Funeral Industry News

10 Deathcare-Related World Records

October 21, 2019

10 Deathcare-Related World Records

On October 9, 110 South African death care professionals assembled to achieve the Guinness world record for the longest parade of hearses. While we wait for official verification of this feat we thought we’d explore other world records of interest to our industry:

Largest percentage of a population to attend a funeral

Ayatollah Khomeini funeral

On June 11, 1989, more than 10 billion people crowded along the 20-mile funeral route for Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Iran. This turnout was one-sixth of the country’s population. Eight people were killed and 500 injured amid the crushing masses. Additionally, the hundreds of people reaching out to touch the body shredded the Ayatollah’s shroud, leaving his body exposed in the casket.

Country with the lowest rate of death

Times must be tough for funeral directors in the United Arab Emirates. This country has the fewest deaths per 1,000 population with only 1.4 per 1,000 for the period of 2005 to 2010. It still held this record in 2017.

Most people at a virtual funeral

No, in this case, “virtual” funeral doesn’t mean live-streaming — well, not really. This funeral was held for a real person, known only as “Snowly.” In October 2005, Snowly died of fatigue after playing the online video game World of Warcraft nonstop for three days. A service was held for her in a virtual cathedral within the game, and more than 100 gamers attended — virtually.

Longest time for an embalmed world leader to be on public display

Vladimir Lenin embalmed body

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, the first leader of the Soviet Union, died on January 21, 1924. His body was embalmed and entombed six days later, and he’s been on public display in Moscow ever since — almost. Officials moved his body once during World War II to protect it from the Nazis. He also received a new sarcophagi in 1973. Caretakers must moisturize his face every day, inject preservatives into his body, and fully bathe him every 18 months.

Largest floral tribute AND Largest TV audience – live broadcast

Floral tribute to Princess Diana

After the death of Princess Diana on August 31, 1997, mourners laid an estimated 10 to 15 thousand tons of flowers in her memory at Kensington Palace, St. James’ Palace, and Buckingham Palace. Her Westminster Abbey funeral on September 6 garnered the record for largest worldwide TV audience. At least 31 million viewers tuned in.

Fastest hearse…

Australian Shane Hammond set the record for fastest hearse on February 20, 2010. At a top speed of 115.60 mph, he covered a quarter mile in an average of 12.206 seconds in four runs.

…and not to be outdone, Fastest motorcycle hearse

World records fastest motorcycle hearse

On May 19, 2013, “Faster Pastor” Paul Sinclair of the United Kingdom took his motorcycle hearse to a top speed of 126.6 mph.

Largest mass cremation

Thankfully, this is a record of a legitimate occurrence, and not something perpetrated by a shady director. In 1997, tons of bones and 21,347 skulls representing unclaimed remains from a former Bangkok cemetery were cremated in Thailand. This event marked the end of urban burials in Bangkok.

Largest cemetery

Ohlsdorf Cemetery in Hamburg, Germany covers an area of 400 hectares (about 1000 acres). It has been active since 1877, Since just 1996, the cemetery has hosted 982,117 burials and 413,589 burials. 

Most distant human remains

Clyde Tombaugh ashes on board spacecraft

Clyde Tombaugh, the man who discovered the planet Pluto in 1930, died in January 1997. About 30 grams of his cremains are on board the New Horizons spacecraft, which launched in 2016 and is still on its way to Pluto.

Good to know

Want to get your name on this list? There are other world records just begging to be beaten! For example, why should South Africa or the UK hold the title for the longest hearse parade or fastest motorcycle hearse? In 2011, Connecting Directors tried to rally the troops for the hearse parade title — why not do it again?

Plus, if you’re game, here are a few unclaimed Guinness World Records that are just begging to be achieved by one of our readers:

  • Longest career as an embalmer
  • Longest career as a funeral director
  • Youngest funeral director (female)
  • Tallest hearse
  • Largest private collection of hearses

Let us know if you make it!