Although we have lived in North Dakota for 7 years, we are still learning about life here in the time warped space of the open tundra. Everyday we learn something new about how life functions here which still seems freakishly odd compared to how we have lived in other regions.
Within in the past week, Marc, the kids and I have helped prepare, serve and clean up for 3 funerals held at our church. The first funeral was for a dear neighbor of ours who passed away after 10 long years of health issues. He left behind a lovely, lovely wife, grown children and many grand kids. While I was downstairs in the church kitchen cooking, his funeral was being held upstairs. I could hear the service and what I heard I thought was a mistake. After Pastor Paul commended his body to God, he ended the service by adding that his burial will take place when the snow melts, hopefully sometime this spring. Yeah right, I thought.
When Pastor Paul made his way to the kitchen to get some of the food several others and I had labored over, I asked him about the "Spring burial" comment. He did confirm that with the frozen ground and abundance of snow, people who die in the winter won't get buried until the ground thaws and the snow melts. So of course that begs the question...."Where do the dead stiffs get kept until a spring burial?"
Pastor Paul, knowing that I am still new to North Dakota ways, told me that they are just kept in the ditches which are full of snow. When my mouth fell open, he told me that in all honesty, the dead are kept in cold storage units behind the mortuary. Basically the dead get stacked and stored until the snow turns to mud and the burials can proceed. Usually Spring for us occurs sometime around late April. I think it is torturous to the families of dearly departed to have to revisit the sorrow a second time, months after the funeral. I guess the option for those who choose burial over cremation is to keep your loved one in cold storage at home, say , perhaps in the tool shed!
Honestly, can that be any worse than knowing your loved one is racked and stacked with a bunch of strangers in the shed behind the mortuary? BLECH, this is not one of the charms of living in North Dakota.