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?