|Dead Man Standing in Puerto Rico.|
Murdered boxing champ posed by family.
The practice was bound to go viral at some point; leave it to the Big Easy. The Charbonnet-Labat Funeral Home staged its second dead sit last Thursday when Miriam Burbank, deceased, was posed in her home, sitting at her kitchen table, beer glass in one hand, cigarette in the other.
New Orleans has always had a flair for funerals; think the colorful Creole funeral "parades". But this is something altogether different; so different that the director of the 132-year old Charbonnet-Labat Funeral Home recently has been criticized for the practice by other funeral home directors who say the practice is improper, sacriligious, tasteless, immoral, and borderline illegal.
The rite of sitting or posing the dead began only very recently with a little Caribbean influence from San Juan, Puerto Rico in the Greater Antillies. While the first cadaver poses took place at wakes around San Juan in 2008, by 2012, a law was passed in Puerto Rico formally legalizing the rite, provided the pose does not depict "immoral" conduct. Well, we here at the electronic probate attorney find that qualification refreshing.
Whether the practice is legal here in Michigan or other states is questionable. If the rite catches on, or goes viral like Ms. Burbank in her kitchen, with her beer and cigarette, then the law will catch-up with it.
Defenders of the practice within the funeral industry point out they only execute "poses" at the very specific direction of the deceased's family; apparently the pose is what the deceased wanted, and perhaps made his or her wishes known.
As a matter of good probate estate planning, it is a "best practice" to include a specific clause in your will expressing whether, for example, you wish to be cremated, buried, or, posed before internment.
Here are some examples of rites of sitting the dead featured in the NYT article:
- A paramedic posed behind the wheel of his beloved ambulance;
- A man sitting Indian-style, dressed like Che Guevara, with a cigar in hand;
- A gambler posed at the wheel of his beloved Cadillac Seville, deck of cards in hand;
- An elderly deceased woman greeted guests to her wake from the comfort of her rocking chair;
- A 20-something murder victim was bolted to the wall, overseeing his wake;
- Big Easy band leader Lionel Batiste stood with his cane, hat tipped to one side.