When my father passed away, I was just 18 years old. I may have been the “next of kin”, but I didn’t know jack about planning a funeral. Thankfully, my aunts and uncles took over that task. Dad was buried in a plain, wooden casket, wearing his standard of button-down shirt and blue jeans. I think in my whole life, I saw him once in a suit, and that was for my grandmother’s funeral. Burying him in a suit would have looked, well, odd.
Point being, I still didn’t know jack about planning a funeral. Until today.
We met at Podunk Funeral Home…myself, MLC Rosie, her brother, my mother, Mr. Recommendation, and close-family friend. Cousin Joe Dirt’s girlfriend showed up, for reasons unknown. She was widely ignored, but I couldn’t stop staring at her bad teeth.
Direct of Podunk Funeral Home takes us into the back room of the, uh, facility, and we sit around a large conference table. Surrounding us are various displays of funeral-type items.
I always wondered how things transpired when planning these things. Do families get to go to a big, warehouse-type place and peruse all the coffins to find one, or do they just go through a catalog? I don’t know how most funeral homes do it (not like I hang around them to find out), but this one had corners of caskets, all bolted to the wall. You could see their color, what they were made of, and what the handles looked like.
And even more to the point, how does one pick the perfect box to bury under six feet of dirt? Cost? Material? Color?
“Don’t pick the red one! With Bob’s coloring, he’ll look like an olive, just laying inside!”
“Ooohhh, that blue matches the color of Sally’s eyes! Which, with the advances of mortuary science, are now sewn shut.”
I’d like to think that cost probably plays a bigger part of it. The prices started around $1200 for a plain wooden one, and the most expensive being $11K and built out of solid mahogany. Holy shit! For a couple grand more, that thing should have had an engine and wheels. I may be in the wrong profession.
My grandmother passed in 1988. The cost of her funeral was around $8000. And that included everything, nothing was spared. Everyone who attended her funeral said she went out “in style”. Thankfully, my aunt had expressed her desire to forgo all the frill, and go the cremation route.
So, we sat around this conference table, surrounded by corners of caskets, various urns, remembrance books, fake flower arrangements, hideous pastel dresses and old man suits, and a few grave markers. It was surreal, sitting there, planning a very somber and emotional event, but also conducting a business transaction.
Even with the cremation option, which is supposed to be cheaper than a traditional burial, it wasn’t too far from what was paid for my grandmother. Thankfully, my aunt had the foresight to purchase a small policy to cover these expenses. If there is anything I can impart onto anybody, it’s this…these policies are a godsend, and everyone should get one. Because when you are sitting at the table with a funeral director, planning the funeral of a loved one who just passed the day prior, the last thing you want on your mind is how you are going to pay for it all.
The planning took us a couple of hours, and not one ounce of drama. At the end, we decided on a nice send-off, without it being obscene. Simple, elegant, classy. My aunt in a nutshell. She would have hated too much fuss.
When I go, I want the cremation route. Just stuff me in a can of Kona coffee until we reach cool Caribbean waters, and then dump me at the nicest coral reef you can find. Logtar says no dice. He’ll just keep me by his computer, so that I may never miss out on Raid Night again.