I have had the misfortune of being around a LOT of death my entire life. Though I've never before put a number to it, I estimate nearly 60 family and friends who've shuffled off this mortal coil (not the least of which was A Foot In Coldwater guitarist Paul Naumann this very week). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ek_Xf2HTsZo
It was during the preparation for my father's funeral in 2007 that I got to see the workings of the business. And make no mistake, this is a business. I've had great respect for the caretaker industry -- it takes a lot of balls to be able to make a living off other people's misery and do it without looking like a parasite. This may explain my fascination with cable TV programs light "Six Feet Under" and "Dead Like Me".
Cemetery owners, however, seem to be a whole other breed entirely. They are the caboose on the funeral journey following the funeral home proceedings itself and they hold the fate of the dying (and those still living) in their hands. Through all those funerals I've had to attend, NONE have gone off flawlessly without some kind of hiccup where the cemetery is concerned. They can take me to task for this, but my overall impression from dealing with cemetery 'attendants' is a complete lack of care or empathy for the suffering. This is a real estate transaction for them. The dearly departed be damned. And after seeing an extreme version of what happens when you treat it like real estate and not a peaceful home for the departed -- Steven Speilberg's "Poltergeist" -- I kind of get my hackles up.
It must be a tough business for cemeteries now what with the cost of maintaining a large chunk of land that requires a certain influx of death to make it profitable. And with more people vying for cremation, cemeteries now have to hustle and compete for the dead. To that end, the plot thickens (pun intended).
The Fail Of The Week goes to Pine Hills Cemetery in Scarborough (where a good portion of my immediate family is actually buried) who have resorted to bulk mailings of this unbelievable piece of propaganda.
This postcard-like piece of junk mail has a picture of the sun coming up over the Earth from space. On it says: "Gene Roddenberry's Ashes Were Launched Into Space....what's YOUR plan?" It goes on to convince you to use them to pre-plan your funeral arrangements with subtle pleasantries. They even have a link to Roddenberry's story at http://www.mountpleasantgroup.com/GR
Not sure why...Roddenberry's final disposition wasn't handled by the Mount Pleasant Group.