Being in Alabama I am also in college football country. I once had to go to a funeral for a co-worker’s father. It was known that he was a big Alabama Crimson Tide fan. He had tickets to all the games. Traveled to games out of state and when the team went to the bowl games. His truck was covered in “Roll Tide” stickers and the truck was of course red and white ( the team colors.) So when he died what did his coffin have on it but a “Roll Tide” football sticker and the coffin was red and white.
I’m not a football fan but I did have to say I liked that the family had a choice. It would not have been the deceased choice to be in a plain metal looking coffin.
It is a matter of choice that made Simon Dorgan and his partner, Paula Rainey Crofts open Heaven on Earth, Britain’s first designer death shop. The service actually treats death pretty much as a part of life.
With the funeral services, you can pre-order coffins of all shapes and sizes as well as for multiple uses long before they become your final resting place.
All of which appears seemingly rational given that coffins can be such an extravagance when one is already six feet under.
Instead of a mere oblong box, Dorgan has introduced a fascinating range of practical coffins that can double up for everyday use.
For instance, Croft’s mother (who is still very much alive) is storing her dancing shoes in her coffin. Others have turned theirs into linen chests or spice racks.
Indeed, the embodiment chests – as the couple prefer to call them – have been used as tabletops with board games, bookcases, CD cabinets or even shoe racks.
Such units would eventually return to their original purpose when the time comes, thus reducing funeral expenses while having served the owner well when alive.
One of the most talked about services is them sending your ashes up a space shuttle and have it ejected back to earth as a shooting star!
“That’s how Gene Rodenberry went,” Dorgan said, referring to Star Trek creator whose ashes were reportedly sent up in a space shuttle and fell back to earth as a shooting star.
He said his company could make arrangements for the ashes to be sent to the United States and blasted off into space.
A vial of the ashes would be ejected about 320km above earth, where it’ll burn out in the atmosphere and become a shooting star. “We haven’t got any such request in the UK yet. But you can actually have your ashes falling back from heaven to earth,” he quipped..
On the most unique coffin he has supplied so far, Dorgan listed a replica of Britain’s Red Arrows aerobatics jet as topping the list.
“It’s even got a cockpit, so you can see the person’s face,” he said, referring to the jet-shaped coffin.
He added that the coffin, with wings that could be folded up for burial, had been ordered by a Scottish woman in her 50s.A passionate fan of the Red Arrows, the woman – who is still alive – has a whole room dedicated to the world-famous aerobatics display team.
Dorgan said they got the idea of unusual coffins from Ghana, where a person is usually buried in one which denoted his occupation.
For example, a fisherman would be laid to rest in a wooden fish-shaped coffin, a pepper trader in a “giant pepper” replica and a businessman in a mock-up of a Mercedes Benz.
He said they had also painted coffins in football colors like Bristol City and Cardiff City football clubs.
“We’ve recently received an inquiry to build a coffin shaped like a chess piece of the king,” he said, adding that the person wanted to be buried as a chess king.
Heaven on Earth has come a long way since it was set up in Bristol in 1995, as bespoke funeral arrangers and gift shop.
The business was, in fact, born out of a misheard wish when Dorgan thought his partner wanted to open a “coffee-shop” instead of a “coffin-shop”. “Although it’s sad when we have to go, we try to concentrate on the celebration of a life, rather than mourning a death,” said Dorgan.
He said he is not only interested in the business of living well, but in dying well too.