On the Beat 10/20

Death has many options

By Jim Bucher
Many of you know my mom, Cookie Bucher, passed this past July at age 89, just four days shy of her 90th.

Then a short time later, I lost my friend long-time Dayton Daily News columnist Dale Huffman.

And if that wasn’t enough, a good friend of our family’s who had been battling cancer for almost 20 years ironically didn’t succumb to the disease, but rather another complication.

It’s been a rough couple of months.

But it got me thinking, which is how these columns alwas begin, how different funeral services once were.

As a kid, my dad told me that before funeral homes, family and friends of the dearly departed would hold a viewing or wake at the home of the deceased or their family.

I guess my grandfather on my dad’s side was placed before our hearth—in a casket of course.

After a small service, which couldn’t be attended by many because our living room held maybe 10 people comfortably, grandpa was transported to the cemetery.

With the advent of funeral homes, this practice went the way of the horse drawn carriage.

Fast forward to 2015, when saying goodbye to a loved one happens in many ways.

Yes, we still have the traditional funeral service with the remains on display, which to some is quite morbid. And we have the comments from those passing by the casket.

“Gosh, he looks good,” you might hear someone say.

Yes, not bad for a dead guy.

Most viewings or wakes have become upbeat, in some cases with pictures accompanied by music on a TV monitor. It adds a nice touch.

Others offer singers, most always a religious message—and, on occasion, a few laughs.

It makes the grief bearable, and, after all, the process is for the living. It’s closure, if you will.

In mom’s case, she had everything planned out and was very adamant on how things should go.

“Jimmy,” she’d say, which meant no screwing around, “I do not want people gawking at me just lying there.”

She was 75 at the time and thought a funeral service was old fashioned and needed a revamp.

So, she willed her body to science at Ohio University’s Body Donor Program.

Still giving even in death. When she passed away, I called OU and was informed someone would be heading our way in less than two hours.

My one worry was that my two teen daughters who were experiencing this process with their old dad. Heck, I was having trouble wrapping my arms around it all. I’d never experienced anything like this before. Here’s my mom still in her hospital bed with my girls and me by her side awaiting the transport van.

You know what? It’s true, though—kids are resilient. They were troopers, even when their grammy was wheeled to the van.

We were told the cremains would return within the timeframe of six months to a couple years and, get this, after medical students soon-to-be-doctors were finished, they mailed the ashes to my home.

Now if you know anything about our family, we do have a morbid, sick and sarcastic sense of humor. Sorta whacked.

I can think of about 20 jokes right now, but I’ll hold my tongue.

OK, can’t stand it, I’ll give you one: Is she coming special DEADlivery?

I digress, but in the meantime, as we waited for that day, we had a memorial service for mom.

It was a few close friends. A message, some music and a video.

According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the times they are a-changing.

As baby boomers age and find themselves having to plan funerals for loved ones, they are making funeral choices based on values different than previous generations.

Boomers see funerals as a valuable part of the grieving process and are seeking ways to make them more meaningful.

Today, funeral service “customers” are planning funeral services that are as unique as the person who died. Personalization has resulted in an explosion of services that reflect the hobbies, passions and interests of someone who has died. Like Burger King, have it your way.

Get this. At one time, it was just a few—now over 36 percent are cremations.

That’s what I want. A few ashes here in my hometown, on a beach in Florida, in Palm Springs and whatever’s left scattered on the hottest super model of the day.

Hey, it’s my funeral.

Cheers!

Buch

For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com

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For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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