Category Archives: Funerals

Pet cemeteries can now bury people…in NY

In 2011, the New York Division of Cemeteries ruled that human burials could not take place in pet cemeteries.  This left many people devastated because they wanted their ashes to be buried with their pets…but they couldn’t be.

According to Ed Marin, owner of the 117 year old Hartsdale Pet Cemetery in Westchester, NY, prior to the ban more than 700 people’s ashes had been interred at Hartsdale.  He said that he gets five or six requests per year for this service.

Now, New York state will once again allow animal lovers to be buried with their pets, if the cemeteries agree to two conditions:

1) They won’t charge a fee for the burial.

2) They won’t advertise human burial services.

For more information about burial options and other funeral related information, check out


Helen and Les Brown were born on the same day, remained married for 75 years and died just one day apart at age 94.  What a wonderful story of true love.  It would be great if there were more couples like them in the world.

75 year marriageBut, while thinking about this great couple, being a part of the Die Smart community I can’t help but think about their estate.  It’s bad enough if one person dies and a family member has to settle the estate, including dealing with lawyers, probate court and the mounds of paperwork that are necessary.  But the double work of settling the estates of two people can be massive.

Did they have wills, trusts, POD accounts?  Will one estate have to be settled before the other one?  Did they have their affairs in order?

To learn about what you should do to make sure you can avoid probate and make it easier for your loved ones to settle your estate after you’re gone, go to

Celebrity grave sites – unique stops for tourists

Time Magazine recently published a list of the “Top 10 Celebrity Grave Sites”.  They are very popular places for tourists to visit.  In fact, people from all over the world visit them every year.  Half of the list belongs to popular musicians; the rest belongs to movie stars, an author and a member of the British royal family.  Many of these celebrities died prematurely and their deaths were surrounded by mystique which persists to this day.

The most popular site is that of Princess Diana, whose burial site is on the Spencer family estate, Althorp, in North Hampshire, England.  During the summer, tourists can visit a shrine on the grounds but not her actual resting place.

The grave of Bruce Lee is ranked #2.  His grave in Seattle’s Lakeview Cemetery still draws visitors from all over the world, including a trio of Mongolians who trekked 3,700 miles to pay their respects on the 53rd anniversary of his birth; the trip reportedly took seven months and wore out five pairs of boots. He remains the greatest Kung Fu teacher ever and a box-office smash.

#3 is the resting place of Marilyn Monroe.  She is buried in Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles, the burial site of many Hollywood celebrities.  She was the iconic female sex-symbol of the ’60s and has lasted as a sex-symbol to this day.  According to Limousine driver Benny Hill, who offers tours of celebrity graves, her crypt is not only the most frequently visited at the cemetery, but the most discolored from constant fondling. According to Hill, it’s “the dirtiest one there. You look at the wall and there is lipstick, fingerprints, handprints.”

According to Time Magazine, the 4th most popular grave site is that of Elvis Presley.  He died of a prescription drug overdose and was first buried in a mausoleum in Forest Hills Cemetery in Memphis, TN.  However, vandalism was a major problem; some thieves even tried to steal his body.  So his grave was moved to Graceland, his former home.  Admission to Elvis’ grave is part of the Graceland tour.  Although he’s been dead since 1977, 600,000 people still visit his grave-site every year.

Jim Morrison takes the 5th place.  This musician is buried at Pere-Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.  Although other famous musicians and writers are buried there, Morrison’s plot is the most visited site there.  Although there are conflicting reports about the cause of his death, people agree that his grave site is one of the most disrespected celebrity sites in the world.  His grave has been the site of drug parties and his marker has been defaced with graffiti.

In 6th place is the grave of Bob Marley, the Jamaican reggae singer.  In 1991 the government of Jamaica declared his birthday as a national holiday.  Since then, thousands of fans have held an annual music festival near his grave – a mausoleum that was built a few feet from his childhood home in the village of Nine Miles, Jamaica.

The Irish writer, James Joyce, is next in 7th place.  Surprisingly, he is not buried in Ireland.  In 1902, he left Ireland because of political turmoil and died after undergoing ulcer surgery in Switzerland.  After his death, he was buried in Fluntern Cemetery in Zurich.  His wife tried to move Joyce’s body to Ireland but the Irish government denied her request.

Frank Sinatra, who was buried in Desert Memorial Park near Palm Springs, CA with a bottle of Jack Daniels and a pack of Camel cigarettes, is in 8th place.

In 9th place is John Belushi.  He died of a drug overdose in 1982 and the public attention his grave-site on Martha’s Vineyard got was unmanageable.  His tombstone got trashed and fans continually littered the area around his grave.  His widow then moved his remains to another site in the same graveyard, away from the tombstone.  However, rumors also persist that his remains are now buried in Illinois with his family.

The last celebrity in Time Magazine’s list is country music singer and composer, Johnny Cash.  He died in 2003 and is buried next to his wife, June Carter, in a cemetery in Hendersonville, TN.  The site draws many people, who travel to the site to pay their respects.  Some of them leave guitar picks and money behind.

Some other famous writers whose grave-sites are frequently visited are:

  • Oscar Wilde, who is buried in Pere Lachise in Paris, died more than 100 years ago and yet people still visit his grave.
  • Mark Twain (whose real name was Samuel Clemens), was born 175 years ago.  Yet 2,000 to 3,000 people per year visit his grave at Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira, NY.
  • William Shakespeare lived from 1564  to 1616; today, thousands of people visit his tomb in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, England at the Holy Trinity Churchyard.

For more information about funerals and burial options, go to

Whole Body Donation – Another Option


The other night, I was at the emergency room of our local hospital and overheard half of a phone conversation.  Evidently, a relative had died of cancer within the last hour and there was no money available for a funeral.  The person I could hear was lamenting that she had no idea what to do.  She wanted to do the “right” thing for the deceased but didn’t know what that was.

Respecting her privacy (even though she was talking on a cell in the middle of the lobby), I said nothing….but I began to think about options she might have.

One that is not talked about much but could have been the solution to her quandary is whole body donation. Study of human bodies can help in the discovery of cures for many diseases and medical conditions and can aid in the development of new medical and surgical procedures as well as new, potentially life-saving, medicines.

If you think this is something you’d like to do, you should make the arrangements prior to your death.  You can preregister with a medical school or research organization by signing a consent form stating your wish to donate your body.  A copy of the consent form should be put with your will and other valuable papers so it can easily be found.

When you die, your family should notify the facility.  They will transport your body transported to the research facility or medical school with which you signed the consent form.

If you did not sign a consent form agreeing to whole body donation, your family can still decide this is what they wish to do after your death.  They will need to contact the medical facility or research center of choice and sign an after death donor form.  Then the process is the same as if you had made arrangements pre death.

When the group to whom the body has been donated is finished with it, they will cremate it and return the ashes to the next of kin or dispose of them in the way you have designated.

Cost to the family – usually zero.

For a list of medical schools which accept whole body donations, check out the list published by the University of Florida State Anatomical Board.

A national organization we found which provides a lot of information about this subject is MedCure.

Finally, for further information about funeral options and body and organ donation, go to













Turn into a Tree after You Die!

By 2025, it is estimated that more than 50% of all the people who die in the United States will be cremated. Gerard Moline, a Catalan artist and product designer, has come up with a very creative solution for what to do with the ashes. He has patented the design for the Bios Urn.  It is a biodegradable urn made from coconut shell, compacted peat and cellulose and inside it contains the seed of a tree. Once the deceased’s ashes have been placed into the urn, it can be planted and then the seed germinates and begins to grow.

What do you think? Would you like to leave behind a tree as your legacy?
For more information about funeral planning, cremation and burial, go to