The book Re-membering Lives bears that title partly because it refers to the metaphor of membership in a club of significant others in a person's life. We each are born into our own club, adding and subtracting members as we move through life. The book looks at how to keep or reinstall a person as a member of your club, even if he or she is dead.
The novel approach of the book's authors intrigued me. In case you might find it of interest, too, I have posted below some book excerpts.
It is often assumed, within the modernist discourse of death, that death itself cancels membership. When people are expected to accept the finality and reality of death, this is often what is meant. People are asked to withdraw their investment in relationship with the deceased and to reinvest in other relationships. The metaphor invokes an economy of relationship that invites us to treat people like stocks that we invest in (presumably for own profit). When our relational investments are no longer yielding high returns, we are encouraged to cut our losses and move on. From our perspective, the idea that a relationship ends and that the bereaved need to cease to recognize a loved one as a member of the club of life is a mistake.
Remembering conversations are deliberate acts of membership construction. They keep a person's membered status close and current and constantly renew our loved one's presence in our club of life. To remember is to include them in our daily lives, in our conversations, in our celebrations, in our decision-making, and in our resources for living. To remember is to refuse to allow our loved one's memory to go by unnoticed. Remembering may involve keeping a person's voice alive through repeating their words in relation to new developments in life. It may involve consulting the deceased's opinion as a resource for dealing with a new challenge. It may involve keeping in place in family gatherings or rituals for someone who is no longer alive. It may involve telling young children stories about a dead grandparent's life. It may involve committing oneself to living for some value our purpose that a dead love held dear.
What is the opposite of remembering? The usual inclination would be to suggest forgetting. However, within the definition of membership that we are speaking about, that is this is too weak
I will be on my colleague Gail Rubin's radio show A Good Goodbye October 30, at 4 Mountain, 6 Eastern. Listen in here. If you cannot listen in at that time, a recording will be available afterwards at the same link.
October 30 is the 14th annual Create a Great Funeral Day; the interview is in honor of that holiday. I registered the day well over a decade ago to remind people to consider the benefits of creating your own funeral or memorial service, regardless of age of state of health.
Why would you want to make those plans? Just a few reasons:
You relieve those you leave behind of many decisions during their time of grief.
You give the bereaved the emotional satisfaction of knowing they are carrying out your wishes.
You may open up new areas of discussion with your family.
You are able to create an event that truly reflects your life.
Reviewing your life for the purpose of creating the service allows you to evaluate how you want to use your future.
And this gentle reminder of your mortality has an effect on your decisions about today.
For some previous blog posts about creating your own funeral, click here. For more about my book on the topic, go here.
I have a letter now in my hands [from Nora]: “Came home (from Claudia Cohen’s funeral where you, Liz, say you want nothing like it). Told Nick to make sure when I died there was a funeral and not a memorial service. Please remind him. This is the real effect of all these funerals. They give us ideas for our own. I want a big deal, and I want everyone to be basket cases.”
I am sure there will be many basket cases.
Please click to read posts I have written about the many benefits of designing your own funeral, regardless of your age or health.
We are going to have an exciting program at our usual meeting of Denver Talks and are therefore opening the meeting up to others. The seating is very limited (20 people) so please let me know right away if you wish to attend. The location is south Denver with plenty of parking and the fee will be between $2 and $3. The talk is 60 minutes and will be on March 2 in the morning. The exact time, fee, and location will be sent soon after you sign up.
People will be attending for one or two reasons (or both):
First, for the actual content of the talk (see below);
Second, to see how to use clips from movies to educate.
Because of both the content and the style of delivery, the discussion promises to very lively.
Funny films can help start difficult conversations about death and funeral planning, as well as prompt meaningful conversations to improve families’ quality of life before there’s a death. Gail Rubin, author of A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die, uses films to help get the conversation started. Her "Funny Films for Serious Funeral Planning Conversations" includes scenes from Waking Ned Devine, Get Low, Undertaking Betty, The Big Lebowski, and Death at a Funeral.
Let me know very soon by e-mail if you want to be on the list to attend.
In his classic book Psycho-Cybernetics, plastic surgeon Maxwell Maltz wrote that many of his patients were not helped by his surgery because what was getting in their way of happiness was "more than skin deep."
It was as if personality itself had a "face." . . . If it remained scarred, distorted, "ugly," or inferior, the person himself acted out this role in his behavior regardless of the changes in physcial appearance. If this "face of personality" could be reconstructed, if old emotional scars could be removed; then the person himself changed, even without facial plastic surgery. Once I began to explore this area, I found more and more phenomena which confirmed the fact that ‘self-image’, the individual’s mental and spiritual picture of himself, is the real key to personality and behavior. ...
Dr. Maltz explained why he changed his professional direction.
These observations led me into a new career. ...I became convinced that the people who consult a plastic surgeon need more than surgery and that some of them do not need
My friend Gail Rubin has created a fun way to let your partner know your wishes for after you are done living. She calls it The Newly-Dead Game. She blogs at A Good Goodbye:
The Newly-Dead Game™ was conceived as a way to help start funeral planning conversations in a fun, non-threatening way. ...
“Couples who have played this game often come away with a fresh appreciation of how much they still need to know about each other when it comes to funeral planning,” said Rubin. “Just as talking about sex won’t make you pregnant, talking about funerals won’t make you dead – and your family really does benefit from the conversation.”
The game is based on elements of The Newlywed Game, but the questions in The Newly-Dead Game revolve around how well the couple knows each other regarding their last wishes.
You may order the game here. Gail will be playing the game live in 2012 at the next Frozen Dead Guy Days (FDGD) in Nederland, Colorado. Last year at this event there was a waiting list to participate in the game; the interest this coming year will likely grow. Put FDGD on your calender for March 2-4. Who wants to go with me?
It is hard to believe that so much time has passed since I first registered this holiday. Interest has grown and it seems that more and more people are designing their end-of-life events, regardless of their age or state of health.