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Discussion Starter #1
As I posted here that I did some memorial tees here locally and had a few problems. as stated I did 15 shirts. After delivery I got a call from another side of this family for an additional 18 shirts.. knocked those out Friday evening delivered Saturday morning.. Then my wife and I went to movies and dinner and when we got home there were more messages on phone.. I made additional 9 more shirts and delivered to family at their family reunion.. where I found out they had over 200 shirts done for that plus aprons and baby bibs. Told the family member to call me with the price they paid for that. She then told me to expect to hear from from more of the family today (Sunday) for more shirts.as the funural is not till Monday. I have 20 shirts left but there is a tee shirt shop very close where they have been buying most of the shirts so I don't have to supply. We will see. I added a link to an article about the memorial shirt business. You do find business in strangest places. Who knew.. I didn't, I do now. I have a feeling I need to buy lots of shirts and paper because I think the word is spreading. This is a big hispanic and Asian community and it is something they do. :confused:
http://www.slate.com/id/2087407
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I look at it as the people are showing how they feel about this person.. The love and admiration for them. we are just offering a service to help them be able to do this. Someone does it.. why not me. I have a pretty good handle on now and your right it was depressing at first. Then I started talking to the families and found how happy they were that I was there to offer this especially on the weekend. Sure they paid me but it was what else they did that really made me feel good and that was they showed their appreciation for the work I did to help their family get this done.
 

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It is, for those who want it, essentially an extension of funerary services.

Since we've chosen to get into the t-shirt business, rather than running a funeral home, most of us wouldn't (yet) have the emotional context and experience to deal with a situation like this if we wanted to, which is what makes it so hard to process.

There's a lot of emotions to wrestle with, not least of which is the fact of applying commerce to death. There's nothing wrong with offering a paid funeral service; but it's something you have to work through to be comfortable about. You might feel like you are exploiting people's grief, you might feel like if you were to advertise such a service people might be manipulated into purchasing something that wasn't right for them in a moment of weakness. While not true, they're natural concerns. But the fact is if you treat the issue with sensitivity then all you are doing it helping someone in a time of need, and getting paid for your services (no one expects you to do it for free).
 

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I have found in discussing this last evening with a another family member of this job I took on that the culture of the families almost demand that they do this as tribute to the one who has died. She said when she was told by another family member that I was there and the prices I was charging she said knew I was going to be getting a lot business. I did not seek them out. Every person I delivered to over the week end wanted my card to pass to other relatives and family members. I got my last call about 4 pm yesterday for 4 shirts. She told me that at one funeral she saw over 200 shirts for a very well known member of the Hispanic community. This type of service though requires fast action and usually takes up a weekends.
 

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It's interesting that death is still such a taboo subject in western society, as is evidenced by the sense of avoidance and awkwardness that comes through in some of the posts above (not meant as a criticism at all - just an honest observation).

I had a moment in India that suddenly de-spooked the whole topic for me, and the effect was profound and permanent. Crossing the Ganges by train, my gaze fixed on a corpse washed up on a sandbank in the middle of the river. It was the first time I had seen a corpse. A couple of birds were perched on the face, happily pecking out the eyes.

That sounds shocking, but the revelation for me at the time was that it was not - not in any way. In fact, it was so natural that it inspired the thought in me that we, as a species, are arrogant in our sense of our importance in the scheme of things. Why should we not end as carrion for the birds, when all other creatures typically return to source in that way?

Now, many years later, I have experienced the death of both my parents, and a close friend, and am left with the sense that we all go on - in the memory of others if in no other way - and that the way in which we are remembered is EXACTLY as we were perceived in life. I had a gilded concept that the death of loved ones would somehow alter the memory of those persons in a positive way. I have not found this to be the case. Who they were in life is who they are in death. Sobering, when you think about it and its implications for yourself.

Anyway, I have no problem whatever with badalou's business on this occasion servicing people in mourning. Their choice. It's all rather simple when you demystify death and see it for what it is - an essentially defining part of life!

Make the most of now. It's all we have that we can be certain of.
 

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I’m very conflicted on this issue.

I completely understand your point of view Ross, and in all reality, you are exactly correct. Death is natural.

It is also natural to be emotional about death.

The concerns Lewis raised about applying commerce to death are very valid.

I brought up in Lou’s thread that initially told about how this transpired that I had also done some memorial shirts for someone last week. A co-worker wanted some shirts to wear for a fundraising walk for juvenile diabetes. Her younger sister died from juvenile diabetes a few years ago.

Personally, I’m not at a place where I feel comfortable profiting from something like this. I did the shirts for her at cost.

I also don't see myself doing much of this in the future!

This is also probably easier for me to do because I make money on clothing from my own line, and providing shirts that people want is just an extension of that, and not the main focus.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with someone profiting in this manner, but since it was very unexpected (I had never imagined doing anything of the kind), it’s just as Lewis said: “It’s something you have to work through to be comfortable about.”

Which is completely natural.
 

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Think about it from the perspective of the customer. Just because you are taking their money does not mean you are taking advantage of them. In truth, they are benefitting as much from this transaction as you are, if not more.

This business is not for everyone, that is for sure. But if there is someone out there like Lou who can give people the product they need and also feel sympathy and respect for their situation, those people are very lucky. They are getting a lot more than just a t-shirt!
 

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I guess my point, CominOutSwingin, is that it is not necessarily "natural" to have the sort of anxiety around death and commerce that you and others here describe (although, of course, as a Westerner myself, I completely understand what you're saying).

My contention is that this anxiety actually stems from the fact that death is avoided rather than dealt with front on in our Western societies, and that the issue people here are referring to is not really to do with having a commercial relationship with people in mourning, or the morality of that. My contention is that such anxiety stems from our attitude towards death.

Why should dealing in a commercial sense with people in mourning who seek a product or service be in any way subject to questions of morality? This is not to say that I am insensitive to the pain of people in mourning or lack sympathy for those going through this inevitable time in their lives. I am suggesting, though, that such people should not be regarded SO differently from any other client.

Funeral services live off death and no one thinks to question the morality of this. Ditto solicitors, who make truckloads of easy money off probate and estate matters that follow a death (hmmm, come to think about it, 'morality' and 'solicitors' are words that do sit uncomfortably together). I think I have made my point without labouring it further...
 

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I taught twice about adding anything to this post but after reading what everyone said I must.

I am a licensed funeral director and as someone who as sat down with families to make arrangements, I can tell you that memorial shirts to some families are just as important as the flowers, limo, programs, etc. To be able to offer a family something that to them is that last special touch like most brides not been able to walk down the aisle without her something blue, is a wonderful feeling.

While making arrangements some families would ask for something we did not provide we would stay up all night if necessary to find someone who did.

We are only dealing with our emotions they are dealing with the actual death.
 

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To reiterate, I see nothing wrong with providing memorial shirts. I see nothing wrong with someone profiting from memorial shirts.

I just did shirts that were in memorium of a child. So I understand how important they are. I was speaking to my comfort level of PROFITING from the shirts. Not providing them.

Ross,
I don’t think of it so much as a question of morality, in as much as it is respect.

My respect for what a grieving person is going through is such that I can't profit from their grief. I will provide shirts all day long at cost to someone in this situation, but will never be able to MAKE money on a transaction of this nature.

I don’t believe avoiding death has anything at all to do with MY feelings on the matter. I have had many family members and very close friends die recently. So dealing with death is something I have become accustomed to.

I just believe dealing with death and profiting from it are different things. I understand that there is money to be made in shirts of this nature, and for those that want to profit from it, I see absolutely nothing wrong with it.

But it is not FOR ME.

I am uncomfortable profiting from the misfortunes of others. Whether it’s the death of a loved one, and selling them shirts as a memorial, or someone that has driven off the side of the road, in need of a tow truck, and being a tow truck driver. It’s just not something I’m comfortable doing.

Having lost family and friends, I know there aren’t too many things as unfortunate as losing a loved one. Profiting from is just not something I can do.

Like I said before, it’s not an issue of not wanting to deal with death. If printing shirts for people was my main source of income, I would gladly provide memorial shirts at cost, and be dealing with it constantly. But profiting from it, is just not FOR ME.

So I don't consider it a moral decision, but rather simply a personal one.
 

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Comin'OutSwingin

You can respect a person in mourning while providing them with a wanted service or product for profit - as Badalou and starprince have demonstrated. There is no intrinsic connection between "respect" and "profit" in this context per se, although there evidently is for you personally.

If you take a personal stance not to profit from someone in mourning, that's fine, but this most certainly is a moral decision - a personal moral decision. Your morality is such that you are "uncomfortable" with the notion of profiting from mourning folk. If there was no morality involved for you, you would not feel uncomfortable! Why? Because there is nothing "naturally" or instrinsically "wrong" with providing a service or product to the mourning for profit! The discomfort comes from your personal values on the subject.

As stated, I, too, have experienced the death of people close to me, yet my attitude on this topic is entirely different from yours. Neither of us is "right" or "wrong" - it's just a matter of different personal perspectives.

Anyway, enough on this from me. If I continue, I'll be edited out for debating :)
 

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Comin'OutSwingin said:
The concerns Lewis raised about applying commerce to death are very valid.
It's not actually a concern, so much as that I understand it's something most people (as Ross said, depending on their own attitudes towards death and its surrounding culture) are going to have to work through. It's why people are uncomfortable, but I don't think they need to remain that way.

Obviously if we were talking about applying unethical commerce to death that would be a whole other matter, but not all commerce has to be unethical and I'm quite sure it's not something I need to be concerned about people here doing.

Personally I think Lou should charge more than his normal rate to compensate for the fact that all memorial shirt jobs are rush jobs, and that he'll often lose a weekend to it. I think a lot of people would expect to pay a premium for these kind of last minute services, and so long as you don't go too far I think you should charge that premium.

Well... should if you want to - those offering their services in a charitable way are also making a valid choice, if that is a choice that they find personally fulfilling. I guess my point is that you should profit one way or another, whether it's with money or by feeling good about yourself (ideally you could do both).

Comin'OutSwingin said:
My respect for what a grieving person is going through is such that I can't profit from their grief. I will provide shirts all day long at cost to someone in this situation, but will never be able to MAKE money on a transaction of this nature.
I think that's perfectly reasonable. Personally I just don't deal well with the issue, so I'd probably respectfully decline the request.

The way people feel about/deal with/view death is an extremely personal and important thing. It goes beyond politics or religion - it's much more sensitive. Their own personal feelings are going to directly influence how they feel about something like a memorial t-shirt, and as such with this more than anything there is absolutely no right or wrong answers, just different viewpoints.

Comin'OutSwingin said:
So I don't consider it a moral decision, but rather simply a personal one.
Definitely. Morals aren't objective (much as we like to think our own are), so it will always be a personal decision.
 

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cominoutswingin said:
t’s just not something I’m comfortable doing.

So I don't consider it a moral decision, but rather simply a personal one.
Ross B said:
Neither of us is "right" or "wrong" - it's just a matter of different personal perspectives.
Solmu said:
Their own personal feelings are going to directly influence how they feel about something like a memorial t-shirt, and as such with this more than anything there is absolutely no right or wrong answers, just different viewpoints.
I think that sums it up pretty nicely :)
 

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Solmu said:
Definitely. Morals aren't objective (much as we like to think our own are), so it will always be a personal decision.
I agree 100% and as much as we like to think we know how we would handle a situation we don't really untill we find ourselves in it.... a few months ago the parents of a young man,that was murdered, came in and ordered some memorial shirts for their son.... as much as the thought and moral issues my lead me to think I wouldn't really don't want to do this order, One look in the parents eyes and there was no way on earth I could "Not" do this order... when they came back to pick them up, their eyes lit up when I showed them the finished shirts in a way that moved me very profoundly....
I would like to think that I would turn down future orders of this type because they are not fun to do...but the reality is... when I look in their eyes I probably wont be able to say "No Thank You" ..once again....
 

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Squirts said:
as much as the thought and moral issues my lead me to think I wouldn't really don't want to do this order, One look in the parents eyes and there was no way on earth I could "Not" do this order...
Yeah, I could definitely see myself being exactly the same way in that situation. I say I'd "probably" decline, but I'm really not sure I could look someone in the eye and say no under those circumstances.
 

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A few years back I was a better classical guitarist than I am now. (bear with me I am on topic) anyway I used to play every few weeks for free at my church. One weekend I did a version of Greensleeves (one of my favorite songs) A member of the congregation was visably moved. It seemed this was also his moms favorite and she had just died the night before. Needless to say I was asked to play at the funeral. I said yes immediatly and was not even thinking about money. After the wedding he came up and stuffed a $100 bill in my pocket he explained that I would be doing him and his mom a diservice NOT to accept the money. I thought about this a while and prayed about it and eventually used the money on a nice dinner with my family were we celebrated that we loved each other. I told him about it later and he seemed very pleased. What I am getting at is that many people would be offended if you DID NOT recieve fair compensation for your work.
 

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It's a personal decision based on one's own values and attitudes - ie: a personal moral decision. I suspect some are getting terminologically confused in thinking that "morality" = judgement of others. This ain't necessarily so.

As to the nature of morality, and whether it's "subjective" or "objective", well, it can be either or both! That's a whole different kettle of fish that should be on another menu!
 

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It is interesting that I come across this thread after having attended a funeral for an uncle that passed away this past week. During the wake two of his nephews showed up with memorial tees. ANd unlike the article posted by badalou this wasn't someone that died young or a tragic death, but I could see where if he had been young maybe there would have been more people wearing the tees.

I was thinking about what Greg was saying about not being comfortable doint these tees or taking money froma grieving family but I started thinking there are a lot of businesses that make money directly and indirectly from death. After the long funeral many of the family members were hungry and met at a restaurant to eat and the restaurant still charged regular price. SOme family members came in from out of town and the airlines, car rentals, hotels all still charged regular price. So I don't really see why anyone would feel not right about selling these memorial tees. JMO and if you don't feel comfortable I respect that. IF you get asked, just recommend a fellow printer.
 
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