what is the point of expensive coffins?

a couple of weeks ago, i had a conversation with a new mit friend, forrest. somehow we got on the topic of silly things people do. forrest brought up that at one point he worked in a cemetery or morgue or something. and then we got to talking about coffins. forest mentioned that he sometimes saw people buried in coffins that cost upwards of $15,000. to both us this felt like literally burying money in the ground. not that money is everything, but still… forrest even wrote an essay about it with a title too good not to share: “how americans rest in peace.”

it’s too funny that even in death, americans have still found a way to involve absurd amounts of money. why do we do this? it reminds me of the things the ancient egytians used to bury pharaohs with.

actually, what we do is worse. at least what the egyptians did had some sort of spiritual meaning. just like charon’s obols (the coins under the tongue for the greeks to help them make it to the afterlife), egyptians were buried with things believed to be taken with them on the other side. expensive coffins don’t even make it to that level of meaning.

why do we do this? $15,000 could do so much good for someone who’s alive.