golf cart casketsAs if California's economy wasn't dead enough, the Los Angeles Times is reporting that the Los Angeles County Coroner's office is getting as crowded as Disneyland on Seniors Day.

With families struggling to meet their bills, fewer have the money necessary to pay for the burial of their loved (or at least tolerated) ones. Twenty-five percent more bodies have gone unclaimed this year, sending subsequent cremations up from 525 to 712.

In Baton Rouge, Melvin Stewart's 15-year-old son Melvin passed away recently, felled by cancer. The Stewarts were facing a $5,000 funeral home bill to properly bury their son, a sum that was beyond their means.

Funeral director Hall Davis IV suggested they could save $300 by digging the grave themselves. (Does that seem like cold-hearted advice to you?) Members of the Louisiana State Troopers Association were so moved by this that they stepped in and paid the remaining amount.

Finally, the New York Times reported on the dramatic increase in home burials, a return to the death rituals of the frontier U.S.

By building the casket themselves, passing on embalming, showing the body at home and burying the deceased on family-owned property instead of a graveyard, a respectful sendoff can be done for a tiny fraction of the $6,000 spent on the average American funeral.

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