A fellow at my cancer club was wringing his hands over what are euphemistically called “final expenses”.  In the last year, three people close to him have shuffled off their mortal coils.  Two were relatives and one a friend.

In the first two cases, my fellow cancer patient had to cough-up a wad to bury the bodies.  He’s on a fixed income so the hit was pretty bad.  First there was the hearse, then  embalming and other preparations, then came the casket, the plot, the burial vault, the hearse again, fees to open and close the grave and a generous emolument for the gravedigger.  By the time it was all over, he’d laid out over ten grand.  And that was for just one of the relatives, the second one cost just as much.

All this just to stick a dead body in a hole where it will rot.  (The bugs crawl in, the bugs crawl out . . . )  What a scam!

Better to do a cremation.  Compared to a standard funeral, it’s dirt cheap.  The only costs are the hearse, the gas to fire what looks like a giant pizza oven, a small fee for the undertaking parlor and a little paper box imprinted with the undertaker’s logo.

The “ashes” are really nothing but burnt bones the consistency and fragility of egg shells.  These are pounded into dust and boxed-up.  Disposal of these “cremains” can be accomplished any number of ways besides formal (and costly) burial.  You can make a small shrine to the cremains up on the fireplace mantle.  You can scatter them in the garden or dump them along side the road.  Whatever works.  In my mother’s case, I used the cremains as cat box extender.

When all is said and done, you’re out no more than the price of a decent flat-screen TV, not the price of a small car.

I’m doing my best to convince this fellow of cremation’s economies and I think he’s coming around.  After all, his wife is sinking fast.

He said he might throw a nice party with the savings.  A good idea, I think.  If I get an invite, I’ll bring a bottle of scotch.


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