Picture it. It’s a beautiful spring day. Blue skies overhead, lush green grass under your feet, and the scent of fresh flowers perfumes the air. You spread a quilt upon the ground and proceed to unpack all your overflowing picnic basket. You smile as you see your kids frolicking about with their relatives. Except your relatives are dead, and your kids are climbing on their gravestones. You’re having a picnic in a cemetery. Wait. What?
Miserable experiences exit herePeyton told The Times that the idea arose from his participation in “underwhelming” funerals for his parents. He describes his father’s wake as a “pretty miserable experience” which he tried to improve upon when his mother died two years later. Mourners enjoyed a meal in her honor at her favorite restaurant, and left feeling “pretty good.” “She would have wanted us to go and drink sauvignon blanc and eat oysters,” Peyton said. “To have a nice time at the end.” If Exit Here’s website is any indication, services will definitely focus on the event rather than the mourning. One critic says the site “looks more like the booking page for a hip hotel” than a funeral home. “If this were a brochure for a spa weekend,” she adds, “I’d be sold.” In addition to photos of Exit Here’s stark-white-and-plate-glass storefront and stunning interiors, the site features images of wildflowers, oceans, pastoral vistas, and clinking wine glasses. Among the sparse text is no sign of the traditional “funeral” words like “embalming,” “viewing,” or “cremation.” Instead, you’ll find terms like “curated,” “catered,” “organic,” “luxury,” and “hospitality.”
Trailblazer or trendfollower?Is it possible that Peyton is on to something? There’s no denying the trend here in the U.S. favoring light-hearted, personalized celebrations of life over dreary ruminations of death. More funeral homes are building multi-use event centers and adding catering capabilities to the slate of services. So, is Exit Here simply the next iteration of death care? Admittedly, with its celebrity chef menus and collaborations with “celebrated luxury British florists,” Peyton’s Exit Here might be a little too urban and upscale for some tastes and budgets. Interestingly, though, he tells The Times that his goal is “to be the middle-class experience” by bringing a “bit of glamour without getting out of reach.” “Our niche is that we don’t just bury people,” Peyton says, “we try and create an overall experience. Of course, if someone just wants burying, we will do that. But our business really is about bringing a bit of joy to it.”