Way to go!

Fan forever?

There have been a number of events lately that have made me think of how people make the transition from this life, not the least of which was the recent death and funeral of my sister Edna Mae. Among the others:

Schiavo circus
Schiavo circus

• The disgraceful politically-inspired melodrama that embroiled Teri Schiavo's last days sparked a surge of interest in living wills and advance directives. Most were content with conventonal written instructions, but there are alternatives (see sidebar).

Pope carried around plaza
Body of Pope John Paul carried around the piazza

• Public funerals, such as the recent on for Pope John Paul II, have made thinking of the ritual surrounding death impossible to avoid. For Americans, especially, the sight of the pope's body being carried around the piazza to the applause of the gathered multitudes was a sharp contrast to the discrete "viewing" in a hushed funeral parlor or the even more discrete closed-casket burial.

DOD photo
Defense Dept. photo (Click picture to enlarge)

• Since the beginning of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the pentagon tried to impose invisibility on deaths in combat, banning photographs of flag-shrouded caskets being returned to Dover Air Force Base. After the Pentagon lost a court challenge, they finally released photographs with faces of the living blacked out!

Costco casket
Costco's "Lady of Guadalupe" casket

• While searching recently for something else, I discovered to my great surprise that you can buy a casket online from warehouse outlet Costco. A range of models and prices is available. Needless to say, buying your casket from Costco for personal use would require a measure of advance planning. At least they don't come in a multi-pack!

Going too far

What brought all this to mind was a brief news item this morning about a local funeral home in Reading, England, that has made coffins available for fans of the Reading Football Club (US translation: soccer) in the team's colors. The coffin is decorated with the club crest, an image of the local stadium, and a football.

Reading club coffin
Coffin and urn in Reading club colors

The coffin has been endorsed by the club (a commission on each coffin will go to the team's youth charity). A local pastor said, "You love your club through life and death," although being a former team chaplain he might have a skewed perspective.

For more details, see the story in the Reading Evening Post.