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Posed cadavers at funerals in Puerto Rico allowed under 2012 law; a New Orleans trend?

Posted Jun 23, 2014 8:07 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Miriam Burbank, who died at age 53, looked much as she did in life at her June 12 viewing in New Orleans.

Burbank sat a table with a Busch beer near one hand and a cigarette in another, the New York Times reports. Miniature New Orleans Saints helmets were displayed on the table.

The viewing, staged by the Charbonnet-Labat Funeral Home in New Orleans, spurred calls from as far away as Australia from funeral directors and people eager to find out how they could be posed at their future funerals. Two other New Orleans funeral services have featured posed cadavers. One was posed standing with his cane, and another was posed with a glass of champagne and a cigarette.

Puerto Rico was an early adapter of the practice. It began with a 2008 funeral, when the body of a 24-year-old murder victim was attached to a wall and appeared to be standing, the Times says. After that, others were posed on a motorcycle, at the wheel of an ambulance, dressed as Che Guevara, posed as a boxer, and sitting in a rocking chair. The Marín Funeral Home in San Juan handled the arrangements, and it has requests for funeral poses from many who have not yet died.

The Puerto Rico Legislature held hearings on the practice, and passed a law in 2012 that allows posed cadavers, according to Jorge Lugo, president of the Puerto Rico Funeral Home Association. Lugo tells the Times there is a restriction—the pose cannot be immoral.

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