Online dating. Online shopping. “What’s next in the world of online convenience?” you ask. Well, thanks to companies with names like Tulip and Solace, you can send Mom and Dad to that Great Urn in the Sky without budging from your couch and — hold onto your mouse — get their mortal remains sent to you via USPS!
Yes, it’s the latest in disruptive industries — online direct-to-consumer cremation services. Holy Mother of Credit Cards! Amazon, step aside. Cremation may well be the next big at-home purchase biz!
Whatever your views on burial vs. cremation, the idea of making funeral arrangements for your loved one via the Internet simultaneously strikes me as funny and sad. It’s so impersonal. So cut and dry. So bizarre!
Now, I’m not saying that the experience of going to a funeral home is exactly satisfying and uplifting. All those smiling “bereavement” professionals gently guiding you — and upselling — through the confusing process of parting with your family member. But still, it’s about rituals; in this rushed world, we need a few rituals.
CLICK AND BE DONE WITH IT/YOU/ME? YIKES
And getting Grandma’s remains returned in the mail? Well, that’s just wrong, wrong, WRONG! Convenience be damned.
But what do I know? I still prefer listening to my music on CDs. I still read actual books instead of staring at an eReader. And as my friends know, I call instead of texting them.
But who knows? I guess I’m just old-fashioned. One online cremation purveyor boasts it takes just 15 minutes to complete the paperwork via the Internet, which I guess is great if you’ve got to get up and go when your loved one has just gotten up and gone. But again, I feel those 15 minutes would be better spent in fond recollection of the relative who just passed.
Et Zoom Too?
And what about memorial services? Are they too going to become passé? Clearly not! We all, sadly, experienced too many “Zoom” funeral services over these long COVID years. We’re all longing to safely gather in-person — not online — to mourn and reflect on the passing of friends and loved ones.
As for those “inconvenient” trips to the funeral “home,” aren’t they an essential part of the process of grieving and coming to grips with the reality that a parent, grandparent, sibling, or friend has died? Without that moment aren’t we really failing not only to honor those who have passed but also our own grieving process?
So I Worry
And while I am mostly writing this blog in a lighthearted way, I do worry about all that may be lost if funeral homes go the way of small Mom and Pop shops.
And yes, I may be living in the past. But I’m asking — will convenience outpace convention and tradition? Will online direct-to-consumer cremation services win the day? What do you say, my fellow middle-aged muddlers? Am I hopelessly out-of-date?
And I’m also asking, dear family members, if you do opt for this online cremation process to dispose of my earthly remains, please, please, PLEASE, at least promise me you will have them mailed back to you via first-class postage? No bulk rate mail for me!