A Certain Kind Of Death is a documentary about what happens to those who die with no next of kin. (Warning: Bodies, sadness)
What do you get when your funeral director is a former women's magazine writer who describes herself as "a Kundalini-yoga-practicing Buddhist Presbyterian on the board of Brooklyn Heights Synagogue"? It's Amy Cunningham's blog The Inspired Funeral, chronicling trends, products, history, music and ideas related to all sorts of grieving traditions. (From this NYT article about boomers gravitating towards greener burials and funerals.) [more inside]
In May 1876, Baron Joseph Henry Louis Charles De Palm died, leaving his worldy goods to Theosophical Society president H.S. Olcott with the request that his body be disposed of “in a fashion that would illustrate the Eastern notions of death and immortality." And so, after what the press called a "Pagan Funeral" in New York and with the help of Pennsylvania doctor Francis LeMoyne, his became the first modern cremation in the United States. The New York Times of 1876 covered both funeral and cremation. (That is, if you can stand to read grainy pdf scans of old newsprint.) In Winter 2009, a theosophist telling of events was published in the American society's quarterly, Quest magazine. Olcott himself devoted several chapters to De Palm's story in his Old Diary Leaves.
Holy Smoke - "The process of having cremated ash placed in live ammunition begins when you contact us. You tell us what type of hunting or shooting that the decedent practiced and we can help you decide what will best suit your needs....1 Pound of ash is enough to produce 250 shotshells."
8 Unconvential Ways to Be "Buried." We've all heard about strange practices surrounding the remains of the deceased, but even I (who am morbid to a fault) hadn't been aware of half of these.
Library of Dust depicts individual copper canisters, each containing the cremated remains of patient from a state-run psychiatric hospital. The patients died at the hospital between 1883 (the year the facility opened, when it was called the Oregon State Insane Asylum) and the 1970’s; their bodies have remained unclaimed by their families.
Thanatorama [flash] You died this morning. Are you interested in what comes next? Webdocumentaire.
Hallstatt, Austria, besides being idylic, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is historically fascinating: A Bronze Age cultural center, with a 2,500-year-old salt mine (the world's first); beautiful ice caves; and a Catholic cemetery so small that the dead were regularly disinterred after a time, their skulls painstakingly identified and decorated and stacked in an ossuary.
My post-mortem to-do checklist, so far: 1. Study marine biology. 2. Accessorize my hot, wealthy widow. 3. Relay a few spooky telegrams to my spooky new friends. 4. Try to look as suspicious as possible. And that's even before rigor mortis sets in!
"Our society really doesn't deal well with the whole dying process." No, it's not a hoax. Through the magic of soft teddy bears, pillows, and plush dogs or cats, you can hold your deceased loved one, thanks to Huggable Urns. It's founder, Alexandra, Lachini was inspired to form the enterprise after her recently departed father spoke to her. "All I wanted to do was hold him again, but the urn was hard and impersonal." For less than $100, her solution can be yours too.
There's a new option available for pet owners who can't bear to say goodbye when their furry friends pass on: having them freeze-dried. Is this just a comforting alternative, or just a way to make some cold cash?
Damned if you do, damned if you're dead. If families don't purchase an expensive urn for cremated remains, require them to purchase a $45 temporary container. But be sure to stamp it "Temporary Container" on all four sides, advises one industry newsletter. The funeral industry may not be making any friends, but they're making a boatload of money. The Funeral Consumers Alliance would like to help them make a little less.
Crematory operated for years without burning bodies. Hundreds of decaying corpses found strewn about, and the crematory owners lived next door. Apparently, the furnace broke down, and cost too much to fix. How exactly does one deal with a crime like this? (NYT link)
"Man's Body Left on Front Porch After Funeral Home Isn't Paid for His Cremation." Ah, American Death Inc.--gotta love 'em. Any other stories like this out there? Not that all funeral homes are so um efficiently run.