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, December 27, 2013



When we summon memories, often holidays come to the forefront of our minds. Imagine (or remember) spending many decades with a beloved companion and then, suddenly, that person is gone from your holiday scenarios. A joyful season becomes a time of accentuated sorrow. A feeling of detached isolation is apt to ensue. Loneliness may signal continued or reactivated immersion in the grieving zone. 

Published in a current edition of First Local Toledo, an article (“Getting through the holidays when you’ve lost a loved one,”) written by Megan Coyle-Stamos of Coyle Funeral Home begins with a poignant quotation expressed by someone who has experienced holiday heartsickness triggered by absence: “The holidays are approaching, and I am not ready. I don’t think I will ever have that Christmas cheer. It’s winter and I feel frozen inside as it is outside. As I set the table for our special meal, I am acutely aware of the empty place at the family table. I am trying to find the magic spirit of the season, but when the family circle has been broken by death, the only things that sparkle this season are my tears.” 

Funeral homes around the country have addressed the season’s exacerbation of loss by offering client families opportunities to come together in a spirit of reflection to recognize cherished cohorts no longer present. Though critics interpret such initiatives as opportunistic marketing strategies for community visibility, the folks who attend the affairs appreciate a chance to be around others in similar circumstances at this time of the year. As noted by Mike Castoral of the South Plainfield Funeral Home in New Jersey, “It’s a way to include your loved one in the holiday season.” 

Characteristically, a standard event entails conduct of a service of remembrance highlighted by a Christmas tree bearing ornaments representing individuals who died within the past year. Often angel ornaments are presented to each family in attendance. They may have names and dates on them. Or families may be asked to bring an ornament of special significance relative to their loved one. Candlelight ceremonies are common. Videos similar to those shown during funeral services may be featured, but in this case there’s apt to be a streaming of multiple decedents’ images accompanied by tranquil Christmas tunes. If guests are from out of town, a funeral home’s website may direct them to a list of lodging options and other nearby facilities. 

Incidentally, certain funeral home personnel offer alternative practices that aren’t necessarily designed specifically for mourners. A wreath lighting occasion, a sing-a-long of spiritual or Christmas songs, or a breakfast with Santa for children may be offered to the community at large. They may join in endeavors of goodwill toward men (and women) by participating in food or clothing and toy drives for needy families or by engaging in other worthy causes that mark the season. 

So don’t assume that funeral home functions beyond the usual exigencies come to a grinding halt when the holiday season arrives. The widespread remembrance services have increasingly attracted large numbers of participants. Though the original meaning of Christmas relates to birth, it is also an occasion that heralds the impact of death.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


USA HORIZONS... Fly'Bye Lady Visits OHIO


Upon walking into the Coyle Funeral Home, one can spot a number of funeral directors hanging on the wall.  That is, portraits of the founder and individuals who followed in his footsteps depict a lineage of operators of this establishment. The chronological, eightfold familial line-up speaks to the current milestone that’s being recognized and celebrated:  2013 marks their 125th year of funeral service.

So what have the inspired operators of this funeral home done to proclaim their longevity?  After a celebratory wine tasting and hors d’oeuvres affair attended by 300 people, they launched a contest!   If you happen to pass through Toledo and notice someone wearing a green T-shirt with an emblazoned declaration that “I Put the FUN in FUNERALS,” you can assume you’ve encountered one of the monthly winners. 

You might think to yourself… You lucky stiff!  Gee, I wish I could wear one of those.  Well, you could be the next winner, but you’d need to act promptly before the contest ends in December.  All you have to do is recall your most humorous funeral experience, write a synopsis describing the circumstances, submit it, and then wait for the phone call or email notification that yours was the entry that caused staff to almost die laughing. 

Then it will be time to make room in your drawers for that new T-shirt and prepare to utilize a restaurant gift card… compliments of the funeral home. 

But, wait!  That’s not the end of it!  At the conclusion of the contest a grand prizewinner will be chosen from the cadre of monthly essay champions.  That person will not only be wearing green, but will be seeing green as well!  Besides some fun fluff – a special occasion for two with a night on the town (dinner and a movie) via a chauffeured funeral limousine – the recipient will be awarded a free funeral!  The “free” part of the prize depends on how lavish that individual’s end-of-life arrangements will be.  More definitively, the prize is up to $5,000. toward the cost of funeral provisions. 

This essay contest exemplifies an outlook of the folks here who deal with death on a daily basis.  It is that moments of levity conveyed respectfully can help to alleviate the prospect of excruciating bereavement stress.  One doesn’t usually equate an attitude of humor with funeral homes.  But maybe this creative twist will help people overcome perceptions of dreariness and recognize the lighter side of funeral providers.     

Monday, November 25, 2013


USA HORIZONS... Fly'Bye Lady Visit In UTAH


Pretend you are standing in a residential neighborhood at the corner of Genesee Ave and S 700 W/S 7th West, on a road alongside a major elevated highway.  What do you see? But, of course, a pyramid!  

Yes, contained on groomed property enclosed by a foliage-enhanced fence with colorful floral highlights, this imposing, triangular-sided structure dominates the landscape. 

Indeed, this is an unusual replica of stone versions from ancient times, but you may not want to forgo a trip to Egypt to observe the original pyramids that typically served as tombs for mummified bodily remains.  However, if a modern approach to mummification appeals to you, this is the place where you can send your body… right here in your own country.  

Operated by followers of the Summa religion and philosophy, the Summum organization's facility can be utilized for a unique preservation technique combined with rites of transference to the next plane of a soul’s existence. 

So far, pets have been the primary subjects, but the process is available for humans as well. 

Expect to leave your body here for a period of several months for physical and spiritual ministrations.  During this time it will be bathed and smothered in lanolin creams between soaking phases.  Submersion in a tank filled with a chemical preservative solution continues for extended time periods to achieve saturation.   Also, in accordance with vestigial practices, organs are removed for cleansing before being readmitted to the abdominal cavity.   Many layers of gauze are wrapped around the body before polyurethane, fiberglass, and resin are used to effect an enclosed membrane that toughens and provides a permanent seal.

After the preparatory steps, a body may be placed in a molded shell (an art form casket) cast in bronze or stainless steel and made according to someone’s specifications, including options for creative embellishment.  Otherwise, a streamlined capsule can be used in conjunction with a commercially available stainless steel or bronze casket that conforms to certain requisites.    

The end result is a supple and lifelike body with retained pigments of skin, hair, and eyes, as opposed to the dried specimens of antiquity.  DNA purportedly remains intact.  The final resting place might be within a cemetery vault under controlled conditions or in an underground protective mausoleum.   

So if you do, indeed, travel to Egypt and upon being amazed by the wondrous pyramids you develop a case of mummy envy, let your thoughts get bound up in the possibilities back home!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Memorial Park BY AIRPORT

USA HORIZONS... Fly'Bye Lady Visit In NEVADA


The great thing about a cemetery is that, regardless of where it is located, the occupants for whom it was intended can assuredly rest in peace.  This might be the consoling rationalization of someone standing on the grounds of the Davis Memorial Park, which abuts a busy road immediately next to the end of busy runways at the McCarran International Airport.  

The burial site is so distinctly in the path of planes ascending into the sky above that visitors not yet inured to the compelling sound of the flying machines inevitably look heavenward. 

Yet loved ones of decedents here seem undeterred by the aerial uproar coupled with the summer heat as they gather by gravesites for meditative reflection.  

It is a rather riveting sight to behold – an exemplification of contemplative contrasts. While thinking about a bodily presence within the ground below, maybe it is reassuring to watch the planes overhead, as if they symbolically represent the freeing of a loved one’s spirit on the way to heaven.  And maybe the familiarity of those clamorous sounds up above remind mourners that, for them, life goes on. 

Monday, November 18, 2013


USA HORIZONS... Fly'Bye Lady Visit In NEVADA


Often public interest in cemeteries is generated by advertising the presence of bodily residuals from celebrities of days gone by.  Such is the case at the Palm Memorial Park, where Redd Foxx, a comedian who starred in the television show, Sanford and Son, was buried.  But if visitors here who look for his gravesite also explore additional areas of this property, they will come upon some other eye-catching elements.

Among them are a number of attractive water features enhancing the grounds amidst established trees.  Next to a mausoleum there’s a tranquil pond brought to life by the invigoration of a fountain.  

At other locations there are graded formations wrought by landscapers who have integrated rocks, streams, and waterfalls into lush memorial settings. 

After driving through dry and barren landscapes to reach this destination, the aquatic accents in sections of the memorial park are a welcome sight.  Maybe community residents in this part of the country appreciate a refreshing opportunity to repose in their midst.

Monday, November 11, 2013




When traversing through a cemetery, one doesn’t necessarily expect to see a lot of life.  But the one owned by East Lawn Palms Mortuary is alive with color!  It is a striking example of differences in management styles among providers.  On some burial grounds, artificial flowers are banned or restricted.  But here the property is awash in these stimulating focal points that draw attention to the gravesites of dearly beloved decedents. 

Perhaps this is a small detail to ponder when pre-planning.  Would you want to choose a site that allows placements of these or other types of memorial grave decorations, or would you rather repose in a pristine field of unadulterated uniformity? 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Memorial Park PET BURIALS and more...



Another stop on our necropolis expedition was an enthralling jaunt through the Sunset Memorial Park affiliated with the French Funeral Homes, with which Gail has collaborative ties.  Since its inception, this business has been family operated through multiple generations. 

The original layout was conceived according to a prototype introduced by Forest Lawn Cemetery in California.  That is, the idea was to establish park-like grounds rather than a tombstone-dotted burial domain. The notion of a memorial park materialized here eighty-five years ago and the first burial was in 1929. 

In recent years there have been additions that proclaim modernity.  In 2007, inauguration of the Centennial Urn Garden celebrated one hundred years of service to the community by the French establishment.  

The prominent adobe-style architecture of walled partitions is the backdrop for granite-faced wall niches and ground burials of urns amidst pergolas and landscaped gardens bearing varieties of foliage and fountains. Sunlight permeates this open-air enclave, which has chapel and reception space that can accommodate up to one hundred guests.

Within the Centennial Garden there’s a four-sided raised garden bed that bespeaks the influence of the University of New Mexico as an Albuquerque landmark.  It has wide borders of granite in the school colors of cherry and silver, and a statue in the center replicates its official mascot, a lobo (the Spanish word for wolf), which also relates to the name of the campus newspaper, The Daily Lobo.  Though this is the likely place for urn burials of people with university ties, anyone can choose the site.  Some may opt for it simply because they like the effects of the granite colors, or maybe it would be reassuring to have one’s bodily substance hanging out under the watchful protection of a wolf.   

The Rose Garden, located behind the park’s mausoleum, allows for an alternative option of scattering.  Anyone who chooses it can have names, dates, and sentiments written on a bench in the Centennial Garden.

An atmosphere of comfort and color characterizes the Chester T. French Memorial Mausoleum (named in tribute to the founder), which is enhanced by stained glass windows, plants, and a sea of floral decorations attached to crypt surfaces.  

A chapel is available for services here.

Within the building is the Times & Seasons Columbarium, a room lined floor to ceiling with glass-fronted cremation niches that accommodate urns and personal mementos.  

Centrally located couches invite meditative reflection. 

Flying in on the wings of a new trend, pet services were introduced recently.  Management of animal loss is handled within a separate building, called Best Friends.  It houses a viewing room for visitation, cremation equipment, and memorial products for sale.  Pet cremations are either private (a single animal as the only occupant of the retort), separate (more than one separated by metal dividers, but cremated together), or community (multiple animals not separated). 

Land designated for burial of both human and pet remains is nearby.  It is the Best Friends Forever section where people may choose burial with or without accompanying cremated animal substance, either in the ground or in a columbarium niche.  

A prominent aboveground ossuary is exclusively for collective pet remains.  

Niche spaces solely for animals may be used to hold as many cremated remains as will fit.  Sometimes they are contained within velvet pouches. 

By seeing what this memorial park has to offer, a pre-planner can witness the reality of adaptations that are taking place within the funeral industry.  The burgeoning trend toward cremation has been addressed here, as well as the growing tendency to acknowledge grief that’s triggered by the loss of a beloved animal companion.  Fortunately, changing times render augmented services, even in handling matters of death.  

Monday, November 4, 2013

Gail Rubin Tour of JEWISH CEMETERY



Passage through this metropolitan desert territory led the Fly-‘Bye Lady to the doorstep of Gail Rubin, a zealous pre-planning promoter and quintessential conduit of consumer information.  Having authored the book, A Good Goodbye, she is knowledgeable about diverse aspects of end-of-life management and commemoration.  Besides presenting television and radio programs, she serves as a guest speaker at various venues, maintains a blog, conducts death cafes, and offers a variety of learning tools to the public.  Her membership in relevant organizations and her celebrant qualification, likewise, reflect an enduring commitment to the cause. 

As a tourist in Albuquerque, one might gravitate to a region known as Old Town to experience a ghost tour presented by the Southwest Ghosthunters Association.  But with Gail as the tour director, the destination was more “down to earth.” Her active membership in the Jewish (Reform) organization, Congregation Albert, qualifies this pre-planning enthusiast to be the ideal guide for an excursion through their cemetery.  

Within the radius of the Fairview Memorial Park and the historic Fairview Cemetery that originated as the first public cemetery in Albuquerque, two and a half acres comprise a northern subdivision owned and operated by the Congregation Albert community.

The prominent headstone of its namesake and original founder of the organization, Albert Grunsfeld, is located in an older part of the property, among others with dates from the 1800s and early 1900s.  

But future utilization is conceivable, as well, especially since Gail’s own ultimate resting place is only a stone’s throw away. 

The combined burial grounds manifest additional contrasts and trigger comparisons.  Uniformity is not the overriding impression here.  Rather, along with typical aspects of old and new, there’s also graphic disparity between lush, pastoral, green grassy turf and dry, barren, dusty brown terrain, delineated only by a stone wall that separates the two landscapes. There are paved roads with curbs and there are more primitive, dirt-laden ones.  Victorian-style upright memorial stones abound in the older area, but more contemporary flat markers also grace the grounds. 

Throughout eras of cultural shifts, revered threads of Jewish traditions have been maintained.  As a Congregation Albert Cemetery committee participant, Gail might be found speaking to a group about historical hallmarks of the religion’s burial rituals, including the well-known convention of washing and dressing the dead.  But she gets around.  So don’t be surprised if sometime you find her on her knees by Albert Grunsfeld’s monument, along with a group of followers, on an occasion dubbed “Cemetery Education Day.”  Combined with learning about Jewish funeral practices, families have joined together to share in an activity known as a Genziah ceremony, the burial of sacred objects.  Here, in keeping with a custom, they have deposited old and tattered prayer books, prayer shawls, and other relevant items.  Thanks to Gail and her congregational cohorts, Albert assuredly would be proud of his descendants’ initiatives to keep Jewish influences alive and well!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Funeral Home FLOWER SHOP



Often floral arrangements for funerals can be purchased directly via funeral home websites.  Or one can choose them when surveying products within their product selection rooms.  But some also maintain a separate building dedicated solely to the sale of flowers. 

When a death causes mourners to realize that they should “stop to smell the roses,” they can actually walk into the Wade Funeral Home Florist to do so literally. 

The storefront building looks like a typical commercial establishment alongside a city sidewalk, but its uniqueness stems from the fact that it is located between two funeral home buildings.  Yet it’s a full service business that markets flowers for any occasion.  Convenience and versatility sure can make life… and death… a bit easier.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

GREEN BURIAL at Kessler Woods

USA HORIZONS... Fly'Bye Lady Visit In INDIANA 


The setting for burials in the five-acre Kessler Woods section at the edge of the Washington Park North Cemetery certainly epitomizes the concept of “natural.”  Upon entering this virginal wooded realm dominated by tall trees, one is apt to encounter darting and fluttering wildlife amidst a forest backdrop. The rustic and secluded surroundings are totally contrary to characteristically manicured and expansive cemetery grounds governed by tradition. 

Here is where the environmentally sustainable burial option offered by Flanner and Buchanan Funeral Centers can be realized… where bodily remains decompose under natural conditions without impediments of metal caskets and concrete vaults or formaldehyde-based embalming, and according to established parameters. 

Once a body is buried, the dirt that was dug out to create the grave is placed on top of it.  With eventual underground decomposition, the dirt settles and the mound disappears. 

Gravesites here are covered with engraved sandstone or tree pieces as memorial markers. 

A nearby site also serves the same purpose, though the terrain is distinguished by prairie grasses and flowers native to Indiana.

Next time you’re in Indianapolis you might want to check out “the road less traveled” to see where some of Indiana’s outdoorsmen, environmentalists, conservationists, and others may come to rest.