A new beauty contest in Germany is attempting to breathe fresh air into a 'dying' industry and the inaugural winner has just been chosen. Rahel Merks beat off competition from 46 other competitors to be crowned “Miss Farewell” - the most beautiful undertaker in Germany.
“It is wonderful to show this depressing taboo theme in another light for once,” said Mrs Merks.
The 36-year-old runs her undertaking firm with her husband in Lachheim, Baden-Württemberg and clearly has a passion for her work.
“I am a last event manager ” she jokes. “I am counsel and companion. I have an intimate relationship to people.”
After Mrs Merks' brother-in-law brought the competition to her attention she sent a few photos to the jury and a short description of herself.
The judges noted that it was not only her physical beauty that made Mrs Merks stand out, but her lust for life too.
“Beauty is always about maturity and character,” Mrs Merks herself said. “I wouldn't have anything to do with Miss Baden Württemberg.”
But other reactions from within the industry were not so positive.
“In this sensitive line of work, that's really pushing it,” said Hans-Joachim Möller, manager of the association of independent undertakers.
Rolf Lichtner of the Association of German Undertakers was more sympathetic, saying: “It doesn't hurt when an undertaker is also beautiful.”
Mrs Merks' husband Stefan is delighted.
“I often tell my wife how beautiful she is,” he says. “Now finally she believes me.”