News and Notes: Life Planning and Death Cafes

Oct 9, 2013 | 0 comments

Merri Rudd and her mother in 1956

Merri Rudd and her mother in 1956

Questions about advance directives, wills, trusts, probate, guardianship, and powers of attorney are best addressed before a health crisis hits. Inevitably, these important questions fall to the bottom of the to-do list, at the family’s peril.

Retired probate judge Merri Rudd, co-author of the comprehensive book Life Planning in New Mexico, knows what happens when families fail to plan. She saw many tragic examples in her courtroom over 10 years.

What can you do to protect yourself and your family? Tune in for A Good Goodbye Radio today at 6:00 p.m. ET / 3:00 p.m. PT on the RockStar Radio Network and find out what you need to know, and do, NOW. A podcast of the conversation will be available for download afterward.

The Death Cafe movement continues to gain fans worldwide. It’s a free event where people come together in a relaxed, confidential and safe setting to discuss mortality, drink tea and eat delicious cake or cookies.

Here in New Mexico, I’m holding three events in October, one in Silver City on October 12, in Truth or Consequences on October 13 (at Black Cat Books & Coffee, no less!), and in Albuquerque on October 30, which is, appropriately, Create A Great Funeral Day. Visit the Calendar of Events page at for more details and let me know if you can make it!

A special shout out to folks in Silver City. Looking forward to bringing the talk Laughing in the Face of Death: Funny Films for Funeral Planning to Western New Mexico University’s Global Resource Center this Friday, October 11 at 7:00 p.m. A big thanks to the Western Institute for Lifelong Learning and Baca’s Funeral Chapels for their support!

Top Tips from Last Week’s Show

Caitlin Doughty, Ask a Mortician

Caitlin Doughty, Ask a Mortician

On A Good Goodbye Radio last week, I spoke with funeral director Caitlin Doughty, who helps get the mortality conversation started with her humorous and educational “Ask A Mortician” videos on YouTube. We discussed questions people frequently ask, home funerals, cremation, rituals, laws, embalming, and more.

Here are a few bits of information to know if you want to donate your body to science:

You generally don’t get to choose where your body goes or dictate what use it goes to in research.

You don’t get your skull back, or any other body part – just cremated remains, if your family gets anything back.

Medical schools have strict requirements about what bodies they will accept. Do the research and paperwork while you are healthy and of sound mind, and make sure your family is okay with your disposition choice. Update that conversation with your family every six months.

Have a Plan B for disposition if the medical school doesn’t take your body when death occurs. They may have all the cadavers they need and won’t want yours when the time comes.

Upcoming Osher Class Features Six Feet Under

Six Feet Under OpeningStarting November 4, consider attending Everybody Dies: Lessons from Six Feet Under, a three-session continuing education class I’m teaching at the University of New Mexico’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

From 2001 to 2005, the HBO cable television series Six Feet Under took viewers behind the scenes at Fisher & Sons Funeral Home. This upbeat talk uses clips from this award-winning series to illuminate funeral planning issues for those who don’t plan to die.

Topics include funeral consumer issues, cremation, traditional and green burial, developments in the funeral industry, as well as aspects of contemporary grief and mourning.

The classes are on Mondays from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. on November 4, 11 and 18, 2013. The course number is 19183 and it costs $35. I’ll bring popcorn! You can register online at Osher’s website or by calling 505-277-0077.


A Good Goodbye