Just like talking about sex won’t make you pregnant, talking about funerals won’t make you dead - and your family will benefit from the conversation!
The Funeral Planning Conversation Just Got Easier to Start!
Remember the old TV show The Newlywed Game? It debuted in 1966 and ran through 1974 in its first version. The game pitted newly married couples against each other in a series of revealing question rounds to determine how well the spouses know (or don’t know) each other. Check out this video of a game from 1966:
Bob Eubanks hosted The Newlywed Game and immortalized the phrase “making whoopee” (used as a reference to having sex when the censors wouldn’t allow those words in the 60s and 70s). At the time the show signed on in 1966, Eubanks at age 28 was the youngest emcee to host a game show. Check out how he changed over the years:
On the PBS series Pioneers of Television, Bob Eubanks said, “The Newlywed Game was reality TV before reality TV as we now know it.”
Time goes by and now all those newlyweds are long-married couples (we hope - providing their relationships survived The Newlywed Game and the general rigors of life). The Baby Boomers are sliding into retirement. It’s time for these couples to play a new game:
Introducing The Newly-Dead Game®
The Newly-Dead Game® was conceived as a way to help start funeral planning conversations in a fun, non-threatening way. Game creator Gail Rubin, author of A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die and The Family Plot Blog, sought a way to help families get past the fear of discussing funeral planning.
“Couples who have played this game often come away with a fresh appreciation of how much they still need to know about each other when it comes to funeral planning,” said Rubin. “Just as talking about sex won’t make you pregnant, talking about funerals won’t make you dead - and your family really does benefit from the conversation.”
The game is based on elements of The Newlywed Game, but the questions in The Newly-Dead Game revolve around how well the couple knows each other regarding their last wishes.
The Newly-Dead Game is designed to be played by three or four couples with an emcee reading the questions. Four questions are asked, each progressively more challenging. All questions regard elements of the participants’ last wishes. The emcee then interviews the couples to reveal their answers. The couple that gets the most answers correct get the most points. The highest scoring couple wins the top prize!
The Frozen Dead Guy Days Debut
Gail Rubin, The Doyenne of Death®, introduced The Newly-Dead Game at the 2011 Frozen Dead Guy Days festival in Nederland, Colorado. This wild and wacky celebration is one of the top winter festivals in the United States.
Frozen Dead Guy Days (FDGD) is based on the true story of Grandpa Bredo Morstoel from Norway. After Grandpa’s death due to a heart condition in 1989, his grandson Trygve had him packed in dry ice and shipped to a U.S. cryonics facility for a deep freeze. In 1993, Trygve, hoping to start his own cryonics service, moved Grandpa to to his concrete bunker home in Nederland, a tiny town 17 miles west of Boulder.
The story then takes a number of interesting turns. Trygve was deported back to Norway in 1995 due to visa issues. Long story short – Grandpa Bredo has been kept in a Tuff Shed-sheltered, dry ice-fueled deep freeze in Nederland ever since. The family sends money to keep 1,600 pounds of dry ice replenished monthly.
The local Chamber of Commerce started Frozen Dead Guy Days in 2000. The festival features coffin races, a parade of hearses, a Polar Plunge, the Brain Freeze Ball, frozen turkey bowling and salmon tossing, and a frozen T-shirt contest. The Newly-Dead Game was welcomed as a new addition in 2011.
Couples Rush to Play The Newly-Dead Game
With advance publicity, so many couples wanted to play The Newly-Dead Game, a waiting list was started. The game was discussed in multiple radio interviews and articles in The Boulder Daily Camera and the official Frozen Dead Guy Days program guide. Two games were played on Saturday, one on Sunday.
One of the players was journalist Richard Carriero. He opened his Yahoo! News story about the festival with his experience playing the game. He wrote:
It’s 3:00 on a snowy afternoon in the Rocky Mountains. My wife and I are under a tent in the freezing cold, standing onstage with two other couples. We’re about to play the Newly Dead Game. It’s not a particularly grand affair, with an audience of perhaps 50, but it’s the content that is unique.
The host, Gail Rubin, author of A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die, asks a series of questions, to which we secretively write our answers on large pads with magic marker. Unlike the usual Dating Game queries, these questions deal with how well each spouse knows the other’s final wishes.
My wife and I get the first one right—we know our mothers’maiden names (a vital piece of knowledge on a death certificate). We get the second—we know that we both want to be cremated. At the third—What is your spouse’s most prized possession and who would he/she want to have it after death?—we balk. My wife partially guesses correctly (my typewriter) but with my literal bent of mind, I fail to guess hers:her memories. As runners up we receive a signed copy of Gail’s book, which I later read in morbid fascination.
October 30 is Create a Great Funeral Day
Stephanie West Allen was stunned when her significant other suddenly died in 1988. She hardly remembers the funeral and still feels badly about being unprepared.
Ten years later, she watched her husband struggle to pull together a meaningful funeral for his mother, who had left no directions before she died. Observing his grief, Allen felt that knowing what her mother-in-law might have wanted would have made holding a funeral so much easier.
Based on those experiences, Allen wrote Creating Your Own Funeral or Memorial Service: A Workbook. In 1999, she registered October 30 as Create a Great Funeral Day as a “holiday” with Chase’s Calendar of Events. 2013 marks the 14th annual celebration.
The idea behind Create a Great Funeral Day is to consider how you would like to be remembered. By letting those you love know how you’d like your life celebrated, the survivors’ experience can be so much easier.
Don’t Make This Mistake!
You would think people in the funeral business would know better and pre-plan for themselves. But even a funeral director can make this mistake. Your Funeral Guy R. Brian Burkhardt died of a heart attack at age 59 and left his family penniless. His wife didn’t know what he wanted or how to access his online accounts. Don’t let this happen to you!
Funerals - The Party No One Wants to Plan
Why do people hesitate to discuss funeral planning, let alone do anything concrete about it in advance?
Social psychologists cite the Terror Management Theory, that all human behavior is ultimately motivated by the fear of death. Death creates anxiety, not only because it can strike at unexpected and random moments, but because its nature is essentially unknowable.
The awareness of our own eventual death, called “mortality salience,” affects our decision-making in the face of this terror. Many people decide to avoid the topic.
Create a Great Funeral Day prompts us to be mindful and self-aware. It suggests we plan reflectively in advance rather than react frantically after someone dies. Why not play The Newly-Dead Game to get the conversation started?
How The Newly-Dead Game Can Help Your Family
Those who work with families experiencing a recent or impending death know the upheaval and difficulties when there’s been no estate planning or advance funeral plans in place. Wouldn’t you be a hero if you could help your family avoid such problems and you could have fun at the same time?
It’s hard to discuss your desires and values before death changes the family forever. Maybe you’ll talk about it at some point,but it’s always sometime in the future…something you’ll get around to…eventually. The Newly-Dead Game is a game-changer.
Your family and friends can play The Newly-Dead Game at your next Halloween or Day of the Dead party. It will make you smile and learn. It will get you laughing and thinking. Perhaps you’ll look at your partner and say,“Do you really want that?”
The complete electronic download of The Newly-Dead Game includes:
28 questions that cover a range of issues
Score cards to keep track of each couple’s points
Directions on how to play
BONUS: You get a ten-page planning form to help you pull all your vital information together in one place!
The family version of The Newly-Dead Game is available for only $24.97. Get your copy of The Newly-Dead Game NOW. Add to Cart