Custom urn motorcycle

Custom Urns That Tell a Story

Not too long ago, I received an email from Wired Magazine’s UK branch, asking if I’d be willing to participate in an article about technology in the funeral service, or death care space.

I responded with an enthusiastic, “yes”, since I feel I have a lot to share about bringing new technology to an industry that lags far behind the rest of the commercialized world when it comes to innovation and new ideas.

I was eager to let the writer know that our idea of using 3D printing technology to make one-of-a kind custom cremation urns has opened up an exciting new realm of personalization within a product category that’s about 10,000 years overdue for a make-over. What do they find when archaeologists dig up civilizations of yore? Urns that look very much like the ones people settle for today. Except dustier.

Modern technology has created a world where the choice is no longer: “do we want the blue vase or the green vase for our beloved?” Rather what is the most personal and meaningful way we can remember this person?

The Wired Interview

The Wired writer and I spoke a bit about our company and how our custom cremation urns are made. Next, she began to inquire about the “quirky” and “weird” personalities of the people who purchase these types of products.

I thought to myself: what is so weird and quirky about trying to remember someone through something they loved the most? Something that represents their passion, their personality, their essence.

I responded that I didn’t see it as weird—rather meaningful and appropriate. She was cordial (she’s British so…you know) as she pressed a couple more times on what’s the strangest things we’ve made? Are they ever inappropriate? Questions like that. I didn’t bite beyond letting her know that of the 1,000s of custom urn pieces we’ve made, I’ve only felt compelled to politely walk away from 2 projects. I don’t like being in the judgement business, but I do have a brand to protect.

So, it was not a complete surprise that when the new article ran, it took what I believed to be an unfortunate turn. Not so much unfortunate because of the content. It was certainly not bad press. I felt it was unfortunate because it was a missed opportunity to celebrate individuals who want to step outside the ordinary. Individuals who don’t like the answer “because we’ve always done it that way” to any question.

When confronted with how to best honor their loved ones, the type of individuals who aren’t satisfied with the templated, transactional choices so often presented by funeral professionals, who are well meaning, but let’s face it, not exactly playing on the cutting edge of inspired innovation. Our customers want something different. Something unique. Something personal. Something AMAZING!

How Will You Celebrate a Life Well Lived?

I can understand why the funeral service industry may not embrace these pioneers. Death care professionals have set themselves up to be the arbiters of what is and what is not dignified for a very long time. What I don’t understand is how Wired Magazine, a publication that prides itself on being on the leading edge of new ideas and the latest technologies, would label these individuals as “weird”.

Weird how? Is it weird like using an iPod when no one had any idea what the heck an MP3 was? Is it weird like hiring an Uber when there’s a perfectly good taxi parked…wherever taxis park? All new ideas are weird. They all go through three stages:

  1. They are ridiculed
  2. They are fought by the disrupted establishment
  3. They are accepted as though they were here all along

The article talked about people who want to be buried in a biodegradable pod, people who want their remains shot into space, people who want to be turned into diamonds or planted with a tree—you name it.

To all these people, I say enthusiastically, “go nuts”! Why not? If you take a step back, how is becoming a tree or posthumous space travel any weirder than burning up remains or stuffing a body into a pine box. Go nuts! You deserve to remember and to be remembered in a way that brings you comfort, peace and relief from grief.

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