An expression of gratitude

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Cornerstone Funeral Services in Boring, Oregon

I headed east out of Portland, along the country highway that ambles by the Clackamas River. The sun was glittering through the trees, which got thicker as I climbed towards the forests of Mount Hood. The road sparkled with promise that early Saturday morning, fifteen years ago.

I found my intersection and looked for a sign to the property, “Cornerstone Funeral Services.” Easy enough, as there was nothing else around except the funeral home and, directly across the road, the mom-and-pop Barton Store. I made my turn, and the guy pumping gas outside the store waved…


Illegal, but oh so popular.

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Photographer unknown

A darling lady came to visit me at the funeral parlour. She was all giggles as she confided that she once helped scatter her grandma’s ashes at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. Apparently, she didn’t exactly tell the kids this was the specific reason they were all packed and heading on vacation in the Kia Sedona, but what would they have cared? It is the happiest place on Earth — for the living and in this case, the post-living.

The Sayonara Family prided themselves on taking care of business and doing it on the cheap. …


In the case of cremated bodies, such parts are retrievable among the ashes.

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Photo via Resource Magazine

Last summer, I realized I was no longer twenty and opted for my own version of a midlife crisis: I decided to take ukulele lessons. My perky, young instructor said, “You’re brave! Most of my new students are third graders.”

But when a woman I have known for years (who I decline to name) had her bout of midlife realization, she went fully into family repurposing mode. And I don’t mean doling out new tasks for holiday gatherings.

Her 50th birthday birthed a life force from within that powered her legitimate wish and rightful demand of all future decedent family…


Sustainable Funeral Feasts

Make it a Meatless Mourning

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Photo credit: LDS Living

Despite amazing advances in medical science and technology, the mortality rate for human beings stands at 100 percent. It’s a fact: All of us are going to die someday. Yet, in the face of this statistical reality, death still manages to come as a shock, leaving rattled relatives, friends and coworkers wondering what to say and do in response.

When the crowds come to show their respect, they descend upon the grieving household, with their favorite recipe prepared in a dish that need not be returned — even if it is vintage Pyrex in avocado…


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Why did the ghost starch her dress? So she could scare everyone stiff.

My little girl was up in her loft the other day when I heard her ask someone if they could please move because they were in her way. Minutes later Sofia comes down the stairs and says that Mrs. Butler won’t stop sitting on her bed and she has already asked her nicely to move. Sofia wants Mrs. Butler to like the color pink and summertime, and holding hands all the time in the grocery store and the park. But she doesn’t ever get an answer from her.

We moved into a house in the hills that had sat vacant…


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Sesame Street’s Big Bird holding his portrait of Mr. Hooper. The image of his friend still hangs on the wall behind his large nest today.

One cold morning in the 1970s, during my breakfast and Sesame Street, Big Bird was passing out drawings he had made of his friends. Mr. Hooper had been a friend of Big Bird and often made him birdseed milk shakes. Big Bird was excited to share his drawing with Mr. Hooper and headed toward Hooper’s Store, but the Sesame Street adults called Big Bird back. We learned Mr. Hooper had died, but Big Bird did not understand and announced he would just wait for Mr. Hooper to come back. The adults explained: people don’t come back after they die. Big…


Cornerstone Funeral Services, a country funeral parlor in Boring, Oregon
Cornerstone Funeral Services, a country funeral parlor in Boring, Oregon
Cornerstone Funeral Services, a country funeral parlor in Boring, Oregon

A long haul trucker passed away last week and was brought into the care of the funeral home. This cement hauler was also a husband, a father, and at 70 years old, he was still a son of two living parents. They and their family both were fearful if they left the nursing facility, they would not be allowed back in. The vast cinder block of pain and sorrow the parents expressed over the phone could split, expand, and blow us all up.

“We need to see our boy.”

These six simple words were all I needed to hear. Immediately…


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Photographer Unknown

Saturday’s sunset marks the final hour of Grover’s life. With his last breath, the family members sitting bedside throughout this tender transition entwine their hearts and arms and melt into each other. This is the recognizable ritual of life, love and loss.

An hour or so passes before his brother stands up to fetch champagne for a toast. After touching stories from grandchildren are shared and music is played, Grover’s wife gathers towels to bathe him and lays out a fresh change of clothes. Neighbors leave food on the front porch. …

Elizabeth Fournier

The Green Reaper, Eco-Mortician, TEDx Speaker, Radio host of UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN, Author of THE GREEN BURIAL GUIDEBOOK. Be excellent to each other!

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