Death Got You Down?

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Filed under: Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

At last an alternative! These were the words Joey Skaggs used to advertise his Final Curtain cemetery theme-park mall.

by Nick Gaetano, www.nickgaetano.comAt the Final Curtain Web site, created by Skaggs and friends in 2000, clients were encouraged to develop site-specific works of passage — their own tombstones, mausoleums, caskets, or urns — as homage to their lives and their spirit. Dozens of media outlets covered the Final Curtain as though it was real. For a fun read, check out this article by Jeff Stark.

Now comes this latest chapter in the death arena:

24-hour death-and-dying TV channel to debut in fall
July 15, 2007
London Sunday Telegraph

Berlin “” A round-the-clock television channel devoted exclusively to aging, death and dying will be started in Germany this fall.

Eos TV, which takes its name from the Greek goddess of the dawn, will feature documentaries about graveyards, televised obituaries, tips on finding a decent retirement home and even how to install in-house stair lifts.

The $14.2 million project was conceived by Wolf Tilmann Schneider, 51, a former television producer who has joined forces with Germany’s funeral association to start the 24-hour, seven-days-a-week, death-and-dying channel on cable television and the Internet.

“More than 800,000 people died in Germany last year. Multiply that by four and you have a rough estimate of the number of relatives affected. They will be our target audience. We are convinced that Eos TV will attract viewers.” Mr. Schneider said.

The channel aims to capitalize on the changing demographics in a country that has one of the lowest birth rates in the world. Last year there were almost 150,000 more deaths than births, and an estimated 2.1 million elderly people were receiving professional care.

“There are millions of people confronting the issues of aging and death,” Mr. Schneider said.

Viewers who tune into Eos TV can expect to be entertained by documentaries highlighting the beauty and tranquillity of graveyards both in Germany and abroad. “It may come as a surprise, but older people really enjoy visiting cemeteries “” not just to mourn, but for their peace and quiet,” Mr. Schneider said.

Other programs will aim to provide viewers with information about undertakers, insurance plans, retirement homes and nursing services. Such topics as meals-on-wheels, stair lifts, bathroom hoists and medication for age-related complaints will also be covered.

Companies targeting the elderly with their products will be asked to fund the programs. The channel will also provide tips about organ donation plans.

Mr. Schneider hopes a mainstay of the channel will be televised obituaries. For a fee that has yet to be set, viewers will be able to have a “This was your life” video made about their late relatives, featuring interviews with family and friends.

“This was the idea which encouraged me to launch the project,” Mr. Schneider confided last week. “Why not take obituaries out of the newspapers and put them on television?”

Germany’s funeral association, which represents 85 percent of the country’s undertakers, is backing the project. Kerstin Gernig, a spokesman for the association, said more people were looking for professional help in documenting the lives of people who had died.

Mr. Schneider said he hoped to destroy the taboo surrounding the issues of death and dying in the Western world.

“Almost everything is aired on television nowadays, but death and dying remain the big exception.”

via the Washington Times

Illustration by Nick Gaetano,