News and Notes: On Ethical Wills and Jewish Traditions

Mar 25, 2014 | 0 comments

Ethical wills are a different kind of will – more of a testament of your values and the lessons you’ve learned in this lifetime. Over the weekend, I ran a two-part guest blog post about ethical wills by Gary Newman, an actively retired life underwriter and practitioner of related family and small business financial security disciplines. He provides great guidance on how to tackle writing your own ethical will.

Writing an ethical will is one little-known aspect of the Jewish life cycle. Once you have reached the age of 50, you are considered old enough to have learned something of value to share. At the age of 55, I’m sharing what I know! I recently gave a one-hour talk on Jewish funeral traditions at the JCC that’s now available on DVD. If you’re interested, check out this page at my website.

Tomorrow’s guest on A Good Goodbye Radio is Tom Antram, President and CEO of FRENCH Funerals-Cremations and the FRENCH Family of Companies. He has worked there for 20 years, and during that time has seen many changes in the funeral business. We will discuss trends in funerals, cremations, burials, pet loss, and more. Tune in live online or download the podcast afterward!

Top Tips From Last Week’s Show

Michael Smith on a BBC program about British funeral traditions

Michael Smith on a BBC program about British funeral traditions

On last week’s A Good Goodbye Radio show, my guest was Charles Cowling with the Good Funeral Guide. We had a fascinating discussion of the differences between funerals in the United Kingdom, where he is based, and in the United States. A few key differences:

  • The cremation rate in the U.K. is about 73%, compared to the national average in the U.S. of 42%. Cremation was embraced early and enthusiastically in England.
  • With the high cremation rate, many funerals are held at nondenominational cremation chapels. These places don’t accommodate very large or long funerals – most last 20 to 40 minutes at most before the body is sent to the crematory.
  • The British don’t hold public visitations like Americans do. “We have none of that palaver over here,” said Charles. If there is a viewing of the body, it’s more likely a small family affair.
  • Although it may take two to three weeks to book a cremation, the British have never taken to embalming the way Americans have.
  • They do like their undertaker outfits, though – black top hats, long coats, etc. Many funeral directors in England still dress as they did in Victorian times.

Download the podcast!

Upcoming Talks, Interviews and A Funny Quote

Click on the date for more information about each event.

April 2: A Good Goodbye Radio interview with Allen Klein, Jollytologist®, on the healing power of humor.

April 8-11: International Cemetery Cremation and Funeral Association (ICCFA) Convention and Expo, Las Vegas, Nevada. Gail Rubin is speaking April 11 on Jewish Funeral Traditions on Film.

A Will for the WoodsApril 9: A Good Goodbye Radio interview with Stacey Canfield and Candace Conradi, authors of The Soul Sitter’s Handbook: What to do when your loved one is dying.

April 16: A Good Goodbye Radio interview with Amy Browne and Jeremy Kaplan, co-directors of the award-winning film A Will for the Woods, depicting one man’s quest for a green burial.

April 23-26: Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) 36th annual conference, Baltimore, Maryland. Gail Rubin is speaking April 26 at 2:45 p.m. on “Facing Death and Transformation in the Film Departures.

“If you want to really know what your friends and family think of you, die broke, and then see who shows up for the funeral.” — Gregory Nunn

A Good Goodbye