“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”
Those wry words from Groucho Marx resonate on many levels. In his typical incorporation of humor and wisdom, Marx strikes a contemporary universal chord — sometimes the power of the written word and the devoted love of an animal are the perfect tonic for what ails us.
Following Hilary Clinton’s 2016 failed Presidential campaign, she said that she wanted to get away from it all with some good books and her dogs.
Always the voracious reader, she did just that.
At first Clinton cruised through mysteries (Louise Penny, Donna Leon), then she headed into deeper waters which included “The Return of the Prodigal Son” by Dutch priest Henri Nouwen and work by theologian Paul Tillich.
Clinton plunged headlong into bibliotherapy — a healing process which was identified by Aristotle, who coined the term “catharsis,” when he observed the emotional impact words could have. Shakespeare wrote: “Come and take choice of all my library and so beguile thy sorrow.”
Today, therapists use bibliotherapy in a variety of contexts, frequently to good ends.
But the power of words exerts itself as much, or perhaps more, in death than in life enhancement — when you pass away, words literally can control your fate.
If one of the funeral directors who works with Martin Oaks Cemetery and Crematory in Lewisville, Texas, brings a loved one for cremation, paperwork is required before the process begins.
Although this can be inconvenient, it is paramount to remember that cremation is final.
Once a loved one goes through this final disposition, there is no turning back.
When a loved one is buried, exhumation can take place — no such restoration remedy is available in cremation, so a little extra time is not a bad thing.
Without getting into too much detail, forms that are involved include a Family Cremation Authorization (next-of-kin agrees to allow cremation); Burial Transit Permit (form signed by state or county registrar that accompanies the deceased to the location of final disposition); Office of Medical Examiners Cremation Certificate (signed by the Medical Examiner); Facts of Death Form; the final Death Certificate, usually signed by a physician or the Medical Examiner (or in some cases the Justice of the Peace) – this gives pertinent data such as name, address, and cause of death.
The funeral directors who work with Martin Oaks can explain all of this in greater detail; any additional paperwork can also be reviewed and discussed.
The point being that the power of the written word — in this case, appropriate signatures as well — determine the timeline for final disposition.
These are the internals of the deathcare service. Attorneys and others can innumerate the ways the written word may also impact deathcare.
Not speaking for that community of professionals, it is safe to say that a Last Will and Testament is essential if one wishes to have any control of what happens to property, money, family and even pets post-death.
There are, of course, other agencies that can become directly or indirectly inserted into the situation.
David Brinkley, the late newsman who had a pungent integrity in his commentary, liked to tell truthful, but ironic, stories about the annals of bureaucracy. This was one of his favorites, and it applies to agency insertion in death.
Seems that a professor from the University of Illinois wrote Brinkley about a notification from a large, outside agency — the notice informed the professor that records determined he was dead. The professor wrote back to say that he was very much alive.
After receiving no response, the professor sent a second letter. Again, no response. In a third letter, the professor asked to know where he was buried, as he wanted to put flowers on the grave. This information was denied.
Finally, the professor contacted his congressman — the agency agreed to review the case. After a period of time, the agency wrote back, saying that their original determination was correct, the professor was dead. The agency did, however, offer the professor the option of scheduling a hearing so that he could state his side of the matter.
Although there is humor in this anecdote, the conclusion here is that written words are formidable — careful pre-planning before death is a prudent path.