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!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012



What’s so special about a special day?  Well, it imparts opportunity… a word and a concept generally pregnant with potential! 

Consider Halloween, for instance.  When the office manager announces that everyone is encouraged to come to work in costume on a certain day (although it’s optional), you have an opportunity to have fun by conjuring up and wearing something wacky rather than confining yourself to everyday attire that may render you a lifeless party pooper.  And think of Thanksgiving, which presents a golden opportunity to wallow in meal preparations, perhaps channeling an urge to dabble in new recipes, so that loved ones can gather round the table to “stuff their faces” and catch up on the latest gobbledegook. 

Yes, special days impart special opportunities.  Even incidental ones unknown to many can unlock portals of diversion and frolic.  Have you ever recognized Backward Day on January 31st?  Memorable moments can be grasped by writing, reading, walking, talking, and clothing oneself backward, as well as by reversing the sequence of meals and having dessert first.  There’s also Compliment Day on January 27th, Lips Appreciation Day on March 16th and Hot Tub Day on the 28th, followed by National Scrapbook Day on May 3rd, Hand Shake Day on June 28th, Build a Scarecrow Day on July 1st, Name Your Car Day on October 2nd, and Look For Circles Day on November 2nd.  These are but a few of a broad array of calendar days that can be acknowledged as intriguingly singular in some unique way. 

What does this digression have to do with end-of-life planning?   You may have guessed it!  Several years ago, Stephanie West Allen designated October 30th as Create A Great Funeral Day.  At first glance, people might snicker upon coming across this entry in a list of unusual holidays. But this appointed day for pre-planning is saturated with opportunity and purpose.  Its impact goes beyond embracing frivolous entertainment by reminding folks of the chance to take constructive action. Perhaps the conspicuous “O” at the beginning of this October day can reinforce the notion that it oozes with opportunity. 

So how about seizing a chance to become part of a community of foresighted planners on this novel occasion?   You might write a few end-of-life preferences on a scrap paper or in a computer file, or even initiate dialogue with family members at the dinner table.  Every year on this noteworthy date you could expand your wish list so that by the time your life ends, your companions will have substantial guidelines to follow.  It might even be motivating to feel like you are a contemporary trendsetter, realizing that folks in other parts of the country are similarly engaged on this particular day. 

There are so many choices in life!  You can either ignore this day of opportunity or you can embrace the important activity for which it was conceived.  And while you’re at it, add some “icing on the cake” by embellishing the process on November 2nd when it’s Plan Your Epitaph Day.   As you encounter this catalytic pre-planning opportunity, remember the words to Lee Ann Womack’s song, I Hope You Dance: … “Give the heavens above more than a passing glance… when you get the chance to sit it out or dance… I hope you dance.”

Happy Create A Great Funeral Day!

Sunday, October 14, 2012



In terms of trendy places these days, crematories are “hot!”  People in North America are increasingly opting for cremation rather than ground burial.  It is a phenomenon mourned by funeral directors and cemetery operators for whom conventional interments had always provided the “bread and butter” for their businesses.  Loss of income is at the root of their tribulation. These establishments, like so many others, have suffered the effects of a recession propelling individuals’ quest for cost-saving measures.

A customer need not pay an exorbitant amount if cremation is the preferred mode for final disposition.  In fact, the so-called “direct” approach allows for a body to be transferred from the place of death to a crematory with few intervening bodily ministrations that would entail fees.  But even if a whole body destined eventually for a furnace is tended in a funeral home for a while, certain funerary products and provisions will not need to be factored in when calculating costs.  Without a casket, vault, cemetery plot or mausoleum crypt, opening and closing of the space, a perpetual care allotment, bodily transport to a burial site and vehicles for a procession, monetary output can be reduced.

On the other hand, anyone opting for cremation can get “carried away” even in the absence of a body.  Maintaining physical remains on the premises for a period of time prior to cremation offers opportunities to contract for a number of “line items” from the general price list.  How about an expensive urn instead of the cookie jar at home?  Or a period of visitation would warrant embalming – a stipulation at most funeral homes.  For a funeral service on site, it doesn’t matter if a body or an urn is the central focal point.  And an impressive array of manufactured goods with equally impressive price tags is available for perusal. 

So altruistic nurturers with a high degree of empathy who choose cremation, but nonetheless want to feed a funeral director’s “kitty” can select variations on the usual theme. The livelihoods of funeral home personnel can still be boosted regardless of certain dead elements within their domain. Think of it as grief therapy for providers.  For example, I recently attended a Catholic church funeral that transpired according to tradition… except that the body had already been cremated.  An urn took the place of a casket.  But funeral home personnel assumed their usual roles, as if a body were on the premises.  They delivered the urn and floral arrangements to the church, waited throughout the duration of the service, and afterward, placed the urn inside a full-sized, snazzy hearse for transport to a cemetery columbarium.  Family members followed behind in a limousine from the funeral home’s fleet of vehicles. 

This, of course, might be considered “overkill” by anyone seeking to minimize expenses.  For the most part, as a result of abbreviated services in conjunction with cremation, income generated by funeral home participation is apt to be less if this method of disposition is chosen.

So, if you are the frugal type, what can you do for end-of-life providers who are mourning their losses?  How about giving a funeral director a hug today?  It will “do a body good.”