It’s not the kind of prize that one picks up in person. Germany’s undertakers, embalmers and grave diggers are up in arms about a radio competition that offers listeners the chance to win a luxury funeral.
All the contestants have to do – and some 650 have already entered – is compose the most original or witty epitaph for their gravestone.
The lucky winner of a grand euros 3,000 burial – complete with marble headstone, wreath, gratuities for the grave diggers and transport from church to cemetery – will be announced on Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent and is traditionally a sombre day.
Radio Galaxy from Aschaffenburg in southern Germany, dreamt up the idea after a pupil died in a school bus crash.
“We talked about how to tackle this with our younger listeners,” said Jens Pflueger, 25, a presenter. “We realised that it was our duty to get people talking about death.”
So alongside the usual tracks by Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, the station started to play Chopin’s Funeral March, and – with the help of newspaper advertisements marked with a black cross – announced the contest…
The Association of German Morticians is now taking the station to court…
Church leaders have described the contest as tasteless, and said that it may encourage people to commit suicide. Konrad Hilpert, a Munich University professor of moral theology, called it obscene.
Church leaders, no surprise, haven’t a clue. Those of you who know how seriously I take questions like this will not be surprised to learn that my epitaph – if I had a tombstone [because I won’t] – will be, “Hey, you kids – get off my lawn!”