Funerals are all about driving these days. It’s all about steering and indicating, accelerating and braking, checking the mirrors, deploying the wipers, until one gets to the afterlife.

You might die whilst driving or on the road. If so you might get a roadside memorial.

If not, wherever you die, your body will be conveyed by ambulance and/or motorised hearse, perhaps on multiple occasions.

There’s driving to the hospital, driving to the hospice, driving to the undertakers, driving to the crematorium, driving to the graveside.

One might even consider a motor car for a coffin or a car on your gravestone if you so require. Or maybe a motorbike, a bus, or a lorry, depending on your line of work or sport of choice.

Then there are car-deaths in cemeteries. Not sure how common these are, but one of my many near-misses as a pedestrian was when an octogenarian nearly ran me over in a cemetery. Nearly killed trying to visit a grave! That’s irony gone mental!

So in this context, it is hardly surprising that our funerary spaces and landscapes are designed with the car in mind. I’ve discussed this before, for instance, in relation to Chester’s crematorium.

Yet in broader terms, the material culture of the relationship between the motor car and the dead is seriously underexplored.

heaven
Going to Heaven – according to Monty Python’s ‘The Meaning of Life’

One aspect is facilitating mourners to park at the church for a funeral. I recently visited a Lancashire parish church and I was struck by their wonderfully adapted funeral parking cones. Witches hats of death. I love them. I haven’t seen them deployed, only stacked, but they make for an eerie take on death and parking. Moreover, they show how almost every seemingly prosaic item of our driving culture can be tailored and adapted for mortuary contexts.