Everyone knows by now that retirement and old age are going to be defined differently by the baby boomer generation, and that’s okay. We were different from the start so it makes sense that we’re going to be different when it comes to the end of life experience.
But here’s one curve you may not have seen coming. Cemeteries are running out of plots and the ones they do have are costing an arm and a leg…along with a head and a torso. Land shortages for urban cemeteries are the norm now and they refer to it as a “space crunch.” Finding 50 acres of land to build a new cemetery when you’re up against the NIMBY effect (not in my back yard) has contributed to the maxed out capacity crisis.
A single burial plot in an urban cemetery can run anywhere from 6 to 8 thousand dollars. That’s a big reason why many more people are opting for cremation. While boomers may find that they can just squeeze in (sorry for that mental picture), millennials are out of luck once again. They will blame boomers for that too, but we’ll be dead so there’s that.
Green or natural burials are growing in popularity as a direct consequence of the space shortage. The body is buried without embalming or a coffin, allowing it to decompose naturally, so the land ends up being a conservation ground. Sounds oddly efficient but it still requires enough space to accommodate millions of boomers. Plus there’s the whole humans as fertilizer aspect to it that can be a downer (the death itself being the ultimate downer).
Do you think many of the 78 million or so boomers have given much thought to this looming crisis? I think not. Sure, many have secured a plot or prescribed cremation in their wills, but I’m betting that the vast majority are not worrying about it. We’re a fairly optimistic bunch not often known for advance planning. So it looks like many boomers are going to be sticker shocked or scrambling to come up with alternate disposal plans for themselves and their loved ones. You might consider a Grateful Dead song at the funeral. And We Bid You Goodnight would work but consider planning now for that end.
Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. His mystery novel, Head Above Water, is available on Amazon and Kindle. You can also visit his author page here.