Newsletter Articles

  • Was it an Ethical Funeral Home or Cremation Service?

    A Baker’s Dozen of QuestionsProbably the answer is “yes”…if you can answer “yes” to these 13 questions: Please let us know of your experiences with funeral and cremation services—how did they score, which were ethical, which were not, and where were the lapses? We can check and read the printed price lists, but only an…

  • The End: The Death and Life of John Shields

    A five and one-half page article in the NY Times by Catherine Porter describes how shortly before John Shields planned to die, he planned his own Irish wake: “old fashioned with music and booze, except for one notable detail – he would be present. Then his family would take him home and he would die…

  • Last Letters

    Last Letters Saying goodbye forever is always difficult both for the voyager and for those who stay. But worse still is leaving with no communication. I have always appreciated the good friends who let me know of their serious diagnosis or their move to hospice, and for the chance to exchange loving reminiscences, thoughts, and…

  • Doctors and the End of Life

    Two recent, distinctly different publications address end-of-life concerns and despite different audiences, format, and approaches, both focus of important considerations and share a common theme. End-of-life goals should emphasize quality rather than quantity of time, should be considered at all stages of life, since death can occur at any age, and should  help patients to…

  • The Grim Reader Reports

    Those Obits: “Died” and “passed away” remain the most frequent obituary verbs, but a reader sent in a new one: “breathed her last”. We also saw some open-ended ‘in lieu of flowers’ requests to give to; “a charity of your choice”, “educate children”, “promote the arts” or “take a moment to enjoy the melody of…

  • Cremation English Style

    by Patricia Carr On September first, 2013, my father, age 100, died in Yeovil, Somerset, a pretty county town where he and my mother had lived for close on thirty years until my mother died in 2005. Both parents had opted for cremation, and on each occasion it was conducted by a funeral home at…

  • Did You Know?

    Is embalming required? NO. It is not required for either cremation or for burial. Funeral homes may have “policies” requiring embalming for viewings or funerals with the body present, but there are no laws requiring this. Funeral homes may urge embalming if burial is delayed, but refrigeration is a viable alternative. Cremation and Immediate Burial…

  • Fall-Winter 2008: A Priceless Gift

    by Valerie Friedman I believe that it is our responsibility to our loved ones to prepare what is referred to as a “letter of final instruction”. It provides someone who would have to step into our shoes with all the information they need to handle our affairs if we are unable to do so, because…

  • Fall-Winter 2008: My Parents’ Funerals: Then and Now

    by George Schmidt My father died in 1962 when I was 16 years old. He had married late in life, had very little insurance and was receiving a small pension which was immediately stopped by his former employer. He left his widow, my brother who was a first classman (senior) at the United States Naval…

  • Fall-Winter 2007: Funeral Price List Report Card

    By Jean T.D. Bandler We appreciate those funeral homes that responded to our price list requests, but remain puzzled that most ignored our letters, apparently willing to keep their charges a secret. We are also surprised that several homes reported the price lists “were unavailable” or provided incomplete “estimates”. We are thankful for the hard…