A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die Reviewed By June Maffin of Bookpleasures.com
Reviewer June Maffin:Living on an island in British Columbia, Canada, Dr. Maffin is a neophyte organic gardener, eclectic reader, ordained minister (Anglican/Episcopal priest) and creative spirituality writer/photographer with a deep zest for life. Previously, she has been grief counselor, broadcaster, teacher, journalist, television host, chaplain and spiritual director with an earned doctorate in Pastoral Care (medical ethics i.e. euthanasia focus). Presently an educator, freelance editor, blogger, and published author of three books, her most recent (Soulistry-Artistry of the Soul: Creative Ways to Nurture your Spirituality) has been published in e-book as well as paperback format and a preview can be viewed on YouTube videos. Founder of Soulistry™ she continues to lead a variety of workshops and retreats connecting spirituality with creativity and delights in a spirituality of play. You can find out more about June by clicking on her Web Site.
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Author: Gail Rubin
Publisher: Light Tree Press
Ahhh, it’s true, “the elephant *is* in the room” when the matter of death arises in a conversation. Talking about death is socially awkward. It’s unpleasant. And it’s, well, “not going to happen to me any time in the near future, so why talk about it?”
Why talk about it? None of us knows the date when we will leave this planet, so adopting the scouting motto "Be prepared" is wisdom. But, how to do that? While there are workshops to prepare for marriage, surgery, retirement; classes on financial responsibility, parenting, healthy relationships, family planning, in today’s society, death is the one life cycle event that is not addressed with intention, let alone depth.
Robert Fulghum’s astute comment ... “the religious customs of the Greek Orthodox church so permeate the lives of people that when someone dies, everyone knows what is to be done and how to participate in it” … is in stark contrast to the discussion of death in the western hemisphere. Research indicates that only 24% of North Americans pre-plan their funeral. That’s 76% who do not plan. Considering that death is inevitable and seldom comes at a convenient time, perhaps it would be wise to do so. This little book offers help to do that very thing.
With chapter sub-headings such as “Who’s the Funeral For, Really?”, “Event Planning Under Pressure”, “Working with a Funeral Home”, “Minimizing Funeral and Burial Costs”, author Gail Rubin not only addresses the unasked questions, she goes a step further with chapter sub-headings such as “What To Do When a Pet Dies” and “Out-of-the-Ordinary Situations” that gently face the difficult “what to do” questions. Rubin gives practical and crucial information that is needed for loved ones to plan a funeral/memorial service/celebration of life such as the importance of keeping five bits of information in a special, easy-to-locate file: Social Security Number, Mother’s Maiden Name, Place of Birth, Military Information, Online Passwords and reminds readers of the importance of informing close family members of its whereabouts.
The author names the ‘elephant in the room,' offering resources to help reduce potential family conflict and lessen stress; presenting guidelines about practical matters: funeral/memorial service directives, obituaries, eulogies/remembrances, will-making, and even thank-you cards; and offering a brief introduction to various religious traditions and how they deal with death and also provides suggestions for non-religious rituals.
Preparing for one’s death can seem uncomfortable and even unpleasant, but what a gift one can leave for those who are left to grieve. Death is a part of life. It needs to be brought out of the closet and into ongoing conversations. Rubin’s book helps facilitate such action in a gentle, humourous, non-threatening and straightforward way.