Sunday, July 26, 2009

When The Sun Goes Down

Death is a mystery, and burial is a secret.
Stephen King, Pet Sematary

Actually, no. Not if you’ve read Betty Breuhaus’s When The Sun Goes Down: Planning the Funeral of Your Life (published by PublishingWorks, Inc; a trade paperback, $14.95).

The title intrigued me enough to request this book for review. Its take on after-death planning is detailed and respectful but not overly solemn; cartoons illustrate some well-known or amusing epitaphs, and there are pictures of unusual headstones. I especially like the one designed like a Scrabble board, with the player’s tiles spelling out “wemissu”.

There are also plenty of anecdotes about the ways in which people have eased or personalized the handling of the remains and the memorial services. I didn’t know that Hugh Hefner had reserved the burial plot next to Marilyn Monroe, so he could be next to the most beautiful woman in the world, but I’m not likely to forget that now.

The brisk and easy tone of the book strips any morbidity from the topic and demystifies the processes that we set into motion after death. From obituaries to alkaline hydrolysis to green cemetaries... it even contains pages at the back which can be filled in with notations on funeral homes, caskets, ethical wills, services and so on. And it encourages people to play an active role in what might otherwise be seen as a finality that cannot be influenced, much less controlled. You can still be present at your funeral, in other words, helping your family and friends to remember you and be comforted.

The sun does go down, but that’s when the stars come out. I enjoyed reading this book.


Hazardgal said...

Uplifting about the ultimate! Great review.

Marian Perera said...

That's also a great review in just four words. :)