Dr. Jeffrey Piehler on Building Your Own Coffin

Feb 6, 2014 | 0 comments

Pine Box Coffin Illustration

Illustration by Robert G. Fresson for the New York Times

Would you build your own coffin? Dr. Jeffrey Piehler has incurable Stage 4 prostate cancer. He’s been living with it for 11 years and underwent numerous conventional and trial treatments. On February 2, his essay titled “Ashes to Ashes, but First a Nice Pine Box” appeared in The New York Times Sunday Review section, prompting much response.

You see, Dr. Piehler, a retired thoracic surgeon who lives near Kansas City, Kansas, built his own coffin and wrote about the experience. In his essay, he recognizes his journey is coming to an end relatively soon, saying, “As we used to say in the medical business, I’m starting to circle the drain.”

Dr. Jeffrey Piehler joined host Gail Rubin on A Good Goodbye Radio to discuss facing mortality and funeral planning issues.

Topics include:

  • Why he decided to build his own coffin for a funeral followed by cremation.
  • Family reaction – His wife really didn’t like the idea at first and how she and others changed their minds over the course of time.
  • Perspective – “It’s pretty much impossible to feel anger at someone for driving too slowly in front of you in traffic when you’ve just come from sanding your own coffin.”
  • Friendship – How building his own coffin with the help of a woodworking artist grew a friendship with a person very different from himself.
  • Black humor – Laughing in the face of death while making your own coffin.

UPDATE: Dr. Jeffrey Piehler’s life and death have been featured in a documentary, Patient: A Surgeon’s Journey.

A Good Goodbye covers a wide range of critical information most people don’t consider until there’s a death in the family. Host Gail Rubin, CT, brings a light touch to a serious subject and presents expert interviews on funeral planning issues with practical insights into the party no one wants to plan.

By planning ahead and having a conversation, families can reduce stress at a time of grief, minimize family conflict, save money and create a meaningful, memorable “good goodbye.”

Sign up for a free planning form and get more information at www.AGoodGoodbye.com.

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Gail Rubin, The Doyenne of Death®

Gail Rubin, The Doyenne of Death®

Gail Rubin, CT, The Doyenne of Death®, is author of the award-winning book, A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die. Host of A Good Goodbye television series and Internet radio show, she is a Certified Thanatologist (that’s a death educator) and a popular speaker who uses humor and films to get the funeral planning conversation started. She’s also a Certified Funeral Celebrant, funeral planning consultant, and insurance agent.

Rubin is a member of the Association for Death Education and Counseling, the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association, and the National Speakers Association New Mexico Chapter.

A Good Goodbye