Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What not to say to a grieving person

Kenichi Hoshine http://kenichihoshine.com/
Here is some great advice from socyberty http://www.socyberty.com/Death/What-Not-to-Say-to-a-Grieving-Loved-One.104149 . Often we feel the need to say something to a grieving person that will make things better. Nothing we can say do that, so we need to just express our love, sympathy and concern.

It can be hard to know what to say to someone who has lost someone. Here is a list of ten things not to say.

  1. I Know How You Feel
    Even if you have lost someone close to you, you don't know how they feel. Everyone feels differently
  2. Everything Happens For a Reason
    Even if that's what you believe and even if that's what they believe, that is not what they want to hear. This has probably already crossed their mind.
  3. You Just Need to Move On
    No. This is insensitive. When someone loses someone it takes a lot of coping and adjusting, it is impossible to "just move on."
  4. Just Keep Busy and Move On
    As with number 3 people need to cope in their own way.
  5. Get On With Life
    The ONLY time this should EVER be said is when the person is in danger. It should be said in a gentle way and get help for the person if needed. However, for the first while life is not going to go on for the person.
  6. Things Will Get Better
    While this may be true, it doesn't seem like it to the person and will probably only frustrate the person.
  7. They Are in a Better Place Now
    Unless you are sure of the person's religious beliefs, don't say this, it may insult them.
  8. God is Taking Care of Them Now
    See number 7. Also people are sensitive after suffering a loss and may take this as if they weren't good enough to take care of the person.
  9. It Was Just Tissue
    This only really applies in miscarriages, but the person loved this "tissue." It was her baby and child. This is insulting and insensitive.
  10. You Can Still Have More Kids
    This only really applies for the death of a child or a miscarriage, but despite other kids or the prospect of other kids, they loved this child and nothing will ever replace them.
In the end the best thing to say and do is just to hug them, be there for them, let them know that you are there for them, and that you love them.
For more, visit Part 2

Monday, September 29, 2008

Six Things Your Funeral Director Won't Tell You

your funeral director won't tell you http://www.alaskastock.com/Pix/410/DR/410DR_CY0007_001_T.JPG
your funeral director won't tell you this http://www.toolfactory.com/olympus_contest/contest_winners/Spring_2007_photography_winners.htm

The following is a list of things that your funeral director will not ever say to you. Why? Because funeral directors are professionals who focus on the needs of the grieving family, and will not trouble them by discussing the difficulties they encounter by providing exceptional service when it is needed most.

  1. The visitation is over. It's time for everyone to leave. Visitation times are scheduled to provide a basic time frame for the gathering, but families often find that they want to continue visiting with their guests for an hour or more after the visitiation is scheduled to end. This is encouraged by the staff and there is no additional charge for the extra time.

  2. We can't have your service on that day, we've already got two services going on then. Funeral services are scheduled for the convenience of the family, and although the funeral home may need to hire additional vehicles or staff for additional services on the same day, the wishes of the family will be accomodated without additional charge or comment.

  3. I'm sorry, but I can't meet with you today because it's a holiday, or because we only work from 9 to 5, or I can't drive out to your house to meet with you. We meet with families when and where it is convenient for them whether this means meeting after hours or at whatever location meets the needs of the family. There is no additional charge for this service.

  4. Because of the number of guests expected, there will be an additional staff charge. Large funerals require additional staff and equipment to run smoothly, but this charge is not passed on to the family.

  5. There will be a fee for transporting your flowers to nursing homes around town / to your home after the service/ to church for the service. The funeral home moves flowers from the chapel, to church, to the graveside, to the family home, and to nursing homes and hospice at the request and for the convenience of the family without additional charge.

  6. There will be an additional charge for transporting your loved one from the place of death because: Their size requires additional staff and equipment/ It's Christmas morning / We will have to make additional trips because the family decided that they needed more time. Death takes place at any time, and the transport of the deceased can be complicated by many factors including time and location. We are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and promise to be patient, compassionate, helpful and discreet. The long hours we work are never a topic of our conversation with a family. The director may have been up all night working, may have another arrangement to make soon, or may spend extra hours past a scheduled service or visitation, but when meeting with you, their focus is on your needs, not theirs.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Isabella Blow: Laid to Rest in Style

Isabella Blow http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-455099/Hats-Isabella-Style-icons-funeral-brimming-emotion.html
Isabella Blow Funeral http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-455099/Hats-Isabella-Style-icons-funeral-brimming-emotion.html

Isabella Blow Funeral procession http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-455099/Hats-Isabella-Style-icons-funeral-brimming-emotion.html

Isabella Blow Laid to rest in Style http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-455099/Hats-Isabella-Style-icons-funeral-brimming-emotion.html

Even at her funeral, Isabella Blow managed to have the most spectacular hat in the room.
Some of fashion's biggest names gathered to say their farewells to the style guru known for her love of eccentric headgear and red lipstick.
Though many wore extravagant creations in tribute, none could top the black sailing ship bonnet adorning the coffin.
It was the work of milliner Philip Treacy, one of many whose careers she helped launch.
Fitting tribute: Stunning hat sits on the style diva's coffin
Others, such as the model Sophie Dahl and designer Alexander McQueen, joined him among the 350 mourners at Gloucester Cathedral.
One of the pall bearers was Otis Ferry, the son of her friend Bryan Ferry who arranged her first job in fashion at Vogue magazine in New York.
Blow was said to regularly attend the cathedral "always in different hats" with her husband Detmar, whom she married there in 1989.
Detmar attended today's service in the same white suit that he wore at their marriage.
The service opened with the hymn O Pray For The Peace Of Jerusalem, composed by John Blow, a descendant of Blow's husband.
Mourners wore their wildest headgear for the funeral
Miss Blow, 48, died last week after taking weedkiller - the third time she had apparently attempted suicide.
Actor Rupert Everett said during the service: "For someone who was suicidal, she was constantly dazzled by life and life was constantly dazzled by her."

Everett remembered their travels together in India.
Everett said: "Now you have got what you wanted Issy and we are all wondering why.
"You were a one off, a genius friend, your own creation in a world of copycats and I will miss you for the rest of my life."
Photos and text from Daily Mail, for the full article follow the link

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Triple Word Score

Sometimes it's nice to be reminded of just how personal and meaningful a memorial can be if we think creatively and listen. This monument reminds me of a service we did for a teacher. His family mentioned that there was an equation that he always reminded his students of, so we brought in a blackboard and wrote the equation in chalk for the service. We also made a sign that looked like the blackboard for the registration area. I was out at the cemetery months later for another service and saw that they incorporated the blackboard and equation on his monument. That teacher and his equation are not forgotten.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Memorial Folders

Cress Funeral Service Memorial Folder
Memorial folders are handed out to everyone attending the funeral service and visitation, and, if possible, they should be something special that reminds family and friends of the person they are missing. I designed my first memorial folder at age 8. I've found that often full body shots and older photos that the family might not necessarily want to use for the obituary photo work nicely when faded out and placed in the middle of the folder. These folders are shown opened up. The one on top shows a the lady kissing her husband before he left for the war. We can imagine their kiss when reunited at last. Next is a man who loved animals, and there he is behind his team of horses. Directly below this text are a couple more animal theme photos. On top the lady is on her horse with her brother in childhood. Below, a man with the dog he adopted in the army. This dog was German and took orders from him only in German.

Patrick McNally Memorial Folder I made this last set for my mother-in-law's service. The top shows the back and front cover. On the back, below the obituary is a favorite family photo showing her legs, along with those of her daughters. "Mom had the best legs". On the front, she's a Majorette in High School, and inside are photos from her early days as well. Somehow, these folders always end up being a work of love.

McNally Custom Memorial Folder

MyWonderfulLife.com Encourages Planning and Personalization

my wonderful life
“Research shows the majority of people want a final farewell that reflects their personality and how they lived their lives," says MyWonderfulLife.com co-founder, Sue Kruskopf. “Our new site, MyWonderfulLife.com, helps people who aren’t comfortable talking about death with their loved ones to communicate their wishes in a way that’s non-threatening and completely personalized.”
According to Kruskopf, MyWonderfulLife.com offers a secure online environment where registered users can create a “book” representing their Wonderful Life. As part of this process, users identify six “Angels” who will be notified upon their death. These Angels are given access to the deceased’s personalized book, as well as a summary, which outlines that person’s wishes.
The concept of MyWonderfulLife.com came to Kruskopf and business partner, Nancy Bush, when Bush’s husband, John, passed away in 2006.
“Funeral planning on MyWonderfulLife.com can be as simple as creating a list of the songs and readings you want at your funeral,” said Bush. “Not everyone wants to have their ashes launched into space, but most people have some idea of how they want people to celebrate their life. This web site gives them the tools to make those wishes a reality.”
In addition to this service, MyWonderfulLife.com posts inspiring stories of personalized funeral services. Here are two examples:
Buried in Corvair In 1998, Rose Martin died at age 84. Prior to her death she let her friends and family know that she wouldn’t be buried without her 1962 Chevrolet Corvair. Martin had been driving the car around her hometown of Tiverton, Massachusetts for 36 years. The local body shop had to make some adjustments to the vehicle in order to fit a casket inside, but Martin got her wish and was buried in the Corvair, which took up four funeral plots at the cemetery.

Ice Cream Truck Leads Funeral Procession
Before Henry Ewell died in 2003 he called upon Massachusetts funeral director, Bob Biggins, to arrange his funeral. Since Mr. Ewell was an ice cream vendor, Biggins planned for the funeral procession to be led by his ice cream truck. Mourners were also served a Popsicle at the end of the funeral.

Obituaries of Note: Martin Tytell

Martin Tytell, a man who loved typewriters, died on September 11th, aged 94ANYONE who had dealings with manual typewriters—the past tense, sadly, is necessary—knew that they were not mere machines. Eased heavily from the box, they would sit on the desk with an air of expectancy, like a concert grand once the lid is raised. On older models the keys, metal-rimmed with white inlay, invited the user to play forceful concertos on them, while the silvery type-bars rose and fell chittering and whispering from their beds. Such sounds once filled the offices of the world, and Martin Tytell’s life.Everything about a manual was sensual and tactile, from the careful placing of paper round the platen (which might be plump and soft or hard and dry, and was, Mr Tytell said, a typewriter’s heart) to the clicking whirr of the winding knob, the slight high conferred by a new, wet, Mylar ribbon and the feeding of it, with inkier and inkier fingers, through the twin black guides by the spool. Typewriters asked for effort and energy. They repaid it, on a good day, with the triumphant repeated ping! of the carriage return and the blithe sweep of the lever that inched the paper upwards.Typewriters knew things. Long before the word-processor actually stored information, many writers felt that their Remingtons, or Smith-Coronas, or Adlers contained the sum of their knowledge of eastern Europe, or the plot of their novel. A typewriter was a friend and collaborator whose sickness was catastrophe. To Mr Tytell, their last and most famous doctor and psychiatrist, typewriters also confessed their own histories. A notice on his door offered “Psychoanalysis for your typewriter, whether it’s frustrated, inhibited, schizoid, or what have you,” and he was as good as his word. He could draw from them, after a brief while of blue-eyed peering with screwdriver in hand, when they had left the factory, how they had been treated and with exactly what pressure their owner had hit the keys. He talked to them; and as, in his white coat, he visited the patients that lay in various states of dismemberment on the benches of his chock-full upstairs shop on Fulton Street, in Lower Manhattan, he was sure they chattered back.A drawer of umlautsHis love affair had begun as a schoolboy, with an Underwood Five. It lay uncovered on a teacher’s desk, curved and sleek, the typebars modestly contained but the chrome lever gleaming. He took it gently apart, as far as he could fillet 3,200 pieces with his pocket tool, and each time attempted to get further. A repair man gave him lessons, until he was in demand all across New York. When he met his wife Pearl later, it was over typewriters. She wanted a Royal for her office; he persuaded her into a Remington, and then marriage. Pearl made another doctorly and expert presence in the shop, hovering behind the overflowing shelves where the convalescents slept in plastic shrouds.Mr Tytell could customise typewriters in all kinds of ways. He re-engineered them for the war-disabled and for railway stations, taking ten cents in the slot. With a nifty solder-gun and his small engraving lathe he could make an American typewriter speak 145 different tongues, from Russian to Homeric Greek. An idle gear, picked up for 45 cents on Canal Street, allowed him to make reverse carriages for right-to-left Arabic and Hebrew. He managed hieroglyphs, musical notation and the first cursive font, for Mamie Eisenhower, who had tired of writing out White House invitations.When his shop closed in 2001, after 65 years of business, it held a stock of 2m pieces of type. Tilde “n”s alone took up a whole shelf. The writer Ian Frazier, visiting once to have his Olympia cured of a flagging “e”, was taken into a dark nest of metal cabinets by torchlight. There he was proudly shown a drawer of umlauts.Mr Tytell felt that he owed to typewriters not only his love and his earnings, but his life. In the second world war his knowledge of them had saved him from deploying with the marines. Instead he spent his war turning Siamese keyboards into 17 other Asian languages, or customising typewriters for future battlegrounds. His work sometimes incidentally informed him of military planning; but he kept quiet, and was rewarded in 1945 with a medal done up on a black, familiar ribbon.Each typewriter was, to him, an individual. Its soul, he reminded Mr Frazier, did not come through a cable in the wall, but lay within. It also had distinguishing marks—that dimple on the platen, that sluggishness in the typebars, that particular wear on the “G”, or the “t”—that would be left, like a fingerprint, on paper. Much of Mr Tytell’s work over the years was to examine typewritten documents for the FBI and the police. Once shown a letter, he could find the culprit machine.It was therefore ironic that his most famous achievement was to build a typewriter at the request of the defence lawyers for Alger Hiss, who was accused in 1948 of spying for the Soviet Union. His lawyers wanted to prove that typewriters could be made exactly alike, in order to frame someone. Mr Tytell spent two years on the job, replicating, down to the merest spot and flaw, the Hiss Woodstock N230099. In effect, he made a perfect clone of it. But it was no help to Hiss’s appeal; for Mr Tytell still could not account for his typewriter’s politics, or its dreams.from The Economist http://www.economist.com/obituary/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12252747


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Undertaker Ant

Insect UndertakerAnt buries the dead


The following is an excerpt from Scottish Illustrator and photographer Alison Ashwell's Blog 'Alison Wonderland':

Ant society is very well organised . many ants have specialised roles such as
nursemaids, farmers [of aphids and fungi], hunters, workers and soldiers.
The least known ant specialism is the probably that of the undertaker ants,
who carry the dead bodies of their colleagues out of the ant nest and bury them
in a safe place.
This is important to prevent the spread of infection and
epidemics within the ant nest.
I watched this undertaker ant carry the body
up and down rocks before eventually burying the body and covering the burial
place with dead leaves.


I do believe that this ant is performing one of the 7 Corporal Acts of Mercy and I'm glad to have it as my colleague.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Virtual Funeral, Real Healing

virtual funeral

What can we learn from a funeral that takes place in a virtual world, attended by the avatars of real people, mourning the death of a real man? The following text is an excerpt from Caleb Booker's blog:

Of course, most of us have been to a funeral and, occasionally, witnessed death
in the form of a corpse in an open casket. My first such experience was at my
grandfather’s funeral. We packed into the small funeral parlor and my
grandmother made polite, smiling conversation with guests while standing next to
… well … a body. For the most part I just found it strange; my proper and
conservative grandmother socializing next to something that, no matter how it
was dressed up and made-up, was something you most certainly wouldn’t want hanging
around your living room. The dichotomy drove home how powerful a healing
experience the whole thing must be to a great many people.
I was recently
sent a press release about “Our Lady of The Angels Church”. It’s a cathedral in
Second Life, and they’ve recently announced full funeral services. The
notice included an open invitation to the funeral of the father of Christopher
Whippet (his SL
name). It felt a little odd to me that they would be inviting press to a
funeral, especially considering it didn’t seem like they were planing some kind of
spectacular. It was just a straight-up “we gather to mourn the loss… press
When I arrived at the sim I hesitated outside for awhile. I considered
staying at a distance from the proceedings and taking pictures from afar, but I
was spotted by the funeral director, Leah Corleone, and invited inside.

I asked her if it was really alright, she told me that it was the bereaved’s
idea to call members of the media and that he was putting aside time after the
ceremony to talk to us. When I asked Christopher why he wanted attention drawn
to his dad’s v-funeral, he said: “because i loved my dad so and want everyone to
know what a son would do for his father he loved so much.”
I still felt a
little funny about it but I decided to take him at his word. Whether or not you
take Christopher’s intentions at face value, “Stanley W.” was a real person in
the real world (as seen in the hospital and casket photos). These people had
gathered here, in the virtual world, to support their friend. The ritual was
being performed.
So in I went.
The elements were all here, but with that
v-world twist to them. The nuns were knockouts with ruby-red lips, the priest
was a barrel-chested stud, and there were members of the congregation that most
certainly weren’t
human. In Second Life you tend not to think twice about these things from day to
day, but this was a ceremony about a real-world death and so I couldn’t help but take
Otherwise the ceremony was pretty standard. It was a regular Roman
Catholic Church approved Latin mass, people said “Amen” at the appropriate
times (well, typed it into chat), we gathered around the coffin with the 2D
flowers on top and the priest anointed it. Friends said kind words. People
It went very smoothly, due in no small part to the funeral
director’s efforts. Her real-world family are in the business, apparently, and
she consulted with them heavily in preparation. It paid off.
Is this a sign
of things to come? Will the grass next to “Our Lady of The Angels Church” soon
become filled with graves and monuments to people who have passed on in the real
There’s a good possibility. People have been erecting memorials and
having loose remembrance ceremonies in Second Life for a long time now, so this
is the next logical step. The v-wedding industry is huge already, so why not
The thing is, something real came out of this as well.
Christopher doesn’t
leave his home much (long story), and most of his friends are online. If a
funeral is how one gains closure, how can he do so when those who might support
him are all miles away? Religious ceremonies are symbols of transition from an
old way of life to a new one. If that’s the case, this funeral becomes no less
legitimate by being held in a virtual world. It makes its mark in the hearts and
minds of the participants as potently as it might have had it been held in the
real world, carrying the same messages and helping those who need to move on

. -from Caleb Booker's Blog visit the site for the full text and a remarkable video http://www.calebbooker.com/blog/2008/01/13/v-funeral/

second life
This virtual funeral service obviously served a very real purpose, and for the home bound son, was an opportunity to share the burden of his grief with his friends who are presumably scattered across the globe. Could a 'real' funeral have accomplished what this one did? What I find striking is that even in a virtual funeral, the virtual body is present in it's virtual casket and is buried in a virtual cemetery where it will remain as long as the virtual world does. Why are these things present when so often in 'real' life when we have the real body and can place in the real ground, we don't do these things? Why is this virtual service attended when so often 'real' services aren't?
Ultimately, these elements are present because it feels right that way, because this is how we say good bye- to the body of our loved one. This is how we lay them to rest- in a beautiful place where we can go back to visit them. This is how we deal with the burden of grief and loss- we surround ourselves with those we love, and by sharing each other's burdens, our own becomes lighter.
cyber funeral
Is this the wave of the future? No, because there is not a wave of the future in funerals and memorialization, there are as many waves as there are families and communities. Listening to what a traditional visitation, viewing, funeral and burial family wants is just as important as listening to what a Second Lifer does. All services need to be about the person who was lost and those left behind whether traditional or out of this world.

For more on this topic, visit:
Virtual Funeral Part 2
How to Deal with Death Online

Monday, September 8, 2008

Apples and Oranges

For many families, price is one of the most important factors in selecting a funeral home, and in selecting which services they want. Often families call a number of funeral homes at the time of death, or when pre-arranging their funeral services, to find the lowest cost. What can happen, though, is that they may end up comparing apples to oranges, and select a 'discount' firm where their charges could actually be higher than at a full service funeral home.

The advertisement shown above recently ran in my local newspaper, and I'm sure many price shopping families thought that this price of $535 was much lower than the same services would cost at a full service funeral home. However, if you look at the area I highlighted, you'll notice that the $535 does not include the services of the funeral home, or transportation to the crematory. What does the $535 cover? It covers only the charge for the cremation itself, a book that would be free at a full service funeral home and the urn. Our charges for the same urn and service would actually be less. A family who engaged the discounter would still have to find a funeral home to:

Not only that, but upon further investigation, we found that the family would have to pay additional charges to the discounter for transportation to the crematory and transportation of the cremated remains to the cemetery-even if the cemetery was owned by the discounter. These are charges that the full service funeral home would not make if they were in charge of arrangements.

Reputable firms will always tell you what ALL of the costs are before you sign up, discounters may not, so be sure when you compare prices that you compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Coin Operated Undertaker Automoton

This coin operated Undertaker automoton was recently put up for auction on Ebay. Originally built to operate on an English penny, it has been modified to accept United States coins. I never thought I could be replaced by a machine. So much for job security!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Library of Dust, photographs by David Maisel

Library of Dust depicts individual copper canisters, each containing the cremated remains of a patient from a state-run psychiatric hospital. The patients died at the hospital between 1883 (the year the facility opened, when it was called the Oregon State Insane Asylum) and the 1970’s; their bodies have remained unclaimed by their families.
The copper canisters have a handmade quality; they are at turns burnished or dull; corrosion blooms wildly from the leaden seams and across the surfaces of many of the cans. Numbers are stamped into each lid; the lowest number is 01, and the highest is 5,118. The vestiges of paper labels with the names of the dead, the etching of the copper, and the intensely hued colors of the blooming minerals combine to individuate the canisters. These deformations sometimes evoke the celestial - the Northern Lights, the moons of some alien planet, or constellations in the night sky.

There are certainly physical and chemical explanations for the ways these canisters have transformed over time. Perhaps the canisters, however, also encourage us to consider what happens to our own bodies when we die, and, further, what may happen to our souls. Matter lives on when the body vanishes, even when it has been incinerated to ash by an institutional methodology. Is it possible that some form of spirit lives on as well?
On my first visit to the hospital, I am escorted to a dusty room in a decaying outbuilding, where simple pine shelves are lined three-deep with thousands of copper canisters. Prisoners from the local penitentiary are brought in to clean the adjacent hallway, crematorium, and autopsy room. A young male prisoner in a blue jumpsuit, with his feet planted firmly outside the doorway, leans his upper body into the room, scans the cremated remains, and whispers in a low tone, "The library of dust.” The title of the project results from this encounter. -from the artist's statement. for the full text and photos, visit David Maisel's website at http://www.davidmaisel.com/default.asp

State hospitals are not the only places where people's cremated remains sit catalogued and unclaimed. Nearly every funeral home in the United States has tried without success to encourage some families to come in and claim their loved one's cremated remains. Often, after several years, the cremated reamins are placed in a crypt for safekeeping, for if a fire started at the funeral home, the identity of the cremated remains would be lost forever.
Cremated remains are left unclaimed for a variety of reasons, sometimes it is a temporary storage issue as the family waits for spring to bury or scatter, some families wait for the deceased's spouse to pass away, and they are buried together. Most often, however, families just do not know what they want to do with the remains, and the longer they wait, the more difficult it becomes for them to face up to retrieving them. There is not the urgency that determining the disposition of a casketed body demands. I don't beleive that anyone intends on leaving their loved one's cremated remains forgotten on a shelf. The lesson I draw from this situation is that decisions about death need to be discussed with loved ones before death, and decisions about death must be made without undue delay, no matter how difficult, rather than be put off for tomorrow, when inertia may have taken hold. Many families these days are pre-arranging their funeral services. Some pre-fund as well, and some just put on record their preferences. In either case a great feeling of relief is often the result. The decisions have been made, and we can go on with life.
-special thanks to Tony Garza. for sharing the Library of Dust story with me

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Hanging coffins of Sagada in Philippines

Located 275 km. north of Manila, Sagada is famous for its "hanging coffins". This is a traditional way of burying people that is not in use anymore. The forebears of the current residents practiced an unusual burial practice by hanging and stacking coffins, hewed from tree trunks, in the limestone karst cliffs and caves near town. -from gooya.us
Beside giving me a bit of vertigo, seeing this interesting funeral practice reminds me that what is possible in funerals is bounded more by the limits of our own imaginations, than it is by convention or physical limitations. In a world where baby boomers choose to have their cremated remains shot into space, or scattered in the Himalayas, this practice may become popular among the bungee jumping set.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Before I Die, I Want To.......

What would you like to do before you die? Is this something you even think about? Can imagining what you'd like to accomplish or enjoy in life motivate you to live a better, more fulfilling life? Artists Nicole Kenney and KS Rives asked this question to 111 people who wrote their answers on Polaroid Photos of themselves. The result is a very interesting web site, book and exhibition. Follow the link to see all the photos! I found this project to be inspiring, sometimes very deep, and sometimes pretty funny.

Before I die I want to...
By Nicole Kenney and ks rives... 111 Polaroid Portraits
Hearing hundreds of different answers to this question from hundreds of different people makes one wonder: What make some people more aware of their own mortality than others? What motivates people to take action in their lives? What values do we hold as a society? And what values do other societies around the world find important?
The Before I die I want to... project was inspired by a combination of factors: (1) the “death” of the Polaroid, (2) a psychologist’s tool called safety contracts, and (3) a passion to get people to think about (and act upon) what is really important in their life through this simple, very straight-forward question.
-from the artist's statement

Monday, September 1, 2008

Ask the Undertaker: Female Pallbearers


Dear Pat,
Is it okay to have female pallbearers? I think it would be nice if my daughter could be a pallbearer along with the other grandchildren when my mom dies.
-Alice N.
Dear Alice,
Being selected as a pallbearer is an honor and a way for close friends or relatives to participate in the funeral service. The short anwer to your question is 'By all means, Yes!' women should be selected as pallbearers just as men are. With that said, some things you should consider before selecting a pall bearer of either gender are:
Are they strong enough?
Do they have any injuries or medical conditions that may make carrying a casket difficult of dangerous?
Will they be able to attend the service, and be there in time to receive instructions from the funeral director?
Pallbearers of either gender should remember that cemetery grounds are often muddy, slipery and unstable, so sensible shoes are a must.
-Pat McNally, Undertaker
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Funeral service faces a crisis of relevance, and I am passionate about keeping the best traditions of service alive while adapting to the changing needs of families. Feel free to contact me with questions, or to share your thoughts on funeral service, ritual, and memorialization. dailyundertaker@gmail.com


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