Ms. Rubin sounds like a woman after my own heart. I wish she could have crashed my mother’s funeral in 1998. We had a 21-squirt-gun salute that devolved into a water fight, a Dixieland band tribute, followed by schottische dancing (kind of like a polka for four people if you’ve never heard of it) with Mom’s spirit as the fourth member. I’ve already specified in my will that I want my ashes placed in a 1960s ceramic cookie jar featuring Betty and Barney Rubble from “The Flintstones.” I wrote “Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss,” with many of the same goals in mind as Ms. Rubin—to teach people that being prepared doesn’t mean you’ll hasten anyone’s death and you just might value life more in the moment if you do. Thanks for this unique and intriguing effort. (By the way, I LOVED “Harold and Maude” and its messages about taking control over the course of your life and living it fully.)—Sid

Woman Plans To Attend 30 Funerals in 30 Days.

Albuquerque, NM – Starting October 30, the 11th annual Create a Great Funeral Day, event planner Gail Rubin will launch the “30 Funerals in 30 Days Challenge.”

Rubin, the author of A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die, will attend 30 funerals or memorial services in 30 days and write about each on her blog, The Family Plot ( The 30 Funerals in 30 Days Challenge is designed to bring light to a dark subject and help families get end-of-life conversations started.

The “30 Funerals in 30 Days Challenge” will:

– Show that funerals are a life cycle event much like a wedding, best planned more than a few days ahead of time.
– Illustrate the many creative ways people celebrate the lives of those they love.
– Help reduce a fear of talking about death – something that will happen to us all.
– Feature both memorial services and funerals, religious and non-religious events, as well as expected and unexpected deaths.

“Just like the lead characters in the cult film, Harold and Maude, I’m attending funerals for people I don’t know. This ‘30 Day Challenge’ will show that we need not fear having end-of-life conversations,” said Rubin. “Just as talking about sex won’t make you pregnant, talking about funerals won’t make you dead – and your family will benefit from the conversation.”

The recently released survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life revealed that atheists, agnostics, Jews, and Mormons are among the highest-scoring groups on a new survey of religious knowledge. They outperformed evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants, and Catholics on questions about core teachings, history and leading figures of major world religions.

A Good Goodbye devotes an entire chapter to religious funeral traditions for major faiths, providing an excellent resource for interfaith families who might not know much about their own religious traditions, let alone their partner’s.

“I’ve noticed a lot of traffic to The Family Plot Blog comes through the postings on religious traditions for funerals, which tells me there’s quite a need for this information,” said Rubin.

Create a Great Funeral Day was started in 2000 by Stephanie West Allen, a lawyer who wrote Creating Your Own Funeral or Memorial Service: A Workbook and an advocate for people planning their own funerals.

Rubin’s forthcoming book, A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die (Light Tree Press), provides the information, inspiration and tools to plan and implement creative, meaningful and memorable end-of-life rituals for people and pets. The book may be reserved at a pre-publication discount at