Page name: Funeral Foolishness? [Exported view] [RSS]
2006-11-22 22:38:10
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Funeral Foolishness

I. The Coffin Switcherooney

This is how some funeral parlor "directors" surreptitiously get you to buy the most expensive possible coffin for your deceased loved one.

Case #1: Mom lived a simple life. Wife, Mother, Grandmother. Never learned to drive a car; never even wanted to. Kept a neat clean house, cared for husband and family well. Aside from those, the single biggest love of her life was the raising, care, and feeding of African Violets.

When a person you love dies, and it is your duty to make "the arrangements," you go to the funeral parlor and are "interviewed" by someone there. Many questions were asked of me about my Mom, in order, I was told, to "write a nice obituary for the newspapers." So I tell this guy what I just told you about my Mom. After about 15 minutes of this, the fellow got a phone call he "couldn't refuse." He said a few words, a few numbers into the phone. Then we talked about 5 minutes more. At which point, he led my sister and me into the casket selection room. Lo and behold, right there at eye level, just steps from where we'd entered the room was a beautiful satin-metal casket with little cermaic plaques of AFRICAN VIOLETS in the center and at each corner. Ah, sis and I swooned. It was "very expensive though," said the undertaker's understrapper. So he showed us some less expensive ones. Oh, our eyes and our hearts kept going back to the violeted casket. Naturally, we chose that one. How could we not??

Case #2: A few years later, we had the same sad task to do for Dad. He, like Mom, lived a simple life. Husband, Dad, Grandpop. Did drive a car and worked two jobs to support Mom and us five kids all his life. His one, big, extra pleasure was FISHING. Our "obituary interview" went along about the same as Mom's. Almost exactly the same as Mom's. Even up to the point where the guy got a sudden phone call he "couldn't refuse," which led him to mutter some numbers into the phone; and including the journey to the casket room about five minutes later. Oh my gosh, we were stunned, absolutely stunned, to see a beautiful satin-metal casket just like Mom's, only this time, the little ceramic plaques that made it so expensive had paintings of SEA GULLS, just like the ones that followed Dad's little bay-runner all over the place. Need I say, we had to have that casket for Dad, even though it cost $4000 more than any other in the room.

I had a gut feeling, when that phone rang during Dad's obit interview, that something wasn't right about this. And when I saw the sea gulls, I felt even queasier. But, overwhelmed with grief, I didn't really put the scam together yet.

Now, I know. I hope you get the picture, too. I hope you will not allow yourself to be manipulated like this, and at such a tragic time as the death of a beloved parent, or wife, or husband, or child. If you think that someday you may be called upon the handle funeral arrangements for someone you love, prepare yourself before the time is at hand. Read about the funeral business. Learn about costs, traditions, and scams.

Let Peace & Wisdom be Your Guides

II. Sacred Objects in His Coffin

A godless man dies. His Roman Catholic family members honor his life-choices and give him a secular send-off. No flowered wreaths with crucifixes at his funeral. No rosary beads tucked into his still hands in the coffin. No ghosts, holy or otherwise. And, no prayers said over his dead body.

A neighbor of the the man and his family, a devout Roman Catholic, goes to pay her respects at the funeral parlor and is shocked by the absence of religious paraphernalia. She asks his mother about this. His mother says, "This is the way Joey wanted it."

The neighbor goes home, despairing the fact that Joey's coffin contains only Joey's remains, unaccompanied and unadorned by sacred signs and symbols. This lady seriously considers going back to the funeral home and slipping a set of rosary beads, a prayer card, something with religious meaning, under the satin cover.

Anyone (besides me) got a problem with this?

Robert Green Ingersol, a Humanist Orator, wrote this for a friend's funeral:

   He denied the supernatural — the phantoms and the ghosts that fill the twilight-land of fear. To him and for him there was but one religion — the religion of pure thoughts, of noble words, of self-denying deeds, of honest work for all the world – the religion of Help and Hope.

   Facts were the foundation of his faith; history was his prophet; reason his guide; duty his deity; happiness the ends; intelligence the means.

   He knew that man must be the providence of man.

   He did not believe in Religion and Science, but in the Religion of Science -- that is to say, wisdom glorified by love, the redemption of humanity -- the religion that conquers prejudice and hatred, that drives all superstition from the mind, that ennobles, lengthens and enriches life, that drives from every home the wolves of want, from every heart the fiends of selfishness and fear, and from every brain the monsters of the night.

   He lived and labored for his fellow-men. He sided with the weak and poor against the strong and rich. He welcomed light. His face was ever toward the East.

   According to his light he lived. The world was his country — to do good (was) his religion. There is no language to express a nobler creed than this; nothing can be grander, more comprehensive, nearer perfect. This was the creed that glorified his life.

Just another "Atheist Thought for the Day"

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2006-11-13 [iippo]: It bothers me too, but not for the reason that she wanted to add religion to the atheist's funeral, but because she was so concerned with objects like rosaries. It would have been better for the dead man (according to her faith) if she'd just prayed by herself for his soul to be admitted to heaven.

2006-11-15 [QueenQaab]: I do understand the neighbor-lady's urges. I also agree with you, iippo, that prayers for him by her would be a better action. But I also feel the man's own last wishes should be respected.

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