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A Good Goodbye

It’s difficult not to like Gail Rubin, author of A Good Goodbye – Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan To Die.

She starts with a quote from Monty Python and ends by wanting to sell readers electronic contact forms for family and friends.

Between are headings that cover everything you need to know about planning a funeral including this classic: ‘It’s My Party And I’ll Die If I Want To’.

Reassuringly virtually all Gail’s advice covers aspects of funeral planning which My Last Song includes, with even a chapter – Where’s Fido? - on pet funerals.

The book also gives excellent advice on saving funeral costs and the funeral traditions of major faiths.

Rubin is a member of the Chevra Kaddisha, an organisation that prepares the body of Jews for burial, and she explains the Jewish tradition for burial in the eulogy she gave for her uncle Arthur which she reproduces in the book.

Arthur's body is, as tradition demands, clothed in white linen and cotton clothing, reminiscent of the attire of high priests.

“What you can’t see,” said Gail when giving the eulogy, “is that Arthur is being buried in his tennis whites, with his size 13 tennis shoes and tennis team jacket…the family felt he would have wanted it that way.”

The book is full of similarly funny and slightly outrageous passages. Death and funerals are made more bearable, more human, when approached in this way.

It is the warmth and humour that combines with good advice which makes this book especially suitable to be used when addressing the mortality of a third party, such as an ailing relative.

And although the A Good Goodbye covers American cultural and legal issues, the messages and advice are relevant to a UK audience.

Once the fear is taken away from death, it can be planned for in a more reasonable and reasoned way.  And that is why A Good Goodbye is so highly recommended by My Last Song.  

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