Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Cemetery Technology: After Death – What would Grandma say?

Remember the good old days when you went to the cemetery with relatives to clean Grandma’s grave and leave flowers? Nowadays, this visitation takes on a whole new meaning. With all the pictures and symbols etched into stone, some granite headstones look more like scrapbooks. After all, a cemetery is about remembering. Now, there’s the Memory Medallion, a memory chip embedded into Grandma’s headstone, plaque, or monument, so you can see her picture while she tells you about her life and dishes out some old-school advice. In addition to this, hyperlinks can give you access to more information, photographs, videos, etc. that can be viewed on your hand-held computer or laptop.

Don’t feel like walking around graves? Go to a drive-by cemetery with low, tilted monuments that you can read while passing through. No need to get out of the car when you can look out the window. Don’t even worry about the time of day. Grandma’s tombstone glows in the dark.

Prefer not leaving home at all? Try one of several Web cemeteries like the World Wide Cemetery on the Internet. Grandma can rest in peace there with over 30 million other people keeping her company. Some cemeteries include pets. After entering through the virtual gate entrance, you can add family photos, sounds, hyperlinks to other sites, and your personalized memorial text. Did I mention you can leave flowers and a donation? Just give the okay. Checks and credit cards are respectfully accepted.

Finally, do you just want to connect with Grandma and not deal with cemeteries at all? No problem. Grandma can write plenty of e-mails addressed to you before she dies and arrange to have them delivered to you periodically after her death. It’s just another way to reach out and touch.

Death really hasn’t changed much. But our approaches to memorializing it have. Some say all this technology trivializes death and takes away from the spirituality. Others say it customizes their true feelings and the spirit of the deceased. My, my, what would your grandma say about all this?

Frances Shani Parker, Author
"Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes”
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

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