Subourbon Mom

Costco Sells Caskets & Urns

I recently received a text from my friend Kristin late one night that just said Costco sells caskets and urns. Naturally, I had to go look it up, and sure enough they do.



So does Walmart…and Amazon.

Did I miss something? When did the big box stores get involved in the big box business? (Apparently, this business is actually referred to as “Death Care,” the death-sensitive phrase I learned while Googling.) In addition to the assortment of caskets and urns available, Costco also posted a must-read FAQ that informed me about all kinds of death-care rules I knew nothing about. For example, not all states will let you order a casket from somewhere other than a funeral home. Of those that do, you are required to be present when it’s delivered.

coffin1Of course, I toyed with the idea of ordering one the next time Hubby makes me furious and just leaving it on the front porch with Universal Casket Company (Costco’s supplier) emblazoned on the box as a hint/threat. But now that we live in the country, only the coyotes and screech owls would see it, so I’ll just have to go back to regular yelling.

I couldn’t believe how expensive these caskets were, and mind you, these were from Costco and Walmart, so I’m sure they had a tiny markup compared to the markup funeral homes add. So, in search of other options, I Googled alternative ways to be buried.


There are more ways to be buried than there are ways to have a baby – and that’s after watching every episode of A Baby Story. Actually, many burial methods are eerily similar to methods of having a baby – standing up; in water; natural (read “green”); and, cut open and filled with chemicals. I guess you really do come full circle, like they say.

I have a weird fear of being cremated. I can’t rationalize it, but the idea of it freaks me out. I much prefer Monty Python’s “Nibble, Nibble, Nibble to Crackle, Crackle, Crackle.”

I’ve also always assumed I would be buried in a plot of land overlooking something meaningful and gorgeous, like Robert Redford’s character in Out of Africa. Since we are running out of planet space and it’s uber-expensive, I started looking for alternative burial options. A few stuck with me, if only because they fell into the OH HELL NO I’M NOT DOING THAT category.resomation

Resomation – in which the remains are dissolved in an alkaline solution, leaving a white powder not unlike ashes from cremation. Or a giant pile of coke.

Freeze Drying – I believe this method is still in development, but the process is similar to resomation, except they use liquid nitrogen. After being exposed to the nitrogen, the remains become super brittle and are shaken into a powder.  I imagine this to be much like the old rock tumblers we used to use to polish rocks. Afterward, fillings and other non-biodegradable parts are sifted out…in keeping with the rock analogy, kind of like panning for gold. No thanks.

ryan-lochteCryogenics – in which the body is frozen until scientists can figure out how to transcend death in the future and bring you back to life. Jurassic Park ring a bell anyone? That went well. What if you are respected now but turn out to be the biggest douche bag in the future (think Walt Disney)? Or worse, what if Ryan Lochte opts for cryogenics and he’s our representative from the 21st century?

My personal favorite is becoming part of an artificial reef. These reefs are being created off-shore using a mixture of cremation remains and whatever else they make artificial reefs with. These eco-friendly reefs are part of the green death care movement, and are increasing fish habitats and scuba diving opportunities, all while resembling the lost city of Atlantis. I like the idea of building something good for the environment out of peoples’ remains. But why stop there? Why not just start making an entire new planet – WAIT!!!! We could call it the Death Star!!


Too far?

But seriously, for a subject that is so personal and impactful to so many people, both the living and the dead, I find it offensive that we can now buy burial items online the same way we can buy clothes or get a pizza delivery. I understand why people will shop at the box stores for these things – the same reason we buy our food and eBooks there. Prices for caskets and funeral services are ridiculous. In my opinion, there should be limits placed on the costs of caskets, urns, shrouds, and burial options. Alternative burial options should be allowed to be explored and utilized. But the big box stores should stay out of an industry that requires sensitivity and dignity. There are entire industries welcoming the box stores with open arms, but the death care industry shouldn’t be one of them – no bones about it.


He Died of What??
August 12, 2014, 9:27 pm
Filed under: Middle Age, Misc. Humor, Posts | Tags: , , , , , , ,

One of my favorite things to do is read the obituaries. Not because I morbidly enjoy hearing that people have died, but because trying to get a sense of who someone was in 100 words or less is a fascinating exercise.  Most of the time, obits are pretty boring, with endless lists of surviving relatives, no cause of death, and lists of clubs or activities trying to convey the dignity of the person who passed.


I want my obit to read like my life really is—a little weird, a lot of fun, and without a lot of dignity.  I think all obits should be required to have two things:

  1. Cause of death.  This might be painful in some circumstances, but the fact is, if you leave us to our imaginations, we are pretty much guaranteed to think of something far worse than what really happened. Even suicide can be addressed delicately, such as “took his own life.”  I‘ve been told the NY Post does this, and it makes people more sympathetic.

Why is knowing the cause of death important? Because if the person died young I want to know why, and if there is something I could be protecting my children from; or, if the deceased died from something like pancreatic cancer, is there an increase in pancreatic cancer deaths in my area?  Should I be concerned?  If the person died from old age, were they in an “old peoples’ sanctuary?” (description courtesy of Daughter #1) Which one?  I might want to go there–or not.

  1. At least two interesting facts about the person, and I don’t mean “Johnny served in the military for twenty years.” I mean something personal, like “Johnny could have drunk Gerald Ford under the table, if they’d ever met,” or “Sally was known for her bravery in wearing horizontal stripes.”

I’m so tired of reading a who’s who directory of Rotary Clubs and philanthropic giving. Tell me what would have made me want to get to know the person. Did he play practical jokes on people?  Did she like modern art? Did she like to ride ATVs with her hair on fire? People like me want to know.

And that’s probably why obits are what they are–because people like me want to know.



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