Attendees of a “fun-eral” aren’t afraid come talk about death with positivity and also openness.Credit...Devin Yalkin for The new York Times

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When times reporters take on society phenomena, it’s regularly instructive to imagine what title The Onion would placed on the story. Because that an short article I created this weekend about the positive fatality movement, a loose effort to bring much more open discussion about death, ns did not need to imagine. The Onion had currently written it: “World fatality Rate Holding secure At 100 Percent.”

As they speak in law, caveat reporter.

But the reality is, I invited the possibility to meet human being who were interested in death and also dying. I’ve spent lot of the last three years writing about people near the end of life, and about how discovering from them to adopt my mortality had made mine life better.

Also, I had actually lots come learn. Because that instance, did you understand that cremated remains contain no ashes, only pulverized bones, and that tree cannot flourish in them because they room too alkaline? ns didn’t either, until I attended a class taught by a funeral director called Amy Cunningham, who directed she students come a product referred to as Let her Love thrive that renders remains an ideal for plants.


The an obstacle for the post was obtaining readers to interact with a story about how american refuse to communicate with the topic. ~ above the plus side, it to be a rare opportunity to interview who at her very own funeral — or, together Shatzi Weisberger express it, she FUN-eral.

Ms. Weisberger, I must add, is rather healthy and also in no hurry to shuffle off, despite she did worry that she might die before the FUN-eral, which would have ruined everything.

There was no goth music or heavy black makeup among the world I met, no moping. An ext often than not, there was joy.

“The closer I acquire to death, the an ext alive i feel,” said Shana Deane, a certified death doula, that sits through dying human being in hospice.

“What a gift to have all your fist on something,” she said. “That’s like, people try to find transcendence in sex or orgasm. This was every my attention. And it to be heaven. It is an antidote to the fear.”


Not everyone adopted the term “positive death.” Matilda Garrido, that quit her project as a regulation school administrator to pursue a degree in thanatology (the research of death) online, feeling the term can offend civilization who are in grief. “How can it be optimistic to lose your husband, your child, her parent?” she said. “It’s no positive, but it is inevitable. So i’m a member the the death acceptance movement, rather than the death positive movement.”

Still, she said, due to the fact that she began studying death, fairly than creeping human being out, the subject drew world to her. “It’s choose going to a party and saying she a auto mechanic: anyone comes out of the woodwork and also they want to talk about this or that, or they desire your advice,” she said. “It just opens up a conversation immediately.”

At the end of mine reporting for the article, there remained one unanswered inquiry — as well as the huge one, that is. For Ms. Weisberger’s FUN-eral, guests decorated a cardboard coffin with drawings or messages in fancy marker.

But after ~ the event, what to carry out with the coffin? Ms. Cunningham, who gave it, had originally assumed she could donate that for part needy who cremation, yet the jaunty message — “Let the fun (eral) begin!” — ruled the out.

What’s more forlorn than a coffin through no body?

Two weeks after the FUN-eral, the coffin stays in Ms. Weisberger’s studio apartment, folded level to take it up much less space. She did not uncover its visibility gloomy, she said, and also she favored showing the to world who let go the FUN-eral.

“It’s nice,” she said. “It’s really comforting. But I won’t mind as soon as it’s gone, since it takes increase too lot room.”

When she day does come, Ms. Weisberger plans come be hidden in a shroud and no coffin — she ruled out cremation because it is as well polluting. The coffin in ~ the FUN-eral, Ms. Cunningham created in an email message, was “more favor a card the everyone might sign.”


In the meantime, even after attending many classes around death and also singing at her very own funeral, Ms. Weisberger claimed she still had actually not concerned terms with the end. Dying, yes; nonexistence, no so much.

“Even though i’m well aware of mine mortality, ns can’t imagine not being here,” she said. “It appears absurd.”

And with that, she rotate the conversation to a chorus she belongs to. They’re singing Stephen Sondheim’s “Company” next.

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So here’s to the ladies that lunch. If Ms. Weisberger gets she way, maybe they’ll execute so in ~ the death cafe.