Sunday, April 11, 2010

Ashes to Ashes?

Last week my dear, dear grandfather passed away. I was with him for his last hours and saw him take his final breath. What an experience.

Later that day I accompanied my parents and aunt to the funeral home to make the decisions on his service and burial. I've never been party to this kind of conversation before and it was stunning.

The funeral director took us down to the casket viewing room, really just corners of caskets that give you an idea of what they look like, as well as miniature versions of the liners into which the caskets are placed.

I was shocked to realize that these pricey coffin liners were mostly made of non-corrosive materials. If they ever broke down at all, it would take thousands of years. Why on earth would we want that?

I always thought the purpose of being put in the ground was to complete the circle of life. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, as they say.

I'm glad I spoke up and we ended up purchasing the concrete liner (required by law apparently) that will take only a hundred years to break down instead of thousands, as well as a wooden coffin - no metal of any sort. I don't like the thought at all of my wonderful Grampy spending so many years encased in metal, alone. Better that he should become part of the earth and the grass that grows above him.

This whole concept is new to me and I need to do some research on it. But my father's wishes for his future burial seem much "greener" to me - there's a cemetery in NH where your body is simply laid to rest - no coffin and certainly no liner. I like that idea.

I'd love to hear other people's thoughts on this whole thing. And also a little advice, as morbid as it may seem: start planning your own burial now. The funeral home had pamphlets on how to do it and I wish I'd taken one. That way your loved ones, who are in shock, will not be talked into buying the $12,000 coffin. You will have already selected the coffin and paid for it (or most of it). The cost of dying is ridiculous. We paid $500 for the hearse to drive one mile from the funeral home to the cemetery.

Take care of yourselves and your families!

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