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Caring for the Dead: Your Final Act of Love 1st Edition

22 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0942679212
ISBN-10: 0942679210
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Carlson, executive director of the Funeral and Memorial Societies of America, has compiled an information-packed guide "for those making funeral arrangements with or without a funeral doctor." The book begins with a series of anecdotes that illustrates the experiences of those who have approached end-of-life arrangements in nontraditional ways. This section is followed by an overview of the funeral industry. Here readers will find information on cremation, body and organ donation, caskets, embalming, home deaths, and funerals. A substantial portion of the book is devoted to a compilation of the laws of each state. Carlson cites and summarizes the statutes governing death certificates, handling and moving bodies, reporting fetal deaths, and arranging for cremation or burial. A helpful appendix includes the Federal Trade Commission rules that protect consumers in dealings with the funeral trades. Highly recommended for public libraries.?Joan Pedzich, Harris, Beach & Wilcox, Rochester, NY
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Highly recommended. -- Library Journal

Part estate-planning, part grassroots manifesto, part morbid intrigue, Caring for the Dead will educate, fascinate, instruct and infuriate. -- The Nation, Jay Kirk

The most complete guide to DIY's can be found in Lisa Carlson's Caring for the Dead. -- Life Magazine

The most comprehensive book ever produced on the subject. It's of interest to every living soul. -- John Wasik, special projects editor, Consumers Digest Magazine

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Upper Access; 1st edition (March 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0942679210
  • ISBN-13: 978-0942679212
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #221,228 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on June 11, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is the update version of her original Caring For Your Own Dead and what I said about that book applies here. Lost count of the number of copies of this book I have bought, but I love giving it as a gift, and have used it myself actually when helping friends build plain pine burial boxes and oak burial boxes for loved ones.
It is a subject that needs to be discussed more, since so many people assume that ONLY a funeral home that charges thru the nose in prices, can legally handle a body or a funeral and burial. Fact is nothing could be further from the truth. The book discusses each states laws, along with what family and loved ones need to know about getting tansport permits to get the body of a loved one either home from the hospital, and prepared for a service and burial or to a local cemetary or cremation facility for handling. And the new edition has updated info on state to state laws.
Fact is my Grandma Katy who grew up in rural Montana knew all about washing and dressing family members and the whole life to death process and that death and burial need NOT be a scary and uneasy thing to take part in. The author discusses all the myths of handling the dead, and all the misconceptions people have about death and dying. Personally I cannot think of a more loving gift than welcoming a new life into the world and helping a loved on who has exited this world.
This book and the classic The American Way Of Death by Jessica Mitford are MUST reads for anyone who is mature, thoughtful and not so easy swayed to handing all their personal needs over to strangers. Ceasar Chavez' family made his plain pine burial boxes. The Amish make all their own burial boxes and have for centuries. Locally we made our friends Bea Brickeys plain pine box per her wishes.
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book should be given to every person whose parents are still alive! No kidding. When you need this book most, you're least likely to buy it because you'll be paralyzed with grief and not thinking straight. Know what you're going to be up against -- before you're up against it! I wish Hospice would make this available to families of its patients. While death is an uncomfortable topic for anyone, Lisa Carlson makes dealing with final arrangements so very easy and understandable. She gives you the options that the professionals will conceal. She empowers you to make the best financial decision for your loved one and your family. I can't praise this book and its author highly enough. If you know someone whose family member (or partner) is dying, do them a HUGE favor and buy it for them. They'll thank you later.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By John L. Hoh Jr. VINE VOICE on November 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is a must-read before you pre-buy your funeral and accoutrements. Caught planning someone else's funeral? Take time to read this book. This book has a load of legal information and practical advice to keep you from being scammed by those who are pros and have a ready audience in grieving people.
Not all funeral homes are devious. Some, no doubt, are very ethical and take the time to be fair with clients. But a time of grief isn't the time to seriously look into whether a home is trustworthy or not.
What you have been lead to believe about funerals and the law may not be accurate. This book is a real eye-opener!
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Kelly Garbato on May 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
In "Caring for the Dead," Lisa Carlson provides both an informative guide to DIY funerals and cremations, as well as a searing exposé of the funeral and cemetery industries.

Carlson divides her book into three sections: "Personal Stories" is a 40-page introduction to the text in which different individuals (including Carlson) discuss their experiences with death and the subsequent disposal of the dead; "General Information" consists of 14 chapters and explains both "traditional" and non-traditional funerals, as well as cremation and body and organ donation; finally, "Caring for the Dead" details the relevant laws and regulations of all 50 US states.

It was the "General Information" section that I found most captivating. I've never had to arrange a funeral (and hopefully I won't need to for some time yet!), so I was woefully unaware of what actually takes place during the course of planning and implementing one. Carlson demonstrates how greed and callousness have pervaded the funeral and burial industries, causing prices to skyrocket while sales tactics plummet to new levels of depravity.

Through manipulative techniques and downright lies, funeral directors convince John Q. Public that embalming is both required by law and essential for public safety (in reality, it is neither, and the chemicals used are actually toxic to the environment), while cemeteries strong-arm consumers into paying maximum price for a minimum amount of real estate, all the while demanding that any upgrades be purchased, installed, and maintained solely by them (for a hefty fee, of course!).
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By E.J.Barnes on February 27, 2001
Format: Paperback
I had the earlier edition of this book, "Caring For Your Own Dead," as well as the most recent. Over the years, I've given both copies away to others.
The revised edition has a few extra essays by Carlson and others, but its bulk, and most important part, remains its state-by-state breakdown of mortuary laws. You may never again have to listen with a straight face while a Funeral Director tells you that the embalming and vaults are required by state law. She also lists cremation and burial societies in most states.
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