July 21st is apparently death day: Both the Los Angeles Times and New York Times have front page stories on funerals. Summary from both stories: The bad news is that if you die alone and end up at the LA county coroner, there's a good chance your cash-strapped family will be too cheap to claim your body. The good news is that if you die at home, and as long as you have a permit and plenty of land, you may be able to be buried in your backyard, right next to your childhood hamster. But first, back to the coroner's stats: According to the Los Angeles Times, the county coroner saw a 25% increase in unclaimed bodies in the first half of 2009. No one wants to pay the $352 to receive the ashes, so the bodies go unclaimed. "The demands on the county crematorium have been so high that earlier this year, officials there stopped accepting bodies from the coroner."
The New York Times story doesn't really tie the recession to its funeral story, but it's no less fascinating: The paper follows a New Hampshire family who buries their father on the family farm (total cost: $250). According to the Times, burial on private land, with a town permit, is acceptable in most states. "In most states, those rules are an issue of local control." It would seem to be a trend, according to the Times, which notes that the baby boom generation are "handling arrangements for the first time [and] are particularly looking for a more intimate experience." Meanwhile, what are the parameters of what defines rural? (Related: We all know Santa Barbara denied a permit to bury Michael Jackson at Neverland). Can one be buried in the backyard of a Pacific Palisades home, or under a gazebo in Bel-Air?
· More bodies go unclaimed as families can't afford funeral costs [LA Times]
· Home Burials Offer an Intimate Alternative [NY Times]