Since Covid, I have seen an abnormal climb in cremations at my funeral home. Before 2020, Caucasian cremation rates at my funeral home were at 20%. Over three years, we have seen our cremation market for Caucasians, increase to 95%. What has become alarming is that African Americans are now entering that trend.
The African-American community has traditionally fought off the flight toward cremation. Now that they are jumping in, I have asked them what their motivators are. Without fail, they respond that it is economically driven.
Most unprepared families in America must select cremation options because burial expenses have exceeded their financial reach. This is not exactly newsworthy. However, it is startling that families who have prepared in advance are opting out of burial and choosing cremation. The reason they state is because they need the overage within their burial or life insurance policies to pay down accumulated debt.
This is a sad place to be financially. Families are having to prioritize essentials over preferences and comforts. As a youngster, I remember when inflation was devastating the American economy and crushing the American family.
When I was in high school. President Carter was in the White House, and mortgage rates were well over 20%. My poor father worked himself to death, trying to make ends meet. Gasoline was around $5 per gallon, a quick hot jump from $0.25 per gallon, where gasoline had started when he began his crazy economic policies.
President Carter regulated a nationwide highway and interstate speed limit of 55 mph to lower gasoline consumption. I’m not so sure that the lower speed limit improved gasoline consumption ratios, but it sure cut down on long-distance travel.
He imposed additional gasoline restrictions, and we could only buy gasoline on certain days of the week. Lines at the pump would extend for miles down the road. My brother and I would rush home after school, take whichever vehicles were eligible to qualify for gasoline that particular day, and wait in line to fill up while our parents toiled at multiple jobs. We would do our homework while sitting in line. In the end, my dad’s construction company was crushed under the economic policies of the Carter administration, and we were forced into poverty and homelessness.
Additionally, President Carter suggested that Americans turn down their thermostats and wear a sweater or two during the cold winter months to save on energy consumption. My family lived in the Intermountain West at that time. Honestly, two or even three sweaters weren’t enough to keep you warm. I can’t even begin to imagine how senior citizens survived.
Anyone younger than the baby boomers has yet to realize the potential nightmare heading our way. As Covid hysteria began to subside, our American government had already started flooding our economy with so much worthless money and aid that it became more lucrative for the unemployed to remain so. It remains nearly impossible to get anyone under 50 years old to understand that their dignity and freedom are worth more than their unrealistic high dreams of the perfectibility of human society through utopian schemes.
As we enter the holiday season, I see negative economic indicators. Not only are cremations on the rise, but hopelessness overwhelms many of my clients. I hear the fear in their words concerning their futures. I see children dropping out of college or not even seeking higher education opportunities.
I notice that thermostats are set on colder temperatures, and blankets, sweaters, and jackets are covering family members as I visit their homes to call for their decedents. I see parents walking down the highway to get to grocery stores. And sadly, I see homelessness overflowing into the country. These are not good signs.
I worry about politics and economics here and abroad. I worry about the world at large because when funeral service is affected economically, and when families are forced to inter their family members in ways that are foreign, uncomfortable, or unsettling to them, society is headed for a hopeless meltdown.
I hope that we will find the strength to overcome the economic and governmental oppressions of our time as our great-grandparents did during the early World Wars and Great Depression. I hope that the recent revelations of academia across our nation’s campuses will revolutionize and activate parents and benefactors to withdraw their financial support of such anti-American concepts.
I pray that America can turn around and recover from her follies before the world reaches a central breaking point. If we can do that, we can save the world. We should be able to save the earth and its inhabitants from economic collapse, another world war, slavery, barbarism, and potential annihilation.
No matter what your beliefs are, I invite you to join me in prayer as we enter this holiday season and beg for guidance and protection from a power greater and purer than our own. Pray for a remission of past sins and follies, and divine enlightenment to turn our hearts toward serving one another with honesty and purity in our actions and thoughts. I fear there is nothing else that can save us from ourselves other than divine intervention. I hope beyond expression that there actually is divine intervention and that it remains available to us.
Cremation is on the rise, but that is the least of my problematic worries. The fall of freedom cries out to me, and I do not know how to save it.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a Certified Grief Counselor (GC-C), Funeral Director (FDIC), published author, syndicated columnist, Podcaster, and founder of the “Mikey Joe Children’s Memorial” and Heaven Sent, Corp. I write books, weekly bereavement articles, Podcasts, and Grief BRIEFs related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award.
For additional encouragement, please visit my podcast “Deadline” on Spotify and follow me on Instagram at “Deadline_TracyLee.”