America’s next top mortician and QR Codes

Salon has an article on Caitlin Doughty, who hosts the Ask a Mortician series on Youtube.  A lot of what she says is reasonable stuff about facing death squarely, which is good.  I even went to her Youtube page, but didn’t watch any of the videos as I just had just eaten two bowls of chile and wasn’t up for discussions on decomposition.

There is a genealogical aspect to this story, though.  Doughty finds QR codes on tombstones appalling, in apparently the same way as funerals broadcast on the Internet.  Here is the whole paragraph for context:

By contrast, the mainstream of the American funeral industry is more concerned with practices that Doughty finds appalling, such as featuring QR codes on tombstones, or broadcasting funerals over the Internet so that family can “participate” from home. “It’s basically collective denial,” she says of these innovations. “Ever since paying someone else to take care of the dead became a thing, it’s just been a steady march. Death is hard, and it’s messy, and if you can say, ‘Oh, man, maybe I can just pay somebody to do all this stuff for me,’ people [will give] it to somebody else. It’s taken us on this grand journey to a point where we now broadcast funerals, and that’s considered attending a funeral — watching it online. That’s dystopic. It’s tragic.”

via America’s next top mortician: “It really improves your life to be around corpses” –


I’ll admit that I agree with her on the part about broadcasting funerals, but I don’t see what the big deal is with QR codes on tombstones.  By the time someone gets to the tombstone with the QR code on it, the deceased person is long gone and the QR code provides a link to more information about them than can fit on the grave marker.  As an amateur genealogist I would be thrilled if a grave that I went to had a QR code on it for some extra information, although I’ve learned a lot just going to the front desk to ask for records.  So overall I’m a bit puzzled at her aversion to the QR codes on gravestones.

Having said that, I haven’t been real motivated to buy QR codes for the grave markers of my loved ones.  While the sentiment is nice, I don’t expect anyone to be checking out the graves who doesn’t already know about the deceased, so it seems like a waste of money to me.  Not an appalling waste, though.

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2 Responses to America’s next top mortician and QR Codes

  1. GenealogyDoug says:

    Funeral homes and cemeteries should reconsider QR codes. If they would link the QR code to their website where the plot map and burial register is digitized, or the funeral record and obituary is placed, it might help to keep us genealogists out of their hair while their trying to do their daily death business. I’ve seen few QR codes on tombstones, but think there’s a valuable potential for what they might provide a link to regarding the deceased.

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