Why Not Deal With It, Now?

“You may delay but time will not.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

Millions think a basic legal will can handle their estate, funeral arrangements and post-death formalities. They’re dead wrong. Understandably, many shy away from the subject until their time comes. However, just like talking about sex can’t get a woman pregnant, Gail Rubin (known to many as “The Doyenne of Death”) is helping people realize that talking about funerals won’t actually kill them.

                                   Gail Rubin, CT

Gail Rubin, CT

Gail Rubin, CT (Certified Thanatologist), is a Certified Funeral Celebrant, funeral planning consultant, TV and radio show host, and a speaker who uses humor and films to get the funeral planning conversation started. Gail, principal of A Good Goodbye:Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die, LLC,Β was my guest this week on the Awakening to Awareness radio show (podcast here).

Baby Boomers are also referred to as the “sandwich generation.” Not only do we need to provide for our aging parents but we also have to look after ourselves and our offspring. The truth of the matter is that any one of us could die without any warning; it’s not just those who are chronologically older who pass first. Yet how often do people find themselves in the tragic and bewildering situation of dealing with a loved one’s passing, when and where no planning was done or arrangements made. It happens too often.

A one-hour radio show can be limiting. Yet Gail shared an abundance of useful information, including matters many do not consider. We learned about the obvious need to pre-plan for end-of-life services, the costs for funerals versus cremation, how to donate bodies to science for research, four important pieces of information required to obtain a death certificate, having planning conversations while those involved are of sound mind, and how burial trends are shifting with baby boomers – toward ‘green’ burials, home-based services, and the newest choice: alkaline hydrolysis.

The possible need for long-term care and financial coverage to support that care was discussed, as was the necessity of having Advanced Directives executed/documented to reflect end-of-life preferences. Gail also discussed how weddings and funerals are similar and ways to get in touch with people to invite them to a life celebration event.

If you are interested in funeral pre-planning forms, you can download a free copy at Gail’s web site here. And for those who remember the American daytime TV show The Newlywed Game (where couples were quizzed on how much they knew about their new spouses), Gail has created The Newlydead Game (which tests how much caregivers or family members know about their loved one’s wishes – before they die). While humor helps to launch this serious topic, what is important is having these conversations now. Waiting until the inevitable, helps no one.

22 thoughts on “Why Not Deal With It, Now?

  1. Hi Eric,

    Great article on Gail. We are also planning on putting one onto the District 23 website, as this is worth getting out to as many as possible.

    Thanks, Linda

  2. It’s so strange why so many of us are reluctant to write a will. I keep meaning to do so and haven’t in the hope that everything will just go to my husband and children but deep down I know it’s not as easy as that! Weird that I keep putting off the will, but my family know exactly the sort of funeral I want, should I go quickly !!!

    • So true that many are reluctant. Yet addressing end-of-life needs and arrangements is really just another exercise in planning and we do this regularly throughout our lives. I like Gail’s approach wherein she uses humor to ‘break the ice’ and launch an, initially, uncomfortable conversation. I believe having heard some of the sad stories where no plans were discussed or documented is part of what prompted me to take action. And why not?

  3. Thank you for writing about this subject, one we tend to ignore in our western world as if it is never going to happen to us. I have lived with having someone not prepare adequately for death. My lawyer husband failed to update his will after almost 20 years of a marriage. We had a minor child together, his other children were grown and married. He left everything to his older children, not us. Wow, talk about a heart ache and an education. That was almost 10 years ago and next week I will be back in a lawyers office to hopefully finalize yet another piece of the mess that was his Estate. I would encourage everyone to take care of these details, we do not know when death will visit and it could most certainly visit when we are not expecting it. Make the lives of those you leave behind easier in all ways and have these documents organized. Next week that minor child of our marriage, who is no longer a minor, is also having his own documents drawn up! Blessings to you for talking about what some perceive as a tough subject. Death will visit us all of that much I am certain.

    • I am sorry to learn about your unfortunate experiences. To your comment, it does make the lives of those left behind easier, so why wouldn’t we want to ease their burden and grief, even a bit? Glad your son is choosing to address the matter now.

      Thank you, WW, for sharing your real-world lessons and for kindly acknowledging the post.

  4. You’re a brave man Eric. Most of us don’t want to face our death and make plans for it. I’ve been through the process with my Dad having only a handwritten note which mostly worked. I’ve written a simple will, but could do more on the planning side. I’ll have to explore more about Gail’s work. Sounds like she brings humor and wisdom to a challenging subject.

    • Planning for our own end-of-life doesn’t mean we have to face imminent death. But it is prudent, regardless of the mindset in which one addresses it, right? I know Gail personally; she would be a good person with whom to explore your questions or concerns. And humor she does bring to the subject. πŸ™‚

  5. This is the second or third time a post of yours happens to be timely in my life! Though a young man I am, I have a daughter and a wife to look out for and I am at this very moment looking into this! Nice article…as always.

    • It is good to learn that you are choosing to take action on this now, Ryan. As I have shared with others, why not now? Thanks for sharing that, occasionally, this blog’s messages ring home. πŸ™‚

  6. Thank you for posting this. I had never heard of such a thing until I read this. I’ve already forwarded this to several friends who I know will investigate this for their own funerals.

    • Not sure what it was/is that you had not heard of, Dale, yet I’m glad that it was valuable enough to share with your friends. If it the reference to alkaline hydrolysis, it is a fascinating alternative (from a reduced carbon footprint point alone). Appreciate your kind comment.

  7. Eric – such a poignant post! Hubby and I have been getting our own estates in order, including all the items you discussed above. Thankfully, my family (and Hubby is included in that, of course) was never afraid to discuss the issue of death. In fact, before my mother died, during her illness, we even planned her entire requiem (with her) including all the readings she wanted, the hymns, and even the choir and an allotted time for the choir to rehearse the Durufle Requiem. It was sad, but a great celebration of her life and it touched a great many people. We’re even planning on paying for a many costs ahead of time for our own deaths so that family will not have to make any of those decisions (or $hell our any of tho$e exhorbitant co$t$).

    Thank you for bringing this subject up. I hope many will read and take encouragement and get the planning done!

    • Superstitions and taboos aside, I believe part of what makes this conversation challenging for many is an inherent fear of dying. Once people get over that, the topic is truly not that frightening. Look at what and how you were able to create for your mother’s celebration of life, John, with some time and planning. Beautiful! And taking care of some of the financial matters in advance — how smart is that?!

      I am glad that you chose to share your personal experiences here. To your desire, I also hope that readers will be encouraged to take action now. Who in God’s name wants to be doing this when one is saddled with grief?

  8. The wise old Confucius would probably have said: β€œChoose a way of dying that you love and you(r offspring) will never have to worry a day in your life.” Wise advice Eric, great radio show!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s