As I draw closer to my own death, reasonably healthy but in my late seventies, I have begun to think about funeral rites and how they have changed since I was a boy. I grew up in the era of open coffins, Requiem Masses, and somber sermons reminding us that our own end was near, followed by large family gatherings at the homes of the deceased. The past thirty years have brought major changes to these arrangements. Recently, close friends—nonreligious friends—chose cremation for...
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