Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Funeral – “A Final Act of Love” Part 2

It wasn’t until the Civil War that preservation of bodies through embalming was used in America.  Prior to that, funerals were held at home and families were responsible for and cherished the opportunity for “laying out of the dead” loved one.  “The grave was as familiar as the cradle.”

Why are Americans typically more fearful of contamination from a buried body with a potential communicable disease than a body pumped full of carcinogens, laid in metal coffins in “sealed” vaults under chemically fertilized lawns?

Turning the care of a dead loved one over to the “experts”

is a uniquely American custom,

whereas families fully participate in other countries.

Rather than paying an “outsider” thousands of dollars

to mutilate our loved one’s body in order to preserve it for a few days,

doesn’t it seem more respectful

to personally, gently and lovingly care for them ourselves,

yet allowing their corpse to appear as it is; dead?

Why do we try to make dead people look alive anyway?

“That surely can’t be legal; can it?”  It absolutely is!  Attorney Lisa Carlson’s

Caring for the Dead – Your Final Act Of Love - A complete guide for those making funeral arrangements with or without a funeral director is a wonderful book that offers funeral law for the consumer in each of the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia.
In this thorough, well-written book you’ll discover that the funeral “industry encompasses much more than embalming chemical companies and national professional associations.  Casket manufacturers, florists, cosmetic corporations, automobile companies, cemetery associations, insurance agencies, and other related businesses played a role in the financial triumph of the industry, which was generating billions of dollars per year in economic activity by the end of the twentieth century”.  Rather than feeding into this multi-billion dollar industry, we do have another option.  Most state codes are very clear about the privilege of burying our own dead:

  • Embalming is routinely not required.
  • There are typically no regulations regarding caskets.
  • No state requires liners or vaults.
  • Grave markers are not required.
  • Burials on private property are normally allowed, with a few reasonable guidelines.

The cost of an average traditional funeral is $7-10,000.  This is 13% of the median American family’s annual income!  Most families simply can not afford this!  Enters… the “need” for Funeral Insurance.  Considering that obtaining a death certificate and a permit to transport the body for disposition, building a casket, digging a hole and making a personalized grave marker costs only a couple hundred dollars, is Funeral Insurance truly a necessity?  Americans are surely inclined to think so.

Karen Russell, director of the National Grief Support Services correctly states, “The biggest myth of all time is that time heals all.  Time does not heal; it’s the action that heals”!  In seeking a Whole-Hearted approach to every aspect of my life, I’ve come to realize that even my understanding of what’s “necessary” for the burial of loved ones has changed.  While I desire for my actions to demonstrate respect and devotion to those I love, American tradition need not be my model.  In fact, it often gets in the way.

How well our loved ones are presented in their casket doesn’t offer a genuine expression of our love for them or bring healing to our hurting hearts.  Instead, it is through ongoing acts of love that healing comes and honor is expressed.  A dear brother in Jesus worded this so beautifully when he shared with me, “there need not be any finality to the acts of love that we express for those whom we are forced to surrender up.  We continue to act out our love for them, as you have done, by our testimonies concerning them and by our deliberate practical ‘imitation’ of what we saw of Christ in them.  What God brought into our lives through them will continue to honor them, when we give expression to it.”

I pray that I never stop demonstrating honor and love for Momma through what I say and how I live my life.  May I never stop giving thanks for the blessings of being her daughter!



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