Reflections On Cremation

There is a place in our every day lives that we reserve for a category called “You can’t make this stuff up”. They don’t come before us too often – but when they do it’s usually a doozy. Here’s a recent one that’s simply too delicious not to share.

The other day my wife received in the mail a letter that had the look and feel of an invitation, but when opened she realized it was from a company soliciting business. And the business of the company was selling cremations. It’s not a typo – and I didn’t make a mistake. The company wanted to increase its business – presumably from buying lists that contained information about older folks with means. Interesting that they solicited my wife who is four years younger than me, when the odds suggest she will outlive me by several years.

To keep our attention, they informed us that periodic drawings would be held, and each winner would be entitled to a free cremation. Now I don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth, or be upset and do a slow burn, but I thought they were rushing our long term plans just a tad. An earlier letter from a bank telling me they could provide life insurance that would pay off any mortgage on my house paled by comparison.

Since all the initial information was on two sides of the card they mailed to my wife, it’s no wonder that they lacked space to cover related issues. I don’t know about you, but from our perspective, the invitation raised some issues I’d want answered before signing on.

Question #1 – is the free cremation assignable by the winner? Is there a minimum age that the assignee must be? Is health – or the lack of good health – a requirement of the assignee’s profile?

Question #2 – how long can a winner wait before collecting on his or her prize?

Question #3 – Can the prize be converted to cash?

Question #4 – Can the prize be donated to a non profit corporation raising funds through a silent auction?

Question #5 – Do you conduct any surveys regarding customer satisfaction?

Question #6 – I don’t want to be a fussbudget, but I’d like to know if I pay by credit card, do I still get the miles?

Question #7 – What’s your policy on refunds, credits and store returns?

The choice of how you depart this veil has already been visited by great poets. Take Frost’s famous line
Some say the world will end in fire
Some say in ice
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire

Sounds like an advert for cremation. But I do want to give its due to cryonics – the art of freezing the recently dead and waiting for a propitious time to bring them back. I don’t want to challenge Frost’s unique call in assessing choices, but it did stir in me the need to express the options available

From cremation to cryonics,
a helluva trip.
You have to be careful –
No accidental slip.
You can be as hot as Hades
Or as cold as the Pole.
What you choose
Depends on your goal.
Be left as ashes and sprinkled somewhere
Or suspended in space til you reappear.
Fire is cheaper – a grand’s all you pay
Cryonics costs more cause you’re returning some day

George Kaufman
© May, 2016

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