A casket featuring the figures of muscular young men in athletic poses has been in the display case at Königsfeld & Brandl for the last three weeks.
The operators of the funeral home Thomas Brandl, 32, and Michael Königsfeld, 34, are themselves are a couple and aim to cater to both gays and lesbians in addition to straight customers.
Their ad reads: “Those who want a warmer, somewhat more fantastical departure, will find us to be a sensitive partner.”
They put gay customers in contact with special speakers and religious leaders for funeral services, organise natural burials in places where only other gays or lesbians have been laid to rest, arrange for graveside champagne toasts and colourful balloon decorations.
“There is also a casket in rainbow colours, but I think it looks awful,” Brandl says.
The mortician couple hopes tap into the community needs in the Rhineland city, one of Germany’s centres of gay culture where every tenth resident is estimated to be gay.
“Naturally there were people who threw their hands up in horror in front of the display window,” said Königsfeld.
But most passers-by are delighted by what they call their “gay caskets,” including women of a certain age, he added.
“We had a widow in the office whose husband we buried and she was quite taken with the firm young men on the casket,” he said.
In particular, women between the ages of 60 and 80 seem particularly open to the model, he said.
But one rival undertaker has called the caskets “borderline,” while another said he wasn’t sure such a casket provided a dignified burial.
Still Brandl and Königsfeld believe they are on the right track.
“It’s not easy for gays and lesbians to tell an undertaker that they must bury their life partner,” they said together in an advertisement. “In this most difficult of situations it is easier for them to have a contact person who understands them.”