#Talkdeath’s June edition panelist, Gail Rubin is truly a woman of many hats. A celebrant, public speaker, funeral expert and consultant, and an author (to name a few); Rubin has made it her mission to open up death positive discourse in a number of ways. To all of these roles, she brings her own unique personality: a combination of lightheartedness with thoughtfulness and care. Her book A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die is truly demonstrative of Rubin’s unique attitude and approach to preparing for that one experience we all share: death.
My goal is to help you consider your role in this inevitable life cycle event, make it easier to implement the rituals that lead toward healing, and do it with humor.”
A Good Goodbye is far from Rubin’s first written work on the subject of death, having been a columnist for the Albuquerque Tribune. Her column, “Matchings, Hatchings, and Dispatchings,” provided Rubin with a written platform to discuss life cycle events, including various aspects of death and dying. In particular, it made clear to Rubin the need for such platforms to exist, and thus acted as partial inspiration for her future work as a death professional. Rubin acknowledges her personal experience battling breast cancer as also playing a role in reminding her of her own mortality, and inspiring her to prepare for the future while encouraging others to do the same.
And herein lies Rubin’s purpose in writing A Good Goodbye. “My goal,” Rubin explains, “is to help you consider your role in this inevitable life cycle event, make it easier to implement the rituals that lead toward healing, and do it with humor.” Indeed, Rubin lays out the need-to-know information about preparing for your own death (or that of a loved one), and does so with a light touch that helps make the reality of this event easier to bear.
With each chapter covering a different important aspect of funeral preparation, Rubin’s approach to the topic is extremely comprehensive. She is careful to cover all of the topics the are necessary for making these events go as smoothly as possible, including step-by-step guides for how to plan a funeral. However, she is also sure to discuss alternative options, such as green burial methods and alternative memorial practices- all of which she explains with the same care and attention to detail in her discussions. Indeed, it is clear that Rubin’s treatment of funeral planning and preparation is driven by her honest desire to minimize undue stress in the lives of those dealing with the loss of someone they care for.
If you don’t talk about what you want done with your lifeless body, you will leave your family and friends in a world of hurt…”
Rubin draws our attention to the fact that funerals and memorial services aren’t only for the person who has died: they are also for those who have experienced the loss of a loved one. They are often an important part of the grieving process, and play a significant role in providing some form of closure. With A Good Goodbye, Rubin is providing a thorough and engaging guide for how to approach these difficult events, and shows us that being prepared and open to discussing death can have a significant impact on those you care for, as well as yourself.
Rubin uses her sense of humor as the vehicle to drive home the message that “If you don’t talk about what you want done with your lifeless body, you will leave your family and friends in a world of hurt if the Big Bus unexpectedly runs you over tomorrow and transports you to the Pearly Gates. Do everybody a favor and make some plans.”