Death Comes to the Drive-Thru

Got an important funeral coming up and you just don’t want to run into Aunt Edna? Or you just know your ex is going to be at the cemetery with his new stick-thin blonde girlfriend? Or you can’t bother to be hassled by Grandpa Barry’s old-school sexist comments? Well, thank heavens for Paradise Funeral Chapels, one of the first funeral homes that comes complete with a drive-thru window. Hallelujah! Drop off your deceased at Paradise and come funeral time you won’t even have to bother trying to find parking. You can just roll right on up to the viewing window where sad, mournful music kicks in from an overhead speaker. Then you and your loved one get three whole minutes of alone time (separated by thick glass, of course) for you to deliver any heartfelt goodbyes.

Gone is the need to actually be in the same room as your family members if you don’t feel like it. Paradise Funeral Chapels understands that people are getting busier every day and has designed their parlor for those on the go. Pay your respects to Grandpa on the way to Timmy’s soccer game without missing a second of the first quarter. Don’t miss a second of that conference call with your firm’s partners as you blow a kiss to dearly departed Nana.

So if you don’t know how the heck you’re going to squeeze in your last goodbyes and still make it to Nordstrom’s in time for the big sale, look no further than Paradise.  Oh and no need to worry about that last-minute beach traffic either, you’ve got that covered! Pop on over to Paradise to say adieu to Cousin Fred and be on the road to sun and surf in no time at all!

In all seriousness, I can almost, sort of, slightly see how a drive-thru funeral option would be maybe “okay.” Some families have “issues” when they get in the same room together. I suppose this could be a way to avoid any potential fisticuffs between brothers that just can’t get along. And as the article states, maybe this is an easier alternative for those who are disabled. Perhaps it has some practical causes. Maybe. Sort of. Kind of. But in reality, it just sounds tacky…especially when there are more respectful, and just as practical, alternatives to choose from: such as separate viewing times for family members (since acting like adults is apparently out of the question), handicapped accessible areas, etc.

Of course there’s nothing that can be done – no real compromise to be made – for those individuals who just don’t want to take five minutes out of their day to go inside and pay their respects to the dearly departed because they’re simply too busy or too lazy. For those people, it would seem these windows were ideally invented.

As for me, I’m still wrapping my head around drive-thru Starbucks. It’s going to take some time to absorb drive-thru eulogizing.



26 thoughts on “Death Comes to the Drive-Thru

  1. Once they take hold (if they do) people of the future will freak out thinking that people ever went inside and were by a body. That seems to be the way life is. Some people can’t go in and stand out in front, because it’s too traumatizing to go inside. I’ve seen that quite a bit. They pace back and forth, stressed to the max. They have nightmares, after seeing someone they love, not moving and in a box.

    Our family doesn’t doesn’t do those things. We have memorial services sometimes or else nothing at all. That’s what we all want…nothing at all. If there is a memorial service, people just gather to chat and tell funny stories about the person. Usually they are held outside, in the summer. People laugh and some cry but we don’t do the whole funeral thing, ever. We love and respect everyone while they are alive and no one has any unfinished business. Everyone does things differently and this works for all of us. We don’t put things in the paper but if we choose to do so, we send out printed notices to those who need to be informed. Once the older generations were gone, everyone started being cremated, so no funerals and we don’t do wakes, not ever.

    • I’ve always found it traumatic to look at dead people and I have an extremely hard time with it, especially those I love. It always ends up being the way I remember them instead of the happier memories of when they’re alive. It’s like I can’t get the image out of my head. My family does wakes and services and funerals. But I know many who do cremations — both with services/wakes and without. I’ve thought the wakes interesting that people have told me about who are from New Orleans and with some in Ireland where it’s sort of a party and people are celebrating the life of the person who has passed rather than their death. Like with your family, they tell happy stories, and they have music and joy and remember the person’s life I suppose rather than mourn their death. I know the mourning part comes, it has to, but it’s tempered a bit with remembering their life as well. But everyone does things in their own way, the funerals and all that go with them have always been for the living, not the dead. Everyone mourns in their own way. I just have a hard time with the drive-by, 3 minute “see ya” version. But then, that’s just me.

      • I agree, drive thru windows seem weird now, but who knows what the future holds…stranger things have happened. You can get married and divorced at a drive thru, why not “viewed” the same way, right? That’s what we are becoming, more and more…detached, distant, from each other. Doesn’t it seem strange to see dead people dressed up, with make up on. To me, personally, the dead body is like an empty car…the person is no longer there. No one is driving. It’s just an empty shell…and it’s so awful to look at a body and think about what is gone forever. LIfe is movement. Life never stops moving and to see someone you love be absolutely still…horrible.

        Death rituals are for the living, people have to do what makes them feel better. Some need to have wakes and funerals, others don’t. It’s nice that we all have choices and are able to do things our own way. Every culture has different rituals. We (Americans) aren’t used to death. Everything in our country is cleaned up right away. We don’t have experience with death, so we definitely shy away from anything having to do with it. Think about when people use to have to care for the body and have it in their living rooms. I couldn’t stand it (with the mentality I have now). Too awful to think about. So from that scenario, to a drive thru…times are changing…always. I think death (depending on the person you lose) is so traumatic that anything you can do to feel better is okay with me…other than the husbands who try to pick up women from the mourners while they are burying their wives. I’ve heard about that happening way too many times and to me, that’s disrespectful in the extreme, but that’s just my opinion. When I hear those stories, I always wonder if the guys murdered their wives.

        I think it’s good to discuss this issue and I’m very happy that you started the conversation. Things that are kept hidden can be less scary when brought into the light. I think this is a great beginning. Thank you.

        • Detached is exactly what our society is becoming. You hit that one on the head perfectly. It wasn’t that long ago that funerals were a “home affair” in the U.S. and people laid out their dead in the living rooms or dining rooms awaiting the casket to be built and the service to be held. Most of the time someone stayed with the body until the casket was ready. That must’ve been a strange vigil to keep. In the Victorian era, people would take photos of the dead as keepsakes and there were elaborate mourning “rules.” So yes indeed, death rituals can be very strange and very complex and very unique depending on the culture, the society and even just the family involved. It’s a subject I’ve read a great deal about…I find it fascinating.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting! Some people do have issues with bodies…I don’t like viewing loved ones either. It bothers me a lot. I’m not sure I’d like it any better from the car though. But that’s just me.

      • well I guess it has – in September:

        SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) –
        Most people these days lead very busy lives. That’s one reason owners of a local funeral home decided to make saying your final goodbyes a little more convenient.

        The funeral home now has 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,” said Ivan Phillips, owner of Paradise Funeral Chapel.

        Phillips unveiled the drive-thru funeral services on Sunday.

        “I wanted to bring something to Saginaw that we’ve never had here before,” he said.

        In the past, Phillips has allowed disabled family members to watch video of funerals and take part in visitation services over the Internet using cameras.

        “The funeral industry is changing rapidly. So my intent was to bring something here that was accessible to the community,” Phillips said.

        As cars pull up to the drive-thru, curtains move back after a sensor in the ground detects a vehicle’s weight. Sharise Phillips, manager of the funeral home, said the drive-thru offers protection from inclement weather and comfort for the disabled.

        “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,” she said.

        Visitors at the event welcomed technology into the funeral business.

        “I think it shows how far advanced people are, especially since we live in such an advanced society,” Sylvia Brantley said.

        Phillips is aware of critics who may conclude this may be an undignified way to part ways, but he said people should just give it a chance.

        The idea is garnering mixed reaction from the community.
        “We’ve been getting a lot of negative feedback because most people don’t know how it works,” Phillips said.

        • It came across my Facebook newsfeed the other day. Were you able to read the article by clicking on the photo in the post? I just wanted to make sure I did the link correctly. I can see the IDEA of this type of service maybe having some validity and maybe even being done well in layout….I just think the end result (so far) has turned out extremely tacky and disrespectful. And something else to consider (but perhaps no one would really care) is that these drive-thrus (the way they are now) wouldn’t be limited to just family or friends. Anyone could just roll up and view whoever is on display if they wanted to.

        • yes the link came up. With the video …wow I am sure in this day and age of fast food and instant everything this would catch on but this is so tacky death is hard enough to deal with never mind a drive thru funeral …

        • I agree with you. Another person (hitandrun1964) made the very valid point that whatever works to help the living mourn the dead, so be it and I agree with that as well. But we are alienating ourselves from each other so greatly that something like this seems perfectly acceptable and normal and I find that very, very sad. Plus, to be honest, the cynic in me believes this is more about “convenience” than anything else, and the fact that people cannot be bothered to take time out of their day to attend services yet they do not want the guilt of not paying their “respects.”

        • I agree with you especially with that last sentence its about convenience more than anything else it’s a pay my respects so no one will talk bad about me.

  2. I have to agree with you. I think this is just one more aspect of our continued trend of alienating ourselves from one another. While I understand someone’s discomfort with death and the thought of being in close proximity to a dead body, the cold hard facts are we’re all gonna die. This whole “drive-thru visitation” seems completely disrespectful.

    • I couldn’t get past the disrespect part either. Especially when I read that it’s open to all and sundry, not just family. Anyone in a car can go and see the body. I mean, I guess funerals in general are open to the public but somehow this just seems worse with the person on display behind glass. I just have a lot of issues with it I suppose. Progress isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.

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