Photo Source: Mortician Salary

An anonymous funeral director went on a very public rant about the flaws of his industry on Reddit around a month ago, which recently started getting passed around the Internet. Many have asked if I wrote it.  I did not. Though most take my word for it, some still have doubt. To be fair, I don’t fully blame the nonbelievers. It’s a known fact that I have issues with this taboo industry and I’m thrilled to have attention brought to the questionable commonplace practices.

Yes, there are funeral directors who thrive on the ignorance of the consumer.  As the author points out, every person should be aware of the FTC rules! Try to remember the few tips that the writer touched on: In most cases embalming is not necessary, you can bring your own casket, everything you purchase needs to be broken down on the General Price List (GPL), and YOU are the one who can/should decide what items you want. The FTC is there to protect you. Let them! The suggestions in this article are certainly spot on.

The issue that I take with this tirade is that I would never make such scathing generalizations.  While I’m not surprised to hear that these disgraceful practices exist, the author is doing funeral directors an injustice by painting them in such poor light. Like any other industry, there are good and bad people in it. There are some extremely morally reprehensible employees who manipulate the consumers.  There are also, however, men and women who, on a daily basis, sacrifice their time, relationships, and mental health for the sake of their suffering clients.

I suggest you all read this blog post, Ten Reasons I’m A Funeral Director by Caleb Wilde. it’s another perspective from a very honest funeral director. Not all employees are scheming and terrible; remember that.

The author correctly reminds readers that when we are in need of funeral services, we are emotionally unstable and will likely make less rational decisions. This is why I always stress to PLAN AHEAD! This is the most important advice you can hear. If you go into the process before it’s necessary, you protect yourself entirely. You can take the time to ask questions and think about what you want. Without emotions, you will be able to rationally assess the situation and create a funeral that is entirely to your liking. 

The author reminds us that “this is a business.” Therefore, he is a business man- he wants you as a client. He claims that he will suggest you take your business elsewhere if he does not think you will spend; that’s highly doubtful. Do not be afraid! This is a two-way transaction and you need to stand up for yourself!

I most certainly did not write the aforementioned article—I’m also a bit more tactful when it comes to this issue—but I’m glad that the writer did because anything that gets people talking and planning is a good thing.

Please let me know if you have a negative view of funeral directors and why in the comments. I really want to know!
 

In a courtroom, one is compelled by law to tell “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” Does this same moral approach apply to eulogies and obituaries? Is honesty really always the best policy? Or, is the applicable saying here: “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all?”

I am notorious for not filtering my words; if something’s on my mind, chances are it comes out my mouth. While I’m a firm believer in always stating your true thoughts, there’s a caveat to my preaching: It’s not necessary to publically badmouth the dead.

Others contest this standpoint and claim that since the deceased can no longer be offended, it’s more important for the living to be able to vent. Clearly, the offspring of Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick and opted to very publically share her true feelings about her mother. Here’s an excerpt taken from a Huffington Post article:

“On behalf of her children whom she so abrasively exposed to her evil and violent life, we celebrate her passing from this earth and hope she lives in the after-life reliving each gesture of violence, cruelty, and shame that she delivered on her children. Her surviving children will now live the rest of their lives with the peace of knowing their nightmare finally has some form of closure.”

Although the writer claims she is airing the dark truth in hopes of bringing attention to the issue of child abuse and potentially helping others, I’m not sold. I feel that it all could have been done in a classier way. Even if the deceased can no longer be offended, it’s also true that they cannot defend themselves.

When it comes to the all-important eulogy, even I have been known to bite my tongue. I prefer to simply omit the negative and just focus on the positive attributes. (No matter how much you might contest, it’s always possible to find something nice to say.)

What do you think? Should we curb our comments or does brutal honesty provide some sort of closure?

Photo Source: Joe Woolhead, Tribute in Light 2010, 911memorial.org

Unfortunately, grief does not have a set time limit. Although some of us are able to move on quite quickly, for others the process takes longer. We all grieve differently. On this national day of remembrance, I’d like to offer a few resources for those of you who were affected by 9/11 and need guidance in moving on in a healthy way. 

Families of September 11

Family members of September 11th victims established this organization in October 2001.  Their goal is predominantly to support all family members, survivors, responders, by keeping them up-to-date with relevant information, providing other resources, and working to champion related policies. 

WTC United Family Group

This organization focuses on not only supporting those who lost loved ones on September 11th, but also educating the population through first-hand accounts and other means to keep this historic event stimulating and relevant to the younger generations. 

Fiancés & Domestic Partners of 9/11

This is a resource for those who were in committed relationships, but were not legally married to a victim of September 11th.  For more information on how to join this group, please email fianceesof911@aol.com

Dog Heroes of 9-11

Source: Petloss.com

Let us not forget the brave four-legged victims of this attack.

If there are any organizations that have offered you comfort or help, please share them with me in the comments below. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who are remembering loved ones on this difficult day.
 

Author Katy Butler’s new book, “Knocking on Heaven's Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death,” which chronicles her mother’s decision to opt against end-of-life medical treatment, is available today. A preview of Butler’s book appeared as the Saturday essay in the Wall Street Journal and serves as the perfect primer. (She also wrote about her father's struggles at the end of his life to die the way he wanted in the New York Times in 2010.)

While Butler offers a touching personal perspective, she also confronts the concept of “dying well” on a grander scale, estimating that “medical overtreatment costs the U.S. health care system an estimated $158 billion to $226 billion a year.” She also asks tough questions about what people say they want at the end of their life and what they actually want. “Why don't we die the way we say we want to die?” she asks. “In part because we say we want good deaths but act as if we won't die at all.”

We could recount the whole article, because it’s that compelling, but you should click over and read it for yourself.

Photo Source: Santa Ana History

One of the main complaints about the funeral industry and funeral homes is they are technological dinosaurs. Death certificates are typed out on timeworn typewriters, files exist only in tangible form in metal cabinets, and plans made face-to-face.  Clients (that is, you and me, when someone has died), who are used to accomplishing tasks immediately on our iPhones, cannot understand why important documents can’t simply be emailed to us instantaneously. It seems unfathomable to have to wait four weeks to receive additional death certificates. How can these companies still use typewriters?

Recently, there’s been a big push to bring the funeral industry into the 21st century. Companies and independent owners are learning that to compete for customers, they ought to, at the very least, have a useable Website. Otherwise, how could a customer know about their services, or even their location? Nobody takes the time to physically visit places anymore! Some homes have gone further, offering other amenities such as online obituaries. Brilliant! Nobody reads newspapers anymore-- death notices should be online. These are all fantastic additions to the death-care industry.

Right?

I think we should all take a minute before enthusiastically responding “Yes!” I agree that it’s crucial for every company in this day in age to have a legitimate Website. I worry, however, about a historically slow-moving industry jumping into technology. What’s the big deal you might ask? Well, something like this could easily happen.

“Funeral Home Sent Grieving Kin…”

Clearly, the directors at this funeral home did not intend for the client to receive this email. Regardless of how you feel about the funeral industry, I feel confident saying this was either a horrible mistake or an evil prank perpetrated by a sick individual. The funeral home claims their email was hacked. But what if they didn’t have an email account to begin with? What if they only contacted their clients through regular mail?

I know this is an isolated incident, which is getting attention for its salacious nature and pending lawsuit, but let’s think about the possible repercussions. What if inappropriate photos are posted on Instagram, twitter or Facebook? Should everyone be allowed to comment on obituaries? What if a resentful ex wants to voice his or her feelings about the deceased? Who should be the gatekeeper? The funeral industry deals with customers at their most sensitive moments. In this industry mistakes cannot be made; there are no second chances.  So, do we really want to push them to be more vulnerable? Or are these just growing pains the funeral industry must bear while it catches up with the rest of society?

Football season is finally here. If you’re a dedicated fan like me you’re anxiously awaiting the first games, hopeful that old players and coaches will mend issues from the previous season and new players will rise to glory. In the back of our minds we accept that our beloved Sundays…and Monday nights…and Thursday nights…are a limited resource so we do everything in our power to enjoy them to the fullest.

Some truly dedicated fans show their loyalty not only all year round, but forever! While working in the funeral industry, I buried a number of clients either wearing the jersey of their favorite quarterback or with team hats placed next to them. While this might not seem like a big deal, or be thought of as frivolous, the implication can be quite meaningful. Some people have chosen their teams for eternity and always want to be remembered that way.

But for some super fans, merely being sporting paraphernalia is not enough…

This man opted for one of the most unique wake I’ve ever seen. Apparently, his passion could not be confined to inside the coffin. Yep, that’s him in a recliner.

Photo Source: Urlesque

Other families, who want to embrace their loved one’s passion but stay within the parameters of a standard funeral, opt for a more acceptable amendment to the wake: football-themed flowers.

Photo Source: Welch Flowers

Lastly, there are those truly dedicated who literally take their loyalty to the grave, with a football-themed headstone!

Photo Source: Stone Garden

Although some of these decisions might seem extreme, your feelings may change once you hear the voice on your television shout: “ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALLLLLLLL?”

Please let me know in the comments how you feel about including sports-themed aspects into a funeral.

When someone has a "cardiac event"—that is, if someone suddenly passes out and their heart stops—calling 911 and administering CPR is the go-to method for trying to resuscitate them. But what's the proper way to administer CPR? To help people do CPR correctly, the American Heart Association made use of the Bee Gee's "Stayin' Alive": at 100 beats per minute, it's the ideal rhythm for re-starting a stopped heart. And now we have Community's Ken Jeong to help us really remember the beat.

via MetaFilter

MemoValley, a site whose mission is to allow people to share memories of their departed loved ones, mentioned us in a recent blog post about "preparing for death with help from the startup world." Here's what they had to say about Everplans:

A very structured web-site which takes the user through all the necessary steps to plan a good exit from life. Interestingly, a lot of these steps are not obvious ones and you realize it is much better to deal with them now rather than leaving them to your dear ones.

Thanks! Best of luck MemoValley in keeping legacies alive in the digital realm.

What do the most die-hard college football fanatics do when they, um, die? Keep the school spirit going for eternity by being buried in a college themed casket.

To kick off the season right, we’re honoring the top 10 ranked schools with their casket equivalent, which are real things you can actually buy.

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (University of Alabama)


(Photo Source: Collegiate Memorials)

This allows you to roll tide…literally. (Sorry about that. We’ll try to make the rest of the captions a little better. But we ain’t making any promises.)

2. Ohio State Buckeyes (Ohio State University)


(Photo Source: Flickr)

Don’t forget to emphasize the “THE” whenever saying Ohio State. We have no idea why but football players say it this way and it sounds cool.

3. Oregon Ducks (The University of Oregon)


(Photo Source: GoDucks.com)

The greenest casket on the list, by far. We’re not sure about the environmental impact, but these guys are green and quite sharp with embossed wings and neon rails.

4. Stanford Cardinal (Stanford University)


(Photo Source: GoStanford.com)

Stanford is in California, and should not be confused with Stamford, Connecticut, which has no team. Connecticut does have UCONN, but they’d only make this list if we were including the top 8,000 ranked teams because they’re not very good.

5. Georgia Bulldogs (University of Georgia)


(Photo Source: Eye On Sports Media)

The cuddly Bulldog mascot alone might even make non-fans consider one of these caskets.

6. South Carolina Gamecocks (University of South Carolina)


(Photo Source: Collegiate Memorials)

Let the history lesson begin: The Gamecocks get their name from American Revolution war hero Thomas Sumter, who employed fierce fighting tactics against the British after they burned down his house.

7. Texas A&M Aggies (Texas A&M University)


(Photo Source: Trevino Smith Funeral Home)

What’s an Aggie, you may ask. It’s a student at Texas A&M. It’s that simple. Moving on…

8. Clemson Tigers (Clemson University)


(Photo Source: Collegiate Memorials)

Another university from South Carolina cracks the top 10. The vibrant orange and purple is sure to make any occasion festive

9. Louisville Cardinals (University of Louisville)


(Photo Source: GoCards.com)

And we have another cardinal in the top 10 as well. But unlike Stanford, this is a sassy angry looking cardinal, which are clearly the coolest cardinals of the avian world.

10. Florida Gators (University of Florida)


(Photo Source: Collegiate Memorials)

The U of F make the top ten by the skin of their alligator teeth.

Bonus Team! Duke Blue Devils (Duke University)


(Photo Source: Collegiate Memorials)

Duke fans should order these early since your football seasons are always over before they start. The good news: March Madness is right around the corner!

What do you think about college-themed caskets? Are they cool? Thoughtful? Insensitive? Tacky? Let us know.
 

Bear—Augustus. Peacefully entered into eternal hibernation at his home on Tuesday after brief yet courageous battle with complications from thyroid tumor on Tuesday, August 27th. “Gus,” as his friends and fans knew him, was born in Toledo, Ohio in 1985. His career blossomed when he moved to the Big Apple in 1988, to become the resident polar bear ambassador at the world-renowned Central Park Zoo. For the following 24 years, (longer than the average Polar Bear lifespan) Gus educated and entertained over an estimated 20 million fans. An avid swimmer, he was known for his obsessive daily swims. Gus was blessed with more than just a prosperous career; he also found true love. Gus was pre-deceased by Ida, and sadly never fully recovered from his loss. Although animal therapists came to try to attempt to treat his depression, many who knew him believe that Gus had actually died of a broken heart.

The family requests that funeral services remain private.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Wildlife Conservation Society.