Wednesday, March 21, 2007

If You’re Going to Put Something on Your Coffin……

Earlier this month, Eternal Image, a company based in Farmington Hills, Michigan, made the following claim:

"Not much has changed in the funeral industry in centuries - some might even say in thousands of years…….Until now."

What is this amazing product being offered by Eternal Image? New York Newsday reports:

As of next month Eternal Image is putting on sale (through funeral homes) urns festooned with, yes, Major League Baseball logos.For a mere $699, fans of the Yankees (and seven other teams) can have their remains put in an urn with the team's logo on the front, a base shaped like home plate and room for a souvenir baseball on top.

For people who will not choose cremation, just hang in there. The company promises that:

Coffins with team logos are due in September.

Now, I’ve been an avid sports fan my whole life. As a child, I was a fanatical New York Mets fan. I would sit in my bed late at night listening to the end of the baseball game; I wore Mets T-shirts and Mets caps.

Even today, I still read the sports section every day, and I still shout during football games. So I get the sports mindset.

But a baseball logo on your coffin? This really gives a new definition to the term “diehard fan”.

But I guess these coffins are a revolution of sorts. I always thought funerals were about how the deceased made his mark on the world. Now, thanks to Eternal Image, funerals can be about how you spread someone else’s trademark to the world. I’m sorry, but a legacy should be bigger than a baseball cap.

I know I’m being harsh with the people at Eternal Image (no lawsuits, please!!). But I feel this way because of a funeral I officiated at.

Paul, a member of my synagogue passed away a few months ago. A survivor of 8 concentration camps, Paul lost a dear older brother and several other members of his family during the war. Despite enormous danger, he joined a prayer group (minyan) in one of the concentration camps. After the war, he built a family and career, and never wavered from his beliefs. In one instance, he refused to cave into racism, and insisted on renting an apartment to a black family. He lived the rest of his life like a true survivor, a man who maintained his values, his dignity, and his tradition despite enduring profound loss and suffering.

Paul had held onto, as a cherished possession, the concentration camp uniform he was liberated in.

On the day of his funeral, on top of the casket, was the threadbare striped shirt and pants, the ragged uniform of a concentration camp inmate.

However, at Paul's funeral, the striped shirt and pants represented something more: the dignity of a determined and courageous survivor.

After this funeral, putting a baseball logo on a coffin seems ridiculous to me. If you’re going to put something on your coffin, put on something that actually matters.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Chaim - To some folks, a sports team really does matter. Mind you, lots of folks go to ballgames with their families and it is a source of family and individual pride. Also, the trend of having personalized funerals has been developing for years. Did you know that lots of folks these days are littering funeral processions with Harley's and even incorporating motorcycle type herases in their processions for the biking enthusiasts? Anyway, this company doesn't just produce Baseball urns and coffins, they also have a Vatican collection and pet urns, etc. This is just one of their products. But they are also looking into working with Nascar, etc.

My point is, the trend of personalizing funeral services has been going on for years and this is something innovative. It's what the people want. If a company can make a buck off of it, why not? They aren't forcing people to buy their product.

30 years ago, people would have thought it was bizarre for people to arrange or plan their own funeral. Now, that number of preneed funerals are up to more than 25 percent.

It's all about choice. The marketplace will decide whether this company sticks around. But they are coming up with some interesting ideas.