Founder of https://www.funeralresources.com and http://www.memorialtechnology.com, the funeral industry's leading online resource centers. These family-focused websites offer free access to the top funeral resources to help families find answers to the most common questions. Some of which include how to plan a funeral, memorial technology, funeral home services, end of life, grief and loss, funeral directory, funeral guides, funeral blog, funeral insurance, and more.
An inexpensive, yet valuable offering to help a family while they are grieving is the ability to truly listen. You might say, “I know that!” Listening can actually be harder to do than it sounds. We are living in a society today where we are conditioned to the 10-second sound bite. We focus for a moment, then turn our attention elsewhere.
People who have experienced a loss often say that no one will listen to them. They do not feel heard. Quickly they learn to say “I’m fine” because “I’m fine” doesn’t make the listener uncomfortable. Grieving people want to tell their story. They need to be heard, they need grief support.
How does one become an effective listener?
Silence: Be okay with silence. Don’t be in a rush to fill in the empty spaces while people are giving you their story. Just be patient and listen.
Wait: It is often tempting when people are struggling to assimilate new information to give too much advice too quickly. Allow some space between advice/information giving to provide the family member a chance to voice their desires and needs.
Focus on the individual: In today’s world we are constantly being bombarded with stimulation that can result in overload. You might have to consciously remind yourself to put down the pen, fold your hands on your lap, use direct eye contact and relax.
Use key words: Let the family member know they are heard by saying, “I hear you”, or “What I hear you saying is…”, or “How hard it must be…” or even ask them, “Do you feel like you have been heard?”
Body language: A grieving person may not be aware consciously of your body language but it is conveyed nonetheless. Sitting with your arms crossed, leaning far back in your chair, or having your desk or a large table between you and the family member could convey the message that there is distance between you. That can be interpreted that you are not being an effective listener.
Perception: Since the bereavement are extra sensitive they often can tell if you are actively engaged in listening to them or if you are just being “nice” and trying to get them out the door. Perhaps many times in your career when dealing with grieving families you have had to check your frame of mind to see if you are in a receiving mode or just trying to be polite. Continue to monitor yourself. It will be worth it.
The simple act of listening to a grieving family member brings much comfort. One last thing you can do is make sure to give them your list of local resources that are specifically geared to listening to grieving individuals such as local therapists offering grief counseling, grief support groups, or grief message boards on the internet.
Are you looking for others with whom you can relate? Visit the Beyond Indigo forums to connect with others who are on their grief journeys.
My name is Chris Hill, and many of you know I am the Founder of FuneralResources.com.
First of all, I must admit that is not easy for me to publicly talk about the fact that I lost my mother a few years ago, or to say how much I love her and miss her.
And quite frankly, it is even hard to admit that looking back, I wish I could have done things diffrerently.
Live Every Day Like There’s No Tomorrow:
The truth is I wish I was with her more. I wish I could have told her how much she meant to me. I wish I had told her how special and amazing she really was. I wish I told her how much I appreciated everything she did for me. I wish she knew how lucky I was that she was my mother and friend. Most of all, I wish I would have been there with her…and shared more time with her…particularly in her final stages. But as much as it haunts me, I can’t turn back the clock.
Truthfully, I will always believe she needed to hear these things from me, and I will always regret the fact that I never had the chance to tell her how much she meant to me, and how much I loved her.
However, knowing how special she was, how selfless she was, and how unconditional her love was for her family and friends, I truly believe she knows. I also believe that she forgives me for not being there as much as I think I should have, and for not letting her know the things I wished I had told her.
Today I feel very blessed to share with you this great opportunity I was recently given. I was able to create a special memorial video tribute for my mother, which is comprised of three all-important pieces:
2. Choosing the best photos of my mother thoughout her life. The ones that help me see her as I remember her, and also help me remember all of the great times and memories we shared together.
3. Creating personalized funeral music which was specially written, produced, and sung by a very special and talented singer and songwriter, Anna Huckabee. Anna creates custom crafted funeral music which is solely created to tell an individual’s story of their special and unique life. You can hear Anna’s song she created exclusively for me and my mother in this video.
Learn About the New Funeral Technology Options Available:
I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to have this professionally crafted and personalized video tribute as a memorial, since someone like her truly deserves nothing but the best. This video says so much, and helps me tell the story and message. I hope she hears every day and knows and believes it in her heart.
Best of all, creating this video helped me in coping with loss, but also provided me with something truly special that I can always remember her as that amazing and beautiful person you can see.
It is never easy to talk about someone you love who has passed, but I share this with you because I truly hope anyone who has lost a loved also considers taking advantage of this great opportunity!
Also, there are many other great new memorial technology tools that you should learn more about that, like me, might help you make these difficult times a little easier.
Many financial professionals believe that life insurance should be referred to as “love insurance”. As cliché as this may sound, it certainly has a tremendous amount of merit. What better gift is there to give your family and loved ones upon your death than a large sum of money to be used for such things as income replacement, college tuition, retirement, taxes or estate taxes, charitable gifts, and much more? And if you really think about it, the last thing you would want to add to your family at the time of their emotional loss and grieving is financial pressure.
Watch this brief 2-minute video on why a “Love Drawer” is so important:
Most of us would agree, including financial professionals, that life insurance plays an large role in creating a sound comprehensive financial plan. So in keeping with this theme of love, here is an even better idea. How about also adding another layer of love towards your end of life plan – with a love drawer.
What Exactly Is a “Love Drawer”?
Simply put, a love drawer is a place where the person (or people) you choose can turn to, should you pass unexpectedly, to find all of your important information. This includes complete and instructions for all of the aspects of your life including things like your last wishes, financial affairs, special instructions, personal messages, and even your end-of-life plans and preferences.
What Key Information Should be Kept in This “Love Drawer”?
Below you will find a list of most (but certainly not all) of your personal and money matters that should be needed and addressed:
1. The firm name, address, and phone number of your Estate Planning Attorney
2. Your actual Last Will or Living Trust
3. Insurance Information
4. IRA’s and Life Insurance Information
5. Investment Information
6. Employer Information
7. Social Security Statements
8. Debts and Corresponding Contact Information
9. Deeds or Titles
10. Burial Wishes
11. Love Notes
12. Any Other Important Documents and Vital Statistics
A Few Other Ideas – Our recommendation is that you tell at least three people who you love and trust where they can find this love drawer. These people can be anyone such as your spouse, parent, child, friend, or even your financial advisor or attorney. In addition, even though it may seem obvious, I would ask them to please respect your privacy and never open this drawer until it is absolutely necessary. These entrusted loved ones will be the ones who help ensure that someone will be there to step up promptly and act upon the details and instructions you have carefully assembled in your love drawer.
We encourage you to update this love drawer at least every two years. One of the few things we can guarantee in life is that things will change. Given the fact that we have many things in our lives that are constantly changing like taxes, estate taxes, family, age, health, wealth, our final wishes, etc., we should regularly review and revise this love drawer. These updates help to reflect any financial or personal matters that should be added, revised, or removed.
When You Die, Show Your Family How Much You Love Them…
Minimize Their Emotional and Financial Pressures
When you die, it should be obvious that your family and loved ones will be emotionally devastated as they try to cope with this grief and loss, but adding the stress of funeral costs and funeral plans is a burden you can help relieve. So knowing these facts, one of the greatest gifts of love is to minimize (or preferably eliminate) as much of the emotional and financial pressures as possible.
The sad reality is that more than 70% of those who die today fail to leave behind as much as a Last Will for their family and loved ones. As unacceptable as that may sound, it gets even worse. More than 85% of those who die today leave their family with no knowledge of their end of life plans, preferences, or how to pay for their funeral expenses.
Top 10 Reasons to Preplan Your Funeral
1. Upon your passing, most people don’t have any idea how to get started, what they should know, or who they can turn to. If you preplan a funeral or burial arrangements, this significantly minimizes the stress and pressures that can accompany such a difficult time of grief and loss.
2. This advanced planning offers you the opportunity to decide and control just about every detail of your memorial service and how you will be remembered.
3. By documenting your last wishes, you can ensure that you and your remains are handled, cared for, and placed somewhere that fits you and your preference.
4. By creating a plan for your final affairs, this can also minimize or eliminate any uncertainties or disputes among your family members. For example, one of the small details that can actually cause serious family disagreements are special family heirlooms.
5. Preplanning takes the guesswork out of the common questions of “what do we do next” or “what would you have wanted”? A properly structured preplan ensures that your loved ones know exactly what to do, as well as instructions on how to most efficiently implement your bequests.
6. After suffering the loss of a loved one, some of the biggest challenges your family will face are thing like time constraints, little or no experience with these matters, and limited access to the best possible help and guidance. Therefore, one of the biggest advantages of creating a sound end of life plan is that, if it is properly structured, it can reduce (or even eliminate) the large majority of these difficulties.
7. Through preplanning your funeral, as well as paying for your burial and covering your final expenses in advance, this creates a much better overall experience and memorial service for you, your family, and even your Funeral Director.
8. Since preplanning reduces or avoids a great deal of the obstacles involved in planning a funeral, this extra time allows your family to work through other important matters such as dealing with the grief and loss, planning your memorial service, notifying your loved ones, creating your obituary, writing a funeral eulogy, etc. The more free time your family has, the much more likely it is they can create a truly special celebration of your life and memories.
9. After completing your preplanning preferences for your family, this actually ends up enhancing your future too. By having these details planned out in advance, you can now enjoy the “peace of mind” to live every day knowing that you have taken the time to leave behind one of the greatest gifts of love.
10. By selflessly taking the time to create a comprehensive end of life plan, you will always be remembered in a special way. Your family and loved ones will never forget the fact that you sacrificed your time and resources to take care of these all-important details. In reality, what you’ve done is created an everlasting memory that shows just how much you truly love the ones you care most about.
Action Item – Give Your Family What They Deserve:
When it comes to the things that are important in our lives, proper planning and preparation are some of the key to a successful outcome. In this situation, my sincere hope is that these 10 reasons serve as an inspiration and incentive to start this planning and preparation today, and become proactive about these all-important estate planning matters.
Although most families never talk about these kinds of things, just about every family member and loved one would prefer to have these plans in place. Quite frankly, I think they should demand this from you. So at the very least, leave your family with two things they absolutely deserve:
There are definitely some things to keep in mind when being in a new relationship with someone who has lost their spouse and some Do’s and Don’ts to consider.
No Place for Jealousy: Countless people have written in to Beyond Indigo with frustration dripping from their emails. They want to know when their boyfriend/girlfriend is going to “get over” their past relationship. We have heard people say they feel there is a third person in their relationship; the third person being the deceased. Resist the urge to be jealous if you want your new relationship to continue. Instead, listening to the stories about the other’s loss helps him/her to grieve and heal. Remember your new boyfriend/girlfriend chose to date you even though they are grieving.
Stop Talking: One of the most common errors (at least in western society) is that people stop talking about a person once he/she has died. Do not act like your boyfriend’s/girlfriend’s past mate never existed. It will hurt your relationship instead of making it stronger.
Keep Communicating: Talk, talk and keep talking. Talk about everything. Do not assume that your boyfriend/girlfriend is mad at you, or hates you, or doesn’t want to be with you anymore because he or she is sad. Most likely, the emotions that he or she is feeling have nothing to do with you and everything to do with grief and loss. The more you talk about daily issues the easier it will be talk when the heavy emotional content emerges. A key to strong relationship is fluid communication.
I Love You! Express the positive feelings you have towards your new love. Time is short and you do not want to waste it stewing over feelings. Take the time to say I love you in many ways.
Eating, Sleeping & Drinking Water: Help your new love by watching if he/she is eating three healthy meals a day. (Potato chips and chocolate do not count!) Another key thing is sleep. If your new partner is having difficulty sleeping or has troubled dreams beyond six months after the loss, suggest that he or she should see a doctor. Getting rest helps the grieving process. Finally, keep an eye on your boyfriend/girlfriend to make sure that he or she is drinking plenty of water. Alcohol and caffeine dehydrate the body instead of giving it the nourishment it needs. Grieving is hard work and it takes a lot of energy.
Are you looking for others with whom you can relate? Visit the Beyond Indigo forums to connect with others who are on their grief journeys.
Since people in our culture have not had much opportunity to be socialized regarding how to act at a funeral or how to be helpful to the bereaved, it falls upon professionals to assist people in these areas. I call it giving people “tools” to put in their “toolbox”. Below is a list that can be copied and given out at services, left at churches or presented in school classrooms. In the instances of particularly harsh or draining deaths, I would suggest that information about that loss is placed first on the handout. This helps the people who are grieving so that they do not have to repeat the same story ad nauseaum.
Things That are NOT Helpful While Someone is Grieving:
Don’t Talk About God: Please don’t tell us our loved one is with God. We really would rather have our loved one still here with us on earth. Especially in the case of a deceased child the reminder he/she is not with us just hurts us more.
Don’t Bring A Ham: Right at the time of loss everyone feels like bringing us a meal. Please, if you know we have food to feed an army save your generosity for another time. I will be grieving for three to seven years. A meal will be really nice once everyone leaves after the funeral.
Don’t Forget: Please do not forget me after the funeral is over. I DO want to talk to people about my loss. Expect that I will cry and that you were not the one to cause the tears to flow. A phone call, a note in the mail or flowers would be appreciated.
Don’t Expect Me..: Do not expect me to be the same after my loss. I may be forgetful, have lower energy or just not want to socialize as much. Some events like holidays maybe very overwhelming for me. Realize it is not you. Please keep inviting me and in time I will rejoin events.
Don’t Set Me Up On Dates: If I have lost my mate please do not ask me when I am going to date again. This type of conversation causes me pain. It is normal for people to choose their own time when they are ready to look for a new mate. Remember some of us may never date again and that is okay too.
Things that Can be Helpful to the Grieving:
Do Call Me: The phone is a great way to see how I am doing. If I choose not to answer I will let voice mail pick it up. After the funeral it gets really lonely and people seem to disappear.
Do Speak Their Name: The person I lost lived a wonderful life. Please share your memories with me and speak their name. Just because he/she has died doesn’t mean they are gone. Please let their life mean something to someone. This is important to me. Do Remember The Special Days: When everyone else is celebrating holidays and religious events keep in mind that I am remembering my loss. This holiday or spiritual event will never be the same for me again. Phone calls, cards, flowers all would be a nice touch.
Do Give Me Gifts: Did you know there are services out there to help me while I am grieving? Memory gifts are now appearing that can help me during my time of grief. Even simple things like funeral flowers, chocolates, scented soaps, bath soaks and a gift certificate to a massage would be fantastic.
Consider a greener burial marker for your green funeral. Instead of large, elaborate grave markers, green burials feature unobtrusive, natural markers. These often involve trees, funeral flowers, and rocks found on or around the gravesite. While some families opt for a small flat stone identifying the burial location, more common in a green cemetery are the use of GPS coordinates. Though this modern global positioning method, the family of the deceased can find the exact burial plot for their loved one by mapping out the individual global position given to them by the cemetery manager.
Opponents to the traditional funeral homes view them as being more wasteful than green funeral providers citing the use of toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde in embalming fluid as unnecessary and damaging to the environment. To plan a funeral traditionally, this consumes enormous amounts of materials such as steel, concrete, copper, and bronze. The figures are in the tens of thousands of tons annually. During a burial, these elements remain in the ground indefinitely, polluting the earth.
Each year, cemeteries across the US bury approximately:
– 30 million board feet (70,000 m³) of hardwoods (caskets)
– 90,272 tons of steel (caskets)
– 14,000 tons of steel (vaults)
– 2,700 tons of copper and bronze (caskets)
– 1,636,000 tons of reinforced concrete (vaults)
– 827,060 US gallons (3,130 m³) of embalming fluid
*(Compiled from statistics by Casket and Funeral Association of America, Cremation Association of North America, Doric Inc., The Rainforest Action Network, and Mary Woodsen, Pre-Posthumous Society)
Today a green funeral is a new trend that is emerging in the death care industry. Green funerals, or environmentally-friendly burials, do without the use of artificial preservation methods and materials that may be harmful to the environment. By using minimalist caskets and grave markers, and natural habitats, this types of burial cost is a fraction of their traditional counterparts. Green burials promote harmony with nature and protect mother earth.
Grief is a human way to deal with the feelings of love that we believe have ended. Another way of defining grief is the normal and natural reaction to significant emotional loss of any kind.
There is no one way to grieve. As we all are individual, we all grieve different and often turn towards grief support groups. Also, our society at large does not have a general way to honor grief. Since we are a society that is always struggling with time management and high demands, taking time to grieve or knowing how to grieve is not part of our system. However, religion often fills this gap in our society.
Each religion has rituals to follow for grief and how to grieve a loss. These rituals can provide us with a way to get through the initial shock of grief, but as many people know who have been through a loss, that when the rituals of religion end there is still grief and the adjustment of loss with which to deal.
There are many different opinions about grief such as “time heals all wounds“, and many believe you can actually break this emotional experience into five stages of grief. It is important to keep in mind that depending on the individual and their personal situation, many of these opinions or “myths” about grief, or even recommendations from some of the top grief books, can actually slow down or prevent some people from moving beyond their pain.
Where Should You Seek Grief Support?
When it comes to the most of the important things in our lives, seeking group or professional help can usually provide some of the best possible information, support, and direction. The two most common types of professional help families seek to help cope with grief and loss are Grief Counseling and Life Coaching.
How Can Grief Counseling Help?
Funeral Directors wear numerous hats, and are expected to accomplish many important things in a short period of time, while facing many funeral planning challenges. Families are grieving and have important decisions to make under much duress. They may often expect a degree of emotional support that some Funeral Directors may not have the time or skills to be able to provide.
Through grief counseling and working with a Life Coach, these added levels of emotional support and expertise can very often help families bridge and offer the help that most families are searching for.
Five Powerful Ways a Life Coach Can Help Families:
1. Offer the support needed to get through this sorrowful time.
2. Help families develop a short term, “what’s next”, plan for their lives.
3. Help families establish new or revised long term life goals pertaining to work, school, relationships, hobbies and general wellness.
4. Provide families with hope, motivation and direction to take control of their lives in the new role that they inherited as a result of their loss.
5. Some families can turn to and listen, since many times what is most needed most in a time of sorrow and confusion is just simply listening.
Grief Counseling is one of the fastest growing trends in self improvement, wellness and life in general. By offering this level of grief support and Life Coaching services; you are keeping your business relevant, and fulfilling your potential to better serve your families.
Coaching is not therapy or counseling. A therapist would be recommended if your client is particularly overwhelmed and unable to cope with their grief. Another popular and healing option is to consider using grief message boards, which is where people who are have experienced similar losses gather together online to talk in real-time via the Internet.
What is a Grief Recovery Outreach Program?
If you have experienced one or more losses, and you wish to move beyond the pain, this type of program offers step by step actions that will help you overcome your grief. It is the only program of its kind and has helped thousands of people worldwide recover from their heartbreak.
In summary, there are many ways to work through things like grief, loss, or even a crisis. There is help available to those who are grieving a loss, and we strongly suggest you consider seeking professional help in addition to some of the other excellent options mentioned above.
New Memorial Tributes and Funeral Technology Options for Fathers
For those special Dad’s and Grandfathers who have passed and are dearly missed, creating a personalized and specialized memorial can provide an excellent opportunity to heal and remember.
Below is a list of some of the most popular memorial options that many families are choosing for a personalized and special memorial, tribute, keepsake, or family heirloom:
About New Funeral and Memorial Technology:
“Technology is changing the face of the funeral industry and baby boomers, those ages 43 to 62 are at the root of it“, says John Reed, president of the National Funeral Directors Association based in Brookfield, Wis.
Today many new and innovative technologies are widely recognized in the funeral industry as common services that help make a difficult situation a little easier. Boomers are memorializing their parents and loved ones in nontraditional ways and using new funeral technology to do it.
Technology is opening the doors to unique memorial ideas and expanding funeral planning and memorial service options. With these tech-savvy Baby Boomers wanting to take the negativity out of funerals and find ways to celebrate a person’s life, using new funeral technology such as some of these listed below are among the most popular, common, and rapidly growing.
Keep in mind that these gifts can serve as an excellent family tribute, keepsake, or family heirloom. The main benefit from these gifts is that, although in different way, each of them offers a wonderful opportunity to honor and celebrate your Dad, as well as share many of the great stories and memories you shared together.
The original Rosetta Stone helped translate the pictorial language of the ancient Egyptians, providing definitions of the imagery and bringing to life a long-gone culture. Now one company is offering personal versions of the stones to tell stories about an individual long after we’re gone.
Objecs LLC’s RosettaStone is an oblong — think full-sized iPod – piece of granite or travertine stone inscribed with pictorial images that stand for different aspects of an individual’s life. Seemlessly incorporated into tombstones and monuments, the stones invite cemetery visitors to plug into a website – or in some cases simply wave your phone in front of the stone – and see the meaning of each symbol.
“Walk around a cemetery today and gravestones doesn’t tell you anything. Date of birth. Date of death. They’re cold and impersonal,” said Chris Hill, a financial advisor in northern Virginia and also Founder of FuneralResources.com, who personally owns two RosettaStones. “This will tell my story for thousands of years.”
Purchasers can choose up to six tablet symbols, reminiscent of hieroglyphics, from more than 300 options, including a striped pole for a barber, a caliper for an engineer, and a man behind bars for ne’er-do-wells who want to be remembered as such.
When selecting the symbols for his stone, Hill thought of his wife and two children, his passions for music and writing, his belief that life doesn’t end with death.
For his six symbols, he chose an “I” for general information, a U.S. map, stick figures representing a family, a music note, a hand holding a pen, and a telescope looking into space.
“It’s just as important to document your life as it is to remember it”, Hill said.
John Bottorff, founder of Objecs LLC, said the tablet symbols spur interest and conversation.
“When I see someone using a symbol I can relate to, I can’t help but be curious as to their life experience around it. We are seeing mini-meaning of life stuff here from common people, not a Dalai Lama,” Bottorff said. “I will never look at a barber pole symbol the same – I’m still awestruck at how a barber has learned the deepest values of life from his profession. Not all of the messages are positive, but I think they are all gifts to future generations from today’s cooks, barbers, lawyers, fishermen and all kinds of people and professions.”
But it’s the memorial technology element that makes the RosettaStone special, Bottorff said. If the cell phone is NFC-enabled — something still rare in North America but common overseas – simply touching the phone to the tablet allows direct access to the story behind each symbol. The internal microchip uses the phone’s own magnetic field to work and transfer the data, then returns to a dormant state.
For a regular cell phone with Internet access, users can type in the web information on the tablet and have the same information appear. Each symbol can be accompanied by about 200 words of text.
So how is this better than including a memorial website’s address on a tombstone? The answer is permanence, Bottorff said.
“Compare us to them and we look a bit primitive, he said. “The traditional memorial website is a much richer multimedia experience, but not necessarily pursuing the long-term data survival model we are. If you’re interested in a long genealogical surviving record, ours is a pretty good approach.”
RosettaStone boasts that the tablets’ information will remain accessible for the next 3,000 years. Even if the company folds, the tablets’ associated information will remain. In part, that’s because information is both hard-coded to the stones’ internal microchip and archived externally on the web. (Of course, without a time machine, it’s impossible to verify the 3,000-year claim, but the concept seems to sell nonetheless.)
Introduced a little over a month ago, Objecs has sold fewer than 100 of the products, which cost about $200. Among the buyers, Bottorff said, are a well-known American musician and a BBC Television personality.
Although Objecs initially offer for the product was a way to honor the dead, the living have quickly wanted it for themselves too. (In fact, the living are the product’s primarily buyers thus far.) On its website, Objecs notes that RosettaStones are also intended for “mature adults who have reached a stage in life with identifiable milestones and associations. Such milestones may include a profession, discipline, paternal capacity, love of music or skill….”
“When people started buying it for themselves, it was an awakening that it was something people wanted to hold onto as a family heirloom, so we adjusted our message,” Bottorff said.
Hill has been updating and frequently rewriting the text he wants to accompany his RosettaStone entries frequently.
“If a truck hits me tomorrow, I’ve got some words that will last forever and that’s real,” he said. “It’s hard to write at first. You’re thinking, ‘Wow. These are my last words.’”
Finding ways to remember the happy times and keeping a father’s memory alive, even long after he has passed, can be challenging but rewarding. This is especially true for younger generations. Telling funny stories or sharing memories about Grandpa or Great Granddad will help future generations to feel connected to their roots and get a true sense of the importance of family.
Given the advent of the Internet and new technology, we strongly suggest you learn more about today’s new memorial technology tools to help remember a loved one. These new tools can also assist with the grief and loss process.
On special days such as birthdays and Father’s Day, we hope those who have lost their father may find comfort in this beautiful poem from our Preferred Provider, Grief Haven.
My three boys, who are four, six and ten, lost their father last year. Since he has passed away, we have been working our way through the holidays. How do I help them cope with Fathers Day?
A child can celebrate Father’s Day even though they have lost their father. When a person dies it does not mean all the love they have given to people just disappears. A father leaves a lasting imprint on the children he leaves behind. Helping the children remember this love will be important to them as they grow older. One of the most common things people in western society tend to do is act like a person never lived once they have died. Remembering Father’s Day will help keep a fathers memory stay alive.
Here are some things to help kids who are coping with grief and loss to celebrate Father’s Day, even after he has passed away:
Share a Memory: Since the age of the boys are spread out from four years old to 10 years old the way they communicate will differ. However they all can share their story of their father. The other boy can write down a memory from his father that made him feel loved. The six and four year can drawn a picture of a time they shared with their father that made them feel happy and loved. These pictures can be shared with their father and family on Father’s Day.
Make a Card: The boys can all make a card for their father. The card can be filled with how they are feeling with the loss of their mom. Once the cards are completed they can be put out at her graveside or sent up in a balloon if he was cremated.
Plant a Flower: Planting funeral flowers in memory can help the boys watch their love grow. Help them pick out a flower that means something to them and plant it in a cup. When the weather warms up they can plant their flowers outside and talk about the memories of their father. In the fall they can dry the flower(s) and hang them up in their room as a lasting memory through the winter.
Create a Memory Book: Adults in the boys’ life can help them start a memory book. The book would last until they are adults. Every year on Father’s Day the boys can add something to their book about their previous year. These events they would add would be the ones they felt they would want to share with their dad if he were here. For example a good report card, awards from sports, and other achievements that they were proud about.
The important thing to remember is to keep talking to the children about their father. Tell them stories about her that you remember. Ask other adults to share their stories as well. Maybe have the adults write the stories down and add it to the memory book if one is created. Then when the boys are older or they are missing their dad they can always go read the book.
Are you looking for others with whom you can relate? Visit the Beyond Indigo forums to connect with others who are on their grief journeys.
Like so many families, when we suffered the loss of my mother last year we faced the difficult decision of what to do next. Because we were never willing to accept this as a possible outcome, nor did we think about planning in advance for this incomprehensible loss, we had no idea where to begin or who we could turn to.
Most people tend to overlook one of the greatest gifts you will give your family, which is properly preparing them for the inevitable. At best, you might have started your estate planning process by creating and choosing a Last Will or Living Trust.
However, the harsh reality is that approximately over 70% of Americans have no form of estate plan. So by having a will or Trust, you have clearly taken a step in the right direction toward preplanning your future financial wishes. The problem is, this form of planning fails to accomplish the most important task, which is addressing your family’s immediate concerns.
The person, or in most cases people, responsible for taking care of your final arrangements are usually forced to make extremely important decisions, as well as major financial purchases, within a small time frame…usually within approximately 48 hours after your death. Of course, you cannot expect to fully alleviate the emotional and financial stresses of your loved ones during such a difficult time, but you can help them tremendously by having a plan that outlines your funeral wishes.
Most financial professionals are realizing that an integral part of a sound financial and estate plan is taking care of your funeral services ahead of time. To preplan a funeral gives you the ability to choose your method of disposition, the exact type of services you want, and allows your family to focus more on things such as grieving and recovery. In addition, preplanning is also a good thing for you because it allows you to make extremely important decisions through a calm and clear thought process. Emotionally, it is much more likely that you will create a more rational and logical end of life plan.
When preplanning your funeral, here are several general guidelines to begin your preplanning process:
* Visit various funeral homes and interview multiple funeral directors
* Choose a funeral home and director where you think your family would be most comfortable
* Consider bringing family members with you during this selection process
* Be aware and informed of bereavement entitlements such as veterans, unions, fraternities, etc.
* Consider religious and moral convictions, and discuss them with your family
* Determine your method of disposition (burial, cemetery, entombment, cremation, etc.)
* Plan your ceremony considering things like casket viewing, religious aspects, who should be included, etc.
* Itemize your costs
* The Federal Trade Commission offers a free funeral planning guide titled “Caskets and Burial Vaults” (202-326-2222) which has made it easier for consumers to comparison shop.
* The FTC Funeral Rule requires funeral directors to give pricing information over the phone, as well as provide you with a readily available General Price List if you visit them in person. This FTC Funeral Rule also allows you to purchase caskets, which are the single largest funeral expense, from outside vendors without the threat of a carrying charge.
What About Paying For Funeral Expenses In Advance?
Although planning your funeral arrangements in advance may help alleviate many of the details, prepaying (also known as prearranging or a Pre Need Plan) for your funeral services is a way of taking care of the actual expenses.
Prepaying your funeral or cremation is one of the fastest growing, and most appreciated and accepted aspects of funeral planning. Similar to preplanning your funeral, paying your funeral expenses in advance is also becoming widely accepted by many financial professionals as a solid piece of a sound financial and estate plan.
When prepaying your funeral plan, the most common and widely used strategies are savings and life insurance, mainly because they tend to be deemed the most reliable and readily available. However, there are several other strategies to consider when prepaying your funeral costs or expenses:
Although many people choose to set aside savings to pay for funeral expenses, there are several reasons this does not always end up working out as originally planned. First, the savings can be depleted based on unexpected financial circumstances, such as health or financial issues. Second, these funds are not always readily available and liquid upon death due to the challenges and restrictions often found in estate planning. Third, the funds set aside can often be insufficient due to inflation and the rising cost of funeral expenses. Finally, it should be noted that savings are included in a part of one’s estate, and, thus, the taxable consequences can often come into play.
Term Life Insurance is widely considered to be a flexible, simple, and affordable way to pay for your final funeral expenses. Although Term Life Insurance has a set term, or set number of years, it also has multiple uses in prepaying for your funeral. Because upon your death it becomes a liquid asset that is usually not part of your estate, it can be used for many things such as funeral, burial, cremation, liquidity, and many other things, including debts or obligations.
In addition, there are some types of life insurance that allow the funds contributed to these policies (either in lump sum, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually) to grow and accumulate as a cash value that can be accessed if necessary. Therefore, these policies can not only be used for funeral expenses, but also for other financial planning options that may arise such as financial emergencies, college, etc.
Funeral insurance is an insurance policy which is specifically designed to cover any costs or expenses which are directly related to your funeral. If you purchase one of these policies, one of the options you have is to determine exactly which funeral costs or expenses are to be covered, such as flowers, burial plot, grave marker, and much more.
Another option you have is for the policy to be paid out in a single lump-sum, which can be used to cover your pre-determined costs or expenses, or simply help your loved ones financially as they plan for you. There are many insurance companies that offer funeral insurance packages, and certain funeral homes or funeral companies also offer policies.
Pre-Need Trust Agreements
Another alternative to prepaying your funeral is to consider a Pre-Need Trust Agreement to pay for your costs or expenses. Generally speaking, these Trust accounts are typically funded with monthly payments that are invested in a fund which is designed to grow over time. Although a Trust account is designed to provide the potential for protection against inflation, it is not guaranteed to do so.
Take the First Step Today
In summary, although nobody likes to think or talk about dying, it is one of the facts of life we all must eventually face. If you are trying to build a successful financial plan, the only way you can be sure your plan works smoothly and efficiently is to be proactive about your planning process. This is particularly true and necessary when creating a proper plan of succession, which I firmly believe should include an end-of-life plan.
Death can make us aware of the importance of life. When a person is a funeral director, he or she is surrounded by death. Many believe that blessings can arise out of grief and loss. As a society, we most often focus on the negative aspects of death. At FuneralResources.com, we choose to focus on the positive aspects of death. Here are some things I have learned that might help you and your families:
Everyday Life: Grief often brings into focus our daily life that we assume will “always” be the same. What we might take for granted now can come into full bloom when contrasted with death. Our families, our loved ones and our health start taking on far more importance and they are treasured far more. Material concerns have a chance during a loss to take a second seat. We get back to basics and realize what we have is good. What a blessing.
Hidden Angels: People can be a blessing. As we walk through the five stages of grief, people come into our lives to help ease our pain. A member of Beyond Indigo wrote:
“One of the things I remember most about my horrible summer in hell were three people I met who were walking angels. Each of them, in their own way, made that summer bearable and is remembered now, after it has passed, as huge blessings. I’m actually glad I met them even though I met them only because of the situation, which was causing such grief.”
Look On The Bright Side: Things could be worse. As trite as it sounds, it is true. Life can always be worse. Looking at what occurred as a positive can bring new thoughts to the surface.
Another Beyond Indigo member wrote to us about her pregnancy. She was 21 weeks pregnant when her doctors told her that the baby would not survive the cyst that had become part of its little body. She wrote, “Obviously, the RIGHT ending would have been for me to have a good, wonderful pregnancy that ended with a healthy baby. Wasn’t going to happen. Options like having a kid with horrible life-affecting illnesses and handicaps, or having a stillbirth, or worst – not knowing and having to make a choice. I ended up knowing what I had to do. I was able to end the pregnancy without wondering if I was making the right choice. That was a huge blessing.”
Opportunities: Death is permanent. Once a death occurs, it is hard to say,” I am sorry”, or, “I love you”. It reminds us that we have the opportunity to tell others that we love them or that we are sorry or how important they are in our lives. Take this blessing of time to let others in your life know how important they are to you. Do it now, and don’t wait.
Search: Search out others that have recently lost a loved one or acquaintance. Share your story, you thoughts, your feelings and your concerns and insights with them. Sharing, or volunteering to help someone else feel better will help you both.
Celebrate: Celebrate any occasion, any holiday or special event with a friend and share all the joys of the person lost. Remember well, and then go ahead and enjoy the day, the hour and the moment. NOW is what we all have.
People who are coping with grief and loss are definitely operating out of a different place then people who are not grieving. I call this the “Grief Space”. Within this space different thoughts and feelings are occurring to the grieving person than occur to those that are not grieving. If you could see this ‘space’, and experiencing the five stages of grief, it would look like a bubble that surrounds the person. If you could look into this bubble you would find:
Limited Awareness of physical events: Grieving people who are coping with loss tend not to be too aware of their physical surroundings nor do they care as much about doing so. If the house stays dirty or they forget to eat it doesn’t cross their own internal radar. People can lose awareness of national events, local happenings and family news. It just blurs together. I have even heard of people breaking bones and not being aware of the pain from the break. Acute Awareness of Emotions: People who are grieving are in acute emotional pain. This pain, most likely, is the worse, intense emotional pain they have ever felt. They know that they are in pain and don’t know what to do with it. Grieving people are highly aware of how other people react to their (the grieving person’s) grief. They know when people are not comfortable with the concept of death and the emotional loss that follows it. They know when others are uncomfortable with intense emotions that are being displayed. Blurring the Hands of Time: Time is a subjective concept for people who are grieving. On one hand, every minute is a painful reminder that their loved one is no longer with them. The days can drag and their mind is full of the grief and loss that they have just suffered. On the other hand people lose track of time when it comes to non-emotional aspects of their life (eating, drinking water, working out, paying bills, mowing the lawn, etc.).
How to connect with families while they are grieving
Remember that you are seeing people when their bereavement and grief are the most intense. People at this point in their grief journey are not functioning well or at all. Here are some thoughts for you to keep in mind while speaking to families during this time.
1. Be aware of your concept of death: Remember that families can tell when you are not comfortable with the thought of loss. They will be expecting pleasant platitudes because what else do people say? Your families will know when you truly are not afraid of deep emotions, yet are able to guide them through the practical aspects of taking care of business. Word will spread that you understand and care.
2. Listening to your family: When listening to the grieving person tell his or her story, allow silent spaces in the conversation. Silence is helpful but sometimes hard for the listener. It is acceptable to rephrase what you heard from those grieving. This will let the family members know you are listening to them and they will feel understood.
3. Keep checking in with your families: After the funeral, your part in helping them through their loss is completed, but for the family their grief journey has just begun. After a funeral, most people stop talking about the loss and act like it hasn’t happened. By avoiding the loss, people don’t have to deal with the hard emotional issues that surround it. Grieving people want to talk about their loss. This is their grief space. Their loss fills this space. Call the families once in a while or send a note in the mail. This is a marvelous way to provide aftercare, and maintain a relationship with your families.
A memorial website is another great way to keep in touch with families. These new memorial technology tools do not require great time commitments from your staff. With the proper software, your website becomes the 24×7 employee who keeps in touch with your families.
When you are dying it is hard to come to terms with the end of your life much less help others to cope with their grief and loss of losing you soon. The concept of death in our western culture is avoided by most people because they do not know how to talk about it. Terminally ill planning is rarely discussed and often misunderstood. But always remember you are not alone in this!
Before you sit down to discuss your condition with your family and friends take the time to create a handout. This handout would include why you are sick, how you found out about your condition, the nature of your illness and information on where to learn more about your disease. When people first hear the news they will be in shock and only remember one or two pieces of information. With hard printed information your family and friends can take a moment to digest the news and then when they want they can revert back to the information you gave them. This will cut down on the number of questions they might ask you and the difficulty you might have to talk about your demise and the cause.
Before you approach your family and friends think to yourself, “How do I feel about my situation?” Make sure you can verbalize how you feel clearly. It will be important to convey to your loved ones how you feel when you do talk to them. They will want to know, “Is he/she okay”? “Does he/she hurt?” “Will he/she be sick or just weak?” etc.
Some options to tell your loved ones
In a Letter: If you are the type of person who expresses yourself better in writing than verbally you might want to consider a letter. It could include how you feel, your concerns about how your family would feel, how you would like them to treat you or help you in the coming months. You could also include the information sheet discussed above. Write it in a manner that gives the impression you are sitting down with them for a nice, intimate chat. Over a Family Dinner/Conference: Invite your family over and make your favorite meal. If you don’t have enough energy to make a meal ask each person to bring one part of the meal. Tell them you invited them over because you have some important news to share. You could pass around a letter if you wrote one and your information sheet. Start off with what they mean to you and how hard a time it is for you right now and that you need their support. Once you start the conversation the rest will happen.
With A Therapist/Pastor/Minister/Rabbi: Sometimes having a third person in the room helps. The third person can help monitor people’s reactions, keep everyone calm and be the voice of reason when questions are being asked. This third person can start off the conversation and explain why everyone is being gathered. This means that you will have already had the opportunity to discuss your feelings, condition, and fears with someone. It acts as a type of dress rehearsal for the meeting with your loved one(s).
When you do meet with your friends and family you might want to stress to them that the time you have left on this earth is short but that you are still living. You have not died yet. This time would be a good opportunity to settle old differences, to clear the air of hurts and anger, and to have conversations about how much people have meant to you. Don’t forgot to talk about finances, your final ceremony and what you would like to happen with your possessions, and your memories (photos and etc.). You might even want to designate someone to go with you to discuss your end of life arrangements at your local funeral home or cremation society.
Conversations to have with a dying friend: 1. Ask your friend what she believes will happen when she dies. This is can be a hard subject to broach since we have not been socialized to talk about death. In fact, we have been trained that this topic should be avoided whenever possible. Just take the first step and ask, “What do you think happens when you die?” Feel free to start the conversation with your own beliefs on death and dying. Let it be known you are open to discussing life and death issues but, remember, people do not like to be pushed. 2. Share books with each other on the subject. Start a small book club that reads about death and dying issues. There are many excellent grief books today on this subject which range from spiritual beliefs to after death communications. Talk about what you have read and share your personal views on the subject. 3. Celebrate the lives you have lived. Talk about life as you and your friend have lived it. What have been the greatest experiences? What have been the hardest ones? Share the joys and the loves that have come into your lives. Assess your current blessings.
4. Discuss options about care for terminally ill planning. People who are dying have said some of the best days of their lives had been the ones leading up to their deaths because they really felt alive. With this in mind it is particularly important to choose what type of medical care you want if you become sick or debilitated. As a friend, you can be the sounding board for your friend. If there is illness talk about the disease openly and discuss the various options. Will a certain treatment improve the quality of life? Many treatments make a person sicker then the actual illness. 5. Laugh together but be serious and honest as well. Death does not have to be the serious, fear-based subject that we think it is. Laughter is good for the soul as well as to soothe one’s grief and loss. Remember to laugh at the things you and your friends fear. Talk about seeing each other on the ‘other side’ and perhaps saving you a seat in a garden or on the beach or at a favorite sports event. Above all, remember to love and cherish your friend. If you can approach from a place of grace your friend will feel your kindness and open heart. When you are sure of yourself and not fearful your friends will feel calmer and be in a better place to explore this issue with you.