Cancel That Funeral.      

   One thing being old will get you in this day of pinpoint advertising is phone calls, snail mail, and other solicitation of your business.  Be it an invitation from an old folks' home to drop by for a tour or a telephone pitch for a back brace, the sellers know a lot about you - particularly your age.

    The funeral industry is particularly good at going after potential elderly customers before they're ready to pass through the Pearly Gates.  I recently got a letter from a local funeral company saying I could achieve substantial savings by signing up for a funeral package now.  I could even shoulder the cost through "affordable monthly payments."  This would take the emotional strain off family members left behind to make final arrangements. 

     Contemplating death can be a fearsome thing.  Hardly anyone wants to think about it very much, and most of us are willing to spend large amounts of money with doctors and medical centers, not to mention pharmacies, staying out of the reach of the Grim Reaper as long as possible.  But the day must come when one's pulse stops and that's that. 

      Custom had it that one's corpse should be preserved for as long as possible and that resulted in embalming, costly caskets, a ceremony at a hall or at graveside, after which the deceased is deposited into the earth and the place marked with a granite or bronze marker.  Expensive floral arrangements used to be part of the ceremony but that tradition has waned in recent years.  In fact, the increasing popularity of cremation has also done away in many cases with the trundling in of the casket for the farewell service.  There isn't one to trundle.  The dearly departed's remains have been incinerated and the ashes consigned to a metal or ceramic urn.  Or even a stout cardboard box. 

     Still, the coming together of family and friends in a formal farewell ritual of some kind persists.  "It is necessary," we are assured, "in order to achieve closure."  So, family and friends - farflung and local - take on the expense of time and money to gather for what has come to be called a "Celebration of the Life of ___________."

      A casual check of pricing indicates an average funeral hereabouts runs from $7,000.00 to $10,000.00.  This does not cover the cost of the cemetary plot, headstone or other marker.  (I've often thought cemetaries were an inefficient use of valuable land.  How are the living benefited by them?)

      There is no harm done, except possibly to their bank accounts,  by those who feel the need of a formal farewell ceremony and are willing to  pay whatever the funeral companies ask for materials and services. These companies have a lot of overhead to support and are obliged to clear some profit for the owners.  On the other hand, people who hesitate to plunk down $10,000.00 for a ceremonial send off should be permitted to slip away to oblivion  with as little expense to their estate as possible.  After all, there is no law that requires funerals.  Or even expensive obituaries in the newspaper, for that matter.

       As for me, that Celebration of Life business is appealing.  I have asked my relatives to skip the formal funeral ceremony.  A little drop-in at the house might be nice, but the idea of having a Beer and Barbecue Memorial Celebration at the lake at a later date is better.  Shouldn't cost anywhere near  $10,000.00. 

October 10, 2017  

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