Atlas Obscura's 10 Iconic Cemeteries That Made Death Beautiful


Bring a blanket and make like a Victorian to your nearest rural cemetery to spend some time with the dead. At Going Out In Style, we definitely plan to. 

We fell in love with this Atlas Obscura article, "The 10 Iconic Cemeteries That Made Death Beautiful." The 19th century marked a departure from doom-and-gloom Victorian Era cemeteries to lush, garden-like havens that showcase the beauty of death. From Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris to Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, the article highlights the 10 most reputable cemeteries known for their rich beauty that started the "rural cemetery" movement.  Check out the article for the full story. 

Posthumous Homage: the NY Time's "Overlooked"

If you are a regular reader of the New York Times obituaries, you’ve probably noticed (and they’ll readily admit) that the majority of featured subjects are (mostly white) males. Seeking to balance the scales, on International Women’s Day, The Times announced the addition of a new regular column called “Overlooked.” Beginning with the stories of 15 incredible women (including Charlotte Bronte, Sylvia Plath, and Diane Arbus, as well as some perhaps lesser known, but no less interesting  ladies) it promises to catch us up on the “obituaries for [those] who left indelible marks but were nonetheless overlooked.” 

You can have a look here to read the obituaries, find out how the project came to be, and there’s even a form to nominate future candidates for the feature.. 

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Memento Mori Paintings: Max Beckmann

An extinguished black candle, three tortured skulls, playing cards... Max Beckmann creates a landscape of mememto moris in  Still Life with Three Skulls to tell a dark refugee story. Matthew Rose says it best.

Max Beckmann’s Still Life with Three Skulls (1945) is more of a damning paean to the death culture of Nazi Germany than a reminder of the artist’s own death. The artist had fled Germany in 1937 for Amsterdam and the thick black outlines round the trio of cartoonish skulls, playing cards and an extinguished candle on a table echo a darkness war refugees fully understand. According to The Museum of Fine Art in Boston where this work hangs, the still life was produced during the final months of World War II. Beckmann said it was “a truly grotesque time, full to the brim with work, Nazi persecutions, bombs, hunger.”  -Matthew Rose

 Max Beckmann, Still Life with Three Skulls (1945)

Max Beckmann, Still Life with Three Skulls (1945)

Funeral Pyre

If you have the Viking desire for your body to be open-air cremated on a funeral pyre, hopefully you are lucky enough to live in Crestone, Colorado. Though the death ritual dates back to ancient times and is still practiced today by Buddhist and Hindu religions, it is considered taboo in the United States. 

The only funeral pyre in the US is located at the foot of the the Sangre De Cristo mountain range  as part of the Crestone End-of-Life Project. CEOLP cares for the bodies of community members and their families regardless of religion. They see death as a gate and work with families, honoring their experience. They claim no knowledge of death and "simply serve the mystery." 

Finding the site is not difficult in the small town of Crestone. A metal sign (made by a local potato farmer that also happens to be the coroner) with a flame and the word "PYRE" leads the way . The pyre itself- a grate that rests atop two slabs of white concrete- sits on a bed of sand and  is circled by bamboo wall. 

At the ceremony, the body of the deceased is wrapped in a linen sheet and surrounded by juniper branches family and friends place around the shrouded body. The torch lights the fire and the sweet smell of juniper fills the air as community circle the fire, sometimes in silence and sometimes in song. 

The CEOLP is part of Informed Final Choices, a group that believes that death is a sacred celebration. Their description of the funeral pyre ceremony: Imagine the community gathering to see the body of the beloved, wrapped in a chosen shroud, as it is placed on a pyre and covered with boughs, and with candles and items from the life of the deceased with sweets and wishes spoken or silent, a family member lighting the pyre as flames reach skyward to return the covering of the spirit to the realm of spirit, as all things return to their essence, just as rain nourishes the earth and then rises in evaporation.



Natural Pet Burial

The natural burial movement is not just for humans! 

If you have suffered the loss of a pet you may have gone through the often unpleasant experience of pet cremation and remains disposal. From mass cremation to plastic baggies of ashes... the process can feel impersonal and undignified. Not what your furry (or scaled or feathered) best bud deserved. 

For those that would prefer to bury a pet naturally, Paw Pods are a 100% green, sustainable and biodegradable option.  Their natural boxes and urns are made from bamboo powder and rice husk and come in lots of different sizes- even fish pods.

Paint a memory or pet's name in black Japanese ink, add a favorite toy inside, and bury in a meaningful place. Each pod comes with a seeded wildflower leaf that can be buried with it to serve as a living memorial.



Paw Pods' founder Ben Riggins had a mission to provide a better way for pets to come home, whether they will be buried or cremated. “Unlike so many ‘pet caskets,’ I wanted sturdy, strong construction – not flimsy paper.”

Paw Pods offers six pod sizes and range in price from $10 to $200 depending on size.

For more natural pet burial pods  see The Forever Spot for all natural, plantable burial shrouds that help to cleanse your pet's body of environmental toxins and generate new life around the burial site. 


Stomp The Yard

Professional pallbearers can be hired to dance your loved one's casket to the grave, an uplifting service that exemplifies the celebration of that person's life. This movement started in Africa, primarily in Ghana, where funerals are big events that span at least three days long but has recently made its way into the US. It is a true celebration of a loved one’s life.

This isn't just a few guys busting out any old dance moves.  These dances are choreographed to specific songs and the pallbearers are typically dressed in chic attire with top hats, gloves... the works. In fact, in the US this has become what an article on ABC News calls it “The White Glove Service” and “demonstrates the highest level of respect for the deceased."  It brings joy to families in a time of sadness and makes mourning more of a celebratory event. A BBC News article said, “Families are increasingly paying for their services to send their loved ones off in style,"  a trend that is right up our alley here at Going Out In Style

Memento Mori Paintings: Paul Cézanne

Memento mori (Latin: "remember that you have to die") is the medieval Latin Christian theory and practice of reflection on mortality, especially as a means of considering the vanity of earthly life and the transient nature of all earthly goods and pursuits. In art, the memento mori is used to  remind the viewer of their mortality and of the shortness and fragility of human life. 

Below, a handful of Paul Cézanne's gorgeous paintings containing the classic memento mori- the skull.  

Unsurprisingly, the objects and colors of Cézanne's studio reflect his canvases.

 An image from  Cézanne’s studio  in Aix-en-Provence.

An image from Cézanne’s studio in Aix-en-Provence.

The study of gray is not something we often think about in the works of most modern artists. Perhaps the pointillists were the last to study the ways in which color aggregated to form grays in the shadows beneath tables, under sun bonnets, in the dappled light of trellises or on city pavements. As I walked around Cézanne’s studio, I noticed that light bouncing up from the warm wooden flooring tinted the gray nearest it with rose and that under the shelves the light caromed back and forth between wall and shelf, carrying the subtle tones of whatever was nearby. These extremely delicate gradations were everywhere visible to me in the overall grayness and made me realize that we too often simply accept a generalized idea about the colors in our visual surround.

-Excerpted from Cézanne’s Objects by Joel Meyerowitz. Copyright © 2017. Reprinted with the permission of Damiani. All rights reserved.

For more information on Paul Cézanne, Artsy's page provides visitors with Cézanne's bio, over 170 of his works, exclusive articles, and up-to-date Cézanne exhibition listings.

The Way We Dress: Style to the End

Avril Furness asks women of all ages what they want to be buried in in her video for Nowness while traveling through the oven rooms at Mortlake Crematorium, the hearse garages at Harrison Funeral Home, and a fresh grave site at Green Acres Natural Burial Ground.

Cashmere socks

A black jumpsuit, some Prada leopard killer heels, and some gold cuffs for my wrists

Relinquish entire control- give it up to someone else to decide

I want to look good. I think we all go to some crazy party and I want to be looking my best

What do you choose for your final look?

Diamonds are Forever, (and Now You Can Be Too!)

        If you don’t want your ashes spread along a favorite location or stored for decades on a relatives mantel, then why not be memorialized in a truly unique and timeless way… as a diamond!  Cremation ash can now be turned into high-quality diamonds.  Yes, the 4 Cs still apply, you can choose the cut, carat, color and clarity of this special gem. You can even choose to be a brilliant diamond in different colors. I MEAN, who doesn’t want to be a 5 carat, flawless, vivid yellow diamond? This service isn’t only reserved for people, you can turn your pet's ashes  into diamonds as well.

        According to Eterneva, the process “starts with a tiny, crystallized diamond seed, a purified carbon source, and a metal growth catalyst. They place these ingredients between the anvils of our powerful hydraulic press, and apply over 1,200 degrees C of heat and over 50,000 atmospheres of pressure. As the temperature and pressure mount, the metal catalyst melts into a molten solution, and the carbon dissolves into it. With great care and control, they cool the solution, and one by one, the carbon atoms build on top of the crystal diamond seed, growing it into a jewelry-grade diamond.”

         You can also plan ahead through sites like LifeGem and create unique diamonds for each person in your family. What better way to celebrate a loved ones life than to become a family heirloom that can be passed from generation to generation—a truly special diamond.


Bansho-ji Temple

Each tiny blue glowing Buddha covering the walls of Bansho-ji Temple's third floor represents one of the deceased. Visitors located their passed loved one with an electronic ID card which turns the blue buddha to gold. The effect is a chillingly beautiful tribute to an increasingly solitary population.

These innovative temples are becoming more popular in Japan where low fertility rates leave fewer young people to care for the aging and fund a traditional burials (which can cost thousands more). 

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Going Out in Style + Harper's BAZAAR WTFashion Video

Going Out in Style created William Graper's ultimate funeral for Harper's Bazaar

Roses provided by Harvest Wholesale 

Going Out In Style wardrobe by Shopbop  and Cynthia Rowley

Performance by Well Strung

Going Out In Style Jewelry by Oscar de la Renta 

Gloves provided by Wing and Weft Gloves

Furniture provided by Michele Varian 

Props provided by Form Vintage  and  The Green Vase 

Gift Bag - Black Edge Matt Paper Carrier Bag 

Candle Dyptique Thomas Maier old Montauk Highway 

Going Out In Style makeup by Susie Sobol Makeup 

And thank you Green-Wood Cemetery

Reinventing Death with Color

At Going Out in Style we think that death and loss can be celebrated many ways... with beauty, style, and even joy. That's why we so admire the work of I&S BBDO for funeral home Nishinihon Tenrei in Japan. 

It is traditional that Japanese funerals be dark, somber, and colorless and any deviation is considered taboo. But after the devastating 2011 Tohoki earthquake and tsunami, Nishinihon Tenrei decided it was time to celebrate the cycle of life with color. The result was this beautiful and award-winning campaign. 

And may all of our skeletons dissolve into flowers...

(via Spoon & Tamago)

This Is How I Want To Be Dead

Beyond the familiar “green burial” business of escaping the toxic culture of the conventional death industry, what appeals to author Richard Conniff (and a growing number of people) is the idea of using the cost of burials to buy and preserve undeveloped land. "Natural burial grounds" or "forest cemeteries" tend to look less like cemeteries and more like fields and woods, with walking trails.

"I doubt that I put it in so many words at the time, but the thought has lately come back to me: This is how I want to be dead. That is, in the woods, with wild things all around."

Op-ed in the July 7, 2017 New York Times, read it here.


Death Dinner Parties Part 2

Death Over Dinner brilliantly opens up conversations about death over dinner. Their survey helps you set up the conversation based on guests and intention and even provides recommended reading and listening before the party. 

Not only is Death Over Dinner a fantastic and effective tool for important conversations, the site is beautiful, clean, and simple. 

Go Out With a Bang!

What's your dream memorial ceremony?

Companies such as Heavens Above  and Heavenly Stars Fireworks and Ashes to Ashes provide amazing and unique memorial displays. They offer a variety of services for scattering ashes of yourself or a loved one by incorporating cremation ash into fireworks. Depending on your wishes, you can have a professionally launched display or choose from a wide array of self fired rockets. We love the idea of being sent off in style with a firework spectacular to be remembered by; literally going out with a bang.