Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Death Becomes Us--How Culture Is Redefining the Way We Die

The holidays are no time to think about death. But then again, many of us will be re-connecting with extended family during the holidays, and we can't help but notice that our folks are "getting up there" in age. A new report from Northwestern University points out that obituaries have a large and loyal readership. Consider the fact that Legacy.com ranks in the top 100 websites, making it the world's most visited graveyard.

Death is a fact of life. But before Boomers face morbidity en masse, our culture will redefine it. Death is becoming newly-ritualized. The objects associated with it are being re-invented and re-designed. Check out the new "eco-pod coffin" from the Natural Burial Company. It begs the question: why leave a giant carbon footprint on your way out? How reassuring to be cradled in a recycled paper coffin as a final absolution for years of over-consumption.

Death will go the way of food. Online news sources and local papers will reshape how we communicate about it. Just as culinary icon Ruth Reichel observes, "America has become a food culture. It has moved from being in the women's section to front-page news." Similarly, obituaries will be elevated to new status. The trend is already being seeded....one eco-coffin at a time!

This blog appeared on Huffington Post.
Hat tip: Core 77


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