My father passed away in 1979. I remember going to the funeral home with my mother to help her make the arrangements for his funeral. It was one of the most obscene experiences of my life.
The salesperson used every trick he could think of to manipulate my mother’s grief and emotional distress in order to up-sell her. I grew up in a working class family. My father was a fire chief for the City of Garland, Texas. He had some life insurance but not much. My mother was facing an uncertain financial future. She didn’t have the money for anything beyond a nice but modest funeral.
A nice but modest funeral, however, wasn’t in the best interest of the funeral-home salesperson. He wouldn’t sacrifice his commission just because he had a working-class widow in front of him.
When my mother picked a lower priced casket, he pointed out that because Dad had known a great many folks and had been well liked, there would be a large crowd at the service. Certainly he deserved a better casket for such a large group. Up went the cost.
When she chose to go with the least expense concrete burial vault, the salesperson described in excruciating detail what would happen to my father’s body inside it. A more expensive lined vault would prevent that horror from occurring. Further up went the cost.
When she chose to have a simple photo of Dad in his department uniform, the salesperson told her how most people prefer to have a large, elaborate mural of the deceased showing his life and relationships. Even further up went the cost.