September 28, 2010

A Happy Coffin Before You Die

SINGAPORE, Sept. 28 /PRNewswire-Asia/ -- There are some Happy Coffins
( ) from Singapore challenging death's taboos.
Today, designer coffins deck a nursing home where three residents fulfill
their pre-departure wishes of how their final resting places should be.

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Without any fear, Elsie Chua said, "I am not afraid to talk about my
eventual departure. It is very meaningful to be able to shape the design of my
coffin and see it before I die." She smiled and said, "I want to have a
matching kebaya (Note 1) to go along."

The art of dying

Elsie's wish was granted through an initiative between the Lien Foundation,
a Singapore philanthropic house and St Joseph's Home and Hospice. The Happy
Coffins project overturns the stigma of death and transforms the coffin from a
symbol of fear, dread and grief into a positive and life-affirming expression
of art. Besides Elsie, two other residents, Kitty Fogh and Magdalene Khoo,
also received their own customized coffins created by FARM, a Singapore arts
creative society. In addition, a multi-disciplinary artist was commissioned to
render his interpretation.

The Happy Coffins initiative is part of the Foundation's Life Before Death
campaign that seeks to get people thinking and talking about death and dying,
and to highlight the urgent need for better care for the dying.

Life-giving circle of hope

"The name 'Happy Coffins' may be like an oxymoron. But its very antithesis
captures what we seek to do," said Mr Lee Poh Wah, CEO, Lien Foundation. "We
are turning the coffin from a supreme negative symbol of death into a creative
canvas for reflection and inspiration, and the positive celebration of life."

Instead of gloom and doom, Sister Geraldine Tan, Administrator, St
Joseph's Home and Hospice said, "This project, though seemingly about death
and dying, is really life-giving. It has created a non-threatening platform
for our residents to share their lives and talk about their pre-departure
wishes and hopes."

Mr Lee added, "By subverting the conventional notion of death, we hope to
liberate mindsets and spark 'die-logues' that do not need to be full of woe,
but are filled with joy, laughter and good memories."

Happy Coffins around the world ( )

Death is no respecter of age, race or creed. To spur greater awareness
about life before death, the Lien Foundation invited artists from the global
creative community of Eyeka, to create the best Happy Coffins - whether for
themselves, a loved one, or an inspiring person. A record 733 entries came
from 37 countries for this international coffin design competition. More than
75% of the participants produced designs for their own coffins.

Mr Lee enthuses, "We have designer clothes and chocolates, so why not
designer coffins that uniquely reflect our lives, personalities and dreams.
The individual life story behind each personalized coffin will be a poignant
talking point at funerals."

About the Lien Foundation ( )

The Lien Foundation is a Singapore philanthropic house noted for its model
of radical philanthropy. It seeks to enhance educational opportunities for the
disadvantaged, excellence in eldercare and environmental sustainability in
water and sanitation.

About Life Before Death ( )

The Life Before Death initiative is part of the Lien Foundation's mission
to advocate better care of the dying. It reaches out to the public through
social media, art, films and photography. The Foundation also commissioned the
first-ever global Quality of Death index released in July.

Note 1: A kebaya is a traditional Straits Chinese garment for women.

SOURCE Lien Foundation