Losing a loved one is no laughing matter. Everyday mothers, fathers, and even children fall victim to our greatest enemy: mortality. But even though they leave our physical world, their memory remains strong within us, which is why we celebrate their lives with funerals and memorial services.
The problem with memorial services and especially funerals is that they are awfully expensive and use up a tremendous deal of natural resources, which is why China is paving the way toward a more environmentally friendly death by introducing the online funeral.
The Chinese pay tribute to their lost ancestors at the annual Qingming Festival that occurs on April 5. According to Wikipedia, young and old alike “pray before the ancestors [including recently deceased relatives], sweep the tombs, and offer food, tea, wine, chopsticks,” etc.
This year’s upcoming Festival is causing a stir, however, as government officials are trying to revolutionize the business of death by completely changing the way in which we as humans celebrate the passing of life.
The goal is to “avoid a waste of social and natural resources” (UPI) by promoting a concept known as the online funeral. Instead of wasting space on a grave, the deceased individual is cremated, the ashes discarded, and his or her life celebrated via a virtual cemetery. Mind you there is still a ‘farewell party,’ but the pictures and any associated eulogies or poetry are instead posted online.
Zhu Yong, deputy director of a research institute under the Ministry of Civil Affairs, told UPI that inspiration came from countries like Australia and New Zealand, where online funerals have been a big success. Plus such a concept would work especially well with China, especially considering its “sparse land and huge population.”
However, are the Chinese people ready for such a radical idea? Dou Yupei, Vice Minister of Civil Affairs, said, “More members of the public are willing to remove undesirable funeral customs and transform some traditions.” He also noted that statistics show a preference towards cremation versus a conventional burial. Plus online funerals save land and wood, not to mention boatloads of money.
So what’s your verdict? Would you rather save money and resources with an online funeral, or would you rather honor your relatives the old fashioned way?