How to Plan Your Own Funeral

Santa Barbara Author Martha Sadler’s Ring-Bound Workbook Aids in Final Farewells

Years ago, when longtime Independent reporter Martha Sadler left the paper (for the second time!), she focused her efforts on a new project: developing a workbook for those who’d like to plan their own funeral before the time comes. The result is Sooner or Later: A Planner for Your Own Unique Memorial Celebration & Other Advance Arrangements, a ring-bound guide to dealing with your own final farewell.

Sooner or Lateris one part party planner and one part very practical organizer for all things death and near-death,” said Sadler. “The party planning part came about because I thought I was at death’s door once, and I found it comforting and diverting to dream up a memorial event. Music, menu, activities ​— ​croquet, anyone? A theatrical production? But while I conceived it as something to look forward to postmortem, it also works fine for people who prefer their celebration of life before they die.”

The book’s practical part includes information on writing wills, a draft obituary, and instructions pertaining to children, pets, and belongings. “There’s even a section for love notes to your survivors,” said Sadler. “It’s pretty exhaustive, but easy to condense because it’s in a three-ring binder.”

The book is decorated with illustrations inspired by “Edwardian-era cartoons” that Sadler explained are “appropriately morbid, some of them, but also witty and charming, which I think is helpful considering the tasks at hand.”

Sooner or Later is available at Chaucer’s Books (3321 State St.; [805] 682-6787; chaucers For more info, see


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