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In The News 

The first morning, breakfast was over and there was a class teaching how and why you should write a journalistic obituary, led by Journalism professor and FCA board member Holly Shreve-Gilbert.  As a side note, I was a little smug going in because my own obit has been written for some time, but I now know it needs a lot of improvement!  There are many reasons an obit should be a true literary masterpiece and one “that tells an authentic story.”  The history surrounding the obituary is rich and diverse.  There’s your Google assignment for the day – “History of Obituaries!”


Next was a demo by the National Home Funeral Alliance on after-death body care.  Working in a dedicated hospice setting had provided me with ample opportunity to handle and prepare people’s loved ones directly following a death.  However, there were some tricks of the trade shared specific to a home funeral.  The entire class was fascinating and informative.  Judging from the standing room only attendance in the room, most everyone was anxious to learn more.  Now I must admit that the reason I signed up for the class was I had a bit of morbid curiosity to find out just how the conference organizers had managed to bring a corpse to the convention.  But alas, it was just a volunteer from the audience who “played dead.” 


One of the keynote speakers subject was advertised as “Party Till I Die – The Problem with Putting the Fun in Funerals.”  Among many other things, Sociologist George Sanders (Oakland University) talked about the broken funeral industry.  If you’ve ever toured a mortuary/crematory or are involved in the industry in any way, you realize that it is all about sales and how much money can be made in the name of “honoring a loved one.” 


The other keynote speaker, Katrina Spade, was there to educate about composting human remains.  Yes, you read that correctly – composting human remains!  It was really why I wanted to attend the conference in the first place.  As a tree hugging, composting, militant recycler and self-proclaimed protector of the earth, THIS was an idea I could get behind!  The notion that we can truly create life after life was of great interest, as it turns out, to everyone.  Katrina Spade captivated the audience with the telling of the formulation of her idea of dedicated composting buildings, her kick starter campaign, her vision of what will come and the “magic” behind human composting.  Her website is

In addition, Spade gave a Ted Talk on June 16 and it is definitely worth a watch. 

At a convention like this, there are so many classes to choose from and every one offers a wealth of information and knowledge sharing. There was of course much more to the conference; stimulating conversations and dozens of wonderful attendees who each seemed to have an interesting story of their own. If you haven’t ever been, go to the next conference coming in June 2018 - it will definitely be worth your time.  


Deb Hall lives in Sugarhouse Utah,

is a volunteer and a soon-to-be death doula

a woman sitting
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