Remember Me: A Lively Tour of the New American Way of Death, by Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, guides readers on a fascinating walk through one of the most personal rites in the world. Since it is still impossible to avoid life's cessation, people often look for ways to make it meaningful. Since each person is a unique individual, Cullen walks readers through various methods of making the last rite more personal.
Start with the coffin. Nowadays, there are more options than a plain wooden box. For example, certain companies will customize one in the colors of one's favorite NASCAR racer, or if someone chooses, with the insignia of a beloved college football team.
In Ghana, artisans over generations have created caskets that represent the way of life of one who passed on. A gardener might choose to be entombed in a giant tomato. Someone who tends bar might opt for a bottle of his or her most cherished liquor. A fire engine may serve as the final resting place for a battalion chief.
Assuming one has some time on their hands, an Internet search may prove to be a goldmine of information. Caskets may be discovered at lower prices than what funeral homes charge. Who knows? One site could sell people caskets that can also be used as furniture.
In Nederland, Colorado, there is a celebration each year in honor of Bredo Morstoel, who died while napping. While that is hardly worth mentioning, the police had to be called after a request was made at the Town Hall for dry ice, presumably to help preserve the body. Needless to say, the press was thrilled at the opportunity for a few twisted, catchy headlines. Townspeople made the best of things, however, by creating Frozen Dead Guy Days. (I am not making this up).
In South Carolina, Ramsey Creek Preserve accommodates those who choose to forego the casket, preferring to be buried in the earth so as to give back to the environment once their soul has long since left the earth. There is not any embalming or a tombstone. A simple shroud will suffice.