You can certainly find a lot of options for cremated remains at the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association’s annual convention and expo. The cremation urns offerings there range from fine ceramics and hand-turned wood to metal, Himalayan salt, biodegradable paper and much more.
In this video, Naseem Khan with LoveUrns shows and tells about the company’s stunning metal urns for holding the cremated remains of people and pets. Some are decorated with fine Swarovski crystals. The urns range from small keepsake sizes meant to split remains up among family members, to large urns designed to hold the remains of an adult. They also make elegant tea light holders.
The company’s website is www.LoveUrns.com.
At the 2013 ICCFA convention and expo, you could see everything for a cemetery: from granite markers to bronze statues; niche walls for cremated remains and vaults for below ground burials; mausoleum architecture and cemetery land use planning.
In this video from the ICCFA expo, Donna Angel with The Garden Gallery shows a lovely collection of bronze statuary for cemeteries that can be uses for cremation scattering areas and cremated remains plots. They also make a lovely accent piece just about anywhere.
This garden art collection of hand crafted bronze statuary, fountains, and home decor pieces is the outcome of their quest for distinctive, yet affordable, landscape and garden accents.
The pieces in The Garden Gallery are made using the centuries old “lost wax” method of bronze casting – still utilized today because of it’s ability to transfer exceptional detail. It is a multi-step, labor intensive method which requires every piece to be hand detailed and finished.
Find out more at www.TheGardenGallery.biz.
Here’s a great Non Sequitur cartoon – a visit to Testosterone Acres Cemetery! The one readable headstone says “Let me show you a faster way to do that…” Famous last words!
Filed under: Friday Funeral Films | Tags: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Funeral Films, The Great Gatsby
The new film The Great Gatsby, based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s enduring 1925 novel, provides a poignant Friday Funeral Film lesson.
The life and death of F. Scott Fitzgerald draws a strong parallel to that of Jay Gatsby, the namesake of the book’s title. Both rose up in society in the 1920s, partying with crowds of people in the Jazz Age, and both had very few people attend their funerals.
Fitzgerald enjoyed literary and financial success with his first novel, This Side of Paradise, released in 1919. During the 1920s, he and his wife Zelda lived the high life depicted in The Great Gatsby. They took up residences in both New York and Paris.
However, only his first novel sold well enough to support the couple’s opulent lifestyle. He borrowed money frequently from his agent and editor.
F. Scott was an alcoholic throughout his adult years, starting in his college days at Princeton. Zelda suffered from schizophrenia and was often hospitalized. Their only child, daughter Scottie, was born in 1921.
Fitzgerald went to Hollywood in 1937, and made his highest annual income that year – $29,757.87. Most of that income came from sales of short stories. Hollywood was hard on him. He did not make it as a screenwriter.
By 1940, when he died in Hollywood of a heart attack at the age of 44, he was financially destitute, estranged from his insane wife, and a broken man.
Among the attendants at a visitation held at a California funeral home was Dorothy Parker, who reportedly cried and murmured “the poor son-of-a-bitch,” a line from Jay Gatsby’s funeral in The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald’s body was transported to Maryland, where his funeral was attended by twenty or thirty people in Bethesda. Among the attendants were his only child, Frances “Scottie” Fitzgerald Lanahan Smith (then age 19), and his editor, Maxwell Perkins.
The Great Gatsby meets his end while floating in his swimming pool. He is shot by a man who thinks Gatsby ran his wife over in the wasteland between Manhattan and the posh palaces out on Long Island. Only a few people attended Gatsby’s funeral. Certainly none of the people who populated his parties came to call.
What can you learn from both men? Perhaps this: the content of your character, and not the canapes at your cocktail parties, is what will draw people to your funeral.
Here’s the trailer for the 1974 version of The Great Gatsby, starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. This third film version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic 1925 novel was one of the most hyped movies of the summer of 1974. Robert Redford stars as self-made millionaire Jay Gatsby, who uses his vast (and implicitly ill-gotten) fortune to buy his way into Long Island society. Most of all, Gatsby wants to win back the love of socialite Daisy Buchanan (Mia Farrow), now married to “old money” Tom Buchanan (Bruce Dern). Calmly observing the passing parade is Nick Carraway (Sam Waterston), Gatsby’s best friend, who narrates the film.
Compare that trailer with this one for the 2013 version starring Leonardo diCaprio and Carey Mulligan.
Fitzgerald was originally buried in Rockville Cemetery, an Anglican burial ground established in 1738, because the Roman Catholic Church would not allow his body to be buried in Fitzgerald’s family plot. Zelda died in 1948, in a fire at the Highland Mental Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina.
Daughter Scottie worked to overturn the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s ruling that Fitzgerald died a non-practicing Catholic, so that he could be buried at the Roman Catholic Saint Mary’s Cemetery where his father’s family was interred; this involved “re-Catholicizing” Fitzgerald after his death. Both of the Fitzgeralds’ remains were moved to the family plot in Saint Mary’s Cemetery in Rockville, Maryland in 1975 – a year after the Robert Redford version of The Great Gatsby was released. (I used to live about a mile from this cemetery!)
Their grave is inscribed with the final sentence of The Great Gatsby: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
While most folks avoid the idea of writing their own obituaries, Vennie White has already penned hers and shared it with family and friends – to mixed reactions.
I met her over the weekend at the Southwest Book Fiesta. She very enthusiastically told me about her own obituary project. Here’s what she wrote to me about it:
Though I have six siblings and I’m next to the youngest, I became the person to plan my mother’s service and write my dad’s obituary (on a laptop at a conference I was attending). Early in my newspaper career, I wrote obituaries, often calling funeral homes and families for more information. I usually wished that I’d met the person I was writing about and even received thank you notes for my efforts to include special details. This was in the early 1980s, when obits were free rather than being an important source of a newspaper’s income.
More recently, when my brother died unexpectedly, I again became the person to handle arrangements. There were some small family disagreements–did my brother graduate from U of Colo or Colo State? Where did he work before mental illness took over his life? The pastor who wrote his obituary mentioned my brother’s imaginary children, dolls that he carried with him everywhere. I thought that was perfect; my sister was not so pleased.
All of this led me to write my own obituary–so that no one else would have to figure out what to say. I sort of fell in love with myself as I reviewed my life–which is so much better than feeling blue about some of the twists and turns I’ve made. Writing this so cheered me that I wanted to share the experience with others.
Reactions were mixed. When a niece read it, she said, “Now would you write mine?” Friends in their 80s, who’d been reluctant to consider their passing, said they were inspired to write their own obituaries. On the other hand, when I shared it with younger friends in their 50s, they seemed reluctant to have a conversation about it, and made comments like, “Oh, you’re going to be around for a long time.”
So, here it is. I’m so pleased to share it with you. I know it’s way too long for publication. I’ve just sent it to family and friends, who can pass it on to other friends, so a published version might not even be necessary. I am, however, creating three short versions for newspapers in the places I spent most of my life, just in case someone decides there should be some sort of published obit.
Here is Vennie White’s obituary. What can you learn from what she’s written about her life? How do you want to be remembered? What stories do you want to tell? Like the awesome obituary of Harry Stamps that went viral, what can you say that will be passed along and enjoyed by people who didn’t even know you?
Vennie Eline White
Vennie Eline White, whose restless spirit seldom stayed in one place for very long, is off on another adventure, the only difference being that she left behind her cameras and car (Vennie’s Vibe). Though she moved often, she just as often returned to former homes to visit friends and places she loved, so it’s very likely that the whisper you hear in the wind over Wild Bill Hill or Lake Superior, at a parade or a festival, is just Vennie, stopping by. She donated her eyes so perhaps someone else might see the world in special ways.
Vennie lived in and worked in 11 states: Minnesota, Massachusetts, Montana, Wyoming, Washington, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, California, and Kansas, as well as Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She attended Durango (Colo.) High School and had fond memories of making banana splits, chocolate malts, and cherry phosphates at Basin Drug on Durango’s Main Street and of playing flute with the band at the Music Man Festival in Mason City, Iowa.
Vennie attended Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Mont., and the University of Colorado in Boulder. She earned bachelor’s degrees in university studies from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and in journalism from the University of Kansas in Lawrence. She earned master’s degrees in creative writing and community college education from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. (She was also pleased about her Bachelor of Square Dancing from the College of Do Si Dos and Allemande Lefts).
Vennie Eline, who loved her middle name, was a social services worker, a photojournalist, and a community college instructor. She served as a VISTA volunteer on the Colville and Spokane reservations in Washington and worked with pregnant teens, people with disabilities, foster children, and others for the Department of Health and Human Services and the Maternity and Infant Care Project in Albuquerque, N. M. She also enjoyed waiting table and bartending at O’Henry’s Country Barbeque and ward clerking on labor and delivery and newborn ICU at Bernalillo County Medical Center.
Vennie’s award-winning photographs and stories appeared in several newspapers, including the Somerville Journal in Massachusetts, the Green River Star in Wyoming, and the White Mountain Independent in Arizona. One of her favorite UNM journalism professors, Tony Hillerman, tried to persuade her not to transfer to the art department, where she could study photography. He knew she wanted to change the world, he said, and since she couldn’t do that with photographs, she should stick with reporting. Vennie happily told him years later that she thought she’d been able to change the world with both her writing and photography.
While she enjoyed seeing her own work in print, Vennie was just as pleased when her students’ writing led to scholarships, publication, or selection as graduation speakers. She taught writing full-time at community colleges in Grandview, Wash., Flagstaff, Ariz., and Austin, Minn., where she also ran the Riverland Writing Center. She was a nominee for Teacher of the Year in Grandview and Flagstaff and received a Minnesota state award for excellence in teaching. She held an abiding belief in the value of community colleges and the abilities of community college students. She viewed her students–who came to her classrooms from reservations and asparagus fields, from abandoned canneries and factories, from Mexico, Peru, Sudan, Somalia, Vietnam, China, Ukraine and other countries–as her teachers, and she felt privileged to know them.
She especially appreciated her four years of freelancing and working as an artist in residence for the Coconino Center for the Arts in Flagstaff, providing Literacy through Photography workshops at a detention center, alternative school, pregnant teen program, elementary schools, a food bank, and a dormitory for Native American high school students. While in Flagstaff, she also enjoyed being involved with Literacy Volunteers, the Northern Arizona Book Festival, and Flagstaff Friends of Traditional Music.
Though Vennie’s curiosity pulled her in many directions, one constant was her love for photography and for telling the stories of the people, old and young, who filled her pictures. From the time she began her study of photography at UNM in 1968 at the age of 22 until the day of her death (I hope), she was seldom without her camera. In addition to appearing in Arizona Highways magazine and other publications, her photos hung in galleries in Minnesota and Arizona, appeared on websites, decorated walls and refrigerators, and, more recently, found a place on Facebook pages, Youtube videos and blogs. She loved giving her pictures away, sometimes returning to festivals and, to the delight of those who received them, handing out prints to people she’d met the year before. She followed the philosophy of one of her heroes, Gordon Parks, who said that creating lasting photographs required good eyes and a good heart.
Vennie adored her nieces and nephews and their children and the two young women she cared for when they were young, Amber and Tamara Roshay. The kindnesses of friends who stayed in touch despite her peripatetic lifestyle (she always wanted an excuse to use that word) sustained her, and she was grateful for the nourishing meals they shared, the cozy beds they offered and the cats who often curled up beside her.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Inez Fillerup White and John Robert (Bob) White, and her brothers, Joe White and Scott White. She is survived by her sisters, Claudeen Wert of Aurora, Colo., and Laura McLane of Seattle, Wa., and brothers, Lane White of Denver, Colo., and her twin, Vernon White of Fairbanks, Alaska. Vennie mourned the passing of her beloved Kodachrome as well as the deaths of the Seattle P-I, Rocky Mountain News, and other great newspapers.
Vennie Eline loved to dance, sing, play her hammered dulcimer, and read good books on rainy afternoons. Celebrate this nomad’s life by doing the same and by spending a few moments with a rising full moon and a setting sun.
Here’s the description of the show:
Bill Leff visits with Gail Rubin, the Doyenne of Death and the author of A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die. In this podcast, they discuss four reasons why it’s good to plan your funeral when you’re healthy, green burials and her annual ’30 Funerals in 30 Days’ experience. And for more information about green burials make sure to check out Gail’s web radio show on Wednesday when she’ll be interviewing an expert in the field.
CLICK HERE to access the WGN podcast of the 25-minute interview.
Filed under: A Good Goodbye TV | Tags: bereavement, disenfranchised grief, pet loss, pets
Pet loss and ways to memorialize a pet are covered in this week’s episode of A Good Goodbye TV.
This episode also features the pet loss resources available at Funeralwise.com. This site has information on euthanasia decisions, pet funerals, pet loss and children, and a host of online resources and links.
The discussion in this episode on pet loss includes topics such as:
- How sadness over the death of a pet is often minimized, resulting in disenfranchised grief.
- The differing emotional reactions to human and pet deaths.
- Ways to decide when it’s time to put a pet down.
- How to tell when someone is recovering from their grief over a loss.
- Ways to handle the disposition of pet remains.
- How memorializing a pet can help heal grief over pet loss.
A Good Goodbye TV is currently airing only on Comcast Cable in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where the program originated.
Once all 12 episodes have aired in Albuquerque, the series will become available on DVDs and roll out to the 2,700 public access channels nationwide.
Here’s a quick look at the start of this episode on pet loss issues.
A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die is currently airing on Albuquerque’s Comcast cable system on the uPUBLIC.tv Channels 26 and 27. Each episode is scheduled as follows:
- On Channel 26, the time slots are currently Tuesdays at 4:00 p.m. and Wednesdays at 1:00 p.m.
- On Channel 27, the program airs Thursdays at 5:00 p.m. and Sundays at 9:00 a.m.
- Episodes will also appear on both channels in additional unscheduled repeats.
A Good Goodbye TV is an educational and entertaining 12-episode series of 30-minute programs with expert interviews on “everything you need to know before you go.”
Host Gail Rubin brings a light touch to a serious subject. Like her award-winning book, A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die, the television program covers information most people don’t know about until faced with a death in the family.
A GOOD GOODBYE DVD SET SPECIAL OFFER
The first 12 programs will become a set of DVDs with three interviews per disc. A Good Goodbye TV interviews will be grouped by content:
- DVD 1 Over My Dead Body: Essentials of Funeral Planning – Preneed funeral planning, cremation, cemetery Q&A
- DVD 2 Trending Topics: Pets, Funeral Parties and Going Green – Pet loss grief and disposition choices, life celebrations and celebrants, green burial and eco-friendly funerals
- DVD 3 Death and Taxes: A Primer on Finances and Funerals – estate planning, financial planning, cost management
- DVD 4 Good Grief! Save Money, Live and Die Better – Medicaid and more, advance directives, grief counseling
SPECIAL OFFER: Place your advance order for the four-DVD set at a 20% discount! The series will retail for $49.97. Place your pre-production order today for only $39.97 plus shipping. A free copy of the book A Good Goodbye will be sent right away to those who place advance orders. CLICK HERE to order.