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Diatribe: Drive-Thru Funeral Homes.

09/16/2014

5I hate funeral homes.  Growing up in the Midwest, I was familiar with funeral home only as a venue where families would host a “wake”.  It was an old European custom for mourners to stay awake and keep watch or vigil over their dead until they were buried while expressing condolences to the family of the deceased..  Unbeknownst to me, in other parts of the country these funeral home gatherings were known as “viewings” and have evolved into social events that combine paying respect to the deceased, offering condolences to the family and showering them with food and love during their time of grief.

Just as traditions have changed over the years, so have funeral homes.  Some have added kitchens and banquet halls.  Others large restroom facilities and most have enormous parking lots.  Paradise Funeral Chapel in Saginaw, Michigan has added a drive-thru window.

“You may find people who are afraid of funeral homes, now they can view their loved ones from the convenience of their car.” – Ivan Phillips, Owner, Paradise Funeral Chapel.

Last Sunday, Paradise Funeral Chapel unveiled its new drive-thru facility.  As cars pull up to the drive-thru window, curtains move back after a sensor in the ground detects a vehicle’s weight.  The drive-thru offers protection from inclement weather and comfort for the disabled.

I find this practice to be morbid, macabre and undignified.  It seems to me that anyone who would drive up to a window for a glimpse at a corpse is certainly not doing so out of respect or sympathy but out of ghoulish curiosity.  Are they driving thru to offer condolences or to get a peek at the body?

“The funeral industry is changing rapidly. So my intent was to bring something here that was accessible to the community.  We wanted to provide convenience and accessibility for our customers for the times and days they don’t want to get out of their vehicle.” – Sharise Phillips, Manager, Paradise Funeral Chapel.

Paradise Funeral Chapel isn’t the first funeral home to offer drive-thru services and it, surely, won’t be the last.  Many funeral homes offer live stream services via the internet so that friends and family who are unable to attend in person can be a part of the grieving process from afar.  I imagine this can be a wonderful service but, to me, the concept of “making it convenient to grieve” is borderline obscene.

I, for one, will not allow a deceased loved one to be displayed in a drive-thru window.  Anyone who visits a funeral home to pay respects to my dead relative has to get out of their car and come inside.  If you’re disabled or the roads are icy, a phone call and some thoughtful words will be graciously appreciated.

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7 Comments
  1. Lene permalink

    “Just want to take a peek at the dead guy, but can’t be bothered to go inside and greet the family.”
    Totally unacceptable.

    Like

  2. If you cannot get out of the car to go pay respects to the family and honor the deceased, stay home. Now, a good feature I have found are these funeral homes that let you post a remembrance (with a 24 hour delay so that they can be edited in case someone uses it poorly). When I have offered a remembrance of someone I knew, the family has said nice things when I went to the funeral (and yes I got out of the car). So, they are read.

    Like

  3. At first i thought it was like a drive-thru bank, and you put the deceased in one of those plastic tubes and the body gets sucked inside the mortuary.
    My bad.
    But this is just tacky.

    Like

  4. Such poor taste…dunno which is worse this or the drive tnru weddings …sigh

    Like

  5. This follows all the other ways we don’t interact with each other any more. How cold and heartless.

    Like

  6. I work in a large regional cancer treatment center. Often people undergoing chemotherapy or radiation have immune systems that are so fragile, it’s a risk to come into the building for their treatments where there are other people; they *can* literally die as a result of casual contact.

    For some, this may be the ONLY way they could see the dearly departed one last time.

    Though not my personal taste, I think it’s fine as an option.

    Like

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