My husband, Gary turned 65 in May. Needless to say, he is much older than I (wink)! Anyway… it seems that, when the bell tolls 65, insurance companies become quite interested in you. We’ve received more calls from insurance agents this May than we have throughout our entire marriage! While their primary concern is medical insurance, life insurance is usually offered also. Asking the caller if they would be willing to give him a few minutes of their time since they’ve taken a few minutes of his, Gary astutely uses the opportunity to educate the lucky person about our perspective on traditional insurance practices. Most listen respectfully, some ask very good questions and a few indicate that more of us should consider such an approach.
Our most recent salesman even received Gary’s education about our take on funeral arrangements,
“Our loved ones will place our bodies in a box that they build,
they will dig a h*** on our land
they will cover us with dirt.”
The seller’s response was, “That surely can’t be legal; can it?”
While our perspective on the final act of love may seem cold to some and certainly goes against the flow of modern tradition, elaborate funerals and headstones were once perceived as idolatry, are certainly unnecessary and sadly counter the biblical concept of “dust to dust”.
Having experienced Momma’s recent death, I appreciate this quote from James Farrell’s, Inventing the American Way of Death, all the more:
The paraphernalia of the American way of death keep people… from their own feelings… This social convention developed historically, but it continues today, as Americans delegate control of death and the funerals to specialized funeral service personnel. Consequently, funerals are custom-made only in the same sense that automobiles are, the price we pay for paying our last respects in the American way of death is the price of our personality, which we have purposely withheld from the funeral. By our passive role in directing our funerals, we have transformed an important rite of personal passage into an impersonal rite of impassivity.
Momma and Pappa purchased a burial plot and made some funeral arrangements, based upon tradition, in advance. Consequently, our options outside those plans were somewhat limited. While I realize that there are truly compassionate funeral directors, had we been more intimately involved in preparing Momma for burial, it could have enhanced our grieving process and drawn our hearts nearer to one another as siblings. What memories would have flooded our minds had Sissy and I been able to adorn Momma in her beautiful dress, fix her hair and apply make-up on her like we did when we were kids. What a precious closing to her life it would have been for the six of us to place Momma into a “treasure chest” that the boys had built together, dig her final resting place and lower her into it. In not doing so, I believe that we missed out on something very important in the cycle of Momma’s life.
Our American culture has convinced us that we are demonstrating respect when we allow our loved ones’:
Is this really what we desire as our “final act of love”? Are there other options? Stay tune for part two of The Funeral - A Final Act of Love.
P.S. Please feel free to contact me with questions, thoughts, topics you’d like to ponder or to read past articles at: http://whole-heartedlife.blogspot.com/. You may also contact me at:
In Search of the Whole-Hearted Life
505 Jefferson St.
Diagonal, IA 50845
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