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Christmas End-of-Life Conversation Starters
Gail Rubin, The Doyenne of Death, Funeral Expert Gail Rubin, The Doyenne of Death, Funeral Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Albuquerque , NM
Monday, December 23, 2019


When you are together with your family over the holidays, this can be a great time to find out each person’s thoughts on end-of-life wishes. Yes, really. Here are some recommendations to help get the conversation started.

Chuckles Bites the Dust

Mary Tyler Moore Chuckles Funeral 2
Mary Tyler Moore in the “Chuckles Bites the Dust” episode.

The “Chuckles Bites the Dust” episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show in 1975 was rated “best TV episode” by TV Guide. It brings a humorous approach to discussing death and funeral planning. Get the DVD from Amazon or find it on your favorite online streaming service.

THE STORYLINE: Mary is appalled with everyone’s reaction when one of their station co-workers Chuckles the Clown is killed in a freak accident. He was the Grand Marshall at a circus parade, appearing as one of his TV characters, Peter Peanut. He is shelled by a rogue elephant. Murray in particular simply can’t stop making jokes about it. Mary thinks it’s all inappropriate, despite Lou’s claim that it’s just a way of dealing with death. They all attend the memorial service but it’s Mary who has trouble remaining solemn.

Watching this episode while you are gathered with family over the holidays is a great conversation starter. You’ll laugh a lot, and the last scene provides a door-opening opportunity to discuss your preferred disposition method.

The Conversation Project Tools

The Conversation Project is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care. While 92% say that talking with loved ones about end-of-life wishes is important, only 32% have actually done so. They offer free conversation starter kits and seven podcasts you can listen to in the car on the way to Grandma’s house. Check out their resources here.

New Mexico Holiday Traditions

Christmas Eve in New Mexico cemeteries is magical! Watch this video to see what it looks like.

Here in the American Southwest, there’s a tradition of visiting the graves of loved ones on Christmas Eve. In Catholic cemeteries, the night of December 24 is the busiest time of the year for visitors, rivaling even Memorial Day. Graves are decorated with various types of lights.

The most simple and beautiful lights are created by lunch sack-sized paper bags with sand weighting the bottom and anchoring a single votive candle. When hundreds of graves are lined with thousands of luminarias, the result is a peaceful, glowing field of love.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season!

Gail Rubin, CT, is author and host of the award-winning book and television series, A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die, Hail and Farewell: Cremation Ceremonies, Templates and Tips, and KICKING THE BUCKET LIST: 100 Downsizing and Organizing Things to Do Before You Die.

Rubin is a Certified Thanatologist (that's a death educator) and a popular speaker who uses humor and films to get the end-of-life and funeral planning conversation started. She "knocked 'em dead" with her TEDx talk, A Good Goodbye. She provides continuing education credit classes for attorneys, doctors, nurses, social workers, hospice workers, financial planners, funeral directors and other professionals. She's a Certified Funeral Celebrant and funeral planning consultant who has been interviewed in national and local print, broadcast and online media.

Known as The Doyenne of Death®, she is the event coordinator of the Before I Die NM Festival. She also hosts A Good Goodbye Internet radio show and produces Mortality Minute radio and online video spots. Her YouTube Channel features more than 450 videos!

Rubin is a member of the Association for Death Education and Counseling, the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association, Toastmasters International and the National Speakers Association New Mexico Chapter. Her speaking profile is available at eSpeakers.com.

Gail Rubin has been interviewed about funeral planning issues in national and local broadcast, print and online media. Outlets include The Huffington Post, Money Magazine, Kiplinger, CBS Radio News, WGN-TV,  and local affiliates for NPR, PBS, FOX, ABC-TV, CBS-TV and NBC-TV. Albuquerque Business First named her as one of their 2019 Women of Influence.

Sign up for a free planning form and occasional informative newsletter at her website, AGoodGoodbye.com.

A Good Goodbye
Albuquerque, NM