For most women, the very thought of our mothers passing away one day is enough to break out the family photo albums, and a box of tissues. But as with any inevitable event, preparation is a must.
This thought is not lost on Cheryl Grace, SVP Global Marketing, Shopper and Consumer Engagement at Nielsen. In “Divas Die Too: The Ultimate Planning Guide to Ensure My Fabulous Final Wishes Are Known,” Grace curates 30 pages authentically designed for women to express their final wishes whether an obituary preference, the handling of remains, or specific funeral service details.
“This pretty little planner is a gift that you can leave behind to help others make your transition as seamless as possible for them without additional heartache or concerns about whether they got your wishes and desires just right,” she writes in the book.
Here, we caught up with the Nielsen exec and founder of a lifestyle brand called “I Am Cheryl Grace” to talk more about the planner.
TNJ.com: Tell us a bit about your “I Am Cheryl Grace” brand. I love that it is very women-centric!
Cheryl Grace: I believe that how we integrate our work, love and home lives helps us maximize the way we present ourselves to the world. I call such synchronization “fabulosity” and believe we are all meant to live fabulous lives if we choose to do so.
I Am Cheryl Grace is a lifestyle brand that was founded based on my desire to help women move beyond their self-limiting beliefs to get to their next level of “fabulosity” at work, in love and at home as defined by her. It falls under my broader Powerful Penny LLC label.
TNJ.com: Are there any career experiences either before joining Nielsen or in your current role there that informed your decision to create a brand that seems to be dedicated to uplifting women?
Cheryl Grace: I have mentored and/or coached hundreds of women of all ages, ethnicities, social economic status and professional accomplishments. Women’s lack of confidence in their own abilities persistently rears its ugly head as the #1 hurdle many women face in getting what they say they want out of life. It is a refrain that consistently plays out in their personal and professional lives.
I couldn’t simply stand back and watch so many women be afflicted with this unnecessary self-doubt without helping them realize all they need are the proper tools to reframe the way they think about, and ultimately approach, their lives. Not all of us are taught how to feel confident. And even fewer of us are shown how to act or lead with confidence. My brand provides successful strategies that can be easily implemented.
TNJ.com: What topics do you inform on in your role as a coach and speaker?
Most are career/business or relationship based, such as:
• How To Network Out of Your Comfort Zone
• Shrewdly Negotiate Your Salary to Earn What You Deserve
• 12 Steps to Confidently Relaunch Your Career
• Manifest Your Dream Life Using Vision Boards
• Use SMART Goals to Create The Life You Want
• Climbing Out of Single Woman Hell
• How to Reignite Your Relationship
• Leading With Confidence
TNJ.com: What compelled you to create the “Divas Die Too” planning guide?
Cheryl Grace: My mom died two years ago and she left my siblings and me clear directions on how she wanted her after-life handled. She had repeatedly edited a small guidebook over the span of 40 years! It was a godsend (or rather a “momsend”); and read like a historic family novel. It reflected how drastically our family had changed over the course of four decades: we’d grown up, my stepdad had passed away, we had kids of our own, etc.
But, some items, like the songs she wanted sung at her service, never wavered. It felt like she was right there with us guiding and directing us and in some instances making us laugh out loud: “Do NOT put a wig on my head unless I have lost all of my hair from cancer or some disease.” My mom left us a gift and I recognized that my son would likewise appreciate written instructions when I die. I thought other discerning women would like to leave such a gift to their loved ones as well. Thus, Divas Die Too was born.
TNJ.com: You mentioned that your Mom left behind a similar guide. It seems like women are the natural planners in the family. Do you agree?
Cheryl Grace: Yes! Women are natural planners but we don’t always plan for ourselves. In my present state I am finicky about how things are executed on my behalf. I’d like to think that my family and friends would reflect my taste when handling my afterlife. But I don’t want to leave that to chance! I want my transition to be handled exactly as I’ve lived: fashionably and with taste. Guests at my repast shouldn’t be eating hamburgers and fries because it’s my twenty-four year old son’s favorite meal and he doesn’t know what else to serve! Heck, I need to leave here feeling comfortable that he even knows what a repast IS! (I checked when creating the guidebook and as suspected, he did not). So a completed guidebook takes a lot of pressure off of him.
TNJ.com: What kinds of information can be listed in it, and how should women approach the discussion of their final wishes with their kids?
Cheryl Grace: I created Divas Die Too with a bit of tongue-in cheek humor to add a little levity to the underlying serious purpose and need for the guidebook. There are directives like, “these are the songs I want sung at my service…please make sure the person singing them know the words to the songs”. “Cancel these credit cards because I can’t use them where I’m going.” Other information includes:
How you would like your life story told
What kind of service you desire
Who should (or shouldn’t) be involved in your service
What you want to be buried in
TNJ.com: No one wants to talk about the eventual passing of mothers, but what do you hope families will gain from the guide?
Cheryl Grace: A whopping 80% of women die single. Either their spouses have passed away, or they’re divorced or never married. Women can complete the guidebook themselves or have a conversation with a loved one as they fill in the blanks. It can be used as an opportunity for family members to have intimate, IRT conversations with the Diva, which can be a treasured gift in and unto itself.
(Divas Die Too: The Ultimate Planning Guide to Ensure My Fabulous Final Wishes Are Known is available on Amazon.)