Sunday, April 22, 2018

Why undertakers are worried - Making the reaper cheaper

In North America the modern undertaker’s job is increasingly one of event-planning, says Sherri Tovell, an undertaker in Windsor, Canada. Among the requirements at her recent funerals have been a tiki hut, margaritas, karaoke and pizza delivery. Some people want to hire an officiant to lead a “life celebration”, others to shoot ashes into the skies with fireworks. Old-fashioned undertakers are hard put to find their place in such antics. Another trend—known as “direct cremation”—has no role for them at all. Besides having to offer more diverse services, the trade also faces increased competition in its products. Its roots are in carpentry. “You’d buy an expensive casket and the funeral would be included in the price,” remembers Dan Isard, a funeral consultant in Phoenix, Arizona. The unwritten agreement was that the dead would be treated with dignity and that families would not ask if there was an alternative to the $1,000 or $2,000 coffin, or whether embalming was really needed. The business has something in common with prostitution, reflects Dominic Akyel of the University of Cologne. It is legal (as prostitution is in some places) but taboo, “and certainly not to be discussed or haggled over”. The undertaker used to be able to rely on a steady stream of customers who asked few questions and of whom he (and it was usually a he) would ask few in return. Protestant or Catholic? Open coffin or closed? And, in some parts of the world, burial or cremation? A new generation of customers, though, no longer unthinkingly hands over its dead to the nearest funeral director. They are looking elsewhere, be it to a new breed of undertaker, to hotel chains that “do” funerals, or—for their coffin or urn—to Amazon or Walmart.


Why undertakers are worried - Making the reaper cheaper

27 Headstones That Defied Expectations - Atlas Obscura

"A grave marker is people will remember you long after everyone you know has passed, so you’d better make it good. When done well, it can provide a sense of one’s style in life. The epitaph should be pithy, the shape and style memorable. You could go for the classic granite slab, or, like these deceased, opt for something a little more memorable."  This article has some remarkable examples, including one with eleven statues, one of the grieving widower seated next to an empty chair, Jules Verne's grave with his own figure (the face from a death mask) breaking free of the ground), and one shaped like a circus tent in memory of performers who died in a train accident.

27 Headstones That Defied Expectations - Atlas Obscura

Remembering When Americans Picnicked in Cemeteries - Gastro Obscura

Within the iron-wrought walls of American cemeteries—beneath the shade of oak trees and tombs’ stoic penumbras—you could say many people “rest in peace.” However, not so long ago, people of the still-breathing sort gathered in graveyards to rest, and dine, in peace. During the 19th century, and especially in its later years, snacking in cemeteries happened across the United States. It wasn’t just apple-munching alongside the winding avenues of graveyards. Since many municipalities still lacked proper recreational areas, many people had full-blown picnics in their local cemeteries. The tombstone-laden fields were the closest things, then, to modern-day public parks....Death was a constant visitor for many families, and in cemeteries, people could “talk” and break bread with family and friends, both living and deceased...Death was a constant visitor for many families, and in cemeteries, people could “talk” and break bread with family and friends, both living and deceased. “We are going to keep Thanksgivin’ with our father as [though he] was live and hearty this day last year,” explained a young man, in 1884, on why his family—mother, brothers, sisters—chose to eat in the cemetery. “We’ve brought somethin’ to eat and a spirit-lamp to boil coffee.”

Remembering When Americans Picnicked in Cemeteries - Gastro Obscura:

Monday, April 16, 2018

Barbara Bush in Palliative Care

The Bush family sets an example for us all with this graceful statement about the former First Lady's decision to stop medical treatment and rely on palliative care.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Baby Boomers Reach the End of Their To-Do List - The New York Times

"The postwar hope and determination of our Depression-era parents was piled upon us, the fossil fuel of earlier generations we burned up without a care. We had a preposterously long sense of our own youthfulness. But now the boomers are approaching the other side. Not death necessarily (though the time has begun when no one will say we were cut down too early). We’re reaching the other side of striving."

Opinion | Baby Boomers Reach the End of Their To-Do List - The New York Times

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Dementia as a Process of Death | Psychology Today

"First we will close down recent memories
 Make it easier to detach
 I am worried, will it change me?
 Yes. You are dying. You will no longer be."

Dementia as a Process of Death | Psychology Today: