Inconvenient Death


We live in a culture of convenience.  We shop while sitting in our bathrobes, we pick up dinner without leaving our cars, and we watch movies on demand on our phones.  

Even death is being added to this lifestyle of convenience.  

I’ve noted fewer instances of two-day visitations followed by a church funeral with a procession to the cemetery.  I think there’s a connection between this and convenience.

Families no longer are born, raised, and die in the same city; instead, families are scattered across the country, and even the world for that matter.  As a result, families often need time to make funeral plans and to travel, delaying visitations and funerals in the process.  

And people are busy.  

The Jewish community strictly adheres to their customs and traditions surrounding death.  According to Jewish law, that burial of the dead take place the next day.  It doesn’t allow for convenience.  It forces your hand.  It calls your bluff.   In the Jewish tradition, if this person’s life had meaning to you and if you value and support their loved ones, you will find a way to be at their service or burial.

I admire that.   

I have been a licensed funeral director for over 20 years and during that time have experienced numerous scenarios and circumstances and traditions and practices concerning death.   An emerging trend that makes me uncomfortable, however,  is that of disposition of the body as a matter of convenience.   

“Take away this body as quickly and cheaply as possible so that I can return to my everyday life.”  “We’re waiting to do anything for 5 weeks because we’re going on vacation.”  “We’re too busy this week to plan the funeral service.  Let’s try for the next week.”   

Avoiding the planning, the visitation, the funeral, and the relationships and memories nurtured through those events doesn’t protect anyone from grief.  Rather, it robs the mourning of the opportunity to grieve.  And to be supported in their grief.  

And while death rarely comes at a convenient time in people’s busy lives, when it comes, it does offer an opportunity to hit pause on the busyness of life.  An opportunity to stop, reflect, mourn, grieve, honor, remember, and support through the gift of presence those suffering a loss -- expected or unexpected.  

The harder the loss, the more significant the life, the greater the need for a place and space to grieve. In a culture preoccupied with busyness, halting “busyness” due to the “inconvenience” of death may be one of the most effective antidotes against letting busyness control our lives.  

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Matt Hollebeek - Life Story Funeral Director and owner - Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes

Has the inconvenience of death touched your life or your family?  How did you handle it?