Flameless Cremation, Pokemon Go in your Cemetery, Philippine Death Care & The Corpse Project

Thursday, July 14, 2016

These were just a few of the stories that caught my eye this month with their connection to the death care industry. I had come across stories about alkaline hydroloysis - so-called "flameless cremation" in the past, but this was the first pretty extensive interview I have seen with one of the funeral directors in the Chicago area who provides the service. I thought that the recent report on the Phillippine memorial park organization was interested for the way that they discussed their vision for their future and expansion. As for the Pokemon Go story, well, I certainly did not expect to be talking about Pokemon and cemeteries this month, or ever - but I have a feeling this issue of people visiting cemeteries to play the game will not go away as quickly as it came up.

  • Alkaline Hydrolysis is the technical term for what some call "flameless cremation". It is a relatively modern way to process remains, which involves placing the body into a pressurized chamber with lye and water, then heated for several hours, leaving behind cream-colored liquid cremains. Currently only five funeral homes in the U.S. provide the service - you can read about one of them here.

  • Arlington National Cemetery and the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. were some of the first destinations to publicly request visitors not play the mobile game Pokemon Go on their grounds. Just this week I was apart of an email chain with a group of cemeteries regarding the app, in which players use their phones to walk around outside and catch little monsters. The game is unique because it uses the phones GPS to show players points of interest in the real-world, and they have to physically walk to those destinations to accomplish certain tasks. Because of that, cemeteries in particular have been dealing with an influx of people on their grounds essentially walking around and playing a game. Though the game might be a fad, right now it is one of the most popular mobile games ever, so it might be worth considering how your organization will deal with these visitors when and if they come. Disrupt Media has a great blog post and video on  what exactly Pokemon Go is and how funeral homes and cemeteries can embrace it. 

  • In the global death care industry news, a Philippine death care company - Golden Haven Memorial Park Inc. - just recently became a publicly traded company in the Philippines. They are one of the largest cemetery developers in the country and with the recent public offering are laying out their plans to expand into pre-need services and continuing to buy and develop land around the country. Interesting to get a little insight into the strategy and planning of a large cemetery conglomerate overseas.

  • U.K. Based The Corpse Project is an organization centered around the mission to educate and inform the public about what happens when you die and how to make choices for our bodies after we leave them that consider the Earth that we are leaving them to - this Wired article discusses their goals and concerns.

  • And finally, something fun and simple to click thru - the 10 most famous mausoleums in the world