Funerals, Football and Baby Boomers

Article excerpt

At the opening of one episode of the television series Cheers, Dr. Frasier Crane, played by Kelsey Grammer, is sitting at the bar being pressured by his wife, Lilith, played by Bebe Neuwirth, to write a will. It is shortly after their television son was born and the good doctor is resisting her efforts.

In desperation, Lilith asks Frasier if he thinks that if they do not talk about death he will not die. "Now we will never know, will we," he answers.

Well, the clock is ticking for the nation's baby boomers and many are making funeral plans. And true to form for baby boomers, a survey has been taken about their after-death desires.

The survey by the Batesville Casket Co. of Batesville, Ind., found a growing demand for customized life tributes -- some want the band to play Amazing Grace while other prefer Stairway to Heaven. But 93 percent agree they would prefer people treat their funerals as an occasion for celebration and laughter rather than sadness, according to the new research released this week during the National Funeral Directors Association annual convention in Baltimore.

The Batesville research also shows that 80 percent of baby boomers surveyed have already given some thought to planning their funerals. More than 28 percent have already planned their funeral or "thought a lot" about it, according to Jeffrey Seeley, Batesville vice president of strategic marketing.

Seeley says the survey results show why the baby boom generation is changing the way Americans think about funerals. "Baby boomers are truly shaping the funeral of the future," he said. "They're adding personal touches to make the ceremony a unique celebration of an individual's life rather than the mourning of a death."

Only 14 percent of respondents said they wanted people to "visit their grave" as a token of remembrance. By comparison, 41 percent hoped friends and family would "throw a huge party" or "do something philanthropic in my name." In addition, 38 percent felt planting a tree would be a meaningful way to be remembered.

Recent Batesville surveys of funeral directors indicate consumers are making new kinds of choices when it comes to funeral planning.

Directors report 40 percent of funerals now involve features that customize or personalize the ceremony. More and more families are adding personalized features to the casket, such as engraving, customized embroidery for the interior, keepsake drawers or other features.

Some responses from funeral directors about ceremonies they have planned were distinctive. For example, one funeral director was asked to create a ceremony that included exotic dancers. In another case, a funeral for a farmer involved a tractor procession to the cemetery for burial.

As a result of experiences like these, funeral directors say they hear much more laughter as part of funeral ceremonies these days.

How about those Sooners?

There were a horde of Sooner baby boomers in seventh heaven at the Cotton Bowl on Saturday during and after the University of Oklahoma's 63-14 win over the Texas Longhorns.

There was rejoicing across Oklahoma. Gov. Frank Keating declared on his Web site that he was going to collect on a barbecue dinner bet with Gov. …