A Word of Encouragement

I am so very blessed that every year I get a break from teaching from around December 15th-January15th. It gives me a chance to rest, re-group, and take a break from the daily tasks that are always there. I say that I am very blessed because of my acute awareness that most people in society don’t get this timely perk that I have enjoyed for the past 13 years. As my End of Life Insights endeavor is growing by leaps and bounds, I am finding myself more and more aware that I am working 7 days a week, up to 12 hour days, and this year, my “break” will consist of writing, getting national approval for the CUE’s offered on the site, booking more speaking engagement for next year, and on and on and on. It probably sounds like a typical December for you.

So this is what I’ve decided I’m going to do in December this year to balance work and the holidays. Please take and use whatever you can on this list for yourself.

1. I will make my “to-do” list knowing full well that it can’t possibly all be accomplished by January, and that’s o.k., 2008 is another year.

2. I will give myself permission to do things on said list one at time. I refuse to multi-task for the entire month of December.

3. I will not get rid of my “to-do” list by dumping the work on other people. Any work that needs to be passed along to other to finish will be given a note that states; “This does not have to be done before December 25th.”

4. I will not read, talk on my cell phone, or do any type of work during my boys’ basketball games in December; but will delight in their good health, ability to run up and down a basketball court, and will share in their love of the game.

5. I will turn the Christmas lights on the tree everyday when I get home so I can enjoy the lights hour after hour, day after day.

6. I will buy my holiday baked goods if I can’t find the time to bake, and I will not feel guilty about it.

7. I will remember that the holiday celebrated in my home…Christmas…is about love and hope, not work, stress, and commercialism.

Make your list today; it only takes 5 minutes, and writing it down will make it meaningful and possible!

Giving Thanks

In the spirit of Thanksgiving this week, I would like to share 5 things with you that I am thankful for.

I am thankful for my relationships with end of life professionals.

I am thankful for my mentors who have guided, advised, and encouraged me.

I am thankful for all of the nurses and health care professionals who help people die pain free, and with dignity.

I am thankful for all of the estate planners who help carry out the final wishes of dying people.

I am thankful for End of Life Insights, and the many blessings it has brought me this year.

Have a safe and blessed Thanksgiving.

Fuzzy Math from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) recently released: “Pollution Prevention Crematoria Project Final Report.” It’s a 39 page report worth reading in it’s entirely, if for no other reason to see if you too can spot all of the absurdities.

The CDPHE identified the crematoriums in the State of Colorado as a source of mercury pollution in the air. The culprit? Amalgam fillings that were widely used in dentistry . As the baby-boomers are dying their teeth are being cremated with them causing the release of the toxins to go into the air in Colorado, and blow into Kansas. The solution? A steering committee of funeral service professionals in Colorado would begin the task of working with the State to determine solutions to the problem. I was on the committee with many well respected funeral directors and funeral home owners in Colorado. The final player who needs to be introduced is Tetra Tech, they are the outside environmental firm the State hired for this project.

The State claims that 110 pounds of mercury are released per year from all of the Colorado crematoriums combined. Why that’s false; In a 2003 report prepared by ERG, Inc. for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the amount of mercury emitted by all known crematories in the U.S. and Canada was 333 lbs./year. How could the State of Colorado possibly emit one-third of the entire mercury emissions in all of the United States and Canada? The total number of deaths annually in Colorado is still under 30,000 as compared to Florida for example, at over 260,000 deaths annually.

The data provided by Tetra Tech and the State compared apples to oranges. The amount of research done and references cited in European countries are woven throughout the report, Great Britain, Norway, etc.. The truth is there has only been 1 (one) known study in the United States of crematory mercury emissions. Why only one you ask? After the analysis of the Woodlawn Cemetery crematory in New York, the U.S. EPA got the information they needed; all of the crematories in the United States make up less than 1% of the total mercury emissions in the country. Have there been alarming data collected, one can be certain the U.S. EPA would have looked for financial resources to fund further studies.

There are several conclusions to be made based upon the State’s published report and this topic in general:

• The limited information is inconsistent and possibly inaccurate on the topic of mercury emissions from crematoria.

• If in the future the U.S. EPA moves forward with any formal regulation the National Funeral Directors Association will represent the funeral industry as the stakeholders at the national level.

• No state in the country has yet to set precedence on this issue.

• In an email dated December 5, 2005, Mary Johnson, Environmental Engineer, U.S. EPA wrote, “At this time, EPA has no plans underway to regulate human or animal crematories.”

• A discussion with Jack Springer, President of the Cremation Association of North America stated that the scrubbers/washers to remove the mercury from the crematories in Europe have been paid for by the taxpayers, and not private business. As the cost of the scrubbers begin at $100,000 and go up, the regulation of that would no doubt put many crematoriums in the United States out of business.

For-Profit vs. Not-For Profit Nursing Homes

Consumer Reports recently published a report on their study of 16,000 nursing home state inspection reports. The study showed that not-for-profit nursing homes generally provided better care than for-profit nursing homes. “In 1987, Congress passed a landmark law meant to improve nursing home care for the elderly. But our investigation reveals that poor care is still all too common, especially at nursing homes run by for-profit chains, now the dominant force in the industry.”

Consumer Reports even lists several nursing home facilities that they specifically recommend that you avoid placing your loved one in, including homes in CA, CO, GA, IN, MN, MO, NJ, OH.

The statement and chart below come directly from the Consumer Report Website www.consumerreports.org

“We recommend that you avoid placing a family member in one of these facilities. If a relative already lives in one of these homes, you need to be extra vigilant about the care that person receives. Visit often and stay involved in the care planning. And finally, speak up if you notice poor care. Report any concerns to your local long-term-care ombudsman and state regulatory agency.”


Consumer reports rated only 2% of for-profit nursing homes with meeting their standards of quality care, and rated the not-for-profit nursing homes at a not-much-better 7.3%. More registered nurses and more staff are typically found at independently owned facilities.

Funeral directors and those involved in end of life care almost always have a mental list of nursing homes that they would or would not be a resident of. This is a result of their frequent visits to numerous nursing homes and their observations of odors, cleanliness, and organization of the staff. It may sound odd to ask a funeral director for their opinion on a good nursing home but don’t discount him/her as a resource.

To read the complete Consumer Reports article click here:

Consumer Reports - On Nursing Homes