Funeral News Stories

Mar 24, 2022 | 0 comments

Reading NewsThese funeral news stories offer ways to talk about death and dying. These news items were compiled by Gail Rubin, Certified Thanatologist and The Doyenne of Death®.

Washington Post: Even on his birthday, a black funeral director can’t escape covid deaths

As the pandemic enters its third year, the nation is edging toward normalcy. Except funeral directors still grapple with an enormous wave of deaths. Read the full story.

Washington Post: How I learned to talk about death and dying

This opinion piece by Steven Petrow starts out:

A serious illness is many things — terrifying, painful, life-altering. The prospect of losing a loved one, or your own life, becomes an unspeakable agony. It’s also isolating in a way I never could have imagined. I’ve been the one in that sickbed, and I’ve also done some time sitting beside it. I wouldn’t wish either experience on anyone.

Lately, however, I’ve been thinking about what memoirist Meghan O’Rourke has called “the long goodbye” and trying to focus on the one gift it does give us: the gift of time. Time to plan, but mostly time to unearth and process our feelings. And then, if we’re fortunate, to be able to share these deep-seated fears with those we love.

Read the full opinion piece.

The Guardian: A forensic pathologist on the legacy of lockdown: I look at death every day – let’s change the way we talk about it

This piece by Richard Shepard is part of The Guardian’s series “Two Years On: The legacy of lockdown.” It provides a perspective of a forensic pathologist from the U.K. on the pandemic and death. Among his observations:

I know that I am unusual in having had such a longstanding personal insight into death and the fundamentally precarious nature of our lives. Many of us have never seen a dead body, even of a close relative. In our westernised, urban society, the tradition of paying your respects to the body in an open coffin in the parlour is now rare. This offered the opportunity to recognise the normality of death: to look it in the face; to consider your responses; to remember your own impermanence.

By the start of this century, it seemed to me that death had become a subject generally to be avoided, glossed over, obfuscated and (if at all possible) simply ignored, at least until one was faced with it personally. Now, the lack of this experience often means it feels overwhelming.

Read the full opinion piece.

Washington Post: The death spiral of an American family

LINCOLN PARK, Mich. — Dave Ramsey Jr. walked into the funeral home with $60 in cash, hoping to settle one more of his father’s outstanding debts. He followed an employee into a private bereavement room, where she took his final payment and said she’d look in the storage room for his father’s remains.

“It was just a basic cremation, right?” she asked.

“Yeah,” he said. “The cheapest one.”

“And did you order any kind of urn, or a memory book, or —?”

“No. Sorry,” he said. “I know he deserved a lot better.”

It had been almost a month since Dave, 39, found his father lying unresponsive in bed next to his cellphone and a bill from a collections agency, having died of a heart attack at age 70, and ever since then Dave had been trying to make sense of what his father had left behind. He’d read through his father’s credit card statements and then talked to a banker, who concluded that the final estate of David Ramsey Sr. was of “inconsequential value.” Like a record 23 percent of Americans who’ve died in the past five years, the ultimate financial worth of his father’s life was nothing — a number somewhere below zero.

Read the full sad story.

Let’s help our loved ones discuss death and plan ahead. Just as talking about sex won’t make you pregnant, talking about funerals won’t make you dead. Your family will benefit from the conversation.


A Good Goodbye