I lost my husband about three weeks ago. He died of a recurrent brain tumor. Losing someone that close and that important to you is a devastating experience. Everything about your life changes, instantly, but added to this immediate upheaval is the burden of making all the necessary arrangements….funeral home, cemetery….things like that.
So, the day after Dan died, I embarked on this surreal journey into the business side of death.
The funeral home experience was pretty straight forward. No surprises. It went much like I expected, but the cemetery experience was a very different story….
Dan and I had not bought cemetery plots prior to his death. Let’s face it, most people don’t do that kind of thing before hand, especially not when you are young and actively raising a family. So, after the visit to the funeral home, my parents, Dan’s parents, and I drove to the cemetery to buy a plot.
That’s when things got really weird…..
Imagine driving through a cemetery, knowing that you have to buy a chunk of dirt in which to bury the most important person in your life. You walk into the little office building, tucked away in the back corner of the cemetery, only to be greeted by the smiling face of a re-animated mummy.
Ok, maybe it wasn’t that dramatic, but this guy did look like he was about 100 years old and the very embodiment of Death, itself.
After a few minutes of the usual chit chat, he suggests we go out and look at the grounds in order to decide exactly where we want to buy. So we all pile into his large golf cart, and because I was kind of the odd man out, I got to sit next Mr. Death. Yay, for me!
As he drove, he leaned close to me (invading my personal space) to ask several questions, and then he started his sales pitch by actually saying, “all the plots in this garden (apparently, the different sections of a cemetery are called gardens) are ‘this price’ and the plots in that garden are ‘that price,’ but today, just for you, I’ll give you that garden for the same price as this one.” I know, weird, huh?
When we get to the area he wanted to show us, we get out to look around. He shows me this map, explains where we are, and tells me that all the white spaces on the map are available plots. Now, if he had just stopped talking at this point, all would have been okay, but no, instead he goes into salesman overdrive. I kid you not, he turned into the Grimm Reaper/used car salesman!
He talked incessantly, saying things like, “that family bought 32 plots in this area, but you could be next them or over there or anywhere there is a white space on this map,” and I kept thinking, “Why do I care if that family bought all of that. Just show me where things are available and leave me alone!”
We meandered around, enduring the Grimm tour, until we finally settled in a particular area. The Reaper, sensing we were close to a decision, attempts to be helpful. He stood next to one grave marker, paced off about 10 yards, turned, and said, “this plot is available!” with the biggest smile he could muster.
At this point, I was more than ready to just pick a spot and get the heck out of Dodge, if you know what I mean. I think we all felt that way, but this ride was far from over.
Salesman Death kicked it up another notch, and, unbelievably, said, looking directly at both sets of parents, “if all of you want to buy today, then I’ll give you a buy one, get one free deal.
Yes. You heard that correctly. The Grimm Reaper just offered us a bogo!!!!
I think we were all a little stunned. We quickly decided on Dan’s plot, and then went back to the office where things got really awkward. Grimm started talking about grave markers by pitching the idea of a large double marker for me and Dan (because I was taking him up on the buy one get one free deal), when he suddenly realized that I may not want a double marker, given my age, but then he was stuck. He wasn’t sure how to take his foot out of his mouth with the parents there.
I rescued him by saying that I thought we should just get a single marker, and he ran with that, murmuring something about the possibility of changing it to a double at a later time, if I wanted.
Needless to say, this was a very awkward, emotional, strange, exhausting day, and I actually had to go back, later, to design the grave marker.
But that is a story for another post……
So, stay tuned for more “tales from the crypt….”