When I retired as a humanist celebrant I thought I'd stop writing this blog, but my fascination with all things death-related prompted more posts. They're just written from a slightly different perspective, that's all. Oh, and I still do the odd one, by special request.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Don't bother painting my coffin, thanks

You might expect someone like me (a trained artist, and all that) to get excited about beautifully decorated coffins, but I don't. I suppose that having one standing in the corner of your living room as a memento mori and conversation piece might be interesting, if you have room, but why commission someone to spend hours creating a work of art that will be either buried or cremated with you? Seems such a waste, not to mention a sort of post-mortem showing off.

No thanks. I'd rather that my dearly beloved commissioned something that they like to hang on the wall or stand in the garden, and buy the cheapest environmentally-friendly coffin for my remains. It's only going to keep me tidy in transit.

Paying for an elegant headstone's another matter, if you really want one. At least they'll last.

7 comments:

gloriamundi said...

I'm with you on this one - the painted coffin can be only enjoyed by mourners for a very short time, and if it is truly delightful, then that seems to me a pity. The dead person, of course...is... dead...ergo....

The money could surely be better spent. I like your suggestions.

Arkayeff said...

But you could buy one and paint it yourself long before you die. I'm thinking of buying one and painting a "map" of my life on it.

It would be a cross between a celebration and a momento mori; it could actually be viewable at home, on show to all.

So it would have a life before death.

曉薇 said...

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Margaret said...

Last comment translates as: Comes to see your Luo ~blog to be very good.

No idea why I seem to attract lots of comments in Chinese - some are spam, some are proverbs, and some are compliments.

simply pine said...

I think that is why many professional woodworkers don't make boxes for their loved ones, it is hard to create a labour of love into something that is so finite. This is where coffin furniture comes in.

One must remember to differenciate between a commissioned piece by a professional artist, and loved ones gathering to connect with their grief. I think many of us have forgotten that grief is a participatory experience.

I agree with some of the other posts, it is important to extend the life of the art when it comes to final resting boxes. I would like to create a box with a space on its lid for an art piece. This would be present for the viewing and then before the lid is closed, the piece can be removed and kept by the family.

Margaret said...

Yes, I agree there's a difference between family and friends decorating a coffin, and a commissioned piece. I've seen some affectionate artwork.

Nat Bocking said...

I made my sister's coffin. It was a sudden, tragic death of a vibrant young person. After consulting with the undertaker about what materials were permissible in the crematoria, I commissioned a cabinet maker to help me build it in their workshop. She wouldn't have wanted someone spending a fortune on a coffin but she deserved something very splendid to fit her character. It was a plain, ecologically sensible pine box which was then painted and taken to her home a couple of days before the funeral for her friends to gather and to go at it with water-based paints and paper appliqué. Other friends had sewed and quilted a shroud. The final result was very colourful and imbued with all the love people had for her. It was a very comforting thing to do and it brought together all her disparate friends and family around the world together much closer than a traditional funeral would have done.