46 THE QUEENS COURIER • COPING WITH DEATH • FEBRUARY 20, 2020 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
coping with death
Baby Boomers plan unique yet traditional funerals
Funerals have been held since the dawn
of time to honor and remember a departed
loved one. Th ere is always a common
thread -- the importance of memorialization.
Now, however, with the Baby Boomer
generation, a new element has been added
to the traditional funeral.
Calling hours and other traditional rites
are still an important part of remembrance.
But many Baby Boomer funerals
are taking on a whole new look. Th ey
are becoming very personalized remembrances
-- refl ecting the individual and his
or her interests in life.
We know that the ancient Egyptians
buried artifacts to help the departed spirit
in the aft erlife.
Excavated tombs have yielded myriad
items including games and tools that the
spirit might want.
It is interesting to note that this practice
is popular once more as Baby Boomers
request their favorite sports equipment
such as golf clubs, tennis balls and team
jerseys be placed in the casket.
Mountain bikes and canoes have been
displayed during calling hours. Even the
casket can become a reminder of the Baby
Boomers’ interest in sports.
A New York City funeral director said
that a departed football fan was laid to
rest in a casket featuring a Notre Dame
logo and team colors on panels and the
In Upstate New York, one funeral featured
a jazz band playing on the porch of
the funeral home.
Another funeral highlighted the departed’s
interest in handicapping horse races by simulating
his kitchen - complete with tip sheets
and race results broadcast from a radio.
Baby Boomers are also known for their
interest in preserving the environment.
At several sites in New York State, as
well as in other parts of the country,
“green” cemeteries and natural burial
plots are available. Th ere are no underground
vaults, no mausoleums and minimal
landscaping so the cemetery grounds
are kept in a more natural state.
Some families have asked funeral directors
to have a tree planted in memory of
the departed loved one, thus helping to
renew forest life.
Th ere are companies that blend cremated
remains with concrete to form
reef structures then place them in selected
ocean sites to form undersea “memorial
Th ese reefs are ecologically benefi cial
because they form a natural habitat for
Today’s funeral director is likely to be
a Baby Boomer and more than happy to
arrange a funeral for you that will be truly
memorable and a celebration of your life.
So when you start to preplan your
funeral, be sure to discuss your desires
with your family and your neighborhood
funeral director so that you, too, can have
a truly personalized funeral.
Courtesy of NYS Funeral Directors
Whether you’re a snowbird going to a
warmer climate to escape winter weather or
you’re traveling on a business trip, it’s wise to
prepare for the unexpected.
Accidents happen. People fall victim to
new or existing medical conditions. Death is
always an overwhelming event, especially so
when it occurs away from home. Th at’s why
it is wise to carry a wallet-sized card listing
the names of your next-of-kin, the telephone
number of your funeral director and stating
whether any funeral pre-arrangements have
been made. Most travelers wouldn’t dream
of leaving home on an extended trip without
carrying along copies of prescriptions,
yet how many think to include personal
information that would facilitate their fi nal
arrangements if the unthinkable happens?
Robert Ruggiero, a licensed New York
City funeral director, off ers these suggestions
to help cope with death away from
Don’t leave the body. Th e most frequent
response by family members experiencing a
death away from home is to hurry home to
begin funeral arrangements.
However, most deaths that occur while
traveling are sudden and require an investigation
by the local medical examiner’s offi ce
and police department.
Th e family member traveling with the
person who remains available to the authorities
at the place of death will expedite the
If a person has died and family is not with
the deceased, survivors should not fl y out to
the place of death.
With today’s technology, there’s a good
possibility that if identifi cation is required,
survivors can save time by staying home and
requesting another means to accomplish the
Appoint your hometown funeral director
as the “point person.” Allow him or her to
select the means of returning your loved one
home. Your family funeral director is familiar
with the necessary procedures to ease the
process for you.
If the death occurs overseas, the U.S. State
Department’s Bureau of Consular Aff airs
in Washington, DC (202-647-5225) or the
local Embassy can provide emergency assistance
for Americans traveling overseas who
encounter a tragedy of this nature.
For more information visit the Bureau of
Consular Aff airs website, https://travel.state.
Any expense will ultimately be the responsibility
of the bereaved family but because of
the State Department’s intervention, there
may be no immediate upfront expense in
For more information, you might want to
call your family funeral director before leaving
Courtesy of NYS Funeral Directors
How to handle a death that
occurs away from home