We are not dying like we used to.

We are not dying like in the good old days.


I have written before on how things are crook in the world of the dedicated undertaker.Now it is worldwide. Embalmers, grave diggers, crematorium sweepers, they are all huddled around street corners hoping for a body, shovels are going rusty and listless undertakers reduced to sipping buttermilk or lukewarm tea.

Some of the largest retorts have been switched off and lying idle, saving gas or electricity. These are hard times.

Unfortunately, the best of the undertakers etc will get out of the industry. Many embalmers already have taken up restoring cars, cane furniture or simply becoming panel beaters. The industry will find it hard to replace those that took pride in their work. Many were answering an almost sacred plea during the peak or heydays of the dying, few were chosen. The very best were artists in their own right and could name their price. It was as much a calling as becoming a bishop or a Venetian gondolier.

Many corpses were left with the signature of the embalmer as recognizable as a vintner could call his ‘vins de Bordeaux.’ The best of them clearly under emphasized their work, were modest and yet worked with much devotion and creativity.

It makes one wonder how the industry will fare in the future. I am pretty sure that, no matter what, the trade from ‘ashes to ashes’ will survive.

Already many of the smaller undertakers were taken over by the larger ones and with mass buying of coffins and introduction of solar heated crematoriums and retorts, costs were cut, prices lowered. Many are now corporate giants and listed on the Dow Jones, The FT100, and the AEX etc. Some of the smaller funeral directors tried double dipping with re-use of coffins, the introduction of flat pack carton coffins with Allen key, plastic re-usable flowers and introducing three for the price of one and other sustainable solutions.

The logistics of less numbers dying now seems a problem that will take innovative action. The larger corporate ones have taken to offering ‘Corpus-futures’ (CF’s) the same as already existing with pork bellies, soya beans etc. One has the option of going ‘short’ or ‘long’ on the dearly departed. Timing is of the essence though.

The experts can blame longevity on the mild weather or the habit of taking vitamins, exercise and tofu milk with cucumber but I wonder if people are cutting corners and doing a swifty and burying Aunt Agnes on the sly under Rufus the dog kennel? Are there economic reasons at play here? How does that stack up though against all those funereal insurance TV ads with so many of the ‘happy’ Rolfing around in the knowledge that for the cost of a mere weekly latte or sugar slushy they will get a nice warm cremation or a burial without having to worry afterwards and lying awake all night.

Anyway, you can get a decent funeral for less than an Mp with 5 Gigabytes; including a box of I love Lucy VD’s thrown in for niks.

The problem seems odd. On the one hand, robust health with longevity and mild weather is to be blamed, yet on the other side obesity and the Big quarter pounder Mac were seen by many as the savior for the industry. What is happening here? Is there some rort going on somewhere?

I am suspicious.

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12 Responses to “We are not dying like we used to.”

  1. auntyuta Says:

    We take ‘Olive Leave Extract’ when we feel a cold coming on. Maybe this is what kept us alive this winter. But I can’t say that I felt it to be a mild winter.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      We take olive oil and eat lots of olives, so…hopefully carry on for at least another twenty years or so. Red wine is good too, (they say)
      We had a couple of frosts but this winter has been mild. The daffodils and hyacinths are beautiful. Tulips next.


  2. Andrew Says:

    Gerard, there are plenty of people dying. Just not the right ones. The poor and the sick remain vulnerable whilst the corrupt and the politicians (tautology?) go from strength to strength. Medical progress is slowing down developed country mortality rates but at what price. The most difficult question I have ever been asked was “if she goes into arrest do you want us to try and resuscitate your mother?”. I knew her views, my brother wouldn’t opine and so it fell to me to answer. Quality versus quantity. I hold the same views as my mother did. I won’t keep the undertakers waiting unnecessarily. Onwards and hopefully upwards. My paternal grandmother prepaid her funeral – gave her peace of mind. £200. Bargain. I don’t think she got the I Love Lucy DVDs though. Anyway, as everybody knows England has the Ashes and you Aussies are not having them back for a while. Not dying fast enough? Ask the Aussie cricket team……………..


  3. petspeopleandlife Says:

    I almost “died from laughing.” Funnnny! I get calls fairly often from scammers trying to sell me a “burial policy, a burial plot,” and worry free debt for my “loved ones” when I die. These folks are relentless too. I get a call generally every week or so and sometime more frequently. They are luaghable but at the same time depressing for I know these marketers prey on older folks.

    My two kiddos know to have me cremated and to spread my ashes on the old home place. There will no newspaper announcement that I died and no memorial. Just plain and simple. So my children will not have much expense when I bite the dust.

    I liked the post a lot. It was very funny.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, those callers work on fanning ‘guilt” by saying ‘surely you don’t want your children to be burdened by your death and funeral costs?”
      One ought to answer; yes I do want them to pay for my funeral.
      Anyway, it is something we all face and no one escapes which cheers me always up.


  4. berlioz1935 Says:

    You are suspicious? You shouldn’t be. It is the climate change, they are all talking about. Mild winter ! That is the give-away. Old folk sitting in the warm sun don’t feel like departing. The Carbon Tax could be the undertakers meal ticket, restoring the old climatic balance to what it used to be. If the Carbon Tax is doing what it is supposed to, then we can look for healthy death rates once again and penal beaters will return to their old trade.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      You could be right. I don’t understand that obesity is now so bad that predictions are dire and catastrophic for the future. But undertakers complain lack of bodies. I think climate change will effect the world if nothing gets done to balance things out. Putting more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than can be absorbed or converted does a lot of damage, including the melting of the ice-caps and glaciers.
      I wonder what people regret most when they finally face the inevitable?
      Many men regret having worked so (too) hard and not having had enough time to spend with family.


  5. Nick Ryan Says:

    Gerard, I thought people were dying to get into the trade of undertaker? Maybe Woolworths & Coles have also got their gnarled fingers in the cadaver pie, with fresh bread baked daily (in Ireland of all places) & imported for sale in Australia, maybe we should heck out the meat pie filling a little more closely?


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