Have the Talk of a Lifetime

For Fans of Final Resting Places

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Who doesn’t love a good cemetery? Cemeteries offer nature, sculpture, and history rolled into one. Realizing that every person resting in a cemetery has a one-of-a-kind life story is an awe-inspiring thought. I always want to know more about how people lived their lives.

An entertaining way to learn about who’s behind some of those markers is to watch a series of YouTube vlogs entitled “Hollywood Graveyard.”  Its host, Arthur Dark, does an admirable job of noting the beauty of cemeteries as he presents facts about their notable inhabitants. Most of the graves he visits are those of famous people many adults will recognize: Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Rivers, and so on. Others are celebrities from years gone by whose fame faded long ago. Ironically, it’s the people I’ve never heard of who often have the most interesting stories.

For instance, I’d never heard the name Ub Iwerks even though I was quite familiar with his contributions to the entertainment industry.  Mr. Iwerks was Walt Disney’s right-hand man for many years. In addition to contributing to the creation of dozens of beloved animated characters, he is also credited with illustrating Mickey Mouse as we know and love him today.

Then there’s the even lesser-known Tamara De Treaux, an actress who stood 2’7” tall. Her diminutive stature kept her from being a leading lady but it didn’t stop her from becoming part of movie history. She was the person inside the costume of “E.T.”

Even familiar people can have unfamiliar backgrounds. Baby Boomers may remember Julie London and Bobby Troup as the married couple who starred in the 1970s television series “Emergency.”  Prior to their stint as television stars, Julie recorded over 20 albums of pop and jazz standards which are now mainstays on online music sites and top radio stations. Her husband had a no less impressive career as a jazz composer and musician, writing the standards “(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66” and “Girl Talk.”  

While cemeteries are historically the most common site for final resting places, today we have other options. Online tribute sites can tell a detailed story about a person’s life through photographs, videos, stories, and mementos. QR codes linked to memorial websites can be attached to urns. Social media platforms offer conversion of people’s profiles into memorial sites.

Still, a physical location, whether it be an earth burial, urn or scattering garden, suggests a permanent connection. There’s something sad about having nowhere to go to pay tribute to people like former Beatle George Harrison, actor Christopher Reeves and John F. Kennedy, Jr. whose cremated remains were scattered in places unknown or inaccessible.

We don’t have to be famous to have input about how—and where–we’ll be remembered. Many helpful tools are available through the Have the Talk of a Lifetime program that make it easy and even fun to give this information to others. After all, sharing stories with young people, passing along cherished recipes or noting accomplishments that made us proud may be the most enduring way to keep memories of us alive.


By Mark Allen, CEO & Executive Director
This post was originally written for the Have the Talk of a Lifetime blog.

Funeral Directors Aren’t So Scary

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6.20.18 Funeral Directors Aren't Scary Blog - M. AllenThis post was first shared on Have the Talk of a Lifetime’s blog on May 4.

When I was in elementary school, I discovered that one of my classmates was the child of a funeral home owner. I pitied this attractive, popular girl for having a parent that my 8-year old brain imagined to be a beady-eyed, sallow-skinned man who lurked around a cobwebbed funeral home on dark and stormy nights. One day she invited me to a birthday party at her home. I accepted despite dreading the thought of meeting her creepy father. To my surprise, on the day of her party, a man resembling Will Ferrell, not Bela Lugosi, greeted me at the door. He was funny, charming and warm. This was a funeral director? I couldn’t believe that all those Hollywood movies got it so wrong. 
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DIY Funerals: How Funeral Directors Can Help

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lights-light-bulb-ideaLike the electrician who corrected the problems I caused with my home’s wiring, funeral professionals have opportunities to help families avoid problems with whatever options they take upon themselves to memorialize loved ones. Not everyone will be comfortable with these options, but consider how you might offer your expertise (for a fee) to DIY-minded funeral families.  Read the rest of this entry »

You Want Me to Talk about WHAT .. at MY Age?

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Have the Talk of a Lifetime

I’m a big fan of celebrity funerals. At what other times do funerals get an international spotlight? Not only do celebrity funerals add some glamour to a subject most people dread, but they also inspire people to talk about how they want to be remembered.

When Joan Rivers died in 2014, family and friends described her funeral as the perfect tribute—glitzy, over-the-top and one-of-a-kind. More importantly, it was a cathartic experience that started their transition to life without their friend and loved one. Mourners left the church grieving, but with a sense of exuberance they hadn’t experienced up to that point. Gathering with family and friends to say goodbye to people we love can have tremendous healing power.

Transformative funerals are not just for celebrities, they’re for us too.

Transformative funerals are not just for celebrities, they’re for us too. This begs this question:  how do we as “ordinary” people plan such powerful and significant experiences?  The first step is simple: tell others how we want to be remembered and what is truly meaningful in our lives.

A collection of free tools is available to help us accomplish that goal. These tools are part of a program called Have the Talk of a Lifetime that was created to encourage families to discuss tribute options with one another well before they’re needed. Knowing what is meaningful to loved ones of all ages is the key to planning healing memorials. Read the rest of this entry »

Remember Your Loved Ones, Not Their Hobbies

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Originally posted at www.talkofalifetime.org/blog.

A carpenter named George lived in my hometown for many years. George possessed carpentry skills that were widely regarded as nothing short of amazing. When he passed away, many people who attended his visitation asked his family why none of the memorabilia on display depicted his talent for building. It would have been easy to display his worn saw horses, carefully-maintained tools and old coveralls as a tribute to the life he lived. His widow replied, “George wanted to be remembered for something other than his sanding technique and his ability to install electrical wiring in tight spaces.” Read the rest of this entry »

“Hello? Can You Tell Me How Have the Talk of a Lifetime Will Help Me Plan the Funeral I Really Want?”

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Where’s the car I was promised that folds into a briefcase? That may be an odd question given the amazing technology that’s been introduced during my lifetime. Computer and Internet magic have far surpassed anything I could have imagined. Still, I’m a little disappointed that some genius hasn’t figured out how to produce the fold-up automobile featured in the 1960s television cartoon The Jetsons. Read the rest of this entry »