The Surprising Satisfaction of a Home Funeral

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Author Max Alexander has written a moving account of the family-directed funeral of his father-in-law, contrasting it with the conventional and costly mortuary affair for his own father. Here's a sampling from the March, 2009 article in Smithsonian Magazine:

One was buried, one was cremated. One was embalmed, one wasn't. One had a typical American funeral-home cotillion; one was laid out at home in a homemade coffin. I could tell you that sorting out the details of these two dead fathers taught me a lot about life, which is true. But what I really want to share is that dead bodies are perfectly OK to be around, for a while.

I suppose people whose loved ones are missing in action or lost at sea might envy the rest of us, for whom death typically leaves a corpse, or in the polite language of funeral directors, "the remains." Yet for all our desire to possess this tangible evidence of a life once lived, we've become oddly squeamish about our dead. We pay an average of $6,500 for a funeral, not including cemetery costs, in part so we don't have to deal with the physical reality of death. That's 13 percent of the median American family's annual income.


Last Updated ( Friday, 01 May 2009 13:31 )  
Comments (2)
1 Sunday, 05 April 2009 18:28
The manager for Neptune Society's Palm Harbor, Florida office was convicted of Conspiracy to Traffic in Cocaine. She was sentenced to one year in prison, with seven years of probation. Her husband was sentenced to seven years in prison, with eight years of probation. Both are convicted felons. Under Florida law, they cannot vote or own a firearm. Apparently, the Neptune Society either does not do background checks, or they just don't care. This person has access to personal information, i.e., credit cards, bank accounts, etc. The phone is 727-789-6911.
2 Monday, 17 August 2009 00:24
Heriel Michael Ezell
Shame on West Oak Funeral Home, Sulphur Springs, TX, 75482. Should be shut down by state of Tx. Awful people, awful place. Questions please call 903-866-2583.

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