Rest in peace in a datasphinx

A coffin to die for is just one of the many goods and services available on the `deathnet', writes Mike Hewitt

The "Keep Death off the Roads" campaign seems to be paying off. The Grim Reaper has now transferred his attentions to the lanes of the Information Superhighway. Indeed, the number of death-related resources on the Internet is growing at a phenomenal rate.

Take DeathNet, "the world's first Web site to specialise in end-of-life issues" (http://www.islandnet.com/deathnet). It opens with the sound of a chilling death-knell (41K sound file) and the lines of John Donne: "Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." Thereafter, the fun is fast and furious. Created by the executive director of the Right to Die Society of Canada, DeathNet's central theme is "A good death is the final part of a good life". As such, there are lists of euthanasia- related material, death workshops and a number of handy DIY tips.

"The Natural Death Centre" (http://new civ.org/worldtrans/natural death.html) comes to the rescue of impecunious Netsurfers horrified by the cost of dying. It has useful advice on how to perform inexpensive DIY and/or "green" funerals. There are also guidelines on how to be buried at sea, both economically and safely (don't sink the coffin in areas where fishing trawlers are likely to work). Another way to avoid incurring graveyard charges is to be buried at home. The ins and outs are discussed. One niggling problem here, apparently, is that a body in the back garden can reduce the value of a property by as much as 50 per cent. (It seems that not even an estate agent can pass off a garden grave as being a "feature".)

In addition to general advice, the Natural Death Centre lists dealers who sell inexpensive, self-assembly coffins. These come in flatpacks, like MFI furniture, and are very reasonable (if somewhat tacky-looking), at just pounds 25 each. From the cheap and nasty end of the market to the creme de la creme: the Carlos A Howard Funeral Home (http://www.melanet. com/melanet/ howard) is the world's first online undertaker. "Funeral costs rate the same as a major purchase of a home or automobile," it says. "At Carlos A Howard we understand the need to lessen those burdens. By using the Internet in the privacy of your own home you can make final wishes known. By purchasing over the Internet, all caskets are only $200 over cost, saving you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars overall. We can provide you our merchandise anywhere in the world."

Click on the icons and potential purchasers can view high-quality images of coffins and other funeral hardware. The Mediterranean Oak/Rosetan Crepe, for instance, looks very stylish (and reasonable) at just $1,100. With its integral Swing-Bar Hardware, Failsafe Liner, and Reversible Pillow and Overthrow, it's a coffin to die for.

Until the funeral industry comes up with a way of turning a body into bits and bytes, there will never be an online cemetery. There are, however, online memorials, rather like interactive obituary columns. You upload a piece of text describing the virtues of the deceased, plus a picture, if you like, and your memorial is then preserved for posterity on the Net. Probably the best known is the Virtual Memorial Garden (http://catless.ncl.ac.uk/umg). "Death is no longer the commonplace event that it once was," it says. "We have lost touch with the idea of rememberance [sic]. The Virtual Memorial Garden is a place where everyone can be remembered in many different ways. In the future we will provide cyberpyramids and datasphinxes, and perhaps electronic crypts devoted to whole families."

For those whose loved ones have four legs or beaks, there is the Virtual Pet Cemetery (http://www.lavamind.com/ pet4.html): "All of us, at one time or another, have had a pet we loved and lost. This home page is dedicated to all those given a shabby burial in the backyard or flushed down the toilet." "Tiger Fluff, 1980-1991," reads one poignant memorial. "Sweet little Lady Baby. She purrs in God's ear now." In contrast, the tale of Buster Brown (1992-1995) is pure tragedy: "He was a little brown mutt who weighed 20 pounds. He slept in my bed at night, he puked on my pillow. My mother accidently [sic] ran him over. We will all miss him."

Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Travel
travelWhy Japan's love hotels are thriving through an economic downturn
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Life and Style
Alexander McQueen A/W 2014
fashionPolitics aside, tartan is on-trend again this season
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
Sport
Joel jumps over the board...and into a giant hole
footballFrom joy to despair in a matter of seconds
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

    Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

    Email Designer

    £30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

    Psychology Teacher

    £110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

    Food Technology Teacher

    £85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week