My dad died at home in bed a few years ago when my first daughter was 3 months old. Even though my parents were divorced, my mom still took care of him in many ways. She was out of the country when it happened. And although she was trying to take the burden off me as she much as could from a distance, I had to start the funeral planning process while she waited for the next available flight back. I remember feeling, even though I was a wife, a mother, a homeowner, like I was still too much of a child to handle this kind of life event. But this post is not about the life changes that come with burying a parent; it’s about unabashed frugality.
I can’t imagine there is anyone who shops Costco.com who hasn’t clicked on the Funeral tab, right between Entertainment and Furniture & Décor, out of curiosity. When I told my mom about it at the time (Did you know that Costco sells caskets?!?!?), she said the prices were in fact pretty low based on her experience. So before my mom came back, I checked the website. There were only a few to choose from, all in the same general price range. I picked one out, and clicked “Add to Cart.” There it was, a casket in my cart, the same cart that last had a patio umbrella in it. It looked so strange.
It’s not that I have a bad opinion of the funeral industry; in fact, I walked away from the experience with an immense respect for the director of the funeral home we chose. But the industry as whole falls into the same category as the wedding industry for me—playing up to people’s emotions to maximize the money spent. I thought that buying the casket from Costco might spare us getting roped (through our own feelings of guilt or otherwise) into something more expensive than necessary. When the subject of a casket came up, I said, “I already have one being sent…from Costco.” I don’t recall if the funeral director was surprised, disappointed, or indifferent.
Every here and there I wonder what my dad thought of me trying to save money on his funeral in this way. More often than not I picture him, circa 1990, on the afterlife’s version of our front porch, beer in hand, ashtray nearby, wearing pants despite the scorching heat, one-upping a friend with “Oh yeah? Well, you won’t believe where my daughter got my casket…”
This is an original post for Jersey Moms Blog by Darla, a New Jersey mom.
Photo credit given to Costco.