Some people fake their deaths in an attempt to, say, start a new life, or escape heavy debts. South Koreans, however, do things a little differently.
They attend mock funerals for themselves, complete with an eulogy they wrote, and coffins that they lie in for a short time. The exercise gives participants the chance to reflect on their lives, and give thought to their eventual – real – deaths.
The program, led by Mr. Kim Ki-ho brings participants together to reflect on their lives by experiencing their own fake funeral. They write their own eulogies, make out mock wills, and pen farewell notes. Then, they dress in traditional burial linens, climb into coffins in a darkened room, and meditate on their lives for 30 minutes. Responses vary, but many said that acting out their own deaths made them appreciate their lives more, and to consider the consequences of their deaths more seriously.
After a crow shuffles off this mortal coil, its friends and relatives can often be seen gathering about it, in a funeral like manner. While it may look like the corvids are holding some sort of memorial service, it’s more likely they are trying to determine the cause of death, in the hope of avoiding the same fate themselves.
Calling to each other, gathering around, and paying special attention to a fallen comrade is common among the highly intelligent corvids, a group of birds that includes crows, jays, magpies, and ravens, says Kaeli Swift, a Ph.D student in environmental science at the University of Washington. But it doesn’t necessarily mean the birds are mourning for their lost buddy. Rather, they’re likely trying to find out if there’s a threat where the death occurred, so they can avoid it in the future.
And you thought your job was rough… try working as a trauma cleaner, or those charged with the task of clearing up the sites of murders, suicides, illegal drug laboratories, and anything else others won’t go near, as husband and wife team Steve and Lorinda Penn do.
Nothing squeamish, or potentially NSFW here, in case you were wondering.
Simulating one’s own death, together with a funeral, and burial or cremation, seems to be a somewhat popular undertaking, no pun intended, in some parts of Asia, with participants prepared to pay out thousands of dollars to partake of the… experience:
Another venue called Lingxin, located in Shanghai’s Putuo District, began offering its own experiences last April, in which patients participate in a slightly more rigorous iteration of the Korean Coffin Academy. According to the Chinese newspaper the Global Times, at Lingxin, clients may pay upwards of $4,000 for treatments in which they walk through rooms where videos are projected on the walls, disembodied voices reminding their audience of the insignificance of material possessions. They’ll also experience intense day-long meditation and counseling sessions, fake burials, and writing their own epitaphs.
Rather than just for seeing what it’s all like, some practitioners of these experiences also hope that people will gain a greater appreciation of dying and death, and of life as well.
In the case of a cemetery foreclosure or complete abandonment, sometimes the local municipality will simply take over control and management of the land. In other cases, the current owner of the cemetery which is no longer economically viable may seek permission from their local municipality to sell or repurpose the land for commercial or home use.
If you’re relying solely on your tombstone to remind distant future generations that you once lived upon this Earth, you’ll need to think carefully about the material with which it is made. Slate and sandstone are to be avoided, they delaminate after a couple of centuries, but marble, or even granite, might be the go:
Granite is probably the durability champion. It’s less susceptible to acid rain, doesn’t delaminate, and granite tombstones have been known to shrug off collisions with car bumpers. “Granite is a molten rock that cools over a very long period,” Gallagher explains. “This gives it time to build up the crystals and so they’re tied into each other better.” Only since the Civil War, as carving techniques have improved, has granite become a useable material for tombstones.
Richard III was King of England from 1483 until 1485, when he was killed during the Battle of Bosworth Field. His remains where discovered buried below what is now a car park in Leicester, in 2012, after archaeologists went looking for them.
A rather ignoble end for a monarch, even if the grave was within what was once a church, that was however demolished in the sixteenth century.
So when I had the opportunity to meet Caleb Wilde, some perverse part of me jumped at the chance. Here was someone whose whole world was death, 24-7, and yet he seemed to be doing okay. He wasn’t distracting himself – just the opposite. He worked with dead people and their grieving families all day and then blogged about it. On his days off, he was getting a graduate degree in something called Death, Religion, and Culture. He even claimed that Death was his “muse.” If someone was going to tell me how to look oblivion in the eye in order to make my peace with it, or at least stop being so fucking scared of the dark, here was the guy.
Kurt Cobain, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Amy Winehouse, are among rock musicians who died at age twenty-seven.
It may be an unfortunate instance of chance, though many people could be forgiven for wondering if there was a connection of some sort, or that there was something about being that age. Zachary Stockill, writing for PolicyMic, finds there were some similarities in the way these musicians lived, that may have contributed to their deaths at such a young age:
There’s a strange trend in the club members’ relationships, too. Pain attracts pain, and drug abusing musicians often attract, either willfully or not, other drug users into their lives. Most members of the 27 Club were romantically involved with other drug users at the time of their death. Jim Morrison’s girlfriend lied to police when her boyfriend died as a means of covering up her own drug abuse, adding to already-intense speculation surrounding the demise of the Doors frontman.