Source: Flickr/Gerald Pereira

When I tell people that I worked in the funeral industry, I’m always asked if it’s as sketchy as they think. Then they’ll tell me about an article they read where a consumer was ripped off, or a news blurb they watched about a body being buried in the wrong grave. It’s almost always anecdotal, but the stories pile up.

Although there were major funeral industry issues in the past, since 1984 the Federal Trade Commission has regulated it to curb many horrible practices.  But since employees performing their job properly isn’t interesting, the public only sees the negative scandalous stuff. Thus, people believe the funeral industry, which is already mysterious to begin with, is full of scandal.

The popular financial site LearnVest has jumped on the Death Over Dinner train with this recent article "Death Dinners: Why Dying Is a Supper Topic Du Jour":

For many people these days, one effective way to share their very personal end-of-life decisions and desires with friends and family is to host “death dinners.” The hope is that gathering over a meal will make discussing the topic of dying a little more palatable, while also sparing loved ones from fighting over financial and medical issues down the road.

We stealthily Photoshopped Abby in since she took the picture. Can you tell?

Our mission here at Everplans is to help people—from Millennials to Baby Boomers to the aging—better understand that they don’t have to spend a lot of money, time, or effort to get basic plans in place to protect their families and we're so happy to annouce some new hires to achieve our goals.

Editorial Director Gene Newman (former Editor-in-Chief of and Chief Technology Officer Warren Habib (formerly of MTV Networks, Fotolog, and AddThis) have joined our team and will help us live up to our mantra: Everyone needs an exit strategy for life. They approach this world from an entirely new perspective and we can't wait to reveal our new offerings in the near future.

We're also excited to annouce we've added valuable expertise from the death care and financial services industries. Elizabeth Meyer, who spent the past four years serving as a Family Services Liaison at New York’s Frank E. Campbell funeral home and Riverside Memorial Chapel, is our resident funeral planning expert. Former SVP at Merrill Lynch Michael Herman is our Director of Business Development and will be creating channel partnerships.

Welcome to the team everyone!

Read the full announcement in our press release section.

Kevin “Mr. Wonderful” O’Leary is the resident sourpuss on ABC’s Shark Tank, a show where rich successful business people offer funding and advice to entrepreneurs looking for a break. O’Leary’s take-no-prisoners attitude makes him the business equivalent of Simon Cowell, always crushing hopes and dreams with an evil smirk. Underneath it all he seemed to have a heart. Until the “Week 8” episode aired on November 8, 2013.

While picking apart a paparazzi photo business that captures wedding proposals, O’Leary crossed the line from being a tough businessman to heartless jerk who loves death because he can cash in on people suffering from loss.

“I love two industries. I love weddings and I love people dying,” O’Leary said with a grin. “Because when both of those happen people make stupid decisions. Emotional decisions. Not financial decisions. And because that is the case, there’s huge industries behind both of those.”

Yes, he’s correct about there being huge industries behind both of these. It’s understandable with weddings because they’re voluntary joyous celebrations. Dying, on the other hand, is mandatory and always devastating.

To say you love death because people are ripe for the picking is what’s wrong with the entire industry. No one should be pleased with themselves for taking advantage of people at their most vulnerable. This has long been the perception of the death industry--people profiting off of other people’s misery--and O’Leary is making sure that stereotype is alive and well.

He never specifies what sort of dying he loves. Is it just older sick people? Perhaps it’s soldiers or firefighters? How about taking advantage of parents who aren’t thinking straight because they just lost a child? Is that the sort of money that gets Mr. Wonderful excited?

It’s also upsetting that no one else on the panel--Dallas Mavericks owner and billionaire Mark Cuban, real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran, or charming guy who sits on the end and never bids on anything Robert Herjavec--called him out on it.

QVC Queen Lori Greiner even laughed while he spoke, though in her defense she’s probably used to O’Leary’s shock tactics and chose to let it go. Perhaps if FUBU’s Daymond John were on the panel that episode he would have taken him to task.

We’re fully aware that funeral homes, crematories and end-of-life services need to turn a profit to stay in business. It’s also possible for many people in this industry to love helping grieving families during their time of need. But when O’Leary made that “I love people dying” comment, either because he believes it or to advance his image as a TV big shot only interested in money, he went from being a shark to a weasel.

Everplans Co-founder Abby Schneiderman running our booth

San Jose is lovely this time of year and Everplans is thrilled to be exhibiting at The 2013 AgeTech West Conference and Expo (“Aging Services Meets Silicon Valley: Creating the Future of Care”). We're also excited to be participating in Aging 2.0's Pitch-For-Pilots competition, which is where start-ups pitch their technology solution with the goal of attracting pilot partners. Big thanks to everyone for allowing us to be part of this incredible event.

Mark lost his wife of 28 years to cancer two years ago and documented his experience on his site. It's quite comprehensive and offers an honest and thoughtful look at his loss from all angles. His most recent post, Caregiving, Loss, Grief, and Recovery: A Journey, is perhaps his most personal.

This is no self-help DIY answer to horrific loss and sadness. There are reams of literature on the topic of grief and loss most of which will guide you better. This is simply a look back though a different set of eyes to identify the elements and process of loss, grief, and recovery.

Here at Everplans we're working towards finding a better way of addressing the needs of caregivers. If you've suffered through a loss and want a new perspective, this is a great place to start.

Via The BioContinuum Group

One of the richest and most powerful men in Brazil, Thane Chiquinho Scarpa, made waves when he announced plans to bury his million-dollar Bentley so he could drive around the afterlife in style. He received lots of media attention and was criticized for the extravagant gesture. Why wouldn’t he donate the car to charity? How out of touch with reality is this guy? He still went ahead with the ceremony.

But, there’s a twist. (Of course there is. Why else would we be covering this story?)

Moments before lowering the car in the ground he revealed his genuine motive: To create awareness for organ donation.

“People condemn me because I wanted to bury a million dollar Bentley, in fact most people bury something a lot more valuable than my car,” Scarpa said during a speech at the ceremony. “They bury hearts, livers, lungs, eyes, kidneys. This is absurd. So many people waiting for a transplant and you will bury your healthy organs that will save so many lives.”

What an epic way to kick off Brazil’s national organ donation week.

Via Geekfill

Everplans is all about planning ahead! It’s what we do. That said, it’s important to be very careful when it comes to pre-purchasing your funeral.  Although this can be a responsible and altruistic gesture for your family, you also are potentially exposing yourself to some dubious behavior and inappropriate actions. Recently, a business in St. Louis going by the name “National Prearranged Services,” was indicted for stealing $600 million of pre-arranged funeral funds from families.

The Robertson Family of A&E’s breakout reality TV hit Duck Dynasty might be afraid of soap and shaving cream but they’re not afraid of dealing with death. For those unfamiliar with the show watched by nearly 12 million people each week, it’s a rags-to-more-expensive-rags story surrounding a Louisiana bayou family who made millions fabricating top-of-the-line duck calls and decoys out of salvaged swamp wood.

On a recent episode called “Jerky Boys,” CEO Willie, who’s by far the most sensible and business savvy of the bunch, is confronted in his office by Phil (dad) and Kay (mom) who just got back from the doctor.

You’ve decided to “donate your body” after you die. But, what does that actually mean? Donate to what? Or whom? Will your body be used for actual science and medical advancement? Will callous med students be making jokes over your naked corpse? And what happens to your body after they’re done with it? No need to worry, because the following list has you covered with the most popular options.

Educate The Next Generation: Bequeath your body to a university for students

If you’d like to help first-year medical students learn about the human body, this is the choice for you. Forget all the movies and TV shows you’ve seen where crazy co-eds use cadavers to play pranks on one another. This is serious business for them and hands-on experience with actual bodies is vital for them to become real doctors. Still, it’s worth researching this decision and finding out exactly what your body will be used for, which depends on which school you choose. This is site offers a list of body donation programs in the U.S.

Help Doctors Stay Sharp: Assist doctors in refining their skills

Maybe the idea of having untrained med students prodding your body scares you. If so, you can still be generous and give your body to the Medical Education and Research Institute in Memphis TN, where trained doctors use your body to learn new techniques and refine old skills. Bonus: The institute will pay for your body to be transported to Memphis, a cremation afterwards, and will either return the ashes to your family or bury them in Memphis.

Decompose In Peace: Make the “Body Farm” your final resting place

The University of Tennessee’s Forensic Anthropology Center has a “body farm,” which consists of over 650 skeletons and teaches students about the various stages of decomposition. It’s important to note that your family will not get your remains back.

Carefree Approach: Give your body to a “body broker”

If you’re not choosy about where your body goes, or what type of research it’s being used for, this is a great option. These brokers pay for your body to be transported to their facility and offer free cremation of the parts that are not used for research. Although your body will go to science, you have no say in where exactly it ends up. If that’s not an issue for you here are three places that fit the bill: Anatomic Gift Science Care, Bio Gift.

Keep the Body, Donate the Usable Parts

If you want to help others, but still want your family to bury or cremate your body, you can simply donate your organs. Next time you renew your driver’s license select the box that says “organ donor.” Check out this article for all the info you'll need.