Delaney Walker, a staff writer for the Cleveland Daily Banner recently reported that “Pink Blazers Are the New Black for Funeral Home.”
Wear the Pink LLC is company responsible for this innovation; Hardwick Clothes (Cleveland) and FD (Funeral Director) Suits handle the production.
“I have always wanted to contribute a product or service that would have an impact in a loving and caring way to the families that the funeral director serves,” John Yopp one of the Wear the Pink founders and a 32-year veteran of the funeral business.
Kelley and company asked for several blazers to be made up as samples. The blazers were presented at the recent National Funeral Directors Association convention in Charlotte, N.C., where there were about 7,000 in attendance. “The response was overwhelming, so we decided to launch the company and take it nationwide,” Yopp said.
“This is a for-profit organization who is willing to give 12 percent of their sales to our organization,” Wisnefski said. “What a generous, great thing to do from a philanthropic point-of-view.”
The blazers cost $195, which includes the 12 percent given to charitable organizations, according to Yopp.
“We are really limited in reducing the costs of the blazers due to the high costs of fabric and manufacturing costs,” Yopp said. “We definitely plan to hold the price of the blazers where they are, at least through 2013.”
As one of 150,000 U.S. people currently living with metastatic breast cancer, pink blazers for funeral directors are an idea I find both ironic and frankly, emblematic of general public’s woeful misunderstanding of breast cancer.
Funeral choices are largely dictated by one’s faith tradition and personal preference. I would ask those involved with my final arrangements to maintain the dignity of the occasion. If an undertaker could be mistaken for a Mary Kay Beauty Consultant, this might suggest that the levee of good fashion sense has been breached.
More to the point, the Wear the Pink brain trust seems to be PAINFULLY misinformed about who dies from breast cancer and why. And, although it is very generous of Wear the Pink to provide matching funds to the American Cancer Society, there is something very disquieting about the $25,000 pledge to the Funeral Service Foundation, a group that funds scholarships for mortuary science students as well as funeral professionals.
No one dies from early stage breast cancer. People die when the disease spreads beyond the breast, typically to some combination of the lung, liver, brain and bones. So, when Mr. Buckner said, “These people did not necessarily die of breast cancer, but from complications caused later that began with the cancer,” he is WRONG.
It may be true that someone with widespread liver mets technically died of liver of failure, but what killed them was in fact breast cancer. When breast cancer spreads, it’s still breast cancer and unfortunately it still kills you.
In 2012, metastatic breast cancer (aka Stage IV or “mets”) is incurable. Some may be fortunate to do well with it for a long time others may succumb quickly. But there is no cure, as indeed, the funerals of 40,000 US people annually would painfully serve to underscore.
The problem—and indeed my chief objection to the pink blazers—is that it suggests some sort of weird distaff Master’s Tournament: the Donning of the Pink Blazer of Victory. Well, if you DIED from breast cancer, you didn’t win. You might have suffered nobly and been a fine example of courage to the community. Your family and friends may have rallied around you—fine—let them wear some sort of discreet badge of honor.
Some people love the color pink or may have special memories of participating with their family and friends on fundraising walk or other event. I do understand and respect that.
But these pink blazers show the insidious creep of cause marketing. Chicken buckets, perfume and now your friendly neighborhood funeral director. It will literally follow us to the grave. How soon before we are offered pink granite headstones with a tasteful (and licensed) ribbon symbol replacing the dash between the dates of our births and deaths?
The idea of creating breast cancer awareness at a funeral seems idiotic. I don’t see how you could POSSIBLY be more aware of anything else while attending the services of someone who died from metastatic breast cancer. For me, it would truly be the final insult.
Here is my suggestion: Mothball the pink awareness blazers. Break out the black blazers to symbolize a serious commitment toward finding a cure so that the thousands we’ve lost and will continue to lose will not have died in vain.