Newspaper Editorializes that “Cremation Has Gained Acceptance”

I found it a little different when I read an editorial in the West Virginia Gazette Mail that you can read here.  I’m pretty used to editorials telling us what political candidate to pick, or what side of the right to life to be on, or what side of  gun owernship to be on.  I’ve even got used to editorials telling me what and how much I should be taxed.

But it did kind of shock me when I read in the editorial column that I should be cremated over having an earth burial.  Isn’t that kind of a personal issue?  The opinion piece tells me how much earth burial costs, then compares that to cremation charges and tells me that the money I saved would be better put to use to put my children through college then memorializing a loved one. At one point it says, “It’s sensible to save money.”

Now, I’m not at issue with freedom of choice.  The newspaper has every freedom to write this article — I don’t know what their motives are to give this advice.  If they truly believe that memorial choices to families don’t matter – and it is all about saving money — more power to them, but somebody should educate them on the value of the individuality of mourning our dead.

As you might well know – there is a struggle in the West Virginia legislature on how best to pay for the services of indigent funerals.  One of the options to save money is to lower the payment per service but then highly suggest that the body in question be cremated.  The state legislature can’t quite get to mandatory cremation for state-paid services and my belief is that this editorial is a push in that direction.

I don’t really have a side in this issue.  But the article did precipitate a discussion between my wife and I.  The discussion centered on some point in the future about the rubber meeting the road on the payment by a government for services and the consumers expectations of what they will get.  For instance, if an indigent funeral paid by the governement is mandated to be cremation do we continue with that philosophy so that people with a nutrition card cannot buy General Mills or Kellogg’s cereal and have to buy the off-brand to save money?  The question is — if the governement entity pays, do they also choose the product — in funeral services case, the product being cremation.

It’s an interesting topic — not only for funeral service, but for other goods as well.  I don’t think we are too far off in this country from having this discussion.  It is an undertone at the West Virginia legislature.  The United States Agriculture Farm Bill is also up for renewal — for those of you that don’t realize — that is where the SNAP (food stamp) program is funded.

I certainly don’t have answers on these topics, but I do worry that if we take away the options available for society to memorialize their dead — will they memorialize their dead??

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