Friday, August 31, 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Today I was thinking about a question that was asked of me the other day and started coming up with so many answers, all real, that I thought it wise to put them all in writing. It was a simple question...I thought...I had answered it hundreds of times with almost a stock answer but in reality I never gave the whole picture. I was asked "Buried or cremated, what other decision is there?" Simple answer right? Buried is buried and cremated is cremated; the decision is what you prefer, it's a matter of choice. That wasn't the exact answer I gave but ultimately that's the gist of it. After the conversation ended and we parted I never gave it another thought until today; this is what I came up with.
Decisions, decisions...OK, you want to be buried, no problem, I can handle that...but...do you want to be buried in a family cemetery, one that only has had other burials of your own family? Do you want to be buried in a public cemetery, one that has many other families buried beside you? How about a specific religion, do you want to be buried in a section of or a cemetery that only houses people of the same faith? How about buried at sea, today it's not as uncommon as you might think. OK, better yet, might you want to be entombed, you know, a mausoleum? Again, there are family mausoleums, above ground mausoleums, public mausoleums, mausoleums built underground, into the sides of hills, near lakes...All for the cost of a small home complete with a new car in the garage and some fine furnishings...NOW we're talking about buying property too! Yep. Then besides all of this you have music to select, flowers, pallbearers, clothing, caskets, vaults, stationary items, ministers, churches, locations, visitation times and the list seems endless! What ever happened to a plain casket, a ceremony and a place in the church cemetery?
Then we have cremation. Similar decisions have to be made when it comes to this type of final disposition. Do we want to have all of the aspects of a "normal" funeral with the only difference being that instead of going in the ground or in a wall we'll cremate? If you do, guess what? Many of the above decisions will still have to be decided upon. A memorial service? Same scenario with flowers, ministers, locations, music, now...movies, an urn. Wait...how about a dove release or maybe balloons filled with wild flower seeds to be released? But we're still not done. What are your intentions for the cremated remains? They can always be kept in an urn on display in perhaps that favorite niche of yours off of the dining room; please stop. Or maybe the deceased wanted to be placed in a Columbarium, or scattered. Scattered? Well, you have the ocean, you have the mountains, you have the Mississippi River for all I know, just use your imagination and I'm sure you can come up with someplace special. We're not done yet though...How about being shot into space? How about being mixed with cement to form a "Reef Ball" and placed in the ocean? How about some jewelry? Would you like some jewels made from your loved one? I can get you a diamond if you'd like, maybe some nice earrings that have some of mom in one and some of dad in the other? Oh, the decision process is simple.
I can't finish this post without the mention of Body Donation, Cryogenics, Plastination, Mummification, Calcination and of course the ever eternal Time Capsule. My head is spinning. We, the funeral industry, along with every other entity that has tried to get on the band wagon have made it possible for dieing to be one of the most far out rituals this earth has ever seen. They claim that all of these things AND MORE help the bereaved get through the loss of a loved one and I'm sure for some it does. Maybe if they keep pounding the public over and over with all of this it may be perceived as a necessity some day. But definitely not in my lifetime; thankfully.
After all is said and done, I'm a funeral director and if you want any or ALL of this I can certainly help you...however...When the question is posed to me again about burial vs. cremation, after all of this has been thought out and written down...the answer is still going to be the same as it was before; burial is burial and cremation is cremation and the decisions you make will all be your choice. I will always do what you want but will I ever fully understand why you want it?......Nope.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Friday, August 24, 2007
During those final hours of luxuriating in blissful nothingness
Every enigmatic problem seems to simply vanish
And the fear and anxiety of the unknown become tolerable
The morphine helps to make it all slowly disappear
Happiness will be forgetting that pain existed in your world
Sometimes images of yesterdays gone flash before you
Utter sympathy for those you have to cruelly leave behind
Collectively thinking goodbyes as you slip into the abyss
Keep me here, please, keep me here I want no more
Someday they will all join me in this beauty...won't they
I guess it depends on which end you're on.....
Thursday, August 23, 2007
I have a 5 year old son who will drive someday, probably when he's 16 or 17.
My wife and I can't afford it now but some day we would like to buy a house; will we ever have enough?
My 8th grade daughter says she wants to be a doctor so I can count on at least 10 more years of tuition.
I'd better get renters insurance in case this apartment ever burns down and I lose everything.
We'd like to go to Europe for our 25th anniversary but who can afford it? Prices just keep going up and up.
...oh, and I guess I might die someday too ( want to lay odds?). I wonder if I should even bother taking care of that or should I just leave it to who's left? That is if there is anyone left.
Of the things I've mentioned above, some might be concerns of a few of us, some may not apply to us at all and some may seem far fetched but let me continue...What car dealership do you know of that will sell you a car at today's prices and deliver a brand new one in 10 years when the actual cost might be 5 times as much as today? Do you know of a builder that will sell you a house at today's market prices, and will take payments, but build it in 15 years at no additional cost to you? I don't think I know of any schools that will accept your tuition today and promise your child the education you paid for in 10 or 15 years. Why do we get insurance? To pay for something that "might" happen in the future? If I can't afford a trip now what makes me think that I'll be able to afford one in 18 years when the prices have skyrocketed in comparison to today. If I could only buy it, lock in the price and pay it off a little at a time. All of these maybes and what ifs may or may not happen...BUT...We're all going to die, I'm certain. Do you think that today's cost of whatever type of funeral you want is going to be the same 9 or 49 years from now? Fat chance. Pre-Need, it's simple - you select what you want today, pay for it today or in payments and you are guaranteed the same as you've selected today in 9, 23, 30, 45 years...at no additional cost. Where else can you do this? Why would you want to do it? You can't do it anywhere else that I can think of and I would want to do it now because if nothing else, death is inevitable and let the funeral director worry if he can do it without taking a loss; and don't worry he has to; it's the law.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
There is a Utah based firm called Summum which acquired it's Tax Exempt Corporate status in 1975 which supposedly has been highlighted on ABC News, Discovery Channel, Learning Channel and various radio broadcasts as well as in print media. This is the first time that I have heard of this in modern times and perhaps might be yours as well. With the use of modern techniques they mummify people. You read that right, they can mummify you and then they can provide you with what they call a Mummiform
which is a like the mummy case placed in the ancient sarcophagus in my eyes. I didn't think these were marketed anywhere! They'll also sell you face masks made of solid gold!
Anyway, if you're interested in spending $100,000 or more to turn someone into a Mummy as opposed to maybe the $2,000 it might cost you to be cremated or $8,000 to be buried here is your chance! Good Luck to you all! Hard to believe isn't it?
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Friday, August 17, 2007
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Seattle, Washington - Mr. D.S. Weep, aged 78, of Seattle, formerly of New York, North Carolina and South Carolina died Thursday, May 18, 2029 with his wife at his side in Seattle General Hospital after a long battle with cancer. Mr. Weep will be calcinated and there will be no local services held however scattering of his calcinated remains will take place in various countries that he and Mrs. Weep visited during their retirement together.
Mr. Weep was born on September 12, 1958 in New York, a son of the late Jose and V.V. Weep and at the age of 16 met his future wife of 48 years, M.T. Bombom Weep. Six years later the two of them married. During their marriage they moved about the country finally retiring in Seattle. For the majority of his life he was a funeral director/embalmer/crematory operator/calcinator. Before retirement, he and his wife owned and operated the "Scatter me Here" bed and breakfast on Rocky Mount Ridge in Seattle which has now been passed to family members who still operate it. Mr. Weep was a member of the Tunnel to Truth Church where he assisted with their ministry; He was a lifetime member of the British Institute of Embalmers; a member of Cremation Association of North America; a member and past president of the National Funeral Directors Association; enjoyed travel and blogging; He gave everyone the benefit of the doubt and loved helping his fellow man. Mr. Weep helped many people through times of hardship over the years and will be especially remembered for his work which started the federal regulation of funeral costs. There were many who disapproved of his involvement but as he used to say "his eye was on the little guy". He will be remembered and missed.
Aside from his wife, survivors include his brother, Wizzard and wife Lillard; a sister, Nina and husband Twink; a niece Jesusa and husband Shea and their six children, Connie, Donnie, Lonnie, Maurice, Loquitia and Bozo; 3 nephews, Toletta and wife Spruce, Chard and wife Charo, Rugghew and wife Dolly Lou as well as many friends. Mrs. Weep begins her world cruise one month from today and will be scattering some of D.S. in every port she visits. In lieu of flowers, Mrs. Weep requests that donations be deposited to the account "D.S. Cruise Fund" at any local Bank of America which will be used to offset the cost of the cruise; which is in memory of D.S. - Hey, can't hurt for trying right?
This started off very seriously and wound up being silly but the contents, the meat, is what I would like it to read. Now, this is the first post that I have written that was ficticious but there is a lot of this fiction which I would hope some day becomes reality - and of course, some that I hope remains fiction. Only time will tell.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Friday, August 10, 2007
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Anyway, I was talking to my wife this morning as we were both getting prepared to hit the business world. This seems to be one of our best times to just talk about "things", usually nothing of great importance, sort of a warm up session. She was telling me about a woman, I don't know any real particulars except that this happened on the "Oprah" show. The reason she mentioned it to me was because of the content and the conversation we were having prior. I was saying that I couldn't understand why an obituary which was more of a biography rather than service information was so important to so many people. That's when she told me.
The reason I said stolen earlier is because this is second hand information and I could be messing up some of the particulars. If any of you can point them out if I do, I'd appreciate it. OK, this woman was telling everyone that she and her husband at one time both worked, had high paying careers, lived rather large. She went on to say that out of the blue one day she decided that she was going to write her obituary. She wrote it in past tense (of course) through the eyes of a 70 year old. She said that once she had written it she realized that she had included things that were not part of her current life yet upon consideration, wanted them to be. She said this was a life altering experience for her. After reading the obituary which spoke of children, grandchildren and love of family and friends, she recognized that this was not the path her life was taking. A decision was made at that point to leave her career, spend more time with her children or more time making them, I'm not sure which, and really becoming a good friend to the "friends" she already had; she updates it when new accomplishments occur. Now granted, leaving ones job is not something that many of us can just do on a whim but the rest of it sounds pretty doable.
Funny how this exercise opened her eyes to a means to fulfill a fantasy. In the past I have thought obituaries that were flowery and overly descriptive were just too much. They may still be, but, I've decided that I'm going to try this exercise myself and write my own obituary. Perhaps this is a good way of foreseeing what you want for your future and might even offer up a way to fulfill that want. I'm going to give it a shot and maybe you should too. Who knows.
If you didn't get the chance to read it - good - it was wrong, I was wrong to generalize. It's been deleted, gone, Nada. For any of you who this hurt, I'm sorry. I wrote it very hastily and re-read it today and knew it had to go, so it did.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Monday, August 6, 2007
In ancient Egyptian times the thought was that they should mummify or embalm their dead. Even in those ancient times there were certain people who took care of funeral arrangements for the families of deceased loved ones.
The ancient Romans either chose cremation or burial and wanted the dead body to lay in state for all to view. A hand full of people could afford to have their loved ones embalmed and they were the ones who dealt with the "libitinarius", or as we call them today, funeral directors or yesteryear's "undertakers". Their dead would lay in state wearing special clothing that would have been purchased along with professional mourners all for the procession to the grave which was considered the ceremony. These customs are still upheld today and the funeral director makes all of these arrangements.
Ancient Greeks did not embalm and families of the deceased prepared the body for burial. Flowers and clothing for the dead were provided by friends and loved ones. The Greeks would only look at the body to be sure that the person was dead rather than sleeping. Friends and family would watch over their dead to be absolutely sure that no harm would come to the body between death and burial.
Cremation was not even a consideration for ancient Hebrews and the dead body was often buried without a coffin depending on the families choice. The body was buried the same day as death. Some believe this was because they had no way of keeping the body from odors and decomposition. It was not unusual for the family of the dead to perform all the tasks necessary to bury them. Today, there are still Hebrews who withhold these customs as can be evidenced by attending certain burials.
Early Christians thought that dieing did not mean an end of relations with that person, instead it was merely a way to move from one type of relationship to another. They also watched over the dead to be sure that the death had actually occurred; this vigil progressed into today's wake. As time went on, Christian funeral services were officiated by clergy or priests and some organized rituals concerning the dead were conducted much as they are today. As the years further progressed dignity became a part of the service. They began a type of embalming which included washing the body, applying perfumed oil on it, and then also wrapping the body in layers of cloth. This is where the embalmer got his name.
From what I've read, the English almost turned a funeral into a performance, there were hired mourners who made gloom and despair part of the show. The undertaker arranged this performance as well as taking care of the dead body.
In the eastern parts of America burial would usually include some sort of church service, prayers and ceremonies as it does today. The entire community seemed to become united after a death and in many communities this is still the case. During the nineteenth century, legislation began in which regulation of the embalming practice was seriously discussed. There was also a concern about the hazards to the health of persons who were around the dead prior to burial. Death Certificates became a requirement in various states due to changes in the law.
In the late nineteenth century, most funerals and their services were held at either the home of the deceased or a family members home. The undertaker did everything he needed to do right at the home. Most times a funeral wreath was hung on the door of the house to let all passers by know of a death in the home. After the funeral was over, the undertaker would be back at the home removing all elements of the funeral and it's services.
In America today, we have funeral homes where the dead are brought for preparation for the funeral. Some are prepared for burial and others are prepared for cremation but the end result is sometimes some type of funeral whether it includes a trip to the cemetery or a boat ride to scatter cremains. Rituals may have changed but emotions are still the same. The state laws of the nineteenth century have given way to many additional state as well as federal regulations and all must be adhered to when caring for the dead. There seems to have many changes over the centuries but the one constant has always been family involvement, until today. More and more people are opting to just "dispose" of the remains because they see no value in anything else. I don't care if you want me to help you or not, it's not the money, you need to have some type of service for yourselves. My only hope is that these same people don't have to some day regret the choice that they made not to be involved.
Saturday, August 4, 2007
Friday, August 3, 2007
Thursday, August 2, 2007
The commonality that each of these locations share however, is of course taxes and likewise, death. Though when these two things are broken down, drilled into, they show a slight difference that can only be seen when compared to one another. On their own they don't seem any different; how could they? Taxes are taxes and death is death but for instance, there is no comparison to the costs of living in a large city as opposed to a rural area. There is no comparison between the types of friendships that occur while living in the suburbs as opposed to living in an urban area. From my small amount of "experience" there is also no comparison to the types of death that occur on a regular basis in any of these communities either.
When I lived in a large city, it was not uncommon for a death to occur due to extreme violence between humans. I'm sure that some psychologist could explain the dynamics of living in a city and how they affect the people that live within its boundaries. I can only explain what I saw, not what I think or have studied; I saw a lot of deaths due to poverty, oppression and outright rage.
Small towns had the same living conditions on a reduced scale and it appeared as if the same violent deaths were also on a smaller scale, a smaller ratio, while violent deaths in rural areas were even fewer. There's no doubt in my mind that when people are crammed together, especially people who need more than what they can earn, tempers easily flare out of control and the unfortunate result is often death. It's easy to sit back and read a newspaper or watch the news on television and criticize someone who commits a heinous offense simply because we can't understand how the offender could possibly do such a thing; especially when we're not accustomed to the conditions that the specific individual has been living in. Please don't mistake my thinking as being condoning because it's not, it's more like warped understanding. In order for these common violent deaths to end, which by the way have been happening for all eternity, there has to be a total commonality of all people. Period.