On Wednesday, I accompanied Lyn to the People’s Memorial Funeral Cooperative on Capitol Hill to make the arrangement for Frank’s cremation.
Years ago, I read Jessica Mitford’s The American Way of Death Revisited and it left me with an even lower opinion of the funeral industry than I already had.
I had never made any funeral arrangements before. It turned out to be both painless and inexpensive. The funeral director sat down with us and gathered information for the death certificate that the doctor was unable to provide, such as parents’ names and other personal details. Initially, we put down “Software Documenter” as Frank’s occupation—his final job had been a ten-year stint at Microsoft as a documentation assistant—but when we were proofreading the printout, I suggested “poet”. And so it was. Frank published one book of poetry, How to Eat a Slug, and I know he’d rather be remembered as a poet than a Microsoft peon.
The cost was $800, as Frank was a member of the non-profit People’s Memorial co-op. It would have been a couple of hundred more otherwise. I asked how much it would have cost at a commercial mortuary, and she told us that a basic package at a well-known funeral home a few blocks away started out at $3200. Ouch!
We were unable to view Frank’s body as it was already at the crematorium in Kent, and that would have cost $150 extra to set up.
I also arranged a brief death notice in this week’s Seattle Gay News.
(Aside: the URL for People’s Memorial is http://www.funerals.coop. I wasn’t even aware that there was a .coop TLD, but I learned that it was created with other new TLDs, such as .biz, .info, and .name, in 2002.)