Today's Funeral-Goers Want To Be EntertainedCommentary • Opinion • trends • ISSUE 42•22 • May 31, 2006 By Aaron Rueth, Consultant My aunt passed away last weekend, and I flew out from L.A. for the funeral. Short, unexpected illness, very sad, cousins totally devastated—the whole shebang. But at the reception, I had to take my cousin Eric aside. "Eric," I said, "you should've called me. The biggest clients in the biz come to me all the time, but I wouldn't have thought twice about a little pro bono for a family member in need." Sad truth was, the funeral was a complete bomb. Not that it was Eric's fault—the whole funeral industry could use a serious overhaul. Sure, funerals are still the number-one way to honor and grieve for our dead, but if they want to keep their place at the top, there's gonna have to be some big-time changes. Mourners deserve a mind-blowing funeral experience they'll never forget. This is the 21st century, people!Bereavement is stark, gritty, harrowing. It's like a sledgehammer to the gut that leaves you wondering, "Why?" Funerals should reflect that roller-coaster thrill-ride. In this age of fast food and hip hop, why are they still about stilted eulogies, and cheesy floral arrangements. And what about those colonial-facade funeral homes? Frankly, Scarlett, I don't give a damn what funerals have been. I care about what funerals can be: Some of us have some serious modern grieving to do here. Let me tell you, I was on fire at my aunt's funeral. My Palm Pilot was smoking with one solid-gold brainstorm after another. What does every funeral audience want to see? The body. So what do I propose we give them? Plexiglas coffins. I know it seems a little Snow White-ish, but bear with me. Your loved one is dead—death is why we're all here—so let's see it. Why fuck around? Dead body? We got one. How riveting is that? We are talking reality—which is very hot right now—and it doesn't get more real than your loved one giving you one last look from the beyond. People won't be able to keep their eyes off it. Tell me that's not gonna pack a house. What's the number-two reason people come to a funeral? God, God, and more God. He comforts, He knows all, He's caring, but a little image update couldn't hurt. I'm talking CGI montages of the deceased and God walking through the gates of heaven. I'm talking the voice of the Almighty on a state-of-the-art sound system going over some good deeds and shitloads of precious memories. Jesus is our bread and butter and He's got a very loyal following. Plain and simple, the guy puts asses in pews. So let's church it up!Jewish? No problem—I've got ideas about sitting shiva that will make you jizz your pants. While we're at it, answer me this: Why in the hell do they always give the eulogy to the most boring person in the room? People want a good story, and who tugs at the heart strings best, without fail? Kids. Friggin' devastated children. Think John-John at JFK's funeral. You get yourself a kid who can show the naked despair that accompanies a sudden, tragic death, and you got yourself a funeral! Put them on a big flat-screen TV so no one in the back will miss this once-in-a-lifetime performance. Believe me, those tears will read. I got more: Warm-up morticians. Hummer-hearses. A rap "Taps." A little something for the VIPs—gift bags, memorabilia, tickets to the ballet. What about deep-sea fishing funerals? Bag a couple swordfish, get some sun, give Grandpa Ned the proper watery grave he deserves. You want Alex Rodriguez to read the eulogy live from Yankee Stadium? I know a guy. A Tivoli Audio Sirius satellite radio and four nights for two at Santa Fe's exclusive Sundial Resort & Spa? Giveaways, giveaways, giveaways. It's all possible. And I'm telling you, I'm the man to get this done. Let's ramp it up a little here, people!After all, it's your funeral.