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Tucson Weekly Grave Decision Making

Death: One Last Chance to Make Your Mark

By A. Dashing

AUGUST 18, 1997:  YOU'RE BORN ALONE, you die alone...or so the existential quandary goes. Does that mean you have to face death unprepared? Probably. But if it makes you feel better in the meantime, you can bone up on the aftermath of your demise with this simple guide from a couple of pragmatic journalists from the venerable Wall Street Journal.

Their helpful how-to manual, no doubt culled from the greatest of intentions, is a morbid little read ideal for Type A personalities: If you plan death down to the last detail, maybe it won't get the best of you. Of course, it will; but Bennett and Foley make it sound like so much fun, you won't want to wait another minute to plan your own service, or that of someone you love.

Hell, why wait till you're cold? With this handy 200-page volume of logistical checklists, musical selections (actual song titles, from "When The Saints Go Marching In" to Guns 'n Roses' "Knocking On Heaven's Door"), selected poetry and literary quotations, and projected costs for dressing (your) body, buying flowers, renting a hearse and providing a register book and acknowledgment cards, you've got the makings for the party of, well, a lifetime.

Services in laundromats, on riverboats, mid-air, as a concert--all these can be found in Chapter 7: Informal, Creative Services. Feeling your religion? Don't bat an eye--In Memoriam is like the Cliffs Notes of sacred texts. You'll find at least a paragraph or two on all the major world religions, not to mention relevant references to appropriate passages that bridge the gap between here and the hereafter. " 'O God Our Help In Ages Past' is popular among Episcopalians," the authors note.

There's even a section on how to avoid the "problem speaker" in planning your eulogy. What could be more fun than heckling the problem speaker at your own eulogy? Puts that whole murder-mystery dinner theater craze to shame, doesn't it? If we work together on this, we could make it the Next Big Thing.

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