another man’s money. Just about sums it all up really. After all, in een doodshemd zitten geen zakken, (there are no pockets in a shroud – you can’t take it with you).This list was first published by website Netherlands by Numbers.  More >

The Us and Them divide

The ‘us’ and ‘them’ divide in the Netherlands Former Labour politician and chairman of the Council for Public Administration Jacques Wallage feels that refugees shouldn’t be the victims of the ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality fostered by politics.The range of popular reaction to the influx of refugees shows that the Netherlands is a divided society. After a Red Cross appeal, some 20,000 volunteers have come forward and their number is growing. Some local councils have little problem providing emergency accommodation while in others emotions are running high.On closer scrutiny it is clear that the anger in places like Oudenbosch and Purmerend is about more than the arrival of the refugees. The angry citizen is filled with a mixture of resentment and long-felt frustration. The committed citizen is feeling relief at finally being able to act. For the angry citizen the sign ‘Welcome refugees’ is yet another indication of very unwelcome societal upheaval.In short, where one citizen is reaching for his wallet, the other...  More >

Rembrandt wrangle not good for paintings

Wrangle over Rembrandt wedding paintings has no winners The cultural spat between the Netherlands and France has no winners but the losers will almost certainly be the two Rembrandt portraits themselves, writes art historian and art dealer Jan Six.In 1873 Victor de Stuers wrote a passionate indictment of the way the Dutch authorities treated the country’s cultural heritage. In his article Holland op z’n smalst [A narrow (minded) country, DN], Stuer described the depressing frequency with which important art works left the country only to boost the collections of foreign museums, and how wealthy overseas collectors were dominating the art market. Not that it did any good. Some four years later Annewies Van Loon-Van Winter sold her entire collection to Gustave de Rothschild, a clear sign that De Stuer’s protestations were not taken too seriously at the time.The transaction, which included the much-wrangled over wedding portraits by Rembrandt, did, however, signal the start of a private initiative to protect the Dutch national heritage....  More >

Water made the Dutch different

Water, water everywhere: How being surrounded by water made the Dutch different While researching a book on ‘Why the Dutch are Different’, Ben Coates realised that an amazingly large number of the things which an outsider might think of as ‘typically Dutch’ could be explained at least in part by a single factor: water.First, of course, there is the Dutch landscape itself. The Netherlands famously is not just fronted by water but permeated by it – a fifth of the total surface area consists of water. That figure would be even higher were it not for the intricate lacework of dikes and canals, and thousands of water-pumping windmills, which liberated land from the waves. As a result, Dutch topography is among the most unique in the world: acres of flat grassland, turning windmills, hunchbacked dikes, and barely a hill in sight.The fact that reclaimed land is both flat and fertile has also influenced many other things which help keep the Dutch tourism industry afloat. Tulips thrive in the silty reclaimed soil, while thick wooden clogs keep farmers’ feet...  More >

You can go to an American university in NL

Go to an American university in the Netherlands? Yes you can! Some 9% of the student body in the Netherlands has come here to study from abroad, according to new figures out just this week. But students have more than Dutch colleges and universities to choose from. Webster University in Leiden, for example, is the only certified US university in the Netherlands, offering both bachelor and master’s courses taught by experts in their field.Leiden is a city with a rich past and a bright future – where you see students, bicycles, canals and charming buildings all in one place. The city has been a centre of historical and commercial importance for centuries, where new ideas and philosophies were explored and education cultivated. This heritage of education is still very much alive today.In the heart of Leiden is Webster University, the only certified US university in the Netherlands. It offers bachelor’s and master’s degree courses in business management, the behavioural and social sciences, international relations, and media and communications...  More >

10 Dutch football clubs with mad names

10 Dutch football clubs with really ridiculous names The Dutch, as we know, are a sensible folk. But not when it comes to naming their football clubs. In most countries football clubs have really boring names like Manchester United, Barcelona or Paris Saint Germain. But not so in the Netherlands. Here, names are descriptive. Take Vlaardingen club CION for example. Its name is an abbreviation of Chevron Is Onze Naam  (Chevron is our name) – er, right!Here is an alphabetical list of professional Dutch football clubs with weird names and one amateur side with possibly the weirdest name of them all.ADO Den Haag ADO (Alles Door Oefening or everything through practice) is the main football club in The Hague. ADO has never matched the successes of the other big city clubs Ajax (Amsterdam) and Feyenoord (Rotterdam), although it did win the national title in 1942 and 1943, as well as the league cup in 1968 and 1975. In 2008, the club was bailed out of financial difficulties by the local city council and opened its new 15,000-seat stadium....  More >

Publishers go tech to 'renew the book'

Publishers link up with techies to ‘renew the book’ E-readers, tablets, blogs and even online video have shaken up book publishing over the past decade. Esther O’Toole has been finding out about a Dutch competition that seeks to drive innovation in the industry and is backed by publishers themselves.It seems almost unthinkable that it was less than 10 years ago that the first effective e-readers came on the market, followed swiftly by the first iPhone and other smart phones with e-reader capacities. Now, reading on your phone, tablet or laptop comes as naturally to many people as picking up a book.However, the question of whether digital books and magazines mean the end is nigh for traditional print media has still to resolve itself. As smart phones have become bigger and better, e-reader sales have begun to slow. The number of e-book sales in comparison to hard copy sales is still steadily increasing though, with 7% of the Dutch consumer market being in e-books at the end of 2014.Traditional publishers are aware of the...  More >

'When Holland play football I go Dutch'

‘I’m Scottish, but when Holland play football I turn into a mad Dutchman’ Sixteen years ago, Scotsman Jim Weir, headed to The Hague to consult on a painting project and is still here 14 years later.How did you end up in the Netherlands? By accident. I had just finished work in Germany and was on my way back to Scotland when my agent asked me to do a small job in Rotterdam. Being there, I was asked to solve a problem on a project in The Hague. I did not really fancy going there but thought I could not refuse. That decision changed my life as I met my soulmate on 9-9-1999. She is now my wife and life changed for the better for me.How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international, etc - and why?
 Once and for all I am a mad Scotsman who is crazy about football, but when Holland play I turn into a mad Dutchman.How long do you plan to stay and why?
 For the rest of my life. I love living in Haarlem and have set up my own company, Scots Painting, which both of us are really proud of.Do you speak Dutch and how did...  More >

Dutch Labour party should heed Corbyn

Dutch Labour party should heed Britain’s Jeremy Corbyn PvdA senator Adri Duivesteijn thinks it's time the Dutch Labour leadership returned to its core social-democratic values. He believes Jeremy Corbyn in Britain can show it how it should be done.Happy days are here again for British social democrats. Left-wing Jeremy Corbyn has been elected Labour leader by an overwhelming majority. An era of neo-liberal domination has come to an end. How can such a radical change of direction be explained? And could the same thing happen in the Netherlands?DistanceThere are two reasons why the Labour membership opted for an authentic leader with a classic social-democratic ideology: the gap that loomed between the leadership and the voters, and the leadership’s implication in the moves to erode politics, government and the public sector.The social democracy used to be characterised by a joining of movements in society with political representatives. The classic and tangible differences between rich and poor are no longer as sharply defined,...  More >

Celebrating languages in Utrecht

Words, words, words: celebrating languages in Utrecht Boasting over sixty stand holders, key note speakers from all corners of the world, and children’s activities, the fourth Drongo Language Festival took place in Utrecht this weekend. Esther O’Toole went along to take a look.The Drongo Language Festival started in 2012 as a small event, at Amsterdam central library, on a rainy Wednesday afternoon. When over four hundred people turned up the organisers knew that they were on to something.Maaike Verrips, the festival director, talks about language so passionately it’s easy to see how her contagious enthusiasm kick-started the festival. Placing language in a wide context of culture, science, business and technology, she emphasises the many varied ways in which it is relevant to our daily lives, and how it makes them better.‘What I like best about Drongo is that it brings together a wide variety of people who love language. A wide variety: singers, translators, language experts, businesses. They never get to meet each other...  More >

10 facts about the Goldfinch

10 things you might like to know about the Goldfinch The Goldfinch, painted by Carel Fabritius in 1654, is small but perfectly formed and is one of the most popular exhibits at the Mauritshuis in The Hague. Hanneke Sanou takes a look at this intriguing little bird and discovers some interesting facts about it.1 Who’s a clever bird? The small wooden panel (it measures 33.5 by 22.8 cm) is a portrait of the painter’s pet goldfinch. The Dutch name of the painting is ‘Het Puttertje’ from the verb ‘putten’, or to draw. It refers to the fact that the ingenious little finch was able to draw water from a reservoir using a tiny bucket.2 Obsession The Goldfinch became the obsession of French journalist and art collector Théophile Thoré-Bürger, who was also largely responsible for the rediscovery of Vermeer. Thoré-Bürger was bequeathed the painting by a relative of his friend the Chevalier Joseph-Guillaume-Jean Camberlyn in 1865. He wrote to him: ‘Felix, look at those feathers! The colours are as fresh as on the day he...  More >