I recently learned that my great aunt had passed away. When the news first began trickling through the family grapevine, as is usually the case, everyone had questions. For the relatives who are up in age – and accustomed to traditional funerals, you can probably guess the questions.
- Which funeral home was chosen?
- When is the visitation?
- When is the funeral?
- How she will look?
As it turns out, there was no need to choose a funeral home, no visitation planned and no need to wonder about how she would look. Several years ago, she had mapped out her final wishes. She had chosen to donate her body to the University of Texas Health Science Center. She had written her obituary as well. It said:
Arlie Bernice Phillips, 92, passed away on Tuesday, June 29 2010. She donated her body to the University of Texas Health Science Center. A memorial service will be held at a later date.
There was a funeral home involved, one holding the contract for the UT donor program, but the family did not have to deal with them. A memorial service has been planned, not at a funeral home, but at the family’s home. The family has created a guest list, printed service folders and chosen refreshments. They have also gathered photos for personalization.
The only costs involved so far, include the newspaper obituary announcement of approximately $150, the cost of the paper and printing for service folders, as well as purchasing refreshments. The UT Science program can hold a body for up to two years. Once their work is complete, cremation is provided and the cremated remains are returned to the family. I am not aware of my aunt’s wishes surrounding her cremated remains. If ground burial in a cemetery is chosen, certain costs would be involved. However, if the family chooses to scatter, which I somehow suspect she chose, no additional costs would be involved.
This is another example of the funeral industry’s evolution in our society. The details are under full control of the family. Costs have been kept to a minimum. I know that the service will be meaningful and the wishes of the deceased will be fulfilled in a way that she wanted.