Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Rite of Passing

We hear a lot and read a lot about "rites of passage" such as puberty, teen dating etc. but I am talking about "the rite of passing." Or our bizarre way of dealing with the death of a loved one.
From what I have read recently, the Eskimos used to set their loved ones on an ice floe at their death and release them to the elements. This goes along with the "back to nature, ashes to ashes, dust to dust" concept. Vikings set their dead afloat in their boats after igniting the boat into flames. Some tribes of Native Americans built platforms high off the ground, placed their dead, and some of the items them might need in the next life, upon the platform and offered their loved ones up to the Great Spirit. Aside from the stench that must occur for a while, this doesn't seem like a bad plan either. But environmentalists would bust a gut!
Our society, at least here in Area 52, has a rather bizarre and what I consider somewhat barbaric rite of passing. State and federal laws mandate just what can be done with a dead body now days. I have a good buddy in the funeral home business, and I sincerely mean him no disrespect, but I just don't buy into all the fladerah that goes with buring our dead. Do you know that the average cost of a funeral here in Area 52 is upwards of $6000 now?
Upon death, we remove the blood from our loved ones while filling them with some sort of preserving fluid. Then we make them look as natural as possible with cosmetics, dress them in their Sunday best, place them in a $2000 coffin (low end cost, probably) flank them with flowers, and then parade all the family and friends past their coffin forcing them to look at someone who can't look back. How strange is this!!! I don't sleep in a suit, nor do I ever even lay down in a suit. Nor do I know anyone who does. This is just plain weird!
Funeral services are becoming status symbols all over America. What's wrong with a small graveside service with a few scriptures, a song or two and then it's over. I have attended this kind of service, and I have attended the kind of service where it seemed like a staged, musical production. Both got the dead buried, but the first one seemed more personal and caring. Both provided closure for the families left behind, but the first one left more time for conversation with the family and friends. Again it's a personal choice.
Burying a body in a sealed coffin, inside a sealed vault six feet underground seems offensive to me, but sticking the coffin in a hole in a wall is worse. There is something about mausoleums that freaks me out. Maybe I am afraid that the ghost of the dead will be able to get free easier and come back to haunt. And in Area 52 it is illegal to spread the ashes of a loved one at their favorite locale, so we either have to bury them or place them on the mantel. UGH! My buddy says that if one is "hell bent" on spreading ashes, just do it and keep your mouth shut!
There is another way to dispose of ashes that is coming to the forefront. Since the ashes of a human are mostly carbon, there is a new process whereby the deceased ashes can be compressed under extreme pressure and made into a diamond. I kid you not!!! During a recent conversation, a friend suggested to her husband that he gain a little weight, because she wanted earrings and a pendant. Tilly is opting for a ring.
I hope I haven't offended anyone with this rambling treatise, but I felt like venting about a subject that just offends me. I have no concrete answers, and I also know that once I am gone, only my body is left. My spirit will be elsewhere. What my family choses to do with me is their choice, not mine, though I have expressed a few ideas along the way. I hope Tilly chooses a platinum setting. I never cared much for gold or silver. And I'm worth it!


Curley said...

You sure are worth it, I totally agree. I for one will be in the percent that will not tell what is done with the ashes once my loved one is gone and he feels the same. As for the whole funeral process, I agree that it has gotten out of hand. And probably the $6000 price would be on the low side.

Lilith said...

I can understand why some people have the funeral with all the pomp and circumstance, some families it helps deal with the death.

I personally want to be cremated and have my ashes spread somewhere, haven't decided yet where though. LOL