Thursday, January 17, 2008


My friend Dan just emailed me plans for building my own coffin. Just to be clear it was not a death threat (at least I don't think it was). We have been having an on going conversation about death and funerals. We took a course together in fall about death.
Now I have to say before I go any further I have great deal of respect for funeral directors. The funeral director that we have in our town is great - he is kind, compassionate and is a blessing to the families that are grieving. So this is not an attack on him, rather these are thoughts about funerals in general.

Why do I need a fancy coffin? Why padded cushions? I don't plan to use the coffin until I am dead - so must likely I won't mind lying on plain old wood. If I get buried then the coffin is just going to be buried in the ground, where it (and my body) will decompose. Now I don't have exact numbers but I have heard that a basic coffin can cost hundreds of dollars. What are we paying for?

Tony Campolo wrote a book called 20 Hot Potatoes Christians are Afraid to Touch. One of his chapters is called "Are funerals a rip off?" Very thought provoking. I want to quote a small part. He is talking about his experience as a pastor.
"I worked hard to dissuade an economically pressed widow not to buy a foam rubber mattress for her dead husband, in spite of the undertaker's claim that the mattress would be providing a comfortable rest for the corpse for all eternity. I also balked when this same undertaker tried to sell the widow an expensive airtight vault for her husband's casket which was 'guaranteed to keep him dry.'"

With all of this in mind I decided perhaps I should build my own coffin. Actually I am not very handy (and not sure where I would put it - a toy box for the kids might look a little twisted) so I asked one of friends to make me a coffin if I die any time soon.

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