Cremate

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Cremate: (v) to reduce a dead body to ashes by fire

I grew up with a “Kellogg’s” approach to death and burial.

This was more or less taking your loved one, sticking him or her in a box, sealing the lid and tucking the flake away.

All the funerals I went to had gorgeous cereal boxes. They all ended up at a gravesite where the container was lowered into the ground, covered over and marked with a stone that insisted in granite that this individual once lived.

So when my thirteen-year-old son passed away from complications due to a hit-and-run accident, I was far from any home we had, traveling on the road. I immediately discovered that those boxes ain’t cheap.

Not only are they expensive, but they demand that you buy a plot of land—which is also extremely costly—and place your loved one in an area where you must to drive to visit.

Well, I realized I was not going to live in the community where my boy died, so I was offered the option of cremation. It was considerably less money. Also, at the end of the process, they handed over a box containing a sealed, plastic bag of dusty and ashy remains.

It was rather shocking. Opening the lid, I took a peek at the contents. It reminded me of when I was a kid and was given the job in late October of cleaning the fireplace out so we would be able to make a nice, cozy flame on cold, winter nights.

… Ashen, clingy powder that wanted to stick to your skin—or if you got it too close to your face and inhaled, could make you cough.

This was not my son. This didn’t represent his brief journey.

I thought to myself, maybe it’s a good thing. Instead of painting up something that’s dead and gone, burn it up, confirming that it will no longer be here.

I picked up the carton, put it in the back of our van, and we traveled with it for years—stuck in the corner near the wheel well.

At times I considered scattering the ashes, but there was no particular place that had more significance than another. Absent finding a resting ground for his soot, I felt more inclined to just keep him nearby.

Matter of fact, he’s still with us.

My younger son has taken him and lifted him up in honor … in a corner of the attic.


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Coroner

Coroner: (n) one who investigates deaths

Then there’s the joke.

“I went to the morgue to see the body. I asked the receptionist where I might find the corpse. She pointed to her right and replied, ‘Just around the coroner.’”

(I didn’t say it was a funny joke.)

But when you talk about things like the coroner, you have to use some humor. A little tongue-in-cheek is helpful.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

I have personally dealt with an actual coroner only once in my life. My son, who had been involved in a hit-and-run accident six years earlier, which had left him in a vegetative state, suddenly developed pneumonia and died in about a four-hour period.

We were in the state of Oregon, and according to their statues, anybody who dies that quickly has to be observed by a coroner and have an autopsy.

I probably should have looked up “coroner” and found out what was involved with the profession, but there was no Internet at that time and my encyclopedias were packed away back home, two thousand miles away. So I entered into the whole situation very ignorant.

He was a nice enough fellow—just creepy enough to fulfill the parameters of the occupation. I was emotionally disturbed from the death of my son, so I began to yammer without much awareness, trying to explain to the gentleman some of the extent of my loss. In doing so, I offered a very child-like request. “Please be gentle with him. He’s been through a lot.”

I remember the look on the chap’s face—a combination of tenderness, surprise, confusion and mercy. For after all, he had already done the autopsy and chopped my young son into many pieces.

Fortunately, I didn’t think of that in the moment. I was granted a blessed ignorance, and a bit of grace, by a man who had to deal with death every day and realized that I would not benefit from any further understanding of his plight.


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