Death At WalMart

The Circle of Life is almost complete at Walmart. I just discovered that Walmart now offers a large selection of caskets for those of us who are planning for the great hereafter. I suppose that it can’t be too long before Walmart also offers a mid-wife service, and after that, dormitories for its workers. People will be born, live and die without ever having to go anywhere else.

Thinking about death is not fun, but it is something that we all do. Planning for death is perhaps even less pleasant, if that is possible, and it is something that not enough of us take the time to consider. Plenty of people before me have written about planning for funerals and post-final illness expenses. I will not add much to that discussion here other than to consider our final resting places — our caskets.
Why does a dead person need a 100% bronze casket with hand-crafted, high-gloss, brushed-finished highlights and a lush velvet interior? Admittedly, the Siena Bronze Casket is quite attractive and it looks quite comfortable. It even includes an adjustable mattress and a — get this — memory tube. And since it is being sold at Walmart, I can only assume that it is quite a bargain at $2,899!

Three thousand dollars for a box in which I might be placed after I am deceased which will then be buried in the ground and never seen again. Doesn’t that seem like an awful lot of money to spend on box in which my mortal remains will merely decay beyond all recognition? What’s the point, really, of spending money like that on something that can serve no real purpose until its owner is past benefitting from it? Wouldn’t it be better to spend the money on a comfortable bed and mattress on which to sleep while alive?

I understand that the casket is not really used to benefit the decedent. It is there to comfort the bereaved. After all, when someone dies, it is not easy to pay one’s final respects and it is certainly a lot easier to do it if the decedent appears to be merely sleeping rather than stone cold dead.

That said, I really cannot see myself ever spending that kind of money on a casket, even a casket with pin stripes or a high gloss black finish that will make me feel as cool as Dracula. Rather, I will always maintain that a pine box should be more than satisfactory, as it was in the Old West.

By comparison, I will want a durable headstone over my grave. The box will be underground but the headstone will be visible to all for decades and even centuries to come. I like the idea of someone in 2525 wandering by my grave and wondering who I might have been. For reasons perhaps unique to me, I find that comforting.

In every culture and in every part of the world, each person has to wrestle with the costs of mortality and we each bring a slightly different perspective to the process. To the extent that you can plan how you are remembered after you are gone, how do you want money spent? Do you want a raucous Irish Wake or a quiet service for just a close circle of friends and family? Do you want to be buried in a casket and, if so, how much do you think should be spent on it? Do you prefer cremation? Would you rather just not think about it?

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11 Responses to Death At WalMart

  1. Anyone that is a merchant can sell almost anything I guess.

  2. Annie Jones says:

    My husband and I have made arrangements to be cremated as soon as possible after our deaths and have made clear our wishes that there not be a funeral or memorial service of any kind.

    We think that funerals and burials are a huge waste of money. We aren’t religious people, so we don’t see the need for a religious service. More importantly to us, funerals, burials and all the pageantry that goes along with them go against our personal philosophies. We want to live simply, but we also want to die simply.

    Of course, we’ll have little control over what others will do once we’re gone, but we’d like to think that they’ll “pay their respects” by following our wishes instead of having an elaborate funeral.

  3. Ann says:

    LOL I’ve always said that I simply want to be cremated and have announcements sent out later. 🙂 Then the idea is that a few close friends get together and have a nice dinner and tell stories about silly things I’ve done. I’m partial to the ocean and water, so scattering the ashes there would be perfect, in my book.

    I’m not fond of funerals. I had to arrange my mother’s and was lucky enough to have one of her brothers to officiate. It actually worked out fairly well. I told him that, with as grouchy as my mom had become the last years of her life, I wanted to celebrate her younger years and tell stories — preferably funny — of happier times. People said that it worked out well and there were even times when everyone was laughing. A good way to celebrate a life in my book.

    Funeral costs were bad enough, but the cost of flowers was equally unbelievable. In the blink of an eye, you can spend $500 to $1,000, on top of the other costs.

    There’s some closure to a funeral and a chance to show respect for the life someone has led, but I’d rather see my money going for something more positive, even after I’ve died. LOL

  4. Broken Arrow says:

    Um yeah…. About that. No.

  5. Joshua says:

    I cracked up when I read this.

  6. FrugalTexan75 says:

    I want my body to be donated to science after any parts that are viable are removed (organ donation). After that, I guess they cremate you??

    I think instead of a funeral, I’d prefer a party – kind of a memorial. Instead of flowers, I’d like remembrances to be made in my name to local libraries or no-kill animal shelter. In fact, unless I have children, or my brother does, that is where the bulk of my estate would go – to libraries or no-kill shelters.

  7. lizajane says:

    I prefer not to think about it, but that’s my usual choice about unpleasant inevitable things. To clarify, I don’t think that the death itself is unpleasant, it’s the dying that can be unpleasant depending on the circumstances.

    I agree that WAY too much money is spent on the “stuff” that goes beyond the necessary. When my MIL passed away, my husband and other immediate family split the cost of everything. Fortunately, they all agreed on a reasonable casket. The flowers were another story – one of the wives added to the original selection by an additional $150 so her grandchildren could have ribbons and flowers to take off the casket spray as keepsakes!

  8. Neil says:


    I’ve never really understood why people would spend a lot of money on a coffin either.

    If I had the money, I would rather be remembered through something that helped people like a scholarship. That’s probably a bit grand for me so I’ll just settle for leaving some money to my children and trying to make sure that people celebrated my life rather than being miserable!

  9. persephone says:

    I agree completely. I have never understood why some people want lavish caskets. I’d rather focus my energy on how I am remembered than on how my casket is remembered!

  10. spicoli says:

    I got a chuckle out of this, as morbid as that may be. After reading about the caskets, I pictured the WalMart parking lot full of headstones and wondered how long it would be before WalMart started to sell burial plots.

  11. Minny says:

    My body is left to medical research. I have been grateful for the medical assistance I and my family have had and it is a way to pay back, to help the next generation of doctors.

    It is also free and the bits will be cremated when they have served their prupose.

    Job done.

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