Lessons from funeral history

Lessons from Disastrous Funerals

They say that those who can’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. So, we’ve put together some of the worst mistakes in funeral history in the hopes that we can prevent botched embalmings and unruly funeral guests. Or, at the very least, put a stop to a few bursting corpses. Take note of our lessons to make sure your own death doesn’t go down in funeral disaster history.   

Lesson 1: William the Conqueror

Most famous for his success at the battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror’s send off was notoriously messy. While a broad frame might have helped on the battlefield, William’s large size turned out to be an obstacle when it came to his death.

According to sources (we’re thorough here), after William died his coffin turned out to be too small. Instead of, say, ordering another coffin or finding any other container, the funeral organisers went ahead and stuffed him into the tiny coffin. Like an orange in a juicer, the body burst, his stomach exploded and the priest wrapped things up sharpish due to the unbearable stench.

Learn from William the Conqueror’s messy end by taking the time to discuss with your coffin supplier any sizing details. Invest in a measuring tape, if you must, to avoid any bodily mishaps.

Lesson 2: Alexander the Great

Another powerful ruler, another historical funeral gone wrong. Though, Alexander had the right idea – he’d already requested for his body to be dumped in the Euphrates River after his death. What Alexander should have done, however, was to get his wishes down in writing.

Instead of respecting his preference, one of Alexander’s generals embalmed him, amazingly, using only honey. The great ruler glazed in honey prompted both hoards of admirers and flies alike. This was enough to make the general think it would be a great idea to drag the body in a golden cart on jaunts around Egypt to show him off.

There are two lessons to learn here from Alex the Great’s funeral. Firstly, specify who you’d like to carry out your funeral wishes. This would preferably be someone who you’re certain won’t whisk you off on any adventures. Secondly, leave the honey for the breakfast table. That’s where it belongs – spread on a nice farmhouse loaf, not on dead bodies.


Lesson 3: Pope Pius X

To continue on the theme of failed embalming, the lessons of history now take us to the Vatican. It’s important to know that the funeral services you use are trustworthy. A company with an accredited status or even a convincing online review will set you off in the right direction.

If only the medical committee to Pope Pius X had called up an accredited embalmer. By all means, go in for an individual funeral. Only, if your embalmer turns round and tells you they’ve knocked-up a new embalming method which involves using solely the same oils with which Jesus Christ himself was said to have been preserved – you know you’re in the wrong part of town. Though, if your town happens to be Vatican City then this sort of thing might happen regularly. You may even have just secured yourself a good deal.

For the Pope, however, the result was anything but pious. While this particular mixture may have worked wonders for Jesus Christ, its preserving effects didn’t kick in for Pius X. The sacred body decayed to such a festering degree, even the guards who protect the Vatican passed out. The Holy one’s gastritis didn’t help matters, either.

Remember: shop around and always use funeral services that are accredited. Stay away from the charming man selling the mystical oils. This is a general life lesson, too.

Lesson 4: Andrew Jackson

Finally, we need to touch upon unwelcome guests. Like weddings, a funeral is the perfect opportunity for arch-enemies, bitter exes and HMRC to turn up unannounced.

Pets, too, aren’t generally seen as appropriate funeral guests. Andrew Jackson is best known for a few things. Being the seventh President of the US, civil rights atrocities and the origin behind the proverb now famous in the funeral industry: ‘never bring a parrot to a funeral’.

At Jackson’s state funeral, there was an untimely interruption from his pet parrot who, it seems, secured a place at the funeral. The parrot started to swear so loudly and for so long, it had to be ejected.

We would suggest talking through a guestlist with those close to you. While the arch-enemies and resentful lovers of the world can be kept at bay, you never know what vulgar intentions are hiding behind a pet’s cute exterior.  

In the end, from all these lessons in funeral history we can learn one thing: pre-planning won’t get rid of all potential catastrophes. But, it helps. We’ve got you covered: you can start preventing any accidents over at our funeral planning page.

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