Every morning I scan the news headlines. This morning I came across an article about the tragic death of an eighteen-year-old girl. She was celebrating her high school graduation with her first-ever tandem parachute jump. The article talks about how the main parachute didn’t open and the backup shute didn’t fully deploy. Both the recent graduate and her instructor died on impact. It tells us that the girl was getting ready to attend college in the fall and how rare sky diving accidents are.
This is devastating. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must have been like for her parents to watch her fall to her death. I am the mother of two girls and I am regularly left curled up into a foetal position when one of them gets another one of her unexplainable sky-high fevers. My heart goes out to her family and the instructor’s family. But this is where my sympathy ends.
The article then states that a GoFundMe has been set up to help pay for the funeral costs and help the family through this difficult time. The goal set is for $50,000. So far they are at $36,366.
The US is a country with staggering income inequality and the costs of healthcare are such that they regularly end up financially crippling families for life. I can understand the very real need to ask people for help in these cases and even a funeral in certain scenarios, like death after a long protracted illness which has left a family in a precarious financial position. Also for the record, due to my elderly parents severely limited funds, I had to research the most cost-effective funeral options and direct cremation can be available from as low as $495 in some states up to a max of $1095. We found a $950 option in Florida –which one private funeral home was willing to match– for my father. In the end, his body was accepted for scientific research which was his last wish and the small memorial service planned at home was postponed due to COVID-19. It’s a far cry from $50,000. In 2014, 70% of US workers earned less than 50K in a year.
I won’t pretend to know the details of this family’s situation and, yes, I am passing judgement based on the limited information the article provided but it did say enough to suggest the family was not in dire financial straights. This post is less about them and more about the ever-growing number of GoFundMes I’ve seen in the last few years from yoga teacher training to “help me fund my round-the-world trip”. These leave me feeling increasingly disgusted with people. There are many deserving causes and cases and flooding social media with these asks takes away from those who truly need help.
This country has continued down this road of infantilization which started sometime around “Caution this hot drink is hot” and “Stairs may be slippery when it rains” to I expect to reap the financial benefits of people’s sympathy when I should be taking responsibility for my own life and family. Get a grip and grow up America before we are stuck in this dystopian hell hole.