How ‘Big Burial’ Makes Afterlife Life Can Be Far Away


“You will not die these days because it’s too expensive, ”Randy Hinojosa SAY time last year. Hinojosa only paid $ 15,000 for the funeral of his wife of 26 years, after she died of the coronavirus. Like thousands of families facing unexpected funeral costs, he ran out of his savings and launched a crowdfunding campaign to recoup some losses. “I don’t want to ask anyone for money,” Hinojosa said tearfully. “I have this pride that I can do it.”

The pandemic, which has killed 690,000 Americans and counting, has increased the importance of swift, respectful behavior among the dead – and the unstoppable cost of doing business in today’s system. In 2019, the average funeral will cost $ 9,135, approved by the National Funeral Directors Association. That includes viewing and burial, but not reducing cemetery space or big ticket items such as monuments and other grave markings. Even cremation, for decades promoted as a cheap (and green) alternative to burial, is now averages $ 6,645.

These methods are not only financially detrimental, they are also a risk to the environment. In addition to human remains, traditional burial places one estimated 1.6 million tons of reinforced concrete and 800,000 gallons of formaldehyde-a chemical used in embalming and a potential carcinogen-get into the ground each year. Meanwhile, Cremation, makes one estimated 534.6 pounds of carbon dioxide per person – more than Afghanistan’s per capita emissions.

This bitter end -of -life economy has contributed to a grave poverty crisis in the U.S., according to Victoria J. Haneman, a professor at Creighton University School of Law in Nebraska. Funeral shortages already existed before the pandemic and, without significant reform in both the funeral industry and national and local funeral assistance systems, many families will continue to struggle with growing debt. on credit cards and new personal loans amid their intense grief.

In the worst case scenario, people will be forced to leave their loved ones unclaimed in county custody, where sheriffs, medical examiners, social workers, chaplains, etc. will cremate or bury the dead. left. In the US, as many 3 percent bodies Remaining unaccounted for each year, a number reportedly rises due to economic inequality, the opioid epidemic, and the pandemic.

Even if the U.S. has the resources to guarantee everyone a proper burial, it is not equally provided. “We shouldn’t make $ 9,000 normal as the average cost of a funeral,” Haneman said. “That’s just not surprising, it’s just not necessary.”

For the most part In American history, people died at home, where they were cared for by loved ones. The women of the community prepared the body, while the men made the coffin. That began to change in the Civil War, where deaths were on the remote battlefield. Significant morticians afterwards famous for embalming, a preservation method that allows families to send bodies over long distances so that the dead can be buried in their homes.

Now, death is a $ 20 billion industry. (That’s the same as total revenue for the world music business in 2019, or the market for meat substitutes.) In most corporate and skeptical forms, they are marked with largely unchecked price, including markups such as high. 500 percent in coffins. It is also characterized by decades of resistance to innovation, however public behavior regarding death moved. For example, in 2015, a funeral conglomerate estimated that for every 1 percent of its customers who choose to burn the bank they lose nearly $ 10 million-a “problem” that some morticians are trying to solve by selling families that are often unnecessary services and products, from embalming to pre-cremation to expensive cremations.

Where many communities were once served by small mama-and-pop funeral shops, the death care scene has been reshaped by shareholder-driven companies. Service Corporation International is the largest provider of funeral services in North America, with more than 1,500 funeral homes and 500 cemeteries in its portfolio, which is thought to be almost 16 percent in the overall market share. Instead of lowering prices due to its scaling, SCI prices are on average 47 to 72 percent higher than its rivals, according to 2017 report written by the Funeral Consumers Alliance. The only people who don’t mind are the investors, whose stock is exhausted 151 percent more than five years. Thanks to Big Funeral’s efforts, the industry holds a monopoly on the afterlife – and chooses people not to die.



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