Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Death Takes A Holiday

“Americans as mobile in death as in life”  is the phrase Michael T. Luongo  uses in a recent Times Business Section piece (“Even in Death, Mobility,” NYT, 10/24/11). And listen to the ancillary organizations and personnel who have cropped up to service this trend. Muneerah Warner of the Warner Funeral Home in Philadelphia heads up a women’s funeral organization entitled Funeral Divas. Ms. Warner, who has arranged  “South African funerals for clients born there,”  remarks that while she has not traveled in her work, “You would like to go because your work is being finished on them (the cadavers) in another country.” Speaking of finishing, Luongo quotes Rob Matt, “a hairstylist  with salons in West Hollywood and Palm Springs” as saying that “he had traveled to render what he called  ‘hair services for end-of-life care,’  usually to longtime clients, ‘to be there to see how they appear to others when they pass.’” Luongo goes on to describe a division of Delta called Delta Cares which is the largest carrier of “human remains, moving about 25,000 bodies a  year.”  The head of Delta’s North American cargo operation Andy Kirschner remarks, “People are traveling more. They pass away when they vacation or in different areas when they are away from home, and this is why we see an increase.” You can even purchase what is essentially funeral travel insurance in case you die during vacation  and need to have your remains shipped home. Luongo cites Neill O’Connor of the O’Connor Funeral Home in Laguna Beach who offers such coverage for $285. Death is, of course, the ultimate vacation and the trip across the Styx is reputedly more relaxing than the average cruise.

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