Dear Pa, Someone Wants You Cremated


Yesterday I received a letter for my father.  He lives 3,299 miles away from me.   We’ve all been told that opening someone else’s mail is a federal crime right?   It is. *

I live on the edge.  Also, it looked like spam – so I opened it.

Inside was the most tasteful, oddly compelling, letter about the benefits of cremation.  There was even a disclaimer at the bottom that read, “Please accept our apologies if this letter has reached you at a time of serious illness or death in your family.”  Nice right?  I have a terrible cold right now, so I appreciated the apology.

Anyway, there are some real benefits to cremation.  Did you know, for example, that cremation arrangements may qualify as an exempt asset when filing for Medicaid assistance?   Planning to be cremated now also means your family won’t fall victim to ‘up-selling’ at the parlor when you finally kick the bucket.

I don’t know if I can properly explain why I fell over laughing when I read this letter.  It’s obviously a dark subject – my own father’s cremation.  But, of all the mail that would be sent to someone else ‘by accident’ I found it incredible (and frankly, very unlikely) that it would be an advertisement for cremation.  Most of the ‘pluses’ to cremation have to do with the benefits to the living members of the family.  If I were a crematorium, I would probably accidentally send these letters to the offspring of people in the ‘older’ generation too.  It’s a brilliant marketing scheme.

The assumption is that parents are much more likely to cave to the requests of their children about how to deal with their bodies, than they are to respond to a letter from a crematorium.

In the case of my father, this letter didn’t have a chance.  Regardless of whether it had gone directly to him, or been regurgitated by me.  He’s made it very clear in the past that he hopes to die at sea.  And if that isn’t possible, in the woods – where he hopes to be eaten by a pack of wild animals.


Sec. 1702. Obstruction of correspondence

Whoever takes any letter, postal card, or package out of any post
office or any authorized depository for mail matter, or from any letter
or mail carrier, or which has been in any post office or authorized
depository, or in the custody of any letter or mail carrier, before it
has been delivered to the person to whom it was directed, with design to
obstruct the correspondence, or to pry into the business or secrets of
another, or opens, secretes, embezzles, or destroys the same, shall be
fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.


4 responses »

  1. Who doesnt want to die, at the end of thier long life, in a ravenous wild animal attack in the woods? Its like that end scene to that movie “Legends of the Fall” where old Brad Pitt fights his lifelong nemesis grizzley bear and dies. My luck would be getting an alergic reaction to a bee sting at 85 and strangling to death. Not the same appeal. BTW, I bet that letter was actually for you to read. Gorilla marketing scheme.

    • I need to start taking Pa out in the woods with me. I can’t help out on the ocean front because open water freaks me out….but if he happens to kick the bucket NOT in the woods, I’ll volunteer to throw him in my pack basket, take him to the woods, and leave him for the woodland creatures.

      I think you should donate his body to science. He once told me that the Portuguese were made up of “all stem cells.” I would think someone would like to study that.

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