Cemeteries Death + the Economy Death + the Law

Backyards Aren’t Just for Dead Pets Anymore

Did I Mention the Graves Out Back?
Wendy Carlson, The New York Times (April 18, 2010)


Home Funerals Restore Intimacy to Grieving Rituals
Adriana Barton, The Globe and Mail (April 20, 2010)

April showers bring May flowers and, apparently, a deluge of articles on home burials and backyard cemeteries. The New York Times article on backyard cemeteries was spotted by my dad (the funeral director) who dutifully sent it along. And then this Globe and Mail article popped up a few days later. The Globe and Mail article is about home burials but it’s also about a screening of the PBS film A Family Undertaking. The film, which was released in 2004, is a good one and I recommend trying to see it when possible. I wrote about A Family Undertaking and other home burial issues last July. This weekend, the Vancouver Mountain View Cemetery is hosting a daylong seminar entitled The Final Disposition: De-Mystifying Death, Funerals, Cemeteries & Ceremonies and it kicks off with A Family Undertaking.

The seminar looks extremely interesting and I give Mountain View Cemetery credit for sponsoring the event. Public interest in home funerals, green burials, and backyard cemeteries is clearly growing and this interest isn’t going to subside anytime soon.

Interest in backyard cemeteries brings me to the New York Times article. As it reports, home burial was once common but has fallen in practice because, among other things, the effect on real estate resale value.

Now I, for one, would be totally cool with a cemetery in my backyard ESPECIALLY if it meant the house price was a little lower. I’m not bothered by the concept in the least. I have a hunch, too, that more and more people will pursue home funerals and burials as a joint venture. It makes sense.

Just make sure and get those permits signed!!!

Death + Popular Culture

Coffin Academy… Now with Video!

R.I.P. Me
Nightline (March 10, 2010)

via KoreAm, “Coffin Academy on Nightline”

I posted in January about Coffin Academy, the corporate retreat for confronting one’s own death in South Korea. Clarissa Ward, reporter for Nightline, recently checked it out. Enjoy.

ABC US News | ABC International News

Death + Popular Culture Defying Death Suicide

Death Meets Corporate Retreat in South Korea

South Koreans Experience What It’s Like to Die — and Live Again
John M. Glionna, Los Angeles Times (January 4, 2010)

For $25 a client, the Coffin Academy in Daejeon, South Korea, will help you experience what it’s like to be a corpse, including penning your own epitaph, writing final letters to loved ones and attending your own funeral — supine in the darkness of a closed coffin.

In a country with an exorbitant suicide rate, these kinds of death seminars are viewed as a means to “appreciate life by simulating death” and are particularly popular with large firms hoping to boost worker productivity. But they’ve also been criticized as “how-to manuals” for suicide, or apt to lead to suicide ideation–the opposite of the intended effect.

Interestingly, advocates aren’t only selling it as an effective vehicle for life reassessment and renewal, but as a morbid “scared straight” encounter. That’s right — don’t kill yourself, because it’s dark and scary in a confining coffin, which your employer has just required you to experience. Proponents of unsavory future lives may argue otherwise, but I’m pretty sure death is a cure for claustrophobia.

Check out the full article linked above. While unfortunately slim on follow-up — just how productive, happy, readjusted or suicidal anyway are the participants the next week, month or year? — it does provide a good overview of the seminar and descriptions of the emotional impact on participants along the way. Just a teaser… many of them are freaked the heck out.

If the South Koreans are too dour and psychologically wounded for you, perhaps an account of a three-day “death rehearsal” workshop in California will be of interest. Here they don’t just lie in their coffins, they paint them pretty colors, plus share a potluck dinner of “food that one would bring to a family in mourning.”