Published on February 9, 2021
Funeral planning gone modern
By Edward A. Forbes / The Bulletin
My age and current events drove me to consider my unmade funeral arrangements.
I went to the cemetery to inquire about options and prices and approached my children about options.
Cremation is growing in popularity with young adults. Save viable land for other uses, they declare! Cremation is more cost and environmentally effective. I have a relative who has her parents’ flat headstones as part of her patio.
Keeping ashes is only a short-term generational solution.
At some point, the question is, “does anyone know where great grandpa is?”
Or, I’ve got six urns of ancestors, and the only shelf big enough is in the garage. Did they express a desire to have their ashes spread in a certain place?
The necklace, ring, brooch, etc. are viable only if quality (i.e., price) is high enough to transfer value beyond contents. Not visiting a grave site is governed by accessibility (too far away, hard to find or an emotional conflict).
My children, on the other hand, want to keep only the closest family with them. There are so many options available now. The possibilities are endless.
My daughter wants her ashes to become a tree. There are options for this. A biodegradable urn with either a seed or a root stimulus media with ashes turned into a growth media for the tree. They can even make glass heirlooms out of the ashes, such as dragons, unicorns and shapes limited only by your imagination. I don’t prefer to be memorialized in the shape of an elephant, sasquatch or Yeti.
The downside of cremation and the urn‘s resting spot being in a relative’s home is that all the pithy quotes I had envisioned for my gravestone will be muted. I wanted something that would make a person laugh out loud, snicker, or shed a tear with a smile. Cremation has reduced that to spare ashes making a person shed a tear. There is no place for “See, I told you I was sick,” or:
“Here lays Butch,
Of course I didn’t live in the old west, so this is a bit of a stretch.
“I was hoping for a pyramid.”
Or, “She always said her feet were killing her, but no one believed her.”
I will miss my chance for this type of cemetery immortality.
I recently wanted to visit my father’s and grandfather’s graves. There is a family plot, filled in with two generations that I could visit. I went to the cemetery office, obtained a map and spent an hour driving around a landscape of monuments, gravestones, crypts, and mausoleums.
The shear size and scope of the final resting place of so many was intimidating. My mother’s grave is in a small town and an appropriately smaller cemetery. The first time I went to visit, I couldn’t find it. I sought some advice, and after much gesturing and finger pointing to direct me, I located it. It was good to see it and to take the time to reflect on my childhood.
You don’t visit grave sites of dysfunctional family patriarchs? Emotional conflicts fade over time as forgiveness and understanding grow with time and age. The decision and long-term issues won’t affect me.
I’ll be comfortable in the ground, in the garage, or in a niche on a stone in the cemetery. I will be in a better place, watching the comedy unfold.
(Edward Forbes wants to hear from you. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or send comments by snail mail to The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton TX. 77516.)