Death is an occasion to celebrate Life

19 Jan Death is an occasion to celebrate Life

I assumed I was the only writer who’d prepared for death, creating a cremation urn where my husband and I would rest in peace (or not in peace). But then I read a posting by Lizzy Francis in the blog, Fatherly, about David Giffels, who after doing books, articles and writing for MTV’s Beavis and Butthead, went on to build – with his father – coffins for themselves.

The similarities were intriguing. I’ve written for magazines and newspapers in addition to doing scripts for series that included The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Maude and Northern Exposure and now design customized, artistic urns that are ordered on my website, But unlike Giffels, who refurbished a condemned house he bought with his wife, I call the super in our New York City apartment to do anything more complicated than putting a new bag into the vacuum.

The author of the posting said she contacted David shortly after his father had died. He wasn’t uncomfortable talking about it, telling her, “It’s a way to celebrate him.” I use the word “celebrate” frequently when describing my work as I include a photo montage of the deceased (person or pet) to put the focus on life and have something that’s attractive and upbeat.

I was amused that David and his wife had joked about death with him saying he didn’t want anything fancy and was fine to end up in a cardboard box. My husband quipped that I should just leave him at Zabar’s, his favorite place to buy nova and salami. In both cases, these conversations led to each of us creating our own exit strategies. The first urn I did was for my husband and me (though he said “over my dead body”) with family photos embedded in a mosaic design done with shards nipped from our own plates. I thought the urns were time consuming, taking almost a week to complete, but they spent four years on their coffins.