T Nation

Caskets for fat asses!

i thought you guys would get a kick out of this article from the NY Times…

Perhaps nowhere is the issue of obesity in America more vividly illustrated than at Goliath Casket of Lynn, Ind., specialty manufacturers of oversize coffins.

There one can see a triple-wide coffin ? 44 inches across, compared with 24 inches for a standard model. With extra bracing, reinforced hinges and handles, the triple-wide is designed to handle 700 pounds without losing what the euphemism-happy funeral industry calls its “integrity.”

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When Keith and Julane Davis started Goliath Casket in the late 1980’s, they sold just one triple-wide each year. But times, along with waistlines, have changed; the Davises now ship four or five triple-wide models a month, and sales at the company have been increasing around 20 percent annually. The Davises say they base their design specifications not on demographic studies so much as on simple observations of the world around them.

“It’s just going to local restaurants or walking in a normal Wal-Mart,” Mrs. Davis said. “People are getting wider and they’re getting thicker.”

Like the airline industry, which was warned in May that passengers were heavier than they used to be, and was asked to adjust weight estimates accordingly, the funeral industry is retooling to make room for ever-larger Americans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 20 percent of American adults are obese, up from 12.5 percent in 1991. Of those 70 and older ? the demographic that most interests the funeral industry ? 17 percent are obese. Despite the numbers, nearly every aspect of the funeral industry, from the size of coffins to vaults, graves, hearses and even the standardized scoop on the front-end loaders that cemeteries use for grave-digging (it is called a “grave bucket”) is based on outdated estimates about individual size.

“Many people in this country no longer fit in the standard-size casket,” said David A. Hazelett, the president of Astral Industries, a coffin builder in Indiana. “The standard-size casket is meant to go in the standard-size vault, and the standard-size vault is meant to go into the standard-size cemetery plot. Everyone in the industry is aware of the problem.”

The Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx recently increased its standard burial plot size to four feet wide from three feet to accommodate wider burial vaults, and the cemetery’s newest mausoleum has four crypts designed especially to hold oversize coffins. The Cremation Association of North America has begun providing special training to its members in the handling of obese bodies.

And hearse manufacturers are pushing the limits of design to make their vehicles ever wider and with bigger rear doors.

"If a funeral home calls looking to buy a hearse, that’s one of the first things they ask: `How wide is it?’ " said Terry Logan, the head of marketing at Federal Coach in Fort Smith, Ark., which sells 250 hearses a year. “That’s the biggest selling point in our industry.”

Despite these changes, critics say the funeral industry has not done enough. Families of obese decedents often have to wait several days for coffins, and the cost of burial for the obese ? which can include surcharges for embalming and transportation ? typically exceed standard burials by $800 to $3,000.

“It’s not exactly rocket science that people have been getting larger; that’s been well known for 30 years,” said Allen Steadham, the executive director of the International Size-Acceptance Association, an advocacy group for the obese. “People are living larger and they’re dying larger, and industries have to adapt to that situation.”

George Lemke, the executive director of the Casket and Funeral Supply Association, said that shape more than weight determined whether someone would require an oversize coffin. But for people of average height, he said, those above 300 pounds are likely candidates.

Many families are unaware their relatives will need a special coffin until a funeral director measures the body and informs them. Some then face difficult choices. Grace Moredock of Evanston, Ill., said that in 1999, when her mother died weighing 340 pounds, the family could not afford an oversize coffin and opted for cremation. “Because of our faith and our religious belief we would have preferred to have buried her,” she said. Ms. Moredock herself weighs 400 pounds and she said the experience had affected her own funeral plans. “I’d prefer to be buried,” she said. “But I wouldn’t say to my family, `You have to bury me,’ because I wouldn’t want them to be in a bind if they couldn’t afford it.”

What the hell did they do before triple wides? Split 'em between two caskets?

I’ve seen this in action, actually was one of the guys who had to carry one.

My wife’s uncle passed away about 3 years ago, and he was up above 400 lbs.

He had an oversized casket, I probably wouldn’t have noticed except I had just carried a regular casket only a few months earlier and it was definitely wider by a good foot. I noticed the hearse wasnt any bigger since we barely could fit it in, rubbed the knuckles on the doors when sliding it in.

Had 8 guys holding it and I swear i’ve never seen so much overstrained looks on faces before. Actually took a couple tries to pick it up, the guys on other side weren’t strong enough for it and we had to switch a few people around to balance the strength.

Olden days I wouldn’t be surprised if the morticians “emptied” out some of the excess weight in the corpse. I mean most times they make people look completely fake anyway, why not slim em up too…

“Like the airline industry, which was warned in May that passengers were heavier than they used to be, and was asked to adjust weight estimates accordingly”

its a sad day when airplanes start falling out of the sky because people are too fucking fat!

I saw a guy last week who was so fat (pushing 500 lbs, I shit you not) that I had an outburst when I saw him. It went something like this:

“Oh come on! That is FUCKING RIDICULOUS!! How do you even…what do you have to do…I mean…JESUS!!”

My friend was mortified that I would act like this, but I was literally shocked.

I’m sure this makes me look like an insensitive asshole, but think about it. How do you even AFFORD the amount of food that it would take to get that obese? And how long does it take? Am I supposed to believe that this guy never walked by a mirror on the way out of the shower? Did he not notice that he had to buy a progressively larger wardrobe THREE TIMES?

Warhorse - Makes sense.

Ever read Robert Service’s poem “The Ballad of Blasphemous Bill”?

You comment brought it to mind.

The Ballad of Blasphemous Bill
I took a contract to bury the body of blasphemous Bill MacKie,
Whenever, wherever or whatsoever the manner of death he die –
Whether he die in the light o’ day or under the peak-faced moon;
In cabin or dance-hall, camp or dive, mucklucks or patent shoon;
On velvet tundra or virgin peak, by glacier, drift or draw;
In muskeg hollow or canyon gloom, by avalanche, fang or claw;
By battle, murder or sudden wealth, by pestilence, hooch or lead –
I swore on the Book I would follow and look till I found my tombless dead.

For Bill was a dainty kind of cuss, and his mind was mighty sot
On a dinky patch with flowers and grass in a civilized boneyard lot.
And where he died or how he died, it didn’t matter a damn
So long as he had a grave with frills and a tombstone “epigram.”
So I promised him, and he paid the price in good cheechako coin
(Which the same I blowed in that very night down in the Tenderloin).
Then I painted a three-foot slab of pine: “Here lies poor Bill MacKie,”
And I hung it up on my cabin wall and waited for Bill to die.

Years passed away, and at last one day came a squaw with a story strange,
Of a long-deserted line of traps 'way back of the Bighorn range,
Of a little hut by the great divide, and a white man stiff and still,
Lying there by his lonesome self, and I figured it must be Bill.
So I thought of the contract I’d made with him, and I took down from the shelf
The swell black box with the silver plate he’d picked out for hisself;
And I packed it full of grub and “hooch,” and I slung it on the sleigh;
Then I harnessed up my team of dogs and was off at dawn of day.

You know what it’s like in the Yukon wild when it’s sixty-nine below;
When the ice-worms wriggle their purple heads through the crust of the pale blue snow;
When the pine trees crack like little guns in the silence of the wood,
And the icicles hang down like tusks under the parka hood;
When the stove-pipe smoke breaks sudden off, and the sky is weirdly lit,
And the careless feel of a bit of steel burns like a red-hot spit;
When the mercury is a frozen ball, and the frost-fiend stalks to kill –
Well, it was just like that that day when I set out to look for Bill.

Oh, the awful hush that seemed to crush me down on every hand,
As I blundered blind with a trail to find through that blank and bitter land;
Half dazed, half crazed in the winter wild, with its grim heartbraking woes,
And the ruthless strife for a grip on life that only the sourdough knows!
North by the compass, North I pressed; river and peak and plain
Passed like a dream I slept to lose and I waked to dream again.

River and plain and mighty peak – and who could stand unawed?
As their summits blazed, he could stand undazed at the foot of the throne of God.
North, aye, North, through a land accurst, shunned by the scouring brutes,
And all I heard was my own harsh word and the whine of the malamutes,
Till at last I came to a cabin squat, built in the side of a hill,
And I burst in the door, and there on the floor, frozen to death, lay Bill.

Ice, white ice, like a winding-sheet, sheathing each smoke-grimed wall;
Ice on the stove-pipe, ice on the bed, ice gleaming over all;
Sparkling ice on the dead man’s chest, glittering ice in his hair,
Ice on his fingers, ice in his heart, ice in his glassy stare;
Hard as a log and trussed like a frog, with his arms and legs outspread.
I gazed at the coffin I’d brought for him, and I gazed at the gruesome dead,
And at last I spoke: “Bill liked his joke; but still, goldarn his eyes,
A man had ought to consider his mates in the way he goes and dies.”

Have you ever stood in an Arctic hut in the shadow of the Pole,
With a little coffin six by three and a grief you can’t control?
Have you ever sat by a frozen corpse that looks at you with a grin,
And that seems to say: “You may try all day, but you’ll never jam me in?”
I’m not a man of the quitting kind, but I never felt so blue
As I sat there gazing at that stiff and studying what I’d do.
Then I rose and I kicked off the husky dogs that were nosing round about,
And I lit a roaring fire in the stove, and I started to thaw Bill out.

Well, I thawed and I thawed for thirteen days, but it didn’t seem no good;
His arms and his legs stuck out like pegs, as if they were made of wood.
Till at last I said: “It ain’t no use – he’s froze too hard to thaw;
He’s obstinate, and he won’t lie straight, so I guess I got to – saw.”
So I sawed off poor Bill’s arms and legs, and I laid him snug and straight
In the little coffin he picked hisself, with the dinky silver plate,
And I came nigh near to shedding a tear as I nailed him safely down;
Then I stowed him away in my Yukon sleigh, and I started back to town.

So I buried him as the contract was in a narrow grave and deep,
And there he’s waiting the Great Clean-up, when the the Judgment sluice-heads sweep;
And I smoke my pipe and I meditate in the light of the Midnight Sun,
And sometimes I wonder if they was, the awful things I done.
And as I sit and the parson talks, expounding of the Law,
I often think of poor old Bill – and how hard he was to saw.

I do remember hearing a story from back in the early 90’s where some guy who weighted 700+ had to be buried in a piano case, only thing they could find. Had 20+ pallbearers.

There are probably people who legitamately would need a larger casket, mainly strongmen and other athletes who have died young, while in the prime of their size. I can think of Johnny Perry who passed away a few years back at age 29, a massive strongman, 6’5, 380 I think. Also Jon Paul Sigmarson (pardon my spelling), the great strongamn from the late 80’s, early 90’s, who died at a young age after retiring, I think at age 34.

But I agree, we as Americans are getting fatter, a fact that its gonna take years to change.