Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Shop your funeral

"What will make your funeral unique?" (this is what is written on the poster above - what you see by the way, is a bus stop in Netherlands)
Behold how consumer society has stretched beyond the realm of the living.

It all started a few years ago, rather innocently, with spots on the radio saying: "Don't leave them (your family) behind with the burden of arranging your funeral. Settle things now instead". Ok, sort of makes sense...

But how amazing to see that now, after carefully introducing the subject a few years ago, we have arrived to the point to view funerals like yet another product and consider it (apparently) perfectly normal to have posters all over the place and jolly TV spots giving you examples of how you can design your own funeral and make it truly unique.

Coming from a culture where funerals are a rather unadorned ceremony (i.e. preacher prays and down you go - no speeches) I must say I am rather shocked to find how funerals are turning (or maybe always were in some cultures?) manifestations of the self. A show with music and moving speeches of people exhibiting how much they loved the person (as if the fact that someone died wasn't emotional enough; we need to reinforce it with speeches). But apparently people have the need to say "these final words", play that song etc. So I guess there is nothing wrong with it.

But somehow, I do get the feeling that "designing" your own funeral with details such as which music should play, if you wanna have your photos all over the place etc is crossing a limit. Somehow, by allowing you to choose all of this you are in fact until your very last breath concerned with your selfimage. During your life you have chosen and bought the nicest clothes, the big house, the fancy car etc, and each one of these items expressed you: you created an image of yourself with these. Now I guess companies have correctly addressed the last missing "thing" you can buy and show your identity with.

Your funeral.

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