Author Biography: Lisa Carlson

Lisa CarlsonLisa Carlson is a full-time consumer activist and sometime hell raiser, working on behalf of Americans to protect their rights in dealing with the funeral industry.

For many years, she served as executive director of the nonprofit Funeral Consumers Alliance, the national office with approximately 120 state and local affiliate organizations. From that vantage point, she has a long record of helping consumers to understand their rights and avoid exploitation by the funeral industry at a vulnerable time in their lives. She also lobbies for reform of federal and state laws and regulations and more rigorous enforcement of existing protections. Her current position is as executive director of the Funeral Ethics Organization, a group promoting ethical practices within the funeral industry.

Carlson is a popular public speaker, well-known for injecting hilarious and sometimes irreverent humor to make her audiences more receptive to thinking about the subjects that most of us prefer to avoid. She is also a sought-after guest for talk shows, having appeared on hundreds of national and local television and radio programs. Carlson also frequently testifies on behalf of consumers before legislative and regulatory panels, and often serves as an expert witness in court cases.

Her first book, released in the 1980s, provided information for people who wanted to care for their own dead, bypassing the funeral industry entirely, giving state-by-state information on laws, regulations, services available, etc. While the book was successful, she learned that most people do prefer to hire morticians for some parts of the funeral arrangements, and needed objective information about how to obtain only the services they want and the most reasonable price.

In the late '90s, her landmark book Caring for the Dead: Your Final Act of Love was published. While continuing to inform those who wish to avoid the funeral industry entirely, her new book also covers rights and options for dealing with death-care providers, thoroughly explaining funeral law in language understandable by lay persons. It is the major source of information for anybody wishing to understand and take charge of funeral arrangements for a friend or relative without being taken advantage of by people aggressively selling funeral goods and services.

In 2001, she published a very different kind of book, I Died Laughing: Funeral Education with a Light Touch. This is a collection of hilarious and cartoons on the subject of death, serving as an icebreaker for small doses of serious information that everybody should have. The publisher constantly gets letters and e-mail from people who say they read the book just for the humor but ended up learning important information in spite of the laughs.

In 2011, she teamed up with Joshua Slocum—a fellow consumer advocate who has succeeded her at her former position with FCA—to publish the ultimate handbook for consumer issues. The book, brand new at this writing, is Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death.


Excerpts from Reviews and Commentaries,
Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death

Final Rights Cover “Not much has changed in the decades since Jessica Mitford stunned America with her vivid description of deception and abuse in the death industry. Families are still exploited financially at a time of intense grief. They are charged thousands of dollars for goods and services they may not want or need. Prepaid funeral money disappears into thin air. Body parts are sold on the black market. In eight states, families are denied the healing that can come from greater personal involvement in caring for their own dead. And some in the industry are working to diminish consumer rights even further. But a funeral consumer movement is now rapidly awakening ...

"The authors of this book are the most prominent leaders of that movement. Both Slocum and Carlson have a long history of proposing reforms and testifying on behalf of consumers before legislatures and other government bodies. They are widely sought by journalists as leading experts on all funeral issues. In this book, they join forces, to tell consumers how they can take back their own rights under existing law and to propose legal changes for the benefit of all American Consumers."

—ForeWord Magazine

For more information about the book, check our separate Web site at


Excerpts from Reviews and Commentaries,
Caring for the Dead: Your Final Act of Love

Caring forthe Dead

Excerpts from Reviews and Commentaries,
I Died Laughing: Funeral Education with a Light Touch

I Died Laughing

More information and how to contact Lisa Carlson

The Web site for Funeral Consumers Alliance is at The site for Funeral Ethics Organization is A newer site, set up specifically to complement the Final Rights book, is

Journalists wishing to interview Lisa Carlson can contact her through Upper Access at our e-mail or 802/482-2988. If you are seeking funeral information not necessarily related to her books, she can be reached at FEO, or 802/482-6021.

Sample questions for journalists and talk-show hosts

Here are some sample questions and answers from interviews, to give you some idea of the kinds of information and insights Lisa Carlson can provide.

Catalog listings for Lisa Carlson's books

For the complete listings of information about the books Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death and I Died Laughing: Funeral Education with a Light Touch Click Here to go to our Books page.


© 1995-2011, Upper Access, Inc.
87 Upper Access Road, Hinesburg, VT 05461
Orders 800.310.8320 • Other 802.482.2988 • Fax 802.304.1005


Independent Publishers of New England