Putting Some Life in a Game About Death – The Newly-Dead Gameby Matthew Gillies
It’s the show that just won’t stay dead. It’s been revisited, revamped and reinvigorated since 1966 and despite its numerous reintroductions, The Newlywed Game has maintained its pop culture status as the show that brings together newlywed couples and tests their knowledge of the person they married by asking a series of revealing questions.
Since its inception in the 60s, viewers of The Newlywed Game have seen thousands of newlywed couples in a duel of communication revelations, and while many of these couples featured in the show have had years to hone up on their marital communication skills, there’s always been one question most people have avoided discussing, “How would you like your funeral arranged?”
Well, funeral planning communication just got easier with Gail Rubin’s latest trek into eschewed territory. Rubin, the author of A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die and The Family Plot Blog has put her years of expertise as a Life Tribute Celebrant into The Newly-Dead Game.
The premise is simple. Conceived as an alternative way of getting the funeral planning conversation ball rolling in a non-threatening and fun way, The Newly-Dead Game is based on elements of The Newlywed Game. Where The Newlywed Game sought to determine how well couples knew one another, based on their day-to-day ergonomics, The Newly-Dead Game acts as an antithesis of sorts that delves into determining how well the couples know of their significant others’ last wishes.
“Back in 2010, when I was still working on my book A Good Goodbye, I saw a national TV news story about the Frozen Dead Guy Days Festival in Nederland, Colorado,” explained Rubin. “It’s a wild and wacky celebration of all things dead and frozen, and I vowed I would be involved with the festival the following year, I didn’t know what I would do, but I planned to be there.”
“That year I was working with a consultant on building up my products and services related to my budding funeral planning businesses, when I told him about Frozen Dead Guy Days. He was the one who suggested bringing The Newly-Dead Game to the festival. I went to work taking it from concept to reality.”
Designed to be played by three or four couples with an emcee reciting the questions which begin with the basic information that can be found on death certificates, such as mother’s maiden name, the questions become progressively more challenging, such as: what is the most prized possession and to whom would it be given to upon one’s death.
“At Frozen Dead Guy Days, so many couples signed up to play the game we had to start a waiting list,” Rubin said of The Newly-Dead Game’s introduction. “People were enthusiastic about playing the game. I think people will be intrigued – it’s a conversation-starter and an eye-opening experience.”
The concept of the game was that of Rubin’s. An advocate of the importance of pre-planning funerals, Rubin began her career as a columnist for the Albuquerque Tribune where she wrote about life cycle events, but it was the columns on death that she noticed elicited a greater response from readers.
As Rubin so perfectly said it, “Just like talking about sex won’t get you pregnant, talking about death won’t make you dead,” and with many people still unfamiliar with the topic, she began providing an online resource to provide the information, inspiration and the tools to pre-plan a healing and meaningful funeral or memorial service with The Family Plot Blog.
“(There are) four important reasons,” Rubin said in regards to the importance of understanding a loved one’s final wishes. “To avoid added stress at a time of grief; to help the family know that they are creating the kind of life celebration the person would have wanted; to create a really meaningful, memorable good goodbye; and to help avoid discord in the family, no need to argue about what dad would have wanted. Plus, knowing wishes ahead of time, smart consumers can shop around to save money.”
With an October 15th release, the family version of The Newly-Dead Game can be ordered from the A Good Goodbye website for $30 as a downloadable game, which includes 28 questions that cover a range of issues, score cards to keep track of each couple’s points and directions on how to play. Whether it is used as a personal family game, at a Halloween or Day of the Dead party, Rubin says the game will “Make you smile and learn. It will get you laughing, thinking, looking at your partner and saying, “Do you want that?”