No one ever wants to talk about death but honestly, death affects every area of our lives. One of the lesser discussed and majorly affected aspects of death is the impact that it can have on our finances from a taxation standpoint.
Back in October, I had the honor of speaking with tax accountant Erica Booth of Erica Booth Tax & Accounting Services, LLC about how death can and will impact the lives and taxes of those we leave behind. In this video, you'll have the privilege of overhearing our conversation and learning from the tax pro herself.
To learn more about Erica and how she can help you handle your taxes please visit her website http://www.ericaboothtaxes.com/
Movies are so powerful and have the potential to connect us all in a way that few other group events share. Much like life. we all leave the theaters with different perspectives of the experience we collectively share. To me, this mirrors our experience with grief and loss. Love and loss are universal but the way we experience loss is unique to our own interpretations.
I met Ryan after the movie and he was so kind to share his experience with grief and death. He also was vulnerable enough to share how his favorite movie taught him about the beauty and obligation we all will have to face when its time to let go of a loved one we cherish and want to hold onto forever.
What movie has touched your heart and affected the way you view life, death, and grief? I'd love to know.
Racism is defined as prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior. In order to have an open and honest conversation about racism in funeral service; Little Miss Funeral and I have joined forces to share our experiences and thoughts. It is very important to both of us that we begin a dialogue that will help to end the ignorance of racism and encourage funeral professionals of all races, nationalities, religions, and cultures to educate themselves enabling us to work together to better serve families and our communities.
We hope that this video will begin an ongoing positive conversation. We would love to hear about your experience with racism in funeral service and encourage you to contact us with any questions that you may have pertaining to breaking barriers. NOTHING WILL CHANGE IF WE STAY SILENT.
Below are 3 of my personal experience with racism in funeral service.
Racism in the Funeral Home & Funeral Service Industry
I have had the honor of working both in the private and cooperate sectors of the funeral service industry. Time spent in both these environments have allowed me to experience funeral service from multiple vantage points. One of the lessor discussed and explored aspects of funeral service is the impact that race plays in the minds and behaviors of both the families and professionals. Sadly, even in death at times we as humans are guilty of allowing our ignorance and perceived differences to outweigh our levels of compassion and respect.
I would be lying to myself and others if I were to say that I have never experienced racism when working with a family or funeral service professionals of different ethnic backgrounds. Though these instances are greatly outnumbered by positive experiences; it would be unfair to allow you to believe that death somehow erases racism. It would also be an injustice to allow you to assume that this racism stems only from people who do not share my African American background and culture.
I am choosing to share these experiences not to bash or belittle anyone person, group or race. Instead I would like to empower families and professionals alike to be more aware, alert and apprehensive when making the choice to make remarks, gestures or take actions that are intended to isolate, segregate or make judgement about another simply because they have a different skin color than your own. It is my hope and prayer that we will all take the opportunity to reflect, learn and grow beyond our ignorance and extremely limiting mindsets and learn to truly celebrate one another’s cultures.
1.“That is For White Folks”
My specialty is alternative burial and funeral. It makes my heart race to learn of new and exciting options that offer non-traditional and more personalized options for memorializing the essence of individuals. Having the option to send cremains or DNA to space, or turn them into art or jewelry, make them apart of the coral reef makes my soul sing. More than exploring these options; I love sharing them with any and every one that is willing to listen. Many times when discussing alternative funeral and burial with African American funeral directors and families I receive the shocking answer of “that is for white folks”. This response never ceases to me by surprise. The fact that there are people of color living in America who are willingly choosing to adopt the mindset that commemorating ones life’s passion and personality is exclusive to one specific demographic comes across as ignorant and self-segregating. This also communicates to me that those making these comments see themselves as undeserving of these options and for whatever reason are limiting themselves to what people of color should and can do.
Perhaps developing an Alternative Mindset Affirmation of “there several choices available to my clients and/or family that will meet our needs and help us express our love in a way that captures the essence of the life being celebrated” will better serve everyone involved.
2.“No I Am Not a White Man”
People have always made assumptions regarding my race and gender because of my name. When spelled incorrectly (without an accent) my name takes on an androgynous nature leading many to pronounce it more masculine as Joel as opposed to its correct spelling and pronunciation of Joél. Many have also assumed that I am a Caucasian male when seeing my name in writing prior to meeting me. One instance in particular that stands out is a removal call from a county medical examiner’s office outside of Atlanta that I responded to when working for a predominately white firm. Upon my arrival the white autopsy technician on duty was reluctant to release the body of the deceased into my custody because he assumed that a white man would be retrieving it. The funeral home had only given him my name which he had written down as Joel. I tried explaining to him that he had my name spelled and was pronouncing my name incorrectly. My attempts to get him to understand that I was indeed an employee of the funeral home fell on death ears. He was not satisfied until I called the funeral home and allowed him to speak with another funeral director confirming my affiliation and authority to take possession of the body. While helping me to load the deceased into the removal van he openly and apologetically stated “I surely was not expecting a black girl”. His actions and remark could have cost him his job and the medical examiner’s office a discrimination lawsuit.
If I had a suggested affirmation and new mindset to share with this ignorant gentleman it would be “I am open to experiences that do not fit into my expectations. I work in harmony with others regardless of our differences”.
3. “They Usually Don’t Have the Money for This, but Since It’s Not a Shooting They Might”
Much of the time in the very beginning of my career was spent in training shadowing more seasoned funeral directors and sales agents many of whom were older white men. Many of the families that we were served were Caucasian but occasionally a Hispanic or African American family would come into the office. In one particular instance we were making the burial arrangements for a 26 year old black man who had been killed in a boating accident. His parents and fiance were understandably devastated and overwhelmed with grief.
We took the family into one of our selection rooms to allow them to pick out a casket for their loved one but they did not see anything that they thought would be appropriate or fitting. We escorted them back into the arrangement conference room and the man training me asked me to come with him into his office where he retrieved a book containing caskets that could be custom designed and ordered. As he removed the book from his desk he “jokingly” stated “they usually don’t have the money for this, but since it’s not a shooting they might”. I immediately confronted him about his remarks. He claimed he was joking. I reported the incident to our supervising manager and explained that I felt as if the remark was extremely racist. Little to nothing happened and to my knowledge there was no consequence.
If I were this particular gentleman I would immediately implement this suggested affirmation- I do not judge others. The value of an individual cannot be measured by my perception or limited to their race, ethnicity, culture or gender.
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The embalming process is one of the major pillars of funeralization in our American society. Embalming has several benefits for families seeking traditional funeral options and for society as w whole. In this video, I offer a brief overview of the embalming and discuss my least favorite part of this process.
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Bumblebee was an amazing movie. I truly appreciated witnessing the expressions of grief and loss portrayed by the two main characters Bumblebee and Charlie Watson. In this weeks installment, we discuss how the unique bonds we make during our time of loss can help us to heal, grow and mature to the point where we are ready to move forward in life and so much more.
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1/2/2019 0 Comments
Happy New Year Everyone and welcome to 2019.
My life can get very hectic and stressful at times. Building my brand, working in the funeral service industry and on my part-time job, managing family, personal and business relationships and just living everyday life can become overwhelming. In this video, I am sharing some of my self-care routine. There's a lot more that goes into caring for and being the best me that I can be but this is a pretty inclusive introduction. I would love to hear about the ways that you all take care for yourselves and make life more enjoyable through putting you first.
I am not a medical or mental health professional. I am simply sharing what has worked for me in the hopes that it will encourage you to develop your own self-care routine.
Thank you so much for watching and please feel free to visit www.thegravewoman.com for more information. Please also feel free to contact me with any questions or topics of interest that you have and I will do my best to address them in my upcoming videos.
In this video, we identify the expression of loss and grief portrayed in DC Comics production of Aquaman. It is my prayer that you may recognize and relate with some of the expressions of grief and make connections that encourage self-exploration and healing. Be sure to subscribe, share and comment.
In this video, we discuss the extremely popular Netflix original movie Bird Box. The goal of making this video is to explore the manners of death, types of loss, and expressions of grief portrayed in the movie while making comparisons to the way we express grief in our own lives.
Floods and hurricanes are unique because they provide the opportunity for preparation and non emergent response from funeral directors and funeral service establishments.In the event of pending hurricane impact or flooding caused hurricanes, most funeral homes in danger zones have serious protocols and procedures in place to ensure the safety of funeral home staff and the deceased .
Tray Crump, Florida native and funeral service veteran expressed the following when asked about his funeral homes protocols for responding to hurricane warnings. ‘We will reach out to colleagues, firms and sometimes hospitals to help secure safety for human remains in specific areas; sometimes traveling a couple hundred miles to ensure their safety. Of course, we get the authorization from the next of kin. Hurricanes usually bring unity to people during these times”. He also expressed that warnings are taken VERY seriously and every effort is done to protect not only the deceased but his team when responding to warnings and pending dangers of all kinds.
Though every effort can be made to protect the deceased, the funeral home itself in most cases remains in service even if they are forced to vacate their physical buildings. Death does not keep business hours. In order to ensure that families are able to depend on them during times of need and crisis many funeral homes will risk heeding evacuation promptings to be of service to their communities.
One funeral home in particular that has done this is ISC Cremation and Funeral home of Jacksonville Florida. I had the pleasure of speaking with Janine Chenault FDIC. Concerning remaining operational during power outages Janine explained “we have a very powerful generator that will power the entire building if an outage occurs. If we lost power we would try and transport all our bodies to a facility that could hold them until we get the power back on. For making arrangements with families during power outages we would go back to paper death and manually enter vitals and mail or hand deliver to our doctors. If power is returned we can terminate paper documents and return to electronic documentation. In this the instance we will make arrangements with families by phone and email documents for signatures via cellular phones.”
Please join us next time as we discuss blizzards.
Earthquakes are the most unpredictable of all of the natural disasters that we are exploring. They offer little warning or time to prepare for their impact and can range from being small in magnitude to extremely violent and completely destructive.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Dominic Hasara of Cremation Society of Alaska about the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that rocked Anchorage on the morning of November 30th, 2018. Dominic explained that it started off like any other day, he and his team were busy working in the funeral home embalming and cremating bodies when all of sudden their world was literally rocked by what he described as what sounded like a freight train combined with the ground shaking uncontrollably and then complete darkness. Once the lights came on Dominic and his crematory operator ensured that their facility and team were safe before Dominic attempted to make his way to the hospital to respond to a removal call.
The usually five-minute drive took him nearly him half an hour. Dominic described the scene that followed in Alaska as chaos. He also shared that this was the largest earthquake that he (a Native of Anchorage) has experienced in his life. He stressed that earthquakes are a normal occurrence in his town and that the locals' response is ingrained, however, this particular earthquake really shook things up.
I questioned Dominic about the funeral homes protocol for responding to earthquakes. He explained that due to the fact that Alaska is located along the ring of fire; the natives of Anchorage and other cities of Alaska are accustomed to earthquakes. *The Ring of Fire is a major area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean where many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur. In a large 40,000 km horseshoe shape, it is associated with a nearly continuous series of oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, and volcanic belts and plate movements. It has 452 volcanoes. Because of its geographic proximity to these extremely active underwater volcanoes, Alaska experiences the most earthquakes in the United States.
Dominic explained that due to a large amount of earthquake activity in Anchorage, the building codes require that all funeral and other business establishments are constructed in a way that limits the possibility of injury to inhabitants and patrons. He also explained that his cremation retort is secured to the ground and bolted 6’ deep into concrete to ensure that it does not shift. Other building specifications include special lighting, refrigeration, and other code specific designs.
Joél Simone Anthony, also known as ‘The Grave Woman,’ is a licensed funeral director and embalmer. She is dedicated to eliminating misconceptions about post-life preparation while stimulating an open, honest and straight forward discussion about death. You can submit your comments, questions and requests to email@example.com or by using our contact page.