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People attend a memorial meeting organized to resemble a gathering of old classmates. [Photo provided to China Daily]

A growing number of people are organizing their own funerals, as Cao Chen reports from Shanghai.

Despite the Chinese tradition that topics related to death are taboo, Zhu Shanchang has already arranged his funeral service and cemetery allocation.

"I"ve ordered multiple services, including burial caskets, urns, flowers and other cremation receptacles and memorial items, by signing a preneed funeral and burial contract with a funeral service company last year," the 82-year-old Shanghai resident said.

Zhu made the decision after he caught a bad cold a few years ago, and coughed heavily and constantly for a long time. It took more than two weeks for him to recover properly, despite taking medication regularly.

"After that, I started to wonder where my body would lie after death," he said. "I would not go back to my hometown in Shaoxing, Zhejiang province, because no family members are there. Equally, I don"t want to trouble my son and daughter-in-law in Shanghai when my time comes."

Knowing their father"s concern, last year, Zhu"s son and daughter-in-law found the preneed funeral and burial service, which is provided by Fu Shou Yuan, a well-known funeral company.

"I feel at ease after ordering all the personalized services by myself, I deliberately chose a cemetery near my children"s home to make it convenient if they want to visit."

For Zhu, it"s not taboo to manage his funeral and burial service ahead of time, "but a part of one"s life-planning for the future".

Certainly, he is not the only person in China who has accepted this concept of post-death care via a preneed funeral and burial contract.

According to statistics supplied by Fu Shou Yuan, more than 1,600 people in China have signed similar contracts with the company since it introduced the service in 2015.

Moreover, 1,174 of those contracts were signed after the company completed its pilot program in Hefei, capital of Anhui province, last year. It officially launched the service in 16 locations, including Chongqing and the provinces of Shandong and Jiangsu. More than 500 of those who have signed up are from Shanghai.

"The service provides elderly people with the opportunity to design every detail of the funeral and burial process themselves, such as the shape or material of urns or styles of clothing," said Zhao Xiaohu, manager of the Shanghai branch of Fu Shou Yuan.

"It"s a combination of tradition and new service experiences."

According to Zhao, there is no time limit to the contract.

"Customers can choose different packages at the price of 6,800, 12,800 or 21,800 yuan ($1,100/$2,000/$3,470), based on their financial situation," he said.

"No extra money will be charged, regardless of any objective reasons in the future, including inflation and currency devaluation, once the contract has been signed."

He Kaili, a Shanghai resident, has just bought the service for her 68-year-old father.

Having overseen her mother"s funeral a few weeks ago, the 38-year-old decided to sign the contract for her father to ease his burden.

"It was a tiring process, like mental and physical torture, to manage my mother"s funeral and burial, while enduring the pain of losing her," she said. "The contract (for her father) is such a relief, especially for an only child like me. It"s like insurance for the elderly, the same as other financial products, except one only receives the benefits after death."