Customs: The High Cost of Dying

"In keeping with our high standard of living," said San Francisco Undertaker Warren J. Ringen last week, "there should be an equally high standard of dying. The cost of a funeral varies according to individual taste and the niceties of living the family has been accustomed to." The niceties in coffins range from the show models for $2,000-and-up funerals, displayed on what the trade calls "aisles of resistance," to such novelties as the $785 Eternalite ("manufactured by experts in the field of space-age materials") to inexpensive "flat tops," the trade's contemptuous euphemism for an unadorned pine box.* What with...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!