Thursday, March 15, 2007

Discussing the Surreal

My husband and I picked up my friend after work and headed over to see my dad and step mom. After a very brief outing from the den into the living room, Dad had to bow out and retreat to the easy chair so he could doze in front of the hockey game. Once my sister arrived, we settled in to hear about my friend's experiences with cremation services.

She has dealt with her father's death, her father-in-law's, her aunt's and her husband's uncle's death in the past few years. Plus she has several friends with life-shortening handicaps. She has discovered quite a few ways of by-passing the funeral costs that surround cremation and wanted to share them with us. As well, it's a way of taking care of your own loved one, rather than handing him over to a stranger.

As you can imagine, we all got quite weepy while picturing the practical aspects of my dad's final exit from the apartment. But I think it was a good sort of rehearsal for us, because dealing with something that's hard is always easier when you've pictured yourself doing it before.

There's no question that funeral costs are extremely steep. My friend has discovered that family members can procure the wooden box for the body, transport the body, get the paperwork necessary and deliver the body for cremation themselves. This ends up being a fraction of the cost of a funeral home handling the cremation.

When one considers that families used to hold wakes in their own homes when my mom was growing up, it seems strange that the death transition has been so completely severed from the family in the space of two generations. I wonder if there will be a movement to reclaim the final journey, delivering loved ones into transformation with personal veneration.

Hopefully, I'll have a few decades left to see if that sort of thing bears out.


annette said...

Sadly, death is a part of life. I think once you've experienced it a number of times, your perspective is different than those who haven't. But it still doesn't make things easier.

julia said...

Yes, Annette, that's exactly true. Though death is a part of life, each individual death has never happened before. Each death shoots its own ripples through loved ones and friends.

Every birth is a new reason to celebrate, to rejoice. Every death starts its own mourning in the hearts of those who must let go.

annette said...

That is beautifully stated, Julia. And I totally agree.

I admire your strength and I know how difficult it is, having lost both my parents a number of years ago.

My thoughts continue to be with you and your family during this difficult time.