Saturday, June 15, 2013

Responsibility In Death

It has been a week or two of mourning here in Hickery Holler. First was the death of Betty, my grandchildren's great grandmother on their father's side who also happens to be my husband's distant cousin.  She was a remarkable woman who died in her late eighties. Up until just recently she remained vibrant and in her eighties, prior to a recent sickness, was considering going back to college. We also mourn the death of O Wise One's friend Ron, a friend of many decades who lost a short but violent battle with cancer. When we lived in Louisiana Ron and O Wise One spent many hours out on the Gulf of Mexico deep sea fishing.  Both will be sorely missed. 

One of the things that impressed me about the death of Betty was the way that the funeral was conducted. Betty and her husband are people that throughout most of their lives owned many different businesses and only recently closed their last one. They had already bought their tombstone and cemetery plots in the cemetery that holds over a century of their ancestors already. But even more impressive is that they had already picked out their own caskets and purchased them. They had been stored on their property until needed. Once she had passed away and I might add here, at home with her children and husband of almost 65 years at her bedside, she was not embalmed but rather sent to the funeral home to be cleaned and dressed. The funeral home provided a death certificate and her hair and makeup fixed and then she was buried the next day at the cemetery of her choice, attended by only family and extremely close family friends.  

Almost 2 weeks later a small ceremony similar to a wake was held for the community to attend and pay their respects to the family and her memory.  I not only love the way that this vibrant woman lived her life but also the way she took control of her own death. Making all the purchases before hand and leaving her family with very little expenses after her passing. She died as she lived "HER WAY".  

This is the second such funeral I have been to in the last year or two where the person passing has chosen to not go the traditional way of expensive embalming, wake and funeral but chosen a different path. Both were pre-planned and implemented by the family more as a celebration of that person's life. The first was actually cremated and a small burial service for family only held several weeks after the death. But a week after the death a huge potluck picnic at the local park with lots of food, fellowship and people sitting around and sharing wonderful stories of their experiences with the deceased. A true sharing of the sometimes funny life experiences of this very colorful person. Her children, siblings, grandchildren and even great grandchildren sharing their memories of their favorite parts of her life. What a tribute!

What amazes me is that now you can purchase your own casket or basket right on line. Have it shipped to your door. Choose the location of your burial and purchase cemetery plots and by doing this save your family thousands of dollars at a very difficult time. I also learned that if the body is buried within 24 hours of death it does not need to be embalmed in this state. Once buried that leaves your family the convenience of planning a celebration of your life in whatever way they choose at their leisure.    

My oldest daughter actually wants a green funeral. Instead of a casket she wants to be buried in a basket with no grave marker but rather a tree as her marker.   

Or you can choose a more traditional handmade wooden casket (Amish made).

As for me I think the traditional pine box is lovely! 

Just food for thought : )

What is the most non traditional funeral that you have ever attended?

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter


  1. So sorry for your losses. Death is so darn final. I like the idea of paying for everything before you go. I know how hard it is on the people that have to make those decisions under duress. All the funerals I have been to (there have been waaay to many in my 50+ years) have been traditional. Especially in the religious sense.

  2. I am sorry. Life and death are so mysterious! I agree that it is ridiculous what funerals cost. Our church encourages us to plan our own funeral as we get older. It makes it so much easier on the surviving relatives.

    I've been, also, noticing lately that you can buy your own caskets online! I think I saw it in the news first. There are monks in Louisiana who started making cheap caskets and the local funeral homes wouldn't let people use them!! Can you imagine...well...I guess we all can, as it is a big money-making business for them. So it came to court, and the federal trade commission ruled in the favor of the monks.

    Here is that abbey:
    and some others:
    and I bet there is alot more out there, like you've shown with your pictures.

  3. Sorry about your family's losses. As for me, just reading this gave me an anxiety attack.

  4. I am deeply sorry to hear about the passing of Betty and Ron.
    Sending prayers to you and your family.

    God Bless

  5. When my Mom passed last October I ordered her casket from an Abbey in Iowa. She and I spoke about it before, and the thought of being in a beautiful casket constructed by loving hands of godly men pleased her. We didn't have a funeral service for her, rather a 'home going' celebration. I told my children I want to be cremated and they are to build a simple pine casket together for my use. It will be a great way for them to share time laughing, telling stories and working together in preperation for all the stuff to follow.

  6. Betty seems to have been buried in Jewish tradition. I like it. Did you know you can buy caskets at Costo?! My mother in law is similar to Betty. She has everything planned and paid for. The recorded music has been burned to a CD. She's not even ill. Shea's simply prepared,

    I like you daughter's idea.

  7. Our neighbor's father passed away unexpectedly. He was cremated and we all attended the funeral which was held on his property down a rugged path. The attendees dressed casually as was necessary for the location. The household pets also attended, his beloved beagles. We walked to the grave site-those that could not walk it were transported via four-wheeler, and his sister gave the eulogy and then stories were told by anyone who wanted to contribute. A friend who has a headstone business made the stone. The urn was buried and we all went back to the house. It was very simple.

  8. I think my sisters funeral was the most unusual but not too much out of the ordinary.. She was cremated and my brother in law asked that she not be a part of a mass cremation so it took up to 2 weeks for that to be done.. then they had a Catholic Mass and after that we went back to their home where friends, family, and neighbors gathered & we had a huge memorial party.. Food & drink provided in a pot luck like manner were flowing.. It was indeed a celebration of her life.. and it was beautiful..

  9. One of the greatest gifts my mom ever gave to me was preplanning & paying for her funeral. It was a fairly traditional funeral but she met with the funeral home in our little town & they planned it all out together. She paid for it, gave me the paperwork & all I had to do was call them when we needed them.

    I also like what Ruth Graham did, Billy Graham's wife. She was buried in a simple pine casket made by prisoners - I think in Louisiana. Just a very simple quiet family service.

    I've helped plan many family funerals & the industry really angers me at how easily they can take advantage of those grieving. I hope to plan my own as well.

  10. So sorry for your loss. Death is a part of life that some of us don't want to think about. Myself, I agree wholeheartedly that if possible, pay for your funeral expenses before your departure so that your family won't have to. My father passed away very unexpectedly 20 years ago. My mom has made sure that everything is done so that we children won't have to worry about anything when her times comes. Our state has the same law where if you are buried within 24 hours of death you don't have to be embalmed. Our neighbor was cremated and his services were in his living room with just immediate friends and family there. The only reason for this was because they didn't have insurance. I agree that it costs WAY too much to bury someone.

  11. Others may think that death as the end of their lives, but actually, it's not. As long as the people remember you and your good deeds, you're living an eternal life. But if you did the otherwise, nobody will cherish the moments they've spent with you. And that's very tragic.



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