Wednesday, 30 March 2016

When I have shuffled off this mortal coil (my funeral plans)

For the longest time I'd hoped that my mortal remains could be placed (un-embalmed) in a plain pine coffin, and buried six feet under, with no concrete vault.

Such a hope is unrealistic.  The  American funeral industry is devoted to selling a high end package, involving a hermetically sealed "casket" (not a coffin), guaranteed not to leak for aeons (and at a high end price).

The cemetery industry demands that said casket be placed in a vault, to prevent, (they say) the  land sinking.

(How did we manage to bury without vaults for hundreds of years?)

I've thought of the option of a "green burial" in which one's remains, clothed in a simple shroud are buried in a "green cemetery, (sans coffin or casket).  What a great idea - a true return to mother earth. Unfortunately it is not easy to make arrangements for such a disposal.

My hopes and ideas have had to take a back seat because of the high cost and the  unnecessary "extras" (embaling, burial vaults etc)  of traditional burials, and the difficulty in arranging a green burial,

I have no next of kin in the United States, so I wish to keep things simple for the benefit of my family, friends and the executor of my will. Therefore it has become imperative for me to pay in advance for the cremation of my remains, and for their internment.

I have opted for "direct cremation"/  This means that my remains will be burned as soon as possible after the State of Florida's mandatory forty eight hour minimum before cremation.  It also means that there will be no "wake" or "calling hours", and no little box of ashes at any church service.

Then it will be off to Pittsfield, MA  for the internment of my remains.

Hurrah, the Pittsfield Cemetery does not require vaults for cremated remains.


I set out to make these arrangements  (long overdue) last week,

The first Funeral Home I called does not offer prepaids.

I visited another Funeral Home.  They offered me a prepaid plan at the ghastly sum of $2594  (not including shipping and handling to Pittsfield!).  When I said that this price was "over the top", the "sales agent" excused himself for a while, then returned saying that they would match their competitors price of $1794.  Good Lord, I felt like I was buying a car.

Then to Funeral Home #3  (which has a price list on its website).  This family owned business offered a basic deal at about $1700.  However  (God bless him)  the man who attended to me said

"We own a parallel business on L.R. Road, Sarasota, which is designed with people like you in mind, people who do not need calling hours (wakes), and  tranportation of remains to and from Church etc."

I liked his honesty.

I went to the parallel business on Monday and Tuesday and signed up for the full package  (including shipping and handling) for $1270.

I signed the contract and paid the bill!

Then I called my friend Fred D,  a partner in his father's Funeral Home in Pittsfield.  He will send my the paper work so that I can pay in advance for the opening and closing of the grave (and the internment of my ashes).


Phew!  That's done and paid for. And of course I have a Florida will,  I am glad that I have been able to free my family (and lawyer) from decision making about this after I die.

But even as I took care of these matters, I thought of the possible vulnerability of those who have been suddenly bereaved, and who are called upon to make important and possible costly choices right at the point of their immediate grief.

The formal gateway at Pittsfield Cemetery,

Funeral Director Humour

1 comment:

  1. It warms my heart, Michael, that your “cremains” will “reside” in Pittsfield, where you were such a presence for so long, although not too soon :-) And you are so right about the great Dr. Ralph Z. I was on the ethics committee at the hospital for many years and he was a prince!