A proper funeral

Over the years of writing this blog, I have sometimes noted that Icelanders do not always appreciate just how good they have it on their little island in the middle of the North Atlantic. And today I thought of one more.

I was driving home this afternoon, taking the windy road that leads over the Berkeley hills (which is really a single mountain), and a commercial came on the radio for affordable term life insurance. Now the thought sometimes occurs to me anyhow, whipping around those sharp turns, that I might loose control of my car and die on that drive, so hearing this commercial brought that idea up into my head again. And I thought about the fact that I do not have term life insurance, which means that if I were to die now, there would be no money for my family to hold a funeral for me.

And I wondered if Icelanders realize just how lucky they are, that because they have a State Church, they do not have to pay an exorbitant amount of money for a funeral. In the United States, caring for dead bodies is big business. You have to pay the undertaker, the mortuary, you have to buy the plot, you have to pay a rental fee for the facility where you hold the funeral, you have to pay the officiant for presiding over the ceremony.

My grandfather in Iceland was a brick layer who worked for the township, and my grandmother had worked in the fish factory when she was younger. They were far from wealthy. But each one of them got a very beautiful and proper funeral and burial, and they have a plot in the same cemetery as the much wealthier people from town.

By contrast, lots of American families, to save money, buy only one single narrow cemetery plot, and then bury multiple family members in that same plot. This happened to my grandfather on my father's side, who had bought a plot in Queens, New York, when his first wife died, and had her buried deeply enough so that another body could fit on top, expecting that it would be his own. But then he remarried, and when his second wife (my grandmother) died, she was put in the same plot as my grandfather's first wife, on top of her as it were. When he died, my dad managed to get a plot for him at the Veterans Cemetery in Tom's River, New Jersey, since those cemeteries are much less expensive than regular commercially-run cemeteries, but only available to service members. Palmer's grandfather on his dad's side has a very nice plot at the Free Mason cemetery in College Park Georgia. His grandmother on his dad's side is not dead yet, but she already has her plot not only bought, but also marked. She'll be laid to rest right on top of her second husband.

My advice to Icelanders is be grateful your taxes support the care of the dead.

Comments

Jón Yngvi Jóhannsson said…
Þetta er á einhverjum misskilningi byggt. Íslendingar þurfa að borga fyrir útfarir ættingja sinna og það er enginn munur á því hvort þeir eru í þjóðkirkjunni eða ekki.
Skatturinn sem fólk borgar til þjóðkirkjunnar fer í safnaðarstarf, kirkjugarðarnir tengjast því starfi ekki og eru reknir sérstaklega.
Lissy said…
Takk fyrir það. Er þá kirkjugarðarnir reknir hjá bæjarfélag eða sýslu?

Man þarf að borga, í þan MINNSTA, $4000 dollara fyrir útför í Bandaríkum, fyrir utan að kaupa leiði. Fjölskylda mömmu min í Keflavík og Sandgerði var ekki neytist til að borga svona uphæð þegar Afi dó. En kanski var han með lífatrygging sem ég vissi ekki af.

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