Saturday, December 20, 2008
ON LOVING YOUR CELL PHONE TO DEATH
In the latest you've got to be kidding, in funerary trends, funeral directors are now telling us that people currently under 40 are increasingly requesting to be buried with their cellphones, or in some cases with their Ipods or Xbox games.
“It really started happening within the last five or six years,” says Frank Perman, owner and funeral director of Frank R. Perman Funeral Home, Inc. of Pittsburgh, Pa. “But I expect it to grow exponentially, especially with the price of technology getting so low. It’s not that big of a deal to bury somebody’s cell phone.”
“I’ve seen family members place iPod earphones on the decedent and play songs as the casket closed,” says Pam Vetter, a Los Angeles funeral planner who helps create more personalized services for families.
“It’s comforting to the family to think mom’s playing her iPod or dad’s still got the cell phone that was attached to his ear all the time,” she said. “It’s comforting to think those things are still with them.”
The notion of staying connected also seems to play into being buried with one’s mobile. In an article worth reading by Diane Mapes at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28182292//wid/11915829?GT1=40006 we find the following quotes:
“I’ve seen people leave cell phones on and tell me they’re going to call their loved one later,” says Vetter. “Not that anyone will answer, but they want to have that connection. I’m sure the family gathers around the phone when they call. They feel connected with that person because it’s their phone, but at the same time it helps them realize that a death has occurred.”
"When Manhattan criminal defense attorney John Jacobs died in 2005, his wife, Marion Seltzer, not only buried him with his phone and a fully charged battery, she continues to pay the monthly phone bill and even calls him on occasion (since the battery’s now dead, the calls immediately go into Jacobs’ voicemail)."
I would suggest that among other things this reflects a hope for, and even in some cases a belief in the afterlife, however weird the conception of it. But if it is a manifestation of a delusion, namely that the person is not really dead and gone, then its not a healthy thing.
This practice of being buried with a cellphone could have come in handy in the late Middle Ages in Ireland when heavy drinkers sometimes went comatose from drinking too much from lead tumblers, resulting in lead poisoning leaving the person apparently dead. Precisely because people weren't sure if Uncle Ian was dead or not, they would lay him out on the table in the parlor for a 'wake', to quite literally wait and see if he would awake. By the way, having the body in the parlor in the home is where the phrase funeral parlor originally came from. But when a sufficient time had elapsed, Uncle Ian would be buried. Unfortunately, sometimes real drunks were buried alive, only to wake up under ground. This was discovered in one Irish county when an ancient graveyard had to be moved. In moving a casket, the lid came open and fingernail scratches were found on the inside of the lid of the wooden casket. Thereafter, a string was tied to a finger of the deceased, and if it twitched, it would ring a small bell in the graveyard. Such a person was called a dead- ringer, and it was also said that he was 'saved by the bell'. But what if the person awoke at night, when all were sleeping? To remedy this problem, the church would put someone on night watch for a couple of days in the graveyard. The person was said to work, 'the graveyard shift'.
At Christmas, when we try to get to the bottom or source of things, even grave matters, it is apparently comforting to some to know that we can be buried with our technology, It would have been better to have had one's cellphone send an instant text message to Jesus upon expiring. The message would read--- 'Here I am Lord, beam me up', or perhaps, "Construction completed, thanks for your patience. This person ready for immediate pick-up.Lord have mercy."