We are not dying like we used to.
August 26, 2013
I have written before on how things are crook in the world of the dedicated undertaker.Now it is worldwide. Embalmers, grave diggers, crematorium sweepers, they are all huddled around street corners hoping for a body, shovels are going rusty and listless undertakers reduced to sipping buttermilk or lukewarm tea.
Some of the largest retorts have been switched off and lying idle, saving gas or electricity. These are hard times.
Unfortunately, the best of the undertakers etc will get out of the industry. Many embalmers already have taken up restoring cars, cane furniture or simply becoming panel beaters. The industry will find it hard to replace those that took pride in their work. Many were answering an almost sacred plea during the peak or heydays of the dying, few were chosen. The very best were artists in their own right and could name their price. It was as much a calling as becoming a bishop or a Venetian gondolier.
Many corpses were left with the signature of the embalmer as recognizable as a vintner could call his ‘vins de Bordeaux.’ The best of them clearly under emphasized their work, were modest and yet worked with much devotion and creativity.
It makes one wonder how the industry will fare in the future. I am pretty sure that, no matter what, the trade from ‘ashes to ashes’ will survive.
Already many of the smaller undertakers were taken over by the larger ones and with mass buying of coffins and introduction of solar heated crematoriums and retorts, costs were cut, prices lowered. Many are now corporate giants and listed on the Dow Jones, The FT100, and the AEX etc. Some of the smaller funeral directors tried double dipping with re-use of coffins, the introduction of flat pack carton coffins with Allen key, plastic re-usable flowers and introducing three for the price of one and other sustainable solutions.
The logistics of less numbers dying now seems a problem that will take innovative action. The larger corporate ones have taken to offering ‘Corpus-futures’ (CF’s) the same as already existing with pork bellies, soya beans etc. One has the option of going ‘short’ or ‘long’ on the dearly departed. Timing is of the essence though.
The experts can blame longevity on the mild weather or the habit of taking vitamins, exercise and tofu milk with cucumber but I wonder if people are cutting corners and doing a swifty and burying Aunt Agnes on the sly under Rufus the dog kennel? Are there economic reasons at play here? How does that stack up though against all those funereal insurance TV ads with so many of the ‘happy’ Rolfing around in the knowledge that for the cost of a mere weekly latte or sugar slushy they will get a nice warm cremation or a burial without having to worry afterwards and lying awake all night.
Anyway, you can get a decent funeral for less than an Mp with 5 Gigabytes; including a box of I love Lucy VD’s thrown in for niks.
The problem seems odd. On the one hand, robust health with longevity and mild weather is to be blamed, yet on the other side obesity and the Big quarter pounder Mac were seen by many as the savior for the industry. What is happening here? Is there some rort going on somewhere?
I am suspicious.
Tags: ABC.The Drum, Crematorium, Embalmers, Retort, Undertakers
Posted in Gerard Oosterman |