Dr. Ernest Becker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Denial of Death, introduced his Terror Management Theory in 1973. We humans are the only animal (we’re aware of) that knows we are going to eventually die. And that thought terrifies us. It takes good self-esteem to consider your own mortality, and it’s estimated two-thirds of adults have low self-esteem.
As a result, the majority of us manage that terror by avoiding the topic. But, as you’ve heard me say numerous times, just like talking about sex won’t make you pregnant, talking about funerals and end-of-life issues won’t make you dead. And the people you love will benefit from the conversation. Here’s plenty of food for thought on that topic.
The Blue Öyster Cult hit song (Don’t Fear) the Reaper debuted 40 years ago in May 1976, about the time I graduated from high school. You don’t have to do the math – I will turn 58 next week. Saturday Night Live was in its infancy. This recent article in The New York Times revealed the connection between the “More Cowbell” meme and (Don’t Fear) the Reaper.
Perhaps the popularity of this song had a subliminal influence on my career development. Certainly, The Bubblegum Film, my college film class satire of Ingmar Bergman’s film The Seventh Seal was a hint of things to come.
The next Albuquerque Death Cafe will be held at my house on Saturday, June 4 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Let me know if you’re interested in attending and I’ll provide the address.
More than 150 doctors, social workers, medical technicians, and a few funeral directors gathered on June 18 at the University of Michigan Hospital for my Grief Awareness Week keynote speech, “Laughing in the Face of Death: Movies, Medicine and Mortality.” Recognizing the influence of the Terror Management Theory was one of the CEU learning objectives. Check out the funny film clip collection on death and funerals that started the talk here.
Looking forward to bringing the Alabama Funeral Directors Association the CEU talks “Grief and Mourning in the Movies” and “Jewish Funeral Traditions on Film,” and the evening entertainment, “Funny Funeral Film Extravaganza.” Their annual convention will be held at the Marriott Point Clear Resort on Mobile Bay, June 19 to 22, 2016. Register here.
You may find these articles of interest:
- Elderly book end-of-life talks once labeled ‘death panels’ by Matt Sedensky, Associated Press.
- What a Dying Industry Can Learn From the Death Industry, a commentary about changes in the news media on Fortune.com by Steven Waldman, founder of LifePosts.
- ‘The Patient is Code 3 critical. Her frail, 90-year-old body is failing. How much should I do to save her life?” an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times by Dr. Eric Snoey.
- Death Expert: Talking about funerals won’t kill you, an interview with yours truly on Michigan Public Radio’s Stateside program.
You’ll find additional stories from the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association’s convention and expo, including the jazz funeral that opened the expo, through this link to The Family Plot Blog. There are still a few more ICCFA stories to come!
Links to other recent blog posts and upcoming events follow. Please call if I can be of assistance – 505.265.7215.
Live long and prosper,
Gail Rubin, CT, The Doyenne of Death®
The Family Plot Blog Highlights
Book Review: MORGUE — A Life in Death If you like crime TV shows like CSI and NCIS, you’ll enjoy reading this memoir by noted forensic pathologist Dr. Vincent DiMaio and Ron Franscell (St. Martin’s Press, May 2016).
These Creative Caskets from Trey Ganem Designs with Amaze You — You’ve never seen caskets like these before.
Using Computers and Lasers to Create a 3D Sculpture Urn — The advancement of 3D printers makes lifelike busts easily achievable.
Upcoming Events and a Humorous Quote
June 4, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. — Albuquerque Death Cafe at Gail Rubin’s home. More information.
June 19-22 — Alabama Funeral Directors Association Convention. Presenting “Grief and Mourning in the Movies” and “Jewish Funeral Traditions on Film,” and the evening entertainment, “Funny Funeral Film Extravaganza” in Point Clear, Alabama.
Friday, July 8, noon — Presenting “A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die” to the Meals on Wheels organization at Presbyterian Northside, 5901 Harper NE, Albuquerque.
July 22-27 — Attending the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association’s summer University in Memphis, Tennessee. Enrolled in the International Studies program, covering religious and cultural influences on funeral observations.
July 29, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. — Osher Lifelong Learning class, “Laughing and Learning: A Practical End-of-Life Workshop.” Sign up for Course 19865, only $20, through Osher’s website.
“More than any time in history mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other to total extinction. Let us pray that we have the wisdom to choose correctly.” — Woody Allen