Most people only experience death once. A few claim to have nearly experienced it once and then came back to tell others about. Now everyone can experience it repeatedly for the everyday low price of $68. Throw in the added thrill of re-experiencing the act of being born and it’s a real bargain. Wait, what?
The Samadhi Death Simulator is a real device located in Shanghai, China. Invented by Huange Weiping and Ding Rui, the founders of Hand in Hand, a hospice organization that provides support to dying patients, its noble intent was to help ease their ordeal of dealing with death by making it more familiar and less scary. Rui puts it this way:
We lack understanding of death and the fear can become so overwhelming.
As with many noble pursuits, that wasn’t enough to pay the bills so it was opened to the public as an amusement ride. Plop your $68 on the counter and you can experience what it’s like to be cremated. The ‘visitor’ enters a fake mortuary where they’re placed on a slab and then rolled into a giant simulated crematorium. The temperature rises to 104 degrees Fahrenheit - not exactly flesh-burning heat but uncomfortable. Hot air is blowing, the sounds of fire are roaring and the walls are covered with videos of flames.
Wait a minute! Aren’t you already dead when your body is placed in a crematorium? Um, yes. Isn’t this really simulating dying in a fire? Um, technically, also yes.
At this point, an attendant with a giant broom comes in and sweeps you into a giant urn. Just kidding, although that might be a more fun way to exit the ride than what Weiping and Rui set up. The newly cremated gets up from the slab and crawls on their hands and knees through a latex womb to simulate their rebirth. A man with a video camera is there to record the birth while a woman screams “Puuuuuush!” OK, that doesn’t happen either – what do you want for $68?
Is this the next step in haunted houses or does it really provide some form of death therapy? It seems the greatest benefit comes not from the simulated death or simulated birth but from what happens right after you buy your simulated last ticket. Visitors are asked to reflect on their lives and write down any last words. They’re also given a philosophical scenario of a life-or-death situation and asked if they would allow someone else to die or sacrifice their own life instead.
You can contemplate and answer those questions right here for free. If you need a crematorium simulation, hold your hand over a candle while you ponder.