An article in my local paper  reported that over the past two years Forest Lawn (cemeteries) have been quietly putting movable kiosks in several southern California suburban malls. The reason given is people may be less intimidated and more receptive to death if they’re in a setting that’s lively and happy.  A person munching on a Mrs. Fields cookie may be inclined to stop and checkout cremation urns or read the coffin pamphlet. 

After I read the article I asked my husband if he wanted to be buried or cremated. He replied, “Surprise me.” But, there are people who don’t like surprises so they plan entire life and funeral. This is the type of person who wishes they could be a fly on the wall at their own funeral for several reasons.  Reason #1: to see how many people show. A large number will prove to them if they were as popular as they thought they were. Just because a lot of people come to your funeral doesn’t always mean you were loved, it doesn’t; some come just to make sure you’re really dead. Reason #2: to hear what people say about them – good or bad. Reason #3: to see who cries and doesn’t cry. Reason #4: to see if the jilted ex-lover has the audacity to show up.

I think a funeral kiosk may start conversations that some people may otherwise not have. Sure, at Christmas, Grandma may not be thrilled opening the funeral brochure (you got at the mall) that was stuffed in her stocking, but it may prompt her to finally put her John Hancock on the dotted line of her will. Christmas dinner will consist of turkey and stuffing and the adults hastily drafting next year’s wish list, should Grandma meet an untimely, unfortunate demise.

Next Christmas, Grandma’s stocking is replaced with a cremation urn, perched atop the fireplace mantel. Grandpa is whistling a happy tune with his hot, new bride on his arm until he opens the funeral pamphlet stuffed in his stocking. His much younger bride got it at the mall. There’s a flurry of activity as the adults again draft up next year’s wish list. Grandpa stops whistling.

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