News and Notes: Seeking Light in Dark Times

Dec 16, 2014 | 0 comments

Twinkle Light Parade Car

Twinkle Light Parade Car

Holiday greetings! Here at the darkest time of the year, we seek illumination and cheer in twinkling lights, candles and the warmth of a fire in the hearth. I’ve always resonated with the Biblical image of the burning bush, when the Divine speaks to us through flaming shrubbery. (Monty Python fans, did you hear the cry?).

Death can be the beginning of a journey into a dark time for the living. It doesn’t have to be so dark or prolonged if we consider the inevitability of everyone’s mortality and have some honest conversations about end-of-life issues. There are plenty of resources to help get the conversation started — including my own. Consider getting a copy of The Newly-Dead Game® to spark some information sharing over the holidays. It’s like the old TV show The Newlywed Game, but the questions focus on how well you know your partner’s last wishes. More information here.

Here in Albuquerque, there’s a wonderful Christmas Eve tradition of decorating the graves of deceased family members with luminarias, paper bags weighted with sand and illuminated with a single candle. Some folks get really creative and add lights and music. Christmas Eve is one of the busiest times for visits to local cemeteries – the dead are visited on this most holy night. Here’s a video of one festive grave from a past Christmas Eve.

Jingle Bell Grave

After searching in vain for a new restaurant or other setting in which to hold the Albuquerque Death Cafe, the next one will be held at my home on Saturday, January 3 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. If you’d like to participate, send an email to Gail [at] and I’ll add you to the list and provide the address and directions.

Highlights of some recent blog posts, upcoming events and a humorous quote follow. Call me at 505.265.7215 if I can be of assistance. Wishing you a light and bright holiday season!

Live long and prosper,

Gail Rubin, CT, The Doyenne of Death®

The Family Plot Blog Highlights

Click on the titles to read the blog post.

The Ethicist column on a cremation dilemma

Comparing cornea and organ donation

Mortality Minute spots: The Funeral Rule and Cremation Considerations

Jewish funeral tradition talks on video

Upcoming Events and a Humorous Quote

Lola, the ABQ Death Cafe mascot

Lola, the ABQ Death Cafe mascot

Saturday, January 3, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.: Albuquerque Death Cafe at Gail Rubin’s home. The objective of the Death Cafe is “To increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives.” It’s all about an interesting, unstructured conversation – open and free-flowing with no specific agenda. At these events, people come together in a relaxed, confidential and safe setting to discuss death, drink tea (or your favorite beverage) and eat delicious cake or cookies. RSVP to Gail [at] for address and directions.

January 14-16, 2015: Look for Gail at the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association’s Wide World of Sales conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Wednesday, January 28, 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.: Gail Rubin and retired probate judge Merri Rudd, author of Life Planning in New Mexico, present “Estate Planning: Hollywood Myth Versus Fact” at OASIS. The cost is $8 and registration opens January 7, 2015. Location: OASIS offices at 3301 Menaul Blvd NE, Suite 18, Albuquerque, NM (just west of Carlisle NE in the building facing the American Home Furniture store). Phone: 505.884.4529.

Sunday, February 1, 2015: A Taste of Honey learning event at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Albuquerque. Gail Rubin presents on “Jews and Cremation” from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. The U.S. cremation rate is climbing, and Jews – who historically bury – are part of that rising rate. Examine the “why” of Jewish burial and cremation, the “how” of the cremation process, and “what’s next” for Jews considering cremation. Registration details to come.

“I once wanted to become an atheist, but I gave up — they have no holidays.” — Henny Youngman

A Good Goodbye