Bringing funerals to the do-it-yourself industry

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I guess it was almost as inevitable as the inevitable.

Someone has found a way to marry the do-it-yourself industry with funerals. And why not? After all, software companies have given us ways to do taxes ourselves. Why shouldn't we use our PC to manage the only other thing that is certain?

At first glance, when I saw the headline for this Orlando Sentinel story, I thought, "Oh, brother," but it actually makes a lot of sense, and once you know something about this business, you can't argue for the reasons behind creating it. Nancy Bush, who lives in Minneapolis, lost her husband to cancer when he was only 53. For a year, they each knew he was going to die sooner rather than later, but he never wanted to discuss his funeral, because it just felt like to do that was some of sign that he was giving up. When his time finally came, Nancy found herself wondering just what her husband would have liked to have had at his funeral.And so Nancy Bush and her friend Sue Kruskopf, who owns an ad agency, founded a web site, My Wonderful, for people to plan their own funeral. I'm not quite sure it would have helped Mrs. Bush's husband, John. If you don't want to discuss your funeral, you probably don't want to plan it out on a web site, even if the details are private to the rest of cyberspace.

Dying gracefully?
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Bringing funerals to the do-it-yourself industry
When he passed on into eternity, Dr. Frederic J. Baur chose to have his remains buried in his proudest invention: the Pringles tube. We can't make this stuff up, folks.
Does dying gracefully mean foregoing paid involvement in your funeral? That's what some people think, and so the DIY funeral industry is formed. This story isn't really that shocking -- mostly, people are planning the details of their own service and not digging their own grave. But is it sensible, or strange?
When Chicago Heights beer lover Bill Bramanti passes on, he'll be caried to eternity in a Pabst Blue Ribbon coffin. Don't worry skeptics: he'll fit in it. He's already tested it out.
As Bruce Watson points out, there are a bunch of great ways to use your body parts after death. Your skull could become a drinking vessel, perhaps. Or you could donate your body parts to a medical school, or a museum! The possibilities are endless. And think of the money you'll save.
Rather than go with a classic burial, many families choose other options, from reeef burial to being shot into space.
Sure to forever change the dialogue between rival sports fans, the Major League Baseball urns and caskets allow you to be buried in a coffin proclaiming your love for the Cubs, Yankees, Red Sox or Dodgers (or a few other teams). No telling how many bitter spouses and children have decided to spend $4,499 ($799 for the urn) to finally pay their loved one back for ignoring them to watch baseball, burying dear ol' daddy in his least favorite team's colors.

Still, I can see where it would be appealing to a lot of people, especially of the Type-A variety.

If you go to the free web site, you can decide what music or readings you'd like to have at your funeral, but you can also find out how to have a burial at sea, or be entombed or a dozen other things you've possibly never given thought to. Like -- should you get funeral insurance? Or should you pre-buy your grave, long before you march on, just to get a cheaper price?

And I love this tidbit I picked up at the site. If you're bargain hunting, you can also buy a pre-owned grave. That sounds a little tasteless, or ominous at first, but that just means someone else decided to give up the plot for whatever reason, and since they're probably not trying to get a profit -- they just want their money back -- you can probably get it for a cheaper price.

While I'm not sure this site is exactly going to put the fun back in funeral, it probably will make life, or death, a little easier for all concerned in the days up to and after the person's time has expired. And I don't know about anyone else, but if I knew my time was short, I'd probably use a site like this. If I was going to soon rest in peace, I'd want a little peace of mind.

Geoff Williams is a business journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).
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