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Thursday, 23 March 2023

Our Unique (Carbon) Footprint

The human species has a unique ability to shape the environment in which they live, and this ability comes with a responsibility to ensure that this impact is sustainable as physically possible. As humans, we alter landscapes, exploit natural resources, and emit pollutants that contribute to climate change. 

The funeral industry is an area where our uniqueness as humans and our lasting impact on the environment is particularly relevant. Traditional funeral practices often have a significant environmental impact, including the use of embalming chemicals, non-biodegradable caskets, and burial vaults. However, there is 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.

  1. Choose eco-friendly disposition options: 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Opt for a green funeral: Green funerals can include 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. This can help promote biodiversity and support local ecosystems. A service can be provided at a park or green graveyard to reduce our carbon footprint. The casket can be brought via a hearse bicycle as seen recently in France. Cutting down on travel for guests can help with our carbon footprint. Using seeded paper or biodegradable printed items can also help. See also our blog post on an Eco Funeral 
  5. 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.

Thursday, 16 February 2023

Talking Child Bereavement in the UK With John Adams

The conversation around this episode is a tough one because it deals with children’s bereavement. Jennifer’s guest is John Adams the President of the NAFD in the UK, who will talk about the petition he has spearheaded to make it compulsory learning for children about bereavement. Children are taught how life begins through the national curriculum, why can’t comprehension and coping skills about death be part of the curriculum, as well.

It is very important to equip children with the skills to comprehend death and not to brush away the emotions of a child with regards to bereavement. For example, when a child's pet goldfish dies and the child is crying, parents should not dismiss the child's emotions as insignificant simply because it was "only a fish”. Little Nuggets of Gold: - What is the purpose of John Adams' campaign or petition for the inclusion of bereavement in the UK's national curriculum? - In the petition, will the teachers be teaching the curriculum? - The importance of education and counseling for the mental health of children witnessing death, regardless of its form. - What kind of parameters and guidelines does our society need in order to remove judgments about death, especially for children? - Thoughts of John Adams on Coffin/Casket Sales.


If you are in UK and would like to sign the online petition, you can go to this link.

Connect with John Adams: 



Connect with Jennifer/The Glam Reaper:

Wednesday, 15 February 2023

8 creative ideas for Memorial Planning

Planning a memorial is an important way to honor and remember a loved one who has passed away. Here are some creative ideas for memorial planning:
  1. Plant a memorial garden: A garden filled with your loved one's favorite flowers, plants or trees is a beautiful way to remember them. You could also add a memorial plaque, statue or fountain to the garden.
  2. Create a memory box: A memory box filled with mementos, photographs, and keepsakes of your loved one can be a touching way to preserve their memory.
  3. Organize a charity event: Organizing a charity event in your loved one's name can be a great way to celebrate their life and give back to a cause that they cared about.
  4. Commission an art piece: Commissioning an art piece that reflects your loved one's personality, interests or life story can be a unique way to memorialize them.
  5. Host a candlelight vigil: A candlelight vigil can be a touching way to gather family and friends to share memories and celebrate the life of your loved one.
  6. Create a video tribute: Creating a video tribute that combines photos, videos, music and memories of your loved one can be a moving way to honor their memory and share it with others.
  7. Build a memorial bench or monument: A bench or monument placed in a meaningful location can be a lasting tribute to your loved one.
  8. Dedicate a room or space: If your loved one had a special room or space they loved, you could dedicate it to their memory and fill it with their favorite items and photographs.
Remember, there is no right or wrong way to memorialize someone. The important thing is to choose a way that feels meaningful and reflects the life of your loved one.

Friday, 27 January 2023

The Funny Thing About Death

 A play by Kim Kalish at the Cell Theatre in New York City, part of Origin Theatre Company’s 1st Irish Festival 2023


The funny thing about death? You might be thinking, well there is no such thing. Death is not funny; it is not something to be found comical; to be laughed at. But for the storyteller, writer and performer Kim Kalish, it wasn’t that death was, or is, funny - her situation and experience were absolutely heart breaking - but it is how she coped with death - her grieving.


Kim used what was familiar to her; creativity, theatre and humor to help process the massive burden of grief. Humor was her coping mechanism. We see all of this in her spine-tingling, attention grabbing and captivating performance. In her own words, she was a theatre kid and that is how the bond blossomed between her and the love of her life - Patrick Michael McMurphy.


I had the privilege of sitting in the front row of her show, to feel the rawness and realness of her story, her wit and her emotions. We, the audience experienced the heaviness of her struggles but the essence of joy in finding true love at such a young age. I could feel my throat muscles tense and cave in at spells throughout the hour-long performance, while my eyes glassed over with both tears of sadness and laughter.


Their love story was a “showmance”, as Kim recalls. It sounded like the typical perfect Romcom. 

Kim was only 23 years old when death came knocking at her door in the form of her best friend Andrea, ‘Andy’. You see, death has no timeline; it does not care what time of the day, or what day of the week it is. It does not care if you are busy making plans for the future, or just hungover on your couch in the same outfit as the night before (as Kim was). It just comes knocking. Knocking when it is greedy for another life to take.


Professionals have termed The Five Stages of Grief as DABDA: 

Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Kim touches on this topic in the play, but listed them in the wrong order. At first thought, I presumed it was an error on her part. Later in the play she states that “Grief is not Linear, it is not a lifestyle change, nor is it a fad diet!”. It was at that point that I understood why she changed the order of stages. There is no order to death or grief. No single individual experiences these stages in the same pattern, what may be the second stage for one person is the first for another. Anger may consume a griever initially before denial sets in. When Kim received the news of her soulmate, love of her life, expected life partner’s death; she accelerated through all 5 stages of grief in just one moment.


She was both in denial and angry at her friend for saying such a thing, she bargained with her to take the news back; that the news she shared wasn’t funny. It was only when Andrea turned her head, in anticipation of Kim’s palm approaching her cheek to slap her, did Kim comprehend the reality of the situation. She fell to the ground in depression and shock, once the truth was accepted. Andrea was right there with her, cradling her. This is a true testament to friendships and the community we create for ourselves. When someone we love dies, our community and support is everything. Andrea was by Kim’s side for a week solid, so much so that she hadn’t showered and started to smell. This is how selfless her dear friend was.


You see, Kim was on suicide watch at her mother’s request. The uncertainty of what Kim may do was the main concern.  She claimed she was fine, that she was OK, not to worry about her. This was absolutely not the case; Kim went back to work two days later! Kim's mother wanted her to eat, in fact insisting that she ate! That is how she showed her love. 


In life, we all have different avenues of expressing and showing our love. When Patrick was alive, he used to express his love by showing up for Kim when she needed him most. He appeared at Kim’s apartment in the middle of the night as her knight in shining armor. Like most typical college kids, Kim was procrastinating on her senior year thesis. She frantically typed in the final 24 hours before it was due. She typed so hard and so fast that her laptop and thesis flashed and smoked before her eyes. When she lay in a fetal position thinking it was all over; there Patrick Michael McMurphy was to save the day.


Fast-forward and Kim was still not OK, and that is OK, she recounts two years later, with Patrick’s anniversary looming. She was dating again. Kim forewarned her date that it might be a difficult time for her and she didn’t know how she would behave. He exclaimed, “You’ll be OK though right?!”. Kim felt that her date’s question was a way of protecting himself against the possibility that she might not be OK. Asking someone if they will be ok, is like saying “time heals all wounds.” Words like those take away from the griever and their grief.


“It’s OK not to be OK” is a slogan used by Hope For The Day. This is a non-profit movement empowering the conversation on proactive suicide prevention and mental health education. There is no shame in admitting you need help, love or support. Please, if you are reading this; reach out to someone that is worrying you, seems reserved or you feel is alone with no support. Or, just reach out to friends and family and tell them you love them! 


This is a message that Kim leaves her audience with. For it was only at Patrick’s funeral that Kim discovered SHE was the definition of true love to him; not a Billy Joel song as she had once believed. He told a friend that true love was knowing what your partner needs before they know it themselves. She was who he wanted to be with and he was going to ask for her hand in marriage! But Patrick never got a chance to tell her before his tragic death. 


So, can I leave this with you? whom do you need to contact? Who would appreciate hearing your voice at the other end of the phone? Do not procrastinate like Kim, writing her college thesis. Who needs to hear the words today from your heart, “I love you”? 


-Siobhán Regan