I'm Oliver Webber, here with my research assistant, Kaydence Ribetnauer. You may not be able to see us because we're tucked in between these blades of grass, waiting for our next meal to fly in and land on one of them. To nourish our bodies and souls, we ponder leaves. We encourage contemplation... especially in regard to issues that will have to be handled when we become worm grub. We hope to motivate others to thoughtfully cultivate preferences and decisions while still vigorously leaping around. We recommend croaking... using voices to broadcast wishes before it's too late to have a voice in this matter. Other than a sumptuous supply of insects, this is assuredly the most "toad-ally" considerate gift we could leave for our life companions! Don't you agree? We invite you to get your feet wet by joining our pond of pondering pre-planners. Let's make croaking meaningful!

Friday, July 20, 2012



Death, as always, continues to be a sad occasion.  But, nowadays, instead of only church bells tolling, the end of life often is broadcast with “bells and whistles.”  Instead of focusing only on aspects of bereavement, mourners are rejoicing in the lives of beloved companions through celebrations, revamped approaches, and unconventional fare.  The modern concept of event planning has infiltrated commemorative affairs.

Anyone who has been wearing blinders in recent years may not have noticed the changing scenarios.  Currently, ecologically conservative cemeteries are sprouting up around the country.  In conjunction, biodegradable products are multiplying in the marketplace like seeds cast to the wind.  The word “retro” aptly applies to advocates who are reclaiming practices of the past by providing funerary care at the hands of loved ones in home settings.   Public awareness programs are alerting folks to organ and tissue donation opportunities; as a result, “recycled parts” are restoring lives and contributing to treatments and scientific discoveries.  The growing prevalence of cremation is engendering creative adaptations and unusual dispersal modes for remains; scattering options along with unique sites abound, as well as means for integration within infinite assortments of decorative and functional items.  New methods for disposal of bodily remains are being unveiled.  Technology is yielding marvelous products that are causing the word “dreary” to be obliterated from perceptions of funerary fare.  The marketplace is bursting with tantalizing memorabilia.  Service providers are individualizing presentations and events with distinctive features.   The field is being transformed by exhilarating forces of change.  It is refreshing.  It is an exciting time to be alive and to participate in this dynamic evolution of death management... even in anticipation of one's own demise.

Friday, July 13, 2012



Once upon a time a frog appeared on the oval deck surrounding a large backyard pool on our family property.   Soon it became a permanent fixture, apparently after finding the environs a suitable habitat.  Chlorinated water apparently wasn't deleterious to its existence and didn't deter its desire to stay on the premises!  We recall that its skin color whitened over time (though that may be biologically impossible); it was definitely white at some point, though.

At first, this disruptive interloper intimidated us, dampening our usual sense of abandon when plunging into our recreational resource. Often someone’s intention to step into or onto the body of a whale, giraffe, or hollow turtle – one of assorted inflatable floats in the water – would be preceded by a shrill utterance (eeeeeek!) upon observing that it was already occupied by this amphibian.  The human shrieks, however, didn’t come close to the volume of amplified noise emitted by our guest croaker.  Family meals on the back porch overlooking the yard were accented by reverberations of ongoing communication with other members of its species. To our shock and amazement, upon returning from a summer trip we discovered that our ever-present companion had been doing a lot of communicating while we were away.  Our pool was teeming with hundreds of tadpoles!   

Okay, so this is an intriguing recollection, but what's the point?  Where's the relevance?  How can this ostensibly errant story possibly relate to exploring funerary matters and making your own final decisions?  

Well, the uninvited frog just might be considered analogous to the topic of issues associated with your life's ending.  Like our family members who weren't exactly thrilled to find this alien in our pool territory, you may have regarded the prospect of pre-planning your death arrangements a bit or a lot unsettling.  Maybe upon first glance you felt like you just didn't want to have to deal with it.  

But now after "getting your feet wet" in the vicinity of this intrusive perception that has forged its way into your awareness, maybe you'll become acclimated to the reality of its presence... just as our family became accustomed to delving into the water in spite of the fact that the squatter was cohabitating with us.  

And, lo and behold, just as we eventually adopted the misplaced creature as our family mascot, even giving it a name, you may become tolerant of the pre-planning subject to such an extent that you'll be willing to maintain it in your mind at some level of consciousness.

A similar process of transformation that we claim to have observed may enter the picture.  Just as the color of our adopted resident ostensibly changed over the course of time, any negative attitude you might have brought with you to this place may translate into newfound acceptance of the issues you encounter. 

And, believe it or not, to your great astonishment, you may even find that swimming around in this body of information may be as refreshing as swimming around in a pool of water!  It won't hurt to interact with this material, just as the frog did no harm to us.

In fact, you are apt to be unexpectedly entertained, just as we were when during our meals on the porch we listened to all of the sounds emanating from the pool deck.

Your exposure here may even prompt you to explore other avenues related to this subject, resulting in acquisition of funerary savvy and personal enlightenment that may be compounded exponentially... in the same way our amphibian trespasser reproduced and brought multiples into our presence.  

So what's the moral of this story? 

We can thrive in what might initially be perceived as an aversive environment.    

By overcoming reluctance and immersing ourselves in a milieu that's intimidating yet saturated with possibilities, we can change our attitudes.  And we may ingest either a bevy of ideas or a mouthful of tadpoles.

Insights have a surprising way of developing productively, far beyond our expectations.  We might find something enlivening where we least expect it!

Whether an originally disgruntled perspective pertains either to the subject of death or to another life form, it has the potential to evolve into an exercise in tolerance and a captivating learning experience that can lead to memories never to be forgotten. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012



What are we going to do with ourselves when we can no longer inhabit the earth?  Or, more likely, what will those closest to us do with our physical remains?  In what manner will the essence of our lives be recognized and commemorated?  How can we be assured that the presence we embodied will live on in the minds of others?

These are questions that only the most undaunted, well-organized and well-adjusted members of our society have been inclined to ask themselves. What about everyone else?  The inevitable reality of separation and loss… of life endings… of permanent departures… is excruciatingly intimidating and emotionally draining for escapists who prefer to “bury their heads in the sand.” Denial and dismissal of thoughts about that last incomprehensible yet natural phase of life mask unrelenting truths, thereby perpetuating a state of rampant lack of preparedness.  

Our attitudes toward death affect us throughout life.  Quality of existence can be heightened through an appreciation of life’s limitation.  We have choices.  We can live in fear of mortality and cowardly assume a posture of avoidance, or we can ease the potential for strain on ourselves as well as our families by addressing measures of preparedness now.  We can either disavow the certainty of death or embrace it as a natural consequence of living. We can control certain elements of our endings. We can explore the possibilities. We can dictate our preferences and initiate plans for closing scenarios.  We can eliminate many of the decision-making chores that would burden our distraught loved ones during their time of sorrow.  We have the power to determine conduct and personalize details relative to the occasion of terminal transition. We can reconcile ourselves to this irrefutable reality by adopting an attitude of acceptance and even enjoyment of the planning process. 

With revitalized perspectives we can find our way to a new comfort zone.  We can travel along modern routes paved by emerging trends and opportunities.  If we open our eyes to the possibilities, we can witness expanded horizons and paint our own exquisite sunsets.