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Thursday, 23 March 2023

Our Unique (Carbon) Funeral Footprint

Have you ever thought about having an eco-friendly funeral?

The human species has the unique ability to shape the environment in which they live. As humans, we are able to alter landscapes, exploit natural resources, and emit pollutants that contribute to climate change. This ability also comes with a responsibility to ensure that the impact we make is as sustainable as physically possible. This is where eco-friendly funerals come into the picture. How do you live? How do you want to leave this earthly plain? In a plume of smoke? In a vault?

The funeral industry is an area where our uniqueness as humans and our lasting impact on the environment is particularly relevant. Traditional funeral practices, including the use of embalming chemicals, non-biodegradable caskets, and burial vaults, often have a significant environmental impact. This has led to a growing movement towards more sustainable funeral practices.

By embracing our uniqueness as humans and considering our personal values and beliefs, we can make informed choices about our end-of-life arrangements that align with our environmental values. This can include opting for more eco-friendly funeral options, choosing a final resting place that aligns with our values, or engaging in green burial practices.

As mentioned earlier, traditional funeral practices can have a significant environmental impact. However, there are now many eco-friendly options available, such as natural burial, alkaline hydrolysis and terramation (human composting). These options can minimize the use of harmful chemicals and reduce the carbon footprint of the funeral.

    Consider donating your body to science
    Donating your body to science can be a meaningful way to contribute to scientific research and education. This can help advance medical knowledge and potentially lead to new disease treatments.
      Support conservation efforts
      You can leave a lasting legacy by supporting conservation efforts through your will or estate plan. This can include donating money to environmental organizations or leaving property for conservation purposes.
        Opt for a greener funeral
        Green funerals can include choosing a natural burial that involves placing the body in a biodegradable coffin or shroud and burying it in a natural setting, such as a meadow or forest. Doing this can help promote biodiversity and support local ecosystems.
        Another way is to arrange for the funeral service to be held at a park or a green graveyard to reduce our carbon footprint, with the casket brought via a hearse bicycle, as seen recently in France. 

        Cutting down on travel for guests can likewise help reducewith our carbon footprint. Using seeded paper or biodegradable printed items during the service can also help. 

        For more ideas on creating a move environmentally friendly funeral see our blog post on an Eco Funeral 

        Reduce waste and consumption during your life: By living a sustainable lifestyle during your life, you can minimize your environmental impact and leave a smaller footprint after you pass away. This can include reducing waste, conserving resources, and supporting eco-friendly products and practices.

        Ultimately, recognizing our uniqueness as humans, we in the funeral industry can help create more meaningful and personalized end-of-life experiences that reflect the individuality of our clients while also minimizing our environmental impact.

        What do you think? Would you go green at the end?

        Friday, 10 March 2023

        All Things Mental Health With Barbara Kemmis of Cana


        Losing someone and mourning a loss takes a toll on the mental health of the people that are left behind, especially during the pandemic, when cremation disposal was on the rise.  Relatives’ gathering for the celebration of life gathering was very limited. 

        Now that the effects of the pandemic have waned, cremation is still on the rise, which could be understood as a result of lack of burial sites and financial constraints.  On the good side, though, the pandemic has brought a positive effect on mental health because it is openly discussed in society. 

        Jennifer’s guest for this episode is Barbara Kemmis, the  Executive Director of  CANA and conversation will focus around mental health and how cremation has evolved since the pandemic. 

        "As humans, it is our impulse to gather, to comfort each other, to celebrate together." - Barbara Kemmis


        • Does Barbara think that cremation will continue to grow after Covid? 
        • Jennifer's thoughts on funerals and celebration of life.
        •  Barbara's experience participating in an online funeral for a distant relative in the Philippines.
        • CANA's Focus Group research validation on direct cremation and cremation with service.
        • Why does Jennifer think that funeral directors losing it in terms of value servicing?
        • Thoughts on cremation as a threat to the profitability of funeral providers.
        • If there is such a thing as a positive outcome of the pandemic, it would be the increased openness on mental health.
        • Why is mental health important in developing some kind of coping mechanism?
        • Funeral directors are complemented by event planners and celebrants in providing value to families.
        • CANA is now taking an interest in different forms of disposition.


        Book mentioned by Jennifer - The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters by Priya Parker 

        Connect with Barbara Kemmis:

        Funeral Professionals Peer Support

        CANA Website

        Connect with Jennifer/The Glam Reaper:

        Friday, 3 March 2023

        Exceptional Learning and Networking With The President of NFDA


        In this episode of The Glam Reaper Podcast, Jennifer had an interesting conversation with the new President-elect of the NFDA (National Funeral Directors Association), Jack Mitchell. Jack is a sixth-generation funeral director with Mitchell-Wiedefeld Funeral Home in Baltimore, Maryland. Even at a young age and after being exposed to the family business, he already has an appreciation for what funeral directors do for people, and how helpful they are to people. Now as the new president-elect, he is looking to expand on the effort and the work of the association, especially where regulations are concerned. See for yourself how interesting the conversation turned out to be. Enjoy! 

        “The number one thing above all others that our members are telling us is their challenge, right now is simply getting good funeral directors.” - Jack Mitchell

        Little Nuggets of Gold:

        • Background of Jack Mitchell and his journey to becoming the president-elect of the NFDA.
        • Did Jack consider not following in his family's funeral service business?
        • What is your experience of Jack in attending the National Conventions in the past and now attending there as the President of the NFDA?
        • In what way did Covid19 affect Jack Mitchell’s ascendancy to the presidency of NFDA?
        • What makes the theme for the Service Remembrance for the National Convention extra interesting and special for 2022 being held in Baltimore?
        • Jack's thoughts on the progression or diversification of having other celebrants for the Service of Remembrance, other than the clergy.
        • What are Jack's goals or objectives for NFDA as its new President? (...A focus on the regulations and licensing for funeral directors and morticians.)
        • The different levels of obligation from a time standpoint as President of NFDA. (...How does Jack feel about the presidency?)
        • In what way did Covid19 affect Jack Mitchell’s ascendancy to the presidency of NFDA?
        • What makes the theme for the Service Remembrance for the National Convention extra interesting and special for 2022 being held in Baltimore?
        • Jack's thoughts on the progression or diversification of having other celebrants for the Service of Remembrance, other than the clergy.
        • What are Jack's goals or objectives for NFDA as its new President? (...A focus on the regulations and licensing for funeral directors and morticians.)
        • The different levels of obligation from a time standpoint as President of NFDA. (...How does Jack feel about the presidency?)
        • Jennifer's side story about how she found out about and how it can help someone learn where in the world your DNA comes from.

        Connect with Jack Mitchell:

        Connect with Jennifer/The Glam Reaper:

        Friday, 24 February 2023

        Women of ‘Extraordinary Ability’

        St. Brigid’s Day or Lá féile Bríde in Gaelic, is a well-known day of celebration in Ireland. It is now as of Wednesday, February 1st, 2023, to be recognized as not only a national holiday but the first, yes that’s right; the first to be named after a woman!Brigid is one of Ireland’s most beloved figures, she is both a mother saint of the country and a revered Celtic goddess. She was known for many things including learning, poetry, protection, blacksmithing, livestock/dairy production and healing.

        Growing up in a catholic community in the Irish countryside, it was tradition for most kids to gather the rushes from the fields of green (often yellow with the time of year), carry them to school with annoyance and create not just a cross, but a symbol of St. Brigid. This in turn was carried back to the parents with pride, to be adorned on the walls of the home. It would be unusual for a resident of Ireland to not have heard about St. Brigid.

        To acknowledge not only St. Brigid on Feb 1st, but also the amazing women walking this earth today, the Irish Consulate of New York City held a morning of celebration with networking, music from Katie Maye, poetry from Doireann Ní Ghríofa and a panel of Extraordinary Women. Some of these women were Irish, some with Irish heritage and others with no Irish ancestry but still possess an understanding of what it’s like to be an immigrant and a woman, in particularly male dominated roles. The morning was led by FDNY commissioner Laura Kavanagh, the first female leader of New York's Fire Department in it's 157-year history.

        The panel included: Yvonne Cassidy, Irish author of 4 books, creative writing teacher and the Development Director of Bottomless Closet; Una Neary, daughter of the late Irish restauranteur Jimmy Neary, and Global Chief Compliance Officer at BlackRock; Aissata M.B Camara, Deputy Commissioner and Chief of Staff at the NYC Mayor’s Office for International Affairs; Michele Fitzsimmons, Battalion Chief for the New York Fire Department and last, but of course, not least our very own Jennifer Muldowney, Chief Memorial Maker and Owner of Muldowney Memorials, Chief Author/Host of ‘The Glam Reaper’ Podcast and blog.

        We are so proud of her and her achievements. May there be many more days like these to come, where hard-working, ambitious women own a stage that showcases their amazing accomplishments and achievements. They are trailblazing a way for the younger generations of women to come.

        Walking away from that morning and meeting of minds, one would find it hard not to be empowered, inspired and ready to take on the world. The energy in the room was contagious, exuberant and overwhelmingly positive.

        Do you have female role model in your life? Who stands out as an ‘Extraordinary Woman’ to you? Is there a woman you know in a typically male dominated role, that is forging her way to success without compromise?

        Should you be interested in having Jennifer speak at one of your business events; would like to be featured on her podcast; need assistance in preplanning or need her services as a celebrant/memorial planner, do not hesitate to contact her and her team at

        We also have exciting news at Muldowney Memorial and The Glam Reaper Headquarters, we now have our very own Newsletter!! Subscribing to the Muldowney Monthly Newsletter is easy, you can do so here at

        You can also find articles in the Irish Independent and Irish Echo about the famous Irish man, Jimmy Neary here:

        - Siobhán Regan

        Discussing a Good Death and Racism with the Grave Woman, Joél Simone Maldonado


        Jennifer’s conversation with the “Grave Woman”, Joél Simone Maldonado was enlightening because, despite all the talks on gender equality and racism in this modern society, there remains a pushback for women and black women in the funeral industry. Joél is a licensed mortician, funeral director, embalmer and who calls herself, ‘The Sacred Greek Practitioner’. Nowadays, her focus is in the practice of educating people, funeral industry professionals and students about cultural competency, racial inclusion, regardless of faith, race, age, or status. There were some technical difficulties during the recording of this episode but Jennifer thinks that there will be a sequel to the conversation; as Joél has a lot more to offer in the funeral industry.

        "My experience as a black woman, I feel like I have the right to speak on those things and shed light on the lack of diversity in the industry.” - Joél

        Little Nuggets of Gold: - How did she become "The Grave Woman"? (...What were the bizarre coincidences since childhood that manifest Joél being in this industry?) - Who is “The Grave Woman” and what does she do now, being part of the funeral industry? - What are Joél’s thoughts in educating the funeral community and the diversity within it? - Does she feel there is pushback for her, being a woman, and a black woman at that, when attending funeral conventions and conferences? - Are there some other people that come to mind who can be part of your Power Team?

        Connect with Joél Simone Maldonado

        Website Podcast - Death & Grief Talk with The Grave Woman® Instagram YouTube

        Connect with Jennifer/The Glam Reaper:

        Monday, 20 February 2023

        General Grant National Memorial

        Happy President's Day 2023!

        “Let us have peace”. This, in 1868, was the 18th President of The United States, Ulysses G. Grant’s campaign slogan. Right here in NYC, on the doorstep of The Glam Reaper Podcast and Muldowney Memorials headquarters, is not only a National Park but the largest mausoleum in North America. It is the final resting place of such President Ulysses S. Grant and his wife, Julia Dent Grant. President Grant actively helped heal a nation post-civil war and insure all rights for the citizens of his country. His original choice of burial ground was his alma mater in West Point, however; they did not allow burial of women, so he dismissed this idea. This alone shows the nature of the kind of man he was. The largest public fundraising campaign in the world at the time was held to raise money to build this tomb. $600,000 was raised, which truly showed the impact he made on all walks of life across the globe.

        Forming the outline of a cross, the interior of the building is largely composed of Lee and Carrara marble from Italy and Massachusetts. The upper level consists of a gallery, enclosed by a paneled dome which is 105 feet above floor level. At the Crypt level, there are 2 sarcophagi, made of Wisconsin red granite, containing the remains of both Ulysses and Julia Grant which are then surrounded in this circular crypt by 5 statues of other Civil War generals. Even though it was completed in 1897 by Architect John Duncan, it is still to this day, the largest mausoleum in the country! There is a riddle or joke that asks, “who is buried at Grant’s Tomb?” The answer of course, is “No one”. Grant and his wife are entombed. The inspiration came to Mr. Duncan from Napoleon Bonaparte’s Sarcophagus at Les Invalides.

        Grant’s Tomb is located right by the Hudson River on Riverside Drive and W. 122nd Street and open daily except Monday and Tuesday. Upon completion, it remained unobscured at one of the highest points along the Hudson River. Even if you have no interest in history or don’t even know what a mausoleum is, this one is truly spectacular and worth visiting. Plus, it’s free! 

        This beautifully designed, arduously built structure is an incredible piece of architecture, but it is not just any old landmark! It symbolizes the overcoming of war and the healing of a hurting nation; it is a representation of noblemen, honor and respect. It showcases the power of the people -a nation- when harmoniously connected for a positive cause. More importantly and especially in today’s world, it is also a sanctuary, a vessel of silence and stillness in the otherwise bustling and busy city of New York. A palace of peace for not only those in the neighborhood, but for all who travel from near and far to visit this one-of-a-kind memorial.

        Have you visited this national site? What are your thoughts on mausoleums? Would you like your final resting place to be a mausoleum?

        Sunday, 19 February 2023

        5 Reasons to consider Preplanning your own Funeral

        While planning one's own funeral may not be the most comfortable thing to think about, it can be an important and helpful task to undertake. Here are some reasons why people may choose to plan their own funeral:

        1. Relieve Burden on Loved Ones: By planning their own funeral, individuals can relieve their loved ones of the emotional and financial burden of planning a funeral during a difficult time.
        2. Ensure Wishes are Respected: Planning one's own funeral ensures that the individual's wishes are respected and carried out. This can include preferences for the type of service, burial or cremation, music, readings, and more.  You can decide on the type of service you want, where you want to be buried, and any other details that are important to you. This can bring peace of mind to both you and your family.
        3. Control Costs: Funeral costs can add up quickly, and planning in advance can help individuals and their families make decisions that fit within their budget. Pre-planning helps with financial planning. You can decide on a budget, choose a funeral home, and pay for services in advance. This can help prevent financial strain on your loved ones.
        4. Personalize the Service: Planning your funeral allows you to personalize the service to reflect your personality, values, and beliefs and allows you to add your personal touch to the event. This can help loved ones celebrate their life in a meaningful way. You can choose the music, the readings, the flowers, and any other details that reflect your personality and preferences.
        5. Peace of Mind: Knowing that one's funeral is planned and taken care of can provide peace of mind and a sense of control during a difficult time.

        Overall, planning your own funeral can be a thoughtful and considerate act for your loved ones. It can provide peace of mind and ensure that your final wishes are fulfilled.

        As memorial experts at Muldowney Memorials, we highly recommend taking the time to consider your final wishes and making arrangements accordingly.