Tales from 21st Century Deathcare™

April 25, 2016

1 Comment


ICCFA funeral Convention in NOLA 2016!

Hello Sweet people -

Whats better than a funeral convention in New Orleans?

You know I have been waiting my entire life to go to New Orleans. I have always thought it was the only other place in the USA where people like me ( rather overly romantic musical artistic beauty loving freaks who do not fit in well other places ) could survive & thrive outside of San Francisco. So when I heard the annual ICCFA was taking place in NOLA this year I was ready and began the arduous process of gathering the obscene amount of money it takes to exhibit at any funeral convention !

     

WELL IT DID NOT DISAPPOINT! As a previous musician the level of the musicianship  both on the street (and amazingly) hired inside the ICCFA convention was arresting to say the least! We have lots of street musicians in SF but these people are seriously rule! 

and of course the Alligator shoes...

There was a full Treme Jazz funeral INSIDE the Morial Convention Hall with a 2nd line & we were given hankies & all invited to join in ! ( SO much fun! ) 

  

 

 

When I saw my first REAL  Mardi Gras Indian I actually cried! 

The people from  New Orleans REALLY understood our KINKARA-KART™ funeral caissons BECAUSE-

they use funeral caissons all the time! (My kind of people...)

  

Our KINKARACO  booth as usual was  unlike any other booth at the Convention .It was like a portal to the great outdoors!

(13th Century products for the 21st Century !)

The  really good news is this year the people knew more about GREEN BURIAL and SHROUDS than ever before and were actually POSITIVE about it!

No dirty looks! No nasty comments ( like at ICCFA 2014 when some funeral home owner walked by and said  out of the side of his mouth : "Well , I hope THAT never catches on!")  Why Yes Sir - Green Burial and Shroud burial in particular IS catching on because of the many other hard working people like us in the GBC have been promoting it tirelessly over the past 11 years !

What  is phenomenal considering before we began working in a green cemetery in 2004 only Jews and Muslims could be buried in a shroud and only in specific religious cemeteries . Tree huggers and others who wanted a simple burial for environmental reasons were out of luck.  So we designed the first SECULAR shroud for easy use for funeral professionals and families ( because we saw up close and personal that using shawls, quilts and sheets is a big mess! We have design strong , leakage proof ,easy to lower BEAUTIFUL 100% biodegradable shrouds for green burial AND cremation JUST FOR YOU ! We have now created a NEW NICHE within the funeral industry and are now kind of "mainstream"- How weird !

                                   

The Green Burial Council had our annual meeting at ICCFA and it was really great to see cemeterians and funeral directors I have worked with for years over the phone but never actually met! Also the new GBC board  gave a presentation and talked  turkey about the future . Better functionality and less complicated certification process with more direct benefit to providers. Yes! 

The newcomers like our friends at QEEPER  & COELIO (were there exhibiting  as well this year.( Now they get the looks! ) 

Of course I just HAD  to get to the VOO DOO MUSEUM to visit  Madame Marie Lavoe: 

and her "friends & relatives..."

 

Oh, did I mention the food?????? Next time you're in  New Orleans don't miss -

Cane & Table on Decatur for dinner (So DIVINE! ) and The Ruby Slipper on Magazine for that Fried Green Tomatoes, grits ,eggs and bisquits breakfast! Yum! 

We had a wonderful time at the Convention and feel hopeful for the future of the Green/Natural funeral movement (which is becoming an option almost as accepted as cremation almost is which in this industry  is a good thing!  )  

Please leave us a comment and your favorite places in New Orleans! 

Bye for now!

Your friend in the Charnal Grounds

Esmerelda

 

February 08, 2016

1 Comment


What IS Death exactly?

Some say-"Well , no one comes back to talk about it now do they?" BUT THEY DO! All the time… 

           

NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE : The accounts of people who have physically “died” and come back are all very similar. People now joke about “going into the light” because of these fascinating tales told by so many people who were often in the hospital and who remained conscious through what many call a “out of body” experience.  

                                                                         They all unanimously share about a multi-dimensional experience of being able to see their body beneath them from a distance above as well as all the other people in the room .They speak about going into a dark tunnel-like atmosphere where they often meet with previously deceased loved ones such as parents, children or spouses and a feeling of unbelievable peace and the feeling of overwhelming Love which they express “never wanting to leave” – a sense of peace and well being not found on this Earth..(but imagined as Heaven)In fact it is often their loved ones they meet there who urge them to “GO BACK!” which the ones who are reluctant to do (which is why we have these amazing accounts from these forever changed individuals. All of these people explain an experience in which the body and the mind perceiving the body are distinct and separate entities, the mind being separate from the physical brain and nearly all speak of a profound sense of Love and well being.

                 

 TIBETAN BUDDHISM– Buddha Shakyamuni began life as a Hindu Prince 2500 years ago in India. He was kept from seeing any unpleasant human experiences in the Kings palace ,but one day through the huge gates to the outer village he caught a glimpse of aging people in the street. He became profoundly curious ,escaped the gates and went into the streets where he saw poverty, sickness and death for the first time as a young man. He had a profound sense of sadness and a Great compassion arose in him when he realized that the great tragedy of all Life is that it always ends in Death. He left the palace ,his wife and child and lived for years as an ascetic(Sadhu) meditating and fasting.    

                                                   

He had a realization of the futility of extremes and cut off his long hair and ordained himself as a monk . He then sat under a tree meditating for a long time having many realizations about Life and Death until he reached a mental state called Nirvana or Enlightenment in which his mind had reached its full potential (called the state of NO MORE LEARNING) he was fully AWAKE.                                                                                                                                    The Dharma teachings of Buddhism traveled to many countries in the East but  perhaps the place where it was best able to flourish  was in the completely  isolated Himalayan mountains, where great monasteries and Buddhist Universities allowed the monks and nuns the ability to become Enlightened without worldly distraction. One of the most  important  Buddhist practices is meditating on Death and the yoga of remaining fully conscious throughout the Death process. The most famous book on this subject (which the author read in High School) is :

                                                             The Tibetan Book of the Dead”

                                                               

 MORAL DISCIPLINE : All Faiths  agree on many of the same non-virtues  listed in :

The 7 Deadly Sins (Christian)

the 5 Heinous Actions and the 10 Non-Virtues (Buddhism)

(Although there are 70 main ones listed in ( Islam ) most of the same ones are all included : Killing, Stealing, Adultery, Pride, Lying, Greed, etc. All guard against the basest of human nature in order to keep peace and harmony within society and create happiness within . 

            

HEAVEN & HELL –These dimensions are all very specific places recorded in all Faiths including many  different types of Hell realms (Cold Hells, Hot hells, etc.) Purelands and of course Paradise. All are  explained in great detail and are determined destinations of the mind according to one’s actions,  moral discipline (or lack there of) and in essence are the resultant effects of ones behavior or KARMA  during one's lifetime .  

         

                   “The LOBBY” - In Christianity its called PERGATORY, in Buddhism the BARDO, in Islam BARZAKH (or “Facsimile World” ) and in Hindism NARAKA - all the names of the transitory state of the Spirit, Soul, or Mental Continuum – the dimension in which the post material physical “body” goes after Death - before entering the realms of Heaven or Hell. Kind of like a waiting room or a lobby.This is the realm where "NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE takes place. 

          

SLEEP & the DEATH process - The Tibetan Book of the Dead is an account of what happens blow by blow during and after the Death process. {It is important to note here that the teachings of Holy men like Jesus , Mohammed, Buddha are left with their disciples. Some don’t make it intact or take years to publish and others are “edited “ over the centuries by Kings and govenments for power. }Buddhism is an Eastern religion in which lineage is extremely important to protect the teachings (the Dharma) of the Buddha and every lineage in every country Buddha’s teachings were handed down from teacher to student in an unbroken lineage straight from Buddhas mouth from disciple to teacher to student .}

 SLEEP (our little nightly Death)  - Buddha taught that each night when we go to sleep our mental continuum (that is NOT the physical brain although they have a relationship) goes through many levels of consciousness from gross to more and more subtle states of consciousness until in very deep sleep we enter what is called the Clear Light of Sleep (ironically it is also the same level as the Enlightened mind that we go to every night but we don’t remember it!) Our mental continuum (spirit, soul, etc.) goes through all the levels of consciousness to the Clear light of Sleep every night while remaining connected to the physical body of this life . It remains there normally between 5-8 hours before rising back up through the levels of consciousness to what is called “Rim Sleep” or the DREAM STATE which is the grossest level of consciousness before waking into this dimension once again. We may remember our “dreams “ which are actual experiences in another state of consciousness . {Buddha taught that the DREAM STATE and the WAKING STATE are identical in nature , that one is no different from the other . The only difference is we believe the waking experience is REAL and the “dreamstate “ is not, however both worlds are equally the same –only being apprehended by different minds (the dream world by the dreaming mind and the waking world by the waking mind.)

         
          " Now I lay me down to sleep,
                           I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
                                           If I should die before I wake
                                                 I pray the Lord my soul to take..." Childrens bedtime prayer  

DEATH (or the separation of the Mind from the Body) – We all have an expiration date determined by what? Fate? Karma? Random? What ever one believes. But one thing we can all agree on - it is NOT logical. If it were people who smoke and drink every day wouldn’t live well into their 90’s and people who exercise every day and eat only organic vegetables (or one day old infants) wouldn’t die young. Yet Death comes when our expiration date goes off like a carton of bad milk , except  we have no idea when that will be.

What we DO know is that when the mind becomes unconsciousness through sleep ,car accident, coma, etc. the mind goes through the all different levels of consciousness it goes through in the sleep process , but n this state depending on peoples Karma or fate, the mental continuum (spirit, soul, etc.) it either goes into the BARDO (Pregatory, Barzakh ,Naraka, etc.) in which some people experience NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCES and they karmically return to the waking world .If however the mental continuum (mind) completely disconnects from the physical body this state becomes the Clear Light of Death and the mind (soul, spirit,etc.) goes on to the next lifetime while the previous physical body shell is left behind in the material world (to be disposed of in a conscious & responsible manner.)

Extremely adept Yogis and Buddhist Masters are able to predict the time of their own deaths and meditate through the Death process remembering the entire experience. Some become petrified in the meditation posture and their bodies are placed on shrines and worshipped for decades.

 

Death is a big topic these days especially with authenticity craving millenials who are determined to explode the last taboo topic in the Western world (as did Green Burial when it returned at the beginning of the 21st Century.) Death consciousness has always been a bad motivation for Capitalism in general as we learned after 9/11 (Why shop? )

 However, it has always been a favorite mystery science with the ancients of every culture on Earth as well as the few Enlightened teachers living amongst us here today.

As Muldaur says: “The Truth is out there….”

       

 

 

 

January 01, 2016

0 Comments


HAPPY NEW YEAR 2016 -Our fabulous 2015 in review!

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! We wanted to share our year with you.

JANUARY 2015- Well, first we launched our new fancy schmancy E-Commerce website on Shopify: http://kinkaraco.com

On the first KINKARACO ® website we marketed  directly to the public and we posted  all the prices online. The problem was hardly anyone knew what a shroud was or that they were legal (even though the prototype was seen on HBO's "Six Feet Under!" 2005)

In 2008  BusinessWeek magazine called and said they put me in an article with 3 other guys called
" Entrepreneurs Changing the Funeral Industry". They made me the centerfold - 

      

After that the really smart open minded funeral homes took notice of KINKARACO and became our official product resellers. We realized then this had to be an inside job - supplying the good funeral homes who understood this alternative GREEN option and having them in stock for  families  in need. We decided then to work only with funeral homes located near GREEN CEMETERIES who contacted us first as they would  already understand this type of customer and be successful ...

Litwiler-Simonsen Funeral Home,OR. -http://www.litwillersimonsen.com/

 Pray Funeral Home,MI -http://www.prayfuneral.com/ 

Because they asked we took the prices down for 7 years. This was great because people  called us on the telephone asking for pricing and we could answer questions so we could listen to their concerns and educate them as to their options.

This is how we built the business one customer at a time without any distributors or middlemen, speaking to every family and helping make all the arrangements and connecting them to great funeral homes and green cemeteries near them. 

We have always encouraged our customers to  BUY LOCALLY and now there are many great funeral homes to choose from in nearly every state! You can find them and the green cemeteries on the RESOURCES TAB :http://kinkaraco.com/pages/where-to-buy

              2015- The year of the Cemetery! 

This year 8 new green cemeteries became KINKARACO resellers:

http://kinkaraco.com/pages/funeral-home-list

They  now have shroud products on hand in the cemeteries! They also bought our KINKARA-KART ™ handmade processional vehicles:

  

   2015-DEATH EVENTS ,RETREATS and other fun things .. 

MARCH 2015 - I wrote an article featuring all 16  women cemetery owners, mnagaers, funeral directors, home funeral guides &  product suppliers for AMERICAN FUNERAL DIRECTOR magazine called "The PIONEERING WOMEN OF NATURAL DEATHCARE which was very well received ( and had never before been done) . 

APRIL 26th 2015-DEATH SALON at the GETTY MUSEUM in Los Angeles hosted by Caitlyn Doughty.

JUNE 12-14th 2015- California Dharma Celebration at KMC HOLLYWOOD Buddhist Empowerment

 

AUGUST 2015Annual Buddhist Summer Festival  Cumbria, Northern England

( A 13th Century priory with a Tibetan style Temple in the backyard- ( aerial view) 

Afterwards attended special silent retreat for 10 days in Malaga, Spain:

 

Buddhist retreat vacations are very inexpensive because you stay in dorms 6-8 people in a room and share in the work, serving food, washing dishes, chopping vegetables in exchange for the retreats . It is the experience of living in a monastery for lay people .I find meditation retreats far away from home imperative for long term working with Death ,dying and keeping in business in the funeral industry with all the pressure, sadness, emotional upset and stress that goes along with my job. 

OCTOBER 2-4 2015 NATIONAL HOME FUNERAL ALLIANCE CONVENTION in Los Gatos, CA. I was a exhibitor and gave a shroud demo . Nearly 200 mostly women gathered to hear speakers Frank Ostazeki,Caitlyn Doughty, JerriGrace Lyons, Katrina Spade of Urban Death Project and others ..

.

OCTOBER 19-20 NATIONAL FUNERAL DIRECTORS ASSOC. Convention Indianapolis, IN. A very old and old fashioned show but always good to check it out. I liked the RESOMATION containers, the Embalming Dummy and the Abe Lincoln Hearse (where I ran into Caitlyn Doughty first day!) 

 NOVEMBER 15th 2015- END OF LIFE FAIRE Jewish Community Center of San Francisco. A day devoted to seniors and their end of life resources.https://www.jccsf.org/adult/adult-prog-con/end-of-life-resource-fair/participating-businesses-organizations 

NOVEMBER 19th 2015  INNOVATE-HER - SBA/ Renaissance Entrepreneur Center national contest for women entrepreneurs held at the UBER/SQUARE building SF,CA. I was chosen out of hundreds along with 8 other businesses to pitch to VC investors for National competition and I won  3rd PLACE  and free one on one mentoring from the esteemed VC judges! 

DECEMBER 9-14 Went on an exploratory  factory search in New Mexico and ended up gilding 24C. gold leaf for the new Buddhist Temple being built there KMC-NM.  

 All & all a fascinating year filled with wonder and amazement at the beautiful world we live in, and committed WORLD PEACE by trying to be a more loving ,compassionate, patient and helpful person to all living beings in 2016.We ARE Peace on Earth if we have calm peaceful MINDS and open HEARTS . Join me and 

                                                BE THE PEACE in 2016!

                                            

{This year we face one of the most pivotal Presidential elections in our countries recent history and I am 100% assured that the Karma of the United States of America will prevail (one way or the other...) VOTE & Pray hard! } 
Happy New Year 2016 
Love
Esmerelda from  KINKARACO 
October 29, 2015

0 Comments


Feliz Dios De Los Muertos!

         

                                 Dios De Los Muertos ( The Day of the Dead ) 

What could be a more appropriate event to place in a cemetery than honoring one's deceased loved ones on Dios De Los Muertos? With fantastic altars comprised of portraits of the deceased, food & drink both tboth raditional as well as those preferred by the deceased ,so that the entire family can come and add to the altars, and march in the candle lit processions that are marked by the lights of

Luminaria ( novena candles placed inside of brown paper bags) along the streets and paths leading to the central place of remembrance? 

                  

San Francisco's famed Mission District is the home of KINKARACO ® and one of the most famous and culturally rich Latin cultural neighborhoods  in the country. Just blocks away is the Mission Cultural Center which is historically the begging of the festivies here. Artists and families make  altars  on the huge upper floors of the center and then the procession begins marked by the full dress blessing of the Aztec Dancers in the middle of the city street (whether or not it has officially been blocked off to traffic )                   

                   -

 

FERNWOOD CEMETERY (Callifornias first GREEN cemetery) is where we were born and the Father of Fernwood is also the Maestro of HOLLYWOOD FOREVER CEMETERY in Los Angeles , home of another thriving cultural latin base . Being the most innovative of all the cemeterians, Tyler Cassity puts on the most spectacular Dios De Los Muertos extravaganza of all! With performers such as the brilliant beautiful & powerful Lila  Downs, to bringing authentic Huichol Shamans to open the event! 

Here 's a peek at  DIOS DE LOS MUERTOS at HOLLYWOOD FOREVER 2014:

Hollywood Forever Dia De Los Muertos / Day of The Dead 2014 from Piero F Giunti on Vimeo.

Why not create your OWN Dios De Los Muertos in your own  local cemetery? 

What you need:

1. A Cemetery

2. Crates or sturdy Boxes  for the altar 

3. Beautiful fabric, tablecloths lace to cover the boxes

4. Framed portraits of the deceased (can be people, dogs, horses, cats, anyone you loved.) 

5. Crosses, Buddhas, Stars of David, Our Lady of Guadalupe statures, any relavant statues (of Liberty?) 

6. Candles on the altars ( Novenas are tall candles in glass cylinders sold at any latin bodegas or any large grocery store with a latin population) Luminaria -for leading path..are created by putting those lit candles in small plain brown paper bags . ( Be careful of fire by appointing a "fire watcher"to keep watch.) 

7. Cover the front cloth on the floor with: Fruit, Cakes, Rum, Corn, gourds, pumpkins, tamales, pizza, eggs, bread, chapati, tortillas, casseroles, basically anything the deceased liked while living, any family tradition.

8. Flowers- Traditionally Marigolds and Sunflowers - but Red Roses are really nice too! 

Invite your entire family and friends to come DRESS UP AS THE DEAD/PAINT YOUR FACES LIKE SKELETONS and join in the procession after dark and afterwards sit at the altar ,tell stories about the person, sing, dance ,hug and cry. 

Its cathartic! 

Bless you & all your ancestors ....this Dios De Los Anos - Nov. 2nd 2015 !

October 23, 2015

0 Comments


Special Report: National Funeral Directors Assoc. convention 2015

       

Just returned from the NFDA convention in Indianapolis,IN and what can I say? 

                               

I had never attended  the NFDA before as it is the more conservative of the funeral conventions (if that is possible) and no one had ever promoted it as being  as much fun as say the ICCFA (the Cemetery & Cremation convention) . However I had special reason to walk the show this year so I went and who do you suppose was the very first person I bumped into on the floor? 

Yes that's right - Caitlyn Doughty ! the Ask a Mortician/Smoke Gets in your Eyes/Death Salon girl herself right there in front of the resomation chamber! I had just seen Caitlyn speak at the National Home Funeral Alliance in Los Gatos a couple of weekends ago so we were both gobsmacked to see one another in Indiana -( but we do run in the same deathy circles! ) I have no selfie reflexes so this pic (which should be in front of the resomation machine ) is actually from the Death Salon earlier this year at the Getty Museum in LA. sorry. 

                                      

Funeral conventions are always fairly surreal like a 1959 time capsule because until the last member of the "great generation" draws their very last breath - funeral providers  will continue to sell them what they have been happy to purchase for the past 60+ years  . However  there are always the odd mind blowing exceptions that do not disappoint. This year it was the "synthetic human"cadaver. ( Yes it felt moist - yes,  it was very cold ):

                  

the Sleeping Beauty Plexiglass caskets ! (One would only hope the family never requests an exumation ! ):

             

                                     A fantastic "Ode to Abe "exhibit complete with original casket (with ol'Abe inside) and the Freedom Carraige! (love love love a horse drawn funeral caissons like KINKARACO's own KINKARA-KART™!!)

           

                       

                                               and so life like...................... 

           

Indianapolis (hometown  of the KKK) was unexpectedly sophisticated and getting as gentrified as SF, LA and NY (except that you can still buy a gigantic 2 story house on a quarter of an acre for under $200,000.00!)

          

I went to alot of shopping malls and had a really fun time with my celebrant friend Barb who showed me what a Giant pretzel looks like (which was shocking because I live in a  carb deprived area ) :

                                                          

It was also great getting a chance  to talk to real live Republicans in person because we don't have any in San Francisco - ( It's the Democrats VS. the Green Party.) 

It is so important for Americans to "cross pollinate" and listen to one another without writing each other off as "crazy & stupid" , so we imagined a smack down between Hillary and Carley and wondered how bloody it could actually get. ( I sidestepped the immigration issue completely... ) In the funeral industry politics and religion are a no no and never mentioned .

Of course everyone who attends these conventions is just a little bit odd which is why I love them so .....

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh,my people.

Thanks for another great convention. I had a wonderful time in the exotic midwest and can't wait for the ICCFA in Nola this spring! 

Over & out! 

 

                                                         

October 05, 2015

0 Comments


NHFA conference 2015 review

What a meaningful  inspiring (and fun!) time we had at the 5th NHFA conference ( National Home Funeral Alliance ) this weekend at the Presentation Center in Los Gatos, CA. with nearly 200 in attendance !

Keynote speakers : The profound Frank Ostaseki founder of the Zen Hospice project, Caitlyn Doughty of Ask a Mortician and "Smoke gets in your Eyes"f ame and Nancy Jewel Poer the original home funeral elder.

Among others - Jerrigrace Lyons showed a video of a Morgan Fieri's home funeral and her brother Guy Fieri interviewed about how that home funeral changed his life. 

Suzette Sherman of Seven Ponds gave an overall view of new trends in alternative funeral and I was honored to give a presentation on shrouding as well as  finally getting  to meet the brilliant architect Katrina Spade of the Urban Death Project (and here we are at the KINKARACO table! )

The NHFA has come so far in promoting the option  of home funerals for the public . The event was so well organized ,ran so seamlessly and was very well attended with fascinating people from all areas of lend of Life - Nurses, hospice workers, funeral directors, natural product providers and of course home funeral representative form all over the US, the UK, New Zealand and  Canada .

The annual meeting was very exciting to see what has been accomplished over the last 2 years , the obstacles facing the movement and input of all the members in every aspect from legistlative, communications, outreach and fundraising . The future is bright for families seeking to remain at home for awhile with there loved ones and its in VERY good hands. Can't wait til the next conference TBA!

September 26, 2015

0 Comments


Practicing " Buddhist Economics" in the funeral industry

The KINKARA Company ( KINKARACO) is a company based in Buddhist economics.

Definitions: From the Sanskrit
KINKARA - Patitaṁ kiṅkaraṁ mām: "I am Your eternal servant, kiṅkara."          KINKARA MEANS SERVANT

KINKARA-The special Dharma Protector for practitioners  also known as "Father Mother Lord of the Charnel Grounds "(cemeteries)

At KINKARACO, we practice Buddhist Economics. We exist for your benefit to serve you with right livlihood to live. This means :

We take too long helping elderly people finding what they need and sending them things in the mail because they have no internet. 

We give free shipping too often when we determine the need .

We spend too much money paying locals to make our high quality products in the United States of America.

We buy fabrics that are of superior quality for their integrity ,natural fiber content and biodegradability . 

We cherish  ALL of our customers  including families who have just lost someone they love, people planning ahead, wealthy funeral home and cemetery owners, and home funeral guides in small towns  just beginning  their  businesses. We practice equanimity and see them one and all as very valuble .

In other words our bottomline at KINKARACO is not profit as it is within much of this industry but our decisions keep  PEOPLE as the priority while remaining solvent and functioning. We try very hard to always practice Giving, Patience, Effort, Concentration , Moral Discipline and  Wisdom.

What are Buddhist Economics?

Buddha taught RIGHT LIVLIHOOD- Making a living by means that are meritorius in service and that cause no harm to others. 

Here is a great article ragarding Buddhist Economics that best describe our point of view. We hope you enjoy it!

https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/07/07/buddhist-economics-schumacher/