Letters from the week of November 11, 2004

 Life Goes On

Editor's note: More than 1,500 letters and phone calls came in on New Times' recent article about Preserve A Life Inc. ("Forever Yours," Esteban Sauer, October 28).

First Bush wins the election, now this!: I just finished reading "Forever Yours," and I can only imagine the mountain of e-mails and letters you will be deluged with over this one. If ever we needed further proof of the moral decline of our nation, this article provides it.

What the Braswells and other families like them need is to take the ridiculous sums of money they spent on preserving their loved ones' corpses and get some psychiatric help. I'm sure there are some mental-health professionals out there who would concur that there is something wrong with having your loved one stuffed and mounted simply because you can't "let them go." Death is a natural part of the circle of life, and so is learning to let go of someone you love while keeping their memory alive in your heart. We honor those who have gone on before us with photographs and stories, not by preserving the shell their soul once inhabited in this world.

It figures that our Phoenix mayor [Phil Gordon] and Arizona governor [Janet Napolitano] were courting [Preserve A Life] to set up shop here, proving once again that it's more important to line the pockets of politicians and big business than to consider what's right. God help our country!
Jack Hickman, Phoenix

Exploiting the bereaved: This morbid exploitation of the bereaved by Preserve A Life is yet another example of how the funeral industry has completely moved beyond the humble motives we used to believe were at work by these folks.

Today they are motivated purely by greed.

Aside from members of the Addams Family, how many people in their right mind would keep a preserved corpse in their home, let alone pay the outrageous price associated with it? This [Braswell] family is made up of a bunch of crackpots.
Matt Heikes, via the Internet

Don't blame the messenger: Never in my life have I been as appalled as when I read your article "Forever Yours." I can't believe that this sort of practice is going on, and practically in my own backyard. I have never been so mad and upset about anything I have ever read in your magazine. I don't blame New Times, mind you. I probably wouldn't have even known about this if it hadn't been for your cover article.

How can people do this to their loved ones?

They are mounting heads like their newest trophy from a recent hunting trip. Must we now have a provision in our wills that "my dead corpse will not be stuffed and mounted for the continued companionship of my friends and family"?

What is wrong with this picture? I will tell you. Preserve A Life is preying on people in their most vulnerable state -- when they are in grief. Grief is a strong emotion, and clarity of mind is not always something that grieving people have. It looks like the people mentioned in your article are rationalizing away the fact that they are hanging out with dead corpses.

Grief is the normal process of letting go, and stuffing your loved one is definitely not letting go. It's a Band-Aid on a gaping wound, and the vultures are out there to help you with your most expensive Band-Aid. Yes, you, too, can have Granny stuffed and mounted, and when she's in the way, you can move her over to the hall closet where she can be stored without a problem.

Well, I have a problem with the whole thing. Where is the respect in the services that Preserve A Life provides? Having your relatives frozen or stuffed is horrific. The woman who had her child preserved is the saddest thing. It just blows me away.

If it was so important for the Braswells to have Granny Esther saved, then why didn't Mrs. Braswell miss her for a few days after she cleaned her carpet? The Braswells' dog running around with Granny Esther's leg is straight out of a horror movie, and skinning these bodies and placing them over a mannequin is like Ed Gein á la mode. Gein would be proud. I can't even wrap myself around the head mountings. Forget about it!

Oh, yes, stuffing the dead newlywed bride. What is he doing with her dead body in a negligee anyway? Isn't that illegal?

And I'm not buying the comparison to the Egyptians, okay? They were preparing their dead for a trip to the other side, not for hanging around with the living. I can't believe our governor and mayor didn't see anything wrong with this, and gave them this sweetheart deal. I tell you what, these Preserve A Life guys aren't my PALs, and if Granny Esther were in a coffin right now, she'd be rolling over.
Kimberly LaRowe, Phoenix

Blatant disregard: This latest fad exhibited by your Preserve A Life story only underscores an increasing disregard of the human body -- a logical development of legalized abortion.
Paul-Harvey Du Bois, Corbeil-Essonnes, France

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