Like the characters from the cult film Harold and Maude, Rubin attended an Albuquerque-area funeral or memorial service daily. The difference is she posted stories about each event every day at her blog The Family Plot starting on October 30. She is also the author of A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die.
“As the Grateful Dead sang, what a long, strange trip it’s been,” said Rubin. “The funeral really is for the family and friends closest to the person who died, to offer support to those who grieve. Whether it was a gathering of two-dozen people or eight hundred, every event was an opportunity for the community to show their care and express condolences.”
Among the most memorable were services with two pews of Red Hat Society ladies in full regalia, a Harley Davidson motorcycle in a funeral chapel, an artist’s remembrance that featured her favorite lemon meringue pie, an AA meeting-style remembrance for an addiction counselor, and a funeral for a fallen police officer.
Funeral favors are a growing trend. Rubin collected four rubber wristbands, one bubble blowing vial, a recipe for the aforementioned lemon meringue pie, a DVD of a musical performance by the deceased, and a prayer of Mother Teresa.
Some statistics about the 30 events:
- Rubin attended memorial events for 16 males and 14 females.
- The funeral for the oldest person was a 98-year-old woman; the youngest was a 24-year-old man.
- Twelve of the events were funerals with the body present, 18 were memorial services with cremated remains or no body.
- Of the places the events were held, 13 were at a house of worship, nine were at a funeral home, and eight were held in other settings, including two at graveside, two in community centers, one at a museum, one at a retreat center, and one at an American Legion hall.
- Twelve of the events were creative celebrations of life with little or no religious references, or some religion but not a religious service.
- The religious services covered included Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, Evangelical, Lutheran, Greek Orthodox, and Latter-Day Saints (Mormon).
- Almost half of the 30 services featured a video photo-montage related to the deceased (14 total).
- Funny Funeral Films Can Start Serious Conversations - November 10th, 2011
- A Good Goodbye is a New Mexico Book Awards Finalist in Five Categories - November 8th, 2011
- The Newly-Dead Game Puts the "Fun" in Funeral Planning - November 7th, 2011
- Lessons from 30 Funerals in 30 Days - November 3rd, 2011
- Unusual Funerals Chronicled on The Family Plot Blog - October 19th, 2011
The funerals and memorial services covered were picked out of news and classified obituaries that announced the time and date of each event – they were all open to the public. Events were selected based on interesting elements in the obituaries, obtaining a good mix of religions and creative celebrations, keeping the male/female ratio even, and whatever event would fit into Rubin’s schedule on any given day.
“While this was a very worthwhile endeavor, I’m glad to reclaim the three hours a day it took to attend and write about each event,” said Rubin. “I’ll continue to read the obits and cover outstanding funerals or memorial services as they appear.”
“I’ve noticed a lot of traffic to The Family Plot Blog comes through the postings on religious traditions for funerals, which tells me there’s quite a need for this information,” said Rubin.
The blog and Rubin’s new book, A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die (Light Tree Press), provide details on religious traditions for funerals as well as the information, inspiration and tools to plan and implement creative, meaningful and memorable end-of-life rituals for people and pets. Copies are available at Amazon.com and www.AGoodGoodbye.com.
Other press releases from G/R/P/R
Contact InformationGail Rubin
P.O. Box 36987
Albuquerque, NM 87176-6987