Dust in the wind

I’ve  just been reading about the average cost of funerals in various countries.  In the USA it’s about $5,100, which seems a bit dear to me.  In Korea, it’s a more reasonable $4,300.  In Germany it’s only $2,300, and in the UK, a paltry $1,400 (which means that NZ is probably around the same, if not cheaper).  And in Japan?  A whopping $26,000 just to give Granny a decent send-off, and by the way, it’s likely to be a cremation not a burial because there is no space in this country. 

All I can say is, crikey!  Don’t spend that money on me when I’m dead, spend it on me when I’m alive and able to enjoy it!

By the way, in recent years in Japan more deaths than births are recorded annually.  This means that morticians are now more in demand than obstetricians.

(Cultural note: summer in Japan is a time when people’s thoughts take a rather morbid turn.  For various historical reasons, this season is strongly associated with death.  There is even a three-day holiday period in the middle of August when people traditionally return to their hometowns, and leave food and offerings for their ancestors.  I used to think it was horrible, but now I rather like it.)

7 comments on “Dust in the wind

  1. Karen says:

    Well, we had Ken cremated, and his ashes put in the least costly plastic box, and it was still $2100. Of course, we are scattering his ashes all over the place. In the US, more elderly die in the winter months. The overcast skies, the cold, the holidays, all conspire to make Granny kick the bucket.

    While we’re on the subject of death, are you familiar with the Mexican tradition of Day of the Dead? It may seem morbid to some, because it features skeletons and skulls, and such, but I quite like it, and have collected a couple of Day of the Dead items.

    The link is from an Arizona website, but the traditions are much the same everywhere the days are celebrated.

    de Los Muertos

  2. Miko says:

    That is just fascinating! I am beginning to understand the ways of thinking of the Japanese (and apparently a large part of the non-Western world) who accept that death is a part of life. Where I grew up, in stiff-upper-lip NZ, you just never ever talked about it, and if you did, people looked at you sideways. The Japanese make regular pilgrimages to the family graves to pay their respects, especially in mid-August, and they take their kids with them. I used to be so shocked and astounded at the very thought of encouraging youngsters to commune with dead ancestors. It took me a loooong time to accept the idea. I’m still getting used to the matter-of-fact way that my middle-aged and elderly students discuss aging and death so openly. They even go so far as stating their preferences for funeral arrangements, etc. And they make me laugh while they’re doing it! (For the record, when my time comes in approximately 55 years, I want the Sonbeam to find the cheapest option available on the internet. No funeral, no priests, no muss or fuss. No gravestone – keep my urn on top of the telly, if you like. Rejoice in the thought that I’ve joined all my friends, and we’ll be looking up at you and smiling from time to time.)

  3. Karen says:

    For me, as I’ve aged, I’ve come to accept the inevitability of death. I’m no longer afraid of it.

  4. Miko says:

    You won’t be popping your clogs for a good while yet, it seems that most women living in industrialised countries can expect to stick around until their nineties or beyond, especially if their own mothers were long-lived. Honestly speaking, I’m not sure I want to hang around for quite that long. But perhaps I’ll change my mind when George Clooney finally decides to make an honest woman of me.

  5. karen1945 says:

    Well, I have filled out the paperwork, and now need to get it signed by two witnesses, to have my body donated to this place http://www.txstate.edu/anthropology/facts/ It’s colloquially called “The Body Farm”. I don’t know that my daughter really understands why I’m doing this, but it’s what I want. The son is fully on board with it. I don’t want to be burned or buried. I want to be out in the open. This is the way that can happen. And, it will cost my kids $0. No funeral, no cremation. Of course, they won’t get any remains, but what the hell. They’ll have plenty of other stuff to remember me by. They can’t plant a tree or something.

  6. Miko says:

    Very sensible decision! I just hope that place is still around in 40 years, when you finally need it. As for me, I would also prefer to donate my body to medical science, but I’m worried that they’ll reject me (wouldn’t blame them if they did, unless they are doing a study in cellulite). In Japan, when you go, you are supposed to join the family grave – your husband’s if you are married, which causes no small amount of trouble for women who hate their in-laws – but I don’t really have one here in Kobe and see no point in starting a new one. In lieu of that I’ll keep a secret bank account for my only living heir/s with a small amount of money in it, and a Will stipulating that they should find the cheapest possible option to dispose of my remains. If they don’t, I shall come back and haunt them!

  7. Karen says:

    If the place is not around, then my body will go to a medical school for scientific use.

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