The American way of funerals: It's increasingly a party | Arkansas Blog

Monday, April 15, 2019

The American way of funerals: It's increasingly a party

Posted By on Mon, Apr 15, 2019 at 7:45 AM

click to enlarge thatsall.jpg
Slow day, so here's the most interesting thing I've read this morning: From the Washington Post, it's about the change in funeral ritual in America. More cremation, more parties, there are even funeral event planners.

The article links changes to a more secular, nomadic and casual America.
Funeral homes have hired event planners, remodeled drab parlors to include dance floors and lounge areas, acquired liquor licenses to replace the traditional vat of industrial-strength coffee. In Oregon, where cremation rates are near 80 percent, [funeral association president Mark] Musgrove has organized memorial celebrations at golf courses and Autzen Stadium, home of the Ducks. He sells urns that resemble giant golf balls and styles adorned with the University of Oregon logo. In a cemetery, his firm installed a “Peace Columbarium,” a retrofitted 1970s VW van, brightly painted with “Peace” and “Love,” to house urns.“

Change has sparked nascent death-related industries in a culture long besotted with youth. There are death doulas (caring for the terminally ill), death cafes (to discuss life’s last chapter over cake and tea), death celebrants (officiants who lead end-of-life events), living funerals (attended by the honored while still breathing), and end-of-life workshops (for the healthy who think ahead). The Internet allows lives to continue indefinitely in memorial Facebook pages, tribute vlogs on YouTube and instamemorials on Instagram.

Memorials are no longer strictly local events. As with weddings and birthdays, families are choosing favorite vacation idylls as final resting spots. Captain Ken Middleton’s Hawaii Ash Scatterings performs 600 cremains dispersals a year for as many as 80 passengers on cruises that may feature a ukulele player, a conch-shell blower and releases of white doves or monarch butterflies.
PS: A note on the artwork at top. The Post article included a mention of a Hollywood  agent's funeral, complete with a movie marquee featuring one of his favorites sayings: "It's a wrap!"

That reminded me of an Arkansas Gazette story of yore, from the hot type days. The copy desk sent down a photo to engraving for a late obituary. The editor included a note to the back shop — "that's all folks!" It was meant to signify this was the last piece of material for the next day's paper. Instead, a Linotype operator typed that into the caption for the photo of the dearly departed and it appeared in the morning Gazette. It was not, you may be sure, a laughing matter at the newspaper. 

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