Five Steps to Advance Care Planning

Advance Care Planning

Five Steps to Advance Care Planning


Doing advance care planning “gives you a say, to the end of your day” and is something everyone should do to take control of their life, their future life, and their end of life.

Advance care planning is not unique to America; it is something that is important for any adult no matter where in the world you may live.

Canada’s Speak Up Campaign provides an excellent framework for anyone to use. 

Five Steps to Advance Care Planning:


1.  Think about what is important to you
2.  Learn about different medical procedures and what they can and can’t do for you
3.  Choose or decide on your substitute decision maker
4.  Talk about your wishes
5.  Record your wishes formally with an advance directive

Click Here to Access our FREE End Of Life Planning Guides


To learn more about Advance Care Planning, please click here to see our Preferred Provider, M. Jane Markley Consulting, LLC.

By |February 19th, 2015|Categories: Advance Care Planning, Advance Directive, Advance Directives, Death, end of life|Comments Off on Five Steps to Advance Care Planning

Death, Organ Donor, and Organ Donation

Death and Organ Donation

Contributed by Elizabeth Hurlow-Hannah, 301.785.7619,

Birth and death are opposites, so why don’t we give them equal air-time? Just as talking about sex doesn’t make you pregnant, you won’t drop dead because you’ve talked about death and dying!

Diagnosed with Stage IIIA breast cancer in 2004, I’m assured that my soul will return to heaven whenever I die, but who can use my body?

My cousin, Mike, suffered a cerebral aneurysm while shopping, and the paramedics kept him alive to harvest his organs.

When Tom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at 64, he said, “Let me sign the papers to donate my brain to the Neurology unit to help someone else.”

Organ Donation:

These websites will bring you up to speed: at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service

123,361 people are waiting for an organ 18 people will die each day waiting for an organ 1 organ donor can save up to 8 lives

Watch this five-minute video to learn how the National Wait Transplantation works. Click on your state here:

Organ Donation/Transplantation:

United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) the private, non-profit organization that manages the nation’s organ transplant system under contract with the federal government.

Whole Body Donation for medical research and education:

Both organizations cover all costs: transportation; death certificates; cremation and return of cremains to your family.

Science Care, 800.417.3747,

MedCure,, 866.560.2525,

Query medical schools in your state: Is pre-registration necessary?

International Whole Body Donation:

If you die overseas, check with medical schools in that country about donation.

Read this article, The process of donating a whole body for medical research written by Sara Madsen, Editor in Chief for US Funerals Online. [Permission granted.

Check out the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB) a professional, non-profit, scientific and educational organization.

Be assured that all of these procedures are legal and ethical. No one removes body parts to sell on the black market. Ask yourself, “WHAT IF _________ developed an illness and was put on the transplant list? How would I react? What could I do to help?”

I signed up with MedCure in 2009, because it’s an even barter: they pay all costs associated with retrieving my body and using it for medical research; I avoid paying $7K-$10K in funeral costs —which adds a bump to my grandchildren’s educational fund. Isn’t this the best win-win situation?

Life’s never easy, sometimes not fair. We need to roll with the cards we’re dealt, even when it looks like a lousy hand.

How about you? What are you going to do? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Click Here To View Our Most Popular Free Funeral Guides

Chronic Illness, Death, and Medicare

Medicare and Chronic Illness Death

End-of-Life Care Facts

According to the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, below are some important end-of-life-care facts:

  • More than 90 million Americans live with at least one chronic illness.
  • Seven out of ten Americans die from chronic disease.
  • Among the Medicare population, the toll is even greater.
  • Patients with chronic illness in their last two years of life account for about 32% of total Medicare spending, much of it going toward physician and hospital fees associated with repeated hospitalizations.
  • About nine out of ten deaths are associated with just nine chronic illnesses, including:


1.  Congestive heart failure

2.  Chronic lung disease

3.  Cancer

4.  Coronary artery disease

5.  Renal failure

6.  Peripheral vascular disease

7.  Diabetes

8.  Chronic liver disease

9.  Dementia

What do patients want at the end of life?

Do they want their physicians to do everything possible to extend life? Do they want more time in the hospital? If additional treatments offer little possibility of benefit, do they want more invasive care? Research suggests that the care they get is not necessarily the care they want.

To read more about these end-of-life care facts at the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, click here

By |January 25th, 2015|Categories: Chronic Illness, Chronic Illness Death, Death, end of life, End-of-Life Care Facts, End-of-Life-Care, Medicare|Tags: , , , , , |Comments Off on Chronic Illness, Death, and Medicare

How to Talk Death with a Doctor

Advance Care Planning

How to Talk to Your Doctor About Death

Jane Markley,  one of the most widely-recognized experts on advance care planning, was kind enough to share dome very valuable information about end of life planning.

Jennifer Brokaw, MD is an Emergency Department physician, and the daughter of commentator Tom Brokaw.  She is another excellent specialist who emphasizes the importance and value of advance care planning.

Although most people don’t like to talk about death and dying, the harsh reality is death is something we cannot avoid, postpone, or predict.  In fact, Dr. Brokaw believes that in order to live your best life, you need to think and talk about death.

MUST-SEE Video – How to Talk to Your Doctor About Death

In this extremely informative and educational video, Dr. Jennifer Brokaw opens up about the uncomfortable but vital conversations we should all have with our doctors, our families, and ourselves – well before we near our end of life.

Click Here to Watch This Video:
How to Talk to Your Doctor about Death

By |January 24th, 2015|Categories: Advance Care Planning, Death, death and dying, end of life, end-of-life planning|Tags: , , , , |Comments Off on How to Talk Death with a Doctor

Are Your End-Of-Life Care Wishes Clear

End-of-Life Care

Are Your End-of-Life Care Wishes Clear?

As acceptance of end-of-life planning grows in the U.S., new concerns are emerging about how well patients and their doctors understand the forms they are signing about the care they want in their final days.

In September, the Institute of Medicine’s “Dying in America” report called for a national effort to improve medical and social services for end-of-life care, both to improve quality of life and to help reduce the outsize costs of unwanted care at the end of life.

Some health plans are reimbursing doctors who help with advance care planning, and the federal government is weighing doing the same for doctors who talk to Medicare patients about options. A growing number of states are starting programs known as Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment, or Polst, a form offered to patients who might die within a year so they can document their wishes in a medical record, signed by the doctor.

Read more of Laura Landro‘s article in the Wall Street Journal by clicking here.

By |December 14th, 2014|Categories: Advance Care Planning, Advance Directive, Advance Directives, end of life, end-of-life planning, End-of-Life-Care|Tags: , , , , , |Comments Off on Are Your End-Of-Life Care Wishes Clear

Death is Not Failure

Death is Not Failure

As I am preparing this newsletter, I am awaiting a call from a longtime colleague with the knowledge that it will be the last time we have a chance to talk.  Recently diagnosed with multiple brain tumors that are inoperable she has chosen to let her life run its course and to enjoy what quality time she can for as long as the tumors allow.  Tragic, sad, emotional; you bet, but not a failure, as far as we can tell, on anyone’s part.  Remember I said before, death is not an option.  Fortunately, her healthcare providers understand this type of terminally ill planning.

In this day and age so many healthcare providers feel like they have failed if they are unable to cure their patients.  They frequently continue to offer alternative treatments when they know that the chances of doing anything truly helpful are miniscule.  They talk about end of life planning matters extending life, but not about the quality of that life.  They are also confronted by patients and/or loved ones who want “everything” done.   They offer treatments that they themselves would not take were they in the same condition.  The healthcare professionals’ role in life has always been to make people better, to cure them, and when they can’t they feel inadequate or like they have failed so they keep trying even as hope wanes.  It is a reasonable response considering their training focuses on the cure.  But, death is just a part of life and it is sometimes best to accept.

As you might guess, the call came before I had finished this.  I was floored.  In fact my friend was ecstatic when I spoke with her.  Hard to believe isn’t it?  She kept telling me how wonderful it is to have time to talk with people who love her and who share with her what a difference she has made in their lives.  She said that this truly has been the best experience of her life and she is so pleased that her life will be ending this way because she never really thought that she had made a difference in anyone’s life.

She’s living fully in the moment.  She is making plans for the “celebration” of her end of life, when she is gone and where to scatter her ashes.  And given the advent of the Internet and advanced technology tools today, there are many new memorial technology options for cremations.  She has made peace with what is happening to her and is embracing the experience better than anyone I have ever met.  Surely there are down times but to everyone with whom I have spoken who has spoken with her they all are getting the same vibe.

Death for her is not a failure but truly is an experience she is cherishing.  Talk about acceptance!  And yes, she has her advance directives in order.

The bigger question is when will you:  Have ‘The Conversation’ And Give ‘The Gift’

Courtesy of M Jane Markley Consulting 


Is There Such a Thing as a Good Death?

End of Life

Is There Such a Thing as a Good Death?

After several years of relentless chemo and radiation to check her cancer, Rebecca decided to die with dignity.

She consulted with family members and some close friends and then contacted a nearby hospice. Whatever ‘tough conversations’ there might have been were brief, open and honest. How could anyone object to Rebecca’s decision after all the various treatments that she had undergone? Everyone was in the loop: family members, close friends, some neighbors and a few former colleagues.

When Rebecca became so weak that she could no longer eat or take care of herself, we all knew it was time. I recall one of Rebecca’s last cognitive acts was to view a DVD of her grandson performing in a piano recital. Then she rested, grateful for having viewed her grandson’s artistic triumph.

For the three or four weeks that she lay in bed, a constant stream of family, friends and neighbors visited with Rebecca. She lay in her furnished basement apartment. Soft music penetrated the space. A scented candle burned. Each visitor brought his or her own special treatment ‘modality.’ Some sang, others massaged her limbs, a few talked quietly, reminiscing about happier times they had spent together. What was so impressive was the solace that pervaded the room.

Except for the early hours of each day, Rebecca was never alone. When she died, everyone was at peace…with her and with themselves. We felt sad, but not depressed. I learned that her last breaths were labored and short. Then nothing. We all shared a part in Rebecca’s passing. Because she gave us a bond that we will never forget, our gratitude to Rebecca is boundless. She allowed us to be part of her vigil of peace.

Contributed by Sig Cohen of Beyond Disputes Associates,


By |October 6th, 2014|Categories: Death, Death with Dignity, end of life, good death|Tags: , , , , |Comments Off on Is There Such a Thing as a Good Death?

Top Technology Tools to Plan a Funeral and Memorial Service

Memorial Technology

New Memorial Technology to Plan a Funeral
and Better Remember Loved Ones is an online resource center designed to help families, Funeral Directors, and Cemetery Directors to learn more today’s new and creative ways to help cope with grief and loss and, most importantly, help celebrate the special life and memories of a loved one.

This family-friendly online resource center was specifically designed for three main purposes:

1.  Raise awareness about today’s most popular, newest, and most innovative technology tools, all of which can help remember loved ones in a more meaningful way.
2.  Offer valuable information and education on exactly how these new memorial technology tools work.
3.  Provide access to the most qualified and credible companies offering these funeral  home services. features six of the most commonly sought-after and utilized memorial technology options families are choosing to add to their funeral, memorial, burial, or cremation planning.  These six options include:

1.  Memorial website
2.  Video Tribute
3.  Gravestone technology
4.  Funeral webcasting
5.  Memorial diamonds
6.  Memorial reefs

Unfortunately after my family lost a dear loved one, we were not aware that any these excellent memorial technology tools existed.  Therefore, we did not know how they worked, nor did we know who to turn to for help.

My sincere hope and prayer is this helps families make a difficult situation a little easier.

Christopher P. Hill, Founder

Death and Burial Rituals

Burial Rituals

Death and Burial Rituals

The Business of Death

Around the world, every day, every hour, every second, medical treatment is unable to prevent death. When doctors, nurses and hospitals can do no more for a patient, another industry steps in.

World population Estimate – 7,142,797,806

There are bodies everywhere.

World Death Rate: 8 deaths/1,000 population 55.3 million people die each year 151,600 people die each day 6316 people die each hour 105 people die each minute ~2 people die each second

Burial Rituals:

Traditional Western Customs:

The two most common methods for the disposal of corpses are:

Cremations (Burning the body) or
• Interment (Burying the body)

Today, the average North American traditional funeral costs between $7,000 and $10,000.

• Fee for the funeral director’s services: $1,500
• Cost for caskets: $2,300
• Embalming: $500
• Cost for using the funeral home for the actual funeral service: $500
• Cost of a grave site: $1,000
• Cost to dig the grave: $600
• Cost of a grave liners or outer burial vaults: $1,000
• Cost of monuments: $1,500

Islamic Customs:

• Muslims try to bury their dead ASAP.
• Family or community members wash and shroud the body in scented water and clean white cloth.
• The body is positioned so that the head is facing Mecca. The average adult Islamic funeral, before the cost of burial, was $6,550 in 2009, according to the National Funeral Directors Association.

Tibetan Buddhist Sky Burial:

• The traditional Tibetan Sky Burial involves a corpse being dismembered by trained professionals and left outside (in one of the 1075 sky burial sites) for animals to feast upon. Today, 80% of Tibetans choose to have Sky Burials.

Green Burials in the U.S.:

• Going “Green?” People are forgoing traditional methods for environmentally friendly burials.
• Why expose the Earth to unnecessary embalming chemicals or steel caskets.
• Opts for biodegradable caskets or having your remains turned into an artificial reef? Factoid: Americans currently bury around one million tons of steel caskets each year.


• Balinese cremation ceremony is performed to send the dead onto their next life, and is considered a sacred duty.
• The dead are placed inside a coffin, which is then placed inside a structure resembling a buffalo or temple.
• The structure is carried to the cremation site and set aflame. In group ceremonies upwards of 60 people’s remains were cremated at one time.

Ghana’s Elaborate Custom Coffins:

• In Ghana it is popular to bury loved ones in coffins that represent certain aspects of them, generally either an occupation, or something they loved.
• For example, a farmer might be buried in a coffin that was built to resemble an ear of corn, or a businessman could be buried in a coffin resembling a plane.

Famadihana – The Turning of the Bones:

• The Malagasy people of Madagascar have a famous ritual in which every five to seven years, the family has a celebration at its ancestral crypt.
• The cloth-wrapped bodies of the deceased are exhumed and sprayed with wine or perfume, before being brought out for family members to dance with while a live band plays.

Space Burial:

• Money can buy you anything, even a burial in space.
• The first of these burials took place in 1997 and contained ashes of 22 people (including Timothy Leary and Gene Roddenberry).
• Cost, depending on how far you want your ashes to go, $1,000 – $12,000.

No Longer Practiced


• Originating over 1000 years ago, Sokushinbutsu was practiced by a sect of Buddhist monks, and resulted in self-mummification.
• Process that involved eating nuts, bark, and drinking poisonous tea, and took over 3000 days to complete.
• Though hundreds of monks tried, only 16 – 24 were successful.
• Sokushinbutsu is now illegal in Japan.

Hanging Caskets:

• Though now a long lost civilization, The Bo people of the Hemp Pond Valley in Southwest China’s Gongxian County, would use two wooden poles inserted into the rock to suspend caskets containing the dead on high cliff faces.
• Over 160 coffins were placed along the cliffs and natural caves. Today locals refer to the Bo as the “Sons of the Cliffs”.


• Now banned in India, Sati was the practice of recently widowed women throwing themselves on the funeral pyres of their husband’s bodies.

Contributed by “The Business of Death

Advance Directives and Advance Care Planning

Advance Directives

Are We at a “Tipping” Point?

How is it that 24 years after the Patient Self-Determination Act went into effect we have not made significant progress in increasing the percentage of people who have Advance Directives?  Death has been hidden behind hospital doors for almost a century, new funeral and memorial technology has advanced, and people still seem to think that death is optional and prefer to avoid the end of life discussion.

Current research shows that only about 25% of the population has completed Advance Directives, yet 80% of the population states that they wish to die at home.  Many of us have talked till we are blue in the face, much money has been spent, and many different initiatives have been started but the number hasn’t budged.

All of this may seem discouraging but there are several different moves afoot that may open the subject up and bring it into the mainstream.  Things like:

  • Respecting Choices – an advance care planning model that has been inculcated into the fabric of the community in La Crosse, WI and has been around long enough to demonstrate significant community, personal, and financial impacts that are being noticed and shared.
  • Institutes of higher learning have started and/or increased their emphasis on end of life care and Advance Directives in their medical and nursing school curriculums planting the seed for better communications with patients in the future.
  • Accountable Care Organizations and Medical Home models are being encouraged by Health and Human Services to collect and report data on the advance care planning, that they are providing to seniors, which will eventually impact their reimbursements.
  • Ever increasing numbers of people, bothered by the lack of discussion and emphasis placed on the needs of people at the end of life, have taken the initiative to develop electronic tools on the internet to guide and help people address these issues before the need arises.
  • And, as I referred to in last month’s newsletter, Death and Dying Cafes and Dinner Parties are becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. as the underlying need to talk about death and our beliefs about it are being met through this informal yet growing medium.

Making advance care planning and Advance Directives a part of the mainstream of American life, where it is considered inappropriate not to discuss our thoughts and feelings on these issues, will go a long way towards increasing percentages in the future.  With the pace of change upon us we may just be at the beginning of that tipping point.  More people will be willing to have “the conversation” and give “the gift”.

Contributed by M Jane Markley LLC,

By |March 17th, 2014|Categories: Advance Directives, Death, death cafes, death dinner parties, end of life, Memorial Technology|Tags: , , , , , , |Comments Off on Advance Directives and Advance Care Planning

Death Cafes and Dinner Parties??

Death Cafes

Death Cafes and Dinner Parties


I know what you are thinking.  “Why would anyone participate in something like this?  I like to enjoy my dinner and this doesn’t sound like fun.”  Talking about death over dinner might not be the usual way you get people over to your house for a meal, but it couldn’t be more crucial.

Too many people are dying in a way they wouldn’t choose, and too many of their loved ones are left feeling bereaved, guilty, and uncertain.  Having “the conversation” about end of life care wishes with family, friends, and even total strangers is an important step you can take to ensure that those wishes are understood and respected.

Death Cafes and Dinner Parties

These types of activities, also known as Tea Parties, Death Cafes, etc., have taken off worldwide.    And why is that?  It is because they work.  They allow people to discuss death and related issues and be open to a variety of opinions and issues in a non-judgmental and safe environment.  A colleague of mine, Laurel Lewis, has been hosting these dinner parties for several years with growing interest and attendance such that there is usually a waiting list.  You can learn more about her and what she does at

You can also see a sample of one of her dinners on You Tube at  (Deepak Chopra @ a death and dying dinner party!).  This dinner is rare as it includes a well known physician but that is certainly not necessary.

The Death Cafe which started in Europe is now in the States and lets you know what is happening so check it out at .   Another site provides a tutorial on how to set up such a get together.  You can check it out here at  An alternative approach used by Paula Schneider of Nevada is to host “Open Forums on End of Life Issues.”  Whatever terms you need to use to get people there, listening, and engaging is what is important.

Why Not Take the First Step?

These dinners and teas are meant specifically for any person who is going to die.  Does that describe you?  So, you need not wait till Thanksgiving this year to have the conversation with family and friends.  You can start now either hosting your own party or getting on line and seeing what meeting is in your area that you can attend to have the experience.

Yes, as I always remind you, it is time to have ‘the conversation’ because you never know when the crisis will occur.  Your discussions will help you feel more comfortable about documenting your wishes allowing you to give ‘the gift’ to your friends and loved ones.  Unless you are certain of your immortality, now is the time to get started!

*Contributed by M. Jane Markley Consulting, LLC


By |February 15th, 2014|Categories: Death, death and dying, death cafes, death dinner parties, death over dinner, end of life|Tags: , , , , , , |Comments Off on Death Cafes and Dinner Parties??

Protect Your Family Against Grave Robbers

Grave Robbers

Protect Your Family Against Grave Robbers

It’s no surprise that identity thieves are running rampant, however it’s a shocking fact that these scammers are using the personal information and vital statistics of more than 2,000 deceased people every day. An ID Analytics study recently revealed that the misuse of social security numbers belonging to the deceased occurs more than 1.5 million times every year. Are the identities of your deceased loved ones protected from these identity thieves?

Protect Identity Today

In the same way people provide protection for their families using funeral insurance to cover funeral costs and burial expenses and replace lost income after a death, many people today are also taking additional steps to ensure their loved ones left behind aren’t abused by scam artists.

Be proactive to protect your family. Take the proper steps to provide protection against identity theft while you are alive. Enroll in a service like to monitor credit reports and inquiries, applications for utility and wireless service, and many other aspects of personal information to reduce the risk of exposure. Monitor your online bank activities, guard your social security number and private information, and keep your digital devices protected with reliable security software to deter fraudsters from gathering your personal data and vital statistics.

Make Final Preparations

Coping with the loss of a loved one is emotionally and physically challenging for most people, and on top of the grief, it often takes weeks, or even months, to notify creditors and vendors after someone dies. Unfortunately, scammers and identity thieves get started immediately after they see perform an obituary search or read a newspaper report that announces a death.

Assign a friend or relative to take charge of reporting your death immediately. Or consider hiring a funeral estate planning attorney to handle all notifications. Recommendations from include contacting the Social Security Administration (1-800-772-1213), sending death certificates to the three major credit reporting agencies—Experian, Equifax and TransUnion—and asking financial institutions and creditors to mark accounts closed due to death. The IRS should also be notified as soon as possible to prevent fraudsters from filing for a tax refund with the deceased person’s information or claiming the deceased as a dependent on future returns.

Block the Channels

The best time to consider identity theft is before it happens. Make sure you create a love drawer with a list of everyone—businesses, government agencies and individuals who have access now, or might have acquired your information in the past. Include medical providers, lawyers, the IRS, the Social Security Administration, banks, creditors and even your landscape and pest control contractors.

Prepare a simple form letter that informs recipients of your death in advance. Assign someone to mail these letters, preferably by certified mail, immediately after your death. Ask your designated helper to cancel your voter registration card, drivers license and online social media accounts (learn more about digital estate planning).

Work With the Credit Bureaus

The credit reporting agency Experian advises that credit bureaus periodically update records with information received from the Social Security Administration to flag files when people pass away. It could take up to six months for the information to be transferred so, having someone designated to report the death is preferable to waiting for agency notification. To protect against fraud, survivors should request credit reports every few months after a loved one passes to be sure no one is trying to assume the deceased identity.


10 Advantages to Burial Insurance and End of Life Planning

Burial Insurance

10 Key Things to Know About

Burial Insurance


The Average Cost of a Funeral: $7,000-$10,000
The Average Cost of a Burial:  $5,000-$7,000
TOTAL Funeral and Burial Costs:  $12,000-$17,000


According to AARP (, the average cost of a funeral for most families is approximately $10,000.  Depending on a wide variety of individual factors and circumstances, this average cost could arguable by much lower…or much higher.  However, when you consider the fact that your family and loved ones could be forced to deal with a large number of financial choices and decisions that add up to such significant funeral costs, creating an end of life plan and looking into burial insurance is something that nobody should overlook or ignore.

Top 10 Advantages of Burial Insurance:


1.) NO medical exam required

2.) Premiums NEVER increase

3.) Accumulates CASH value

4.) Insurance NEVER decreases

5.) EASY to obtain up to age 85

6.) Protection is GUARANTEED

7.) Prepays ALL funeral costs

8.) Prepay OTHER outstanding debts or expenses

9.) Your beneficiary can ALWAYS be changed

10.) QUICK and EASY protection from $2,500 to $50,000

Click Here for a FREE Burial and Funeral Insurance Quote



By |November 20th, 2013|Categories: average funeral costs, Blog, burial, burial insurance, end of life, Funeral Costs, Funeral Insurance|Tags: , , , , , , , , |Comments Off on 10 Advantages to Burial Insurance and End of Life Planning

What to Do When a Distant Family Member Dies

Death of a Distant Relative

What to Do When a Distant Family Member Dies

It’s never easy to know what to do when tragedy strikes. But, when you first learn of the death of a non-immediate family member, take action right away— or at least as quickly as you are able.

Express Your Condolences

Nothing expresses your concern and solidarity better than showing up in person. If the deceased’s immediate family members live nearby, make it a point to stop in. Sometimes people avoid this step because they don’t know whether it’s the right thing to do, but according to The American Cancer Society, letting someone know you’re there and you care when a loved one dies is more than appropriate— it’s vital. You don’t have to stay long. You don’t even have to cross the threshold of the doorway if you feel like you’ve arrived at the wrong time, but you need to show up long enough to say, “I heard your family member died, I’m so sorry. What can I do to help?”

Grief Counseling

Honor The Lost Loved One

It’s tradition to send funeral flowers and funeral gifts when a family member dies. Very few families are ever offended by a beautiful floral tribute or an enduring green arrangement to honor a lost life. If you’re purchasing flowers for the service that will eventually be placed by the grave, you’ll want to have them delivered to the funeral home. Another option is to send an indoor living arrangement in a planter directly to the home of those who survive to act as a lasting tribute to the person who passed away.

Offer Your Support

All areas of the country have different traditions. In some areas, it’s often appropriate to take a casserole to the grieving family so they can mark dinner off their list of things that need to be done. If this isn’t a tradition in your family, there are other ways you can help.

  • Volunteer to Make Notification Phone Calls
  • Go Along to Help Pick Out the Casket
  • Take the Children Out Somewhere
  • Send a Supply of Groceries for the Grieving Family

Be Tactful

Be there to listen and to validate the feelings of a person suffering from grief and loss by avoiding certain phrases. Never start a conversation by telling the grieving person you know how they feel, that their loved one is in a better place now or that what happened was God’s will. Aside from sounding pompous, statements like this only serve to make the person who’s suffering feel guilty for what they’re going through. Only God knows what His will is. Even if the person’s death ended an agonizing struggle, now isn’t the time to point it out. Allow them to feel how they feel and remember that your main purpose isn’t to argue them back into a healthy outlook, it’s to listen, offer support and find out what you can do to make things easier.

Don’t Forget About the Kids

Remember to consider the feelings and questions of the kids— your kids, that is. Explain what happened in a way that isn’t scarring or terrifying. If you’re not sure what to say, utilize helpful resources such as the pastor of your church, a school counselor or local organizations such as Hope Hospice that employ professionals who deal in loss and grief every day.


What is a Funeral Consultant? Why Hire One?

Funeral Consultant

What is a Funeral Consultant?

Perhaps you have never heard of a Funeral Consultant?  Well even if you have not, you probably agree that when it comes to life’s most important and challenging decisions, seeking professional guidance and support is a good idea.  You probably also agree that professional planners, such as wedding planners, can be sanity savers.  Let’s take a wedding for example.  Many people prefer to hire a wedding planner.  Why?  Mainly because they want a professional consultant to assist them along the way with the large number of emotional and financial decisions in planning this important once-in-a-lifetime event.

Why Hire a Funeral Consultant?

Most weddings are usually planned within a 6-12 month time frame.  However, planning a funeral is usually done within a 24 to 48-hour time frame, and involves making over 150 important decisions.  Studies prove that when most families are faced with the task of planning a funeral say they are largely unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and unprepared.

So similar to a wedding planner, a Funeral Consultant’s job is to help families make an important and difficult situation easier.  Funeral Consultants are professionally engaged, but have the unique advantage of being experienced while not emotionally attached to the event.  Funeral Consultants are trained and educated professionals whose job is solely to educate and guide you through one of life’s most challenging experiences.

Funeral Consultants are responsible for exactly what most families are searching for, which is being educated on a large number of funeral and/or cemetery options, helping you make decisions when you get stuck, keeping you within your budget, and making sure you know what you are doing – and that you don’t forget anything.

4 Ways Family Funeral Consultants Help Families

1.  When a death occurs
2.  If a death is expected
3.  Planning in advance
4.  Grief counseling and coaching

One Example of How Funeral Consultants Can Help You Save Money

In a recent survey of just one small community’s funeral homes and cemeteries, a basic cremation started at $710 at one establishment, but cost as much as $3,820 at another.  Likewise, direct burial costs ranged from $1,695 to $4,455. The same casket cost was $996 at one place, but $4,200 at another. Cemetery opening and closing fees can vary by more than $2,000, depending on the cemetery and day of the week you choose.  In just this particularly local community survey, there were 15 funeral homes and 13 major cemeteries.  So how would a family know how to choose from among them?  The answer is simple.  Consider hiring a Funeral Consultant.

Funeral Consultants research and negotiate the prices for funeral home and cemetery services in a given area.  Serving as part family advocates and part event planners, a Funeral Consultant can show you side-by-side comparisons of all of the cemetery or funeral home services, your options, and your costs in your local area.  They can also help connect you to other funeral planning resources, including financial aid and support.

According to AARP, the average cost of a funeral today is approximately $10,000. (Note:  This does not include the cost of the cemetery plot and associated fees for the monument, and much more.)  The average funeral insurance policy that most people buy to pre-pay their funeral costs in advance is approximately $5,000. Getting help from someone who knows how this entire process works, and also knows your local options, just makes sense.

It’s Not Always Just About the Money

Rather than dress up and rush into a funeral home being unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and unprepared, most people prefer discussing their all-important funeral or cemetery arrangements in the comfort of their own home, among their family, friends, and loved ones.  Rather than listen to strange terminology and make expensive decisions on the fly, most people prefer a third-party and independent professional to help guide and support them through this difficult and time-sensitive process.  Rather than being uncomfortable or afraid to ask certain questions, most people prefer having the option and flexibility to say or ask things like: “That seems too expensive” or “We cannot afford that” or “What other options do we have?” or “What do other funeral homes or cemeteries charge in my local area?”  

In addition, many families want their Funeral Consultant to join them at the funeral home or cemetery arrangement conference, which can be an option.  Funeral Consultants can also be an excellent resource when it comes to matters related to aftercare planning, such as stopping bills and utilities, work with outstanding debts, working with insurance carriers, estate and tax planning, and more.

How Much Does a Funeral Consultant Cost?

For a set fee, Funeral Consultants will take care of all the tasks, price negotiations, and coordination details, freeing family members from this obligation and helping them arrange the funeral they want within their budget.  With the average Funeral Consultant fee being $500, and the average family savings over $3,500, hiring a Funeral Consultant is a good investment.  But keep in mind that by minimizing or eliminating a lot of the financial and emotional stress associated with families and funeral planning, most families will tell you that value-added services of a Funeral Consultant can be priceless.

For more information, or to find a local Funeral Consultant, click here.



What to Wear To a Funeral

Funeral Etiquette

What to Wear To a Funeral

At some point in life, everyone will have to pick out an outfit to wear to a funeral. Every small detail counts. How a person dresses reflects their respect for the deceased. Although your presence is more important than what you look like in this situation, women should dress conservatively. Keep in mind that outfits should not be casual. Here are some tips on what to wear:

Consider the Type of Funeral says that appropriate attire varies depending on the type of funeral you attend.

  • A close family member: The blog notes that although you will more than likely be distraught, all eyes will be on the close family members. This is why it’s important to dress respectfully and tastefully. Wear a classic black dress with a cardigan or blazer or a pencil skirt matched with a blouse. Choose shoes that will compliment a graveside service.
  • Friends and extended family: Complete black isn’t necessary for this type of funeral. Wear dark colors like navy blue, violet and gray. Keep accessories and prints small.
  • Acquaintance funeral: Wear something practical but polished. Choose an outfit you already own that you would wear to a work function. Although the rules are looser for an acquaintance it’s still important to avoid bright and light colors. Avoid low neck and hemlines.

To Reiterate on the Color Dilemma

Note that colors express different emotions. Although you can’t go wrong with black, gray or navy blue, dark brown and violet can portray somber emotions of sadness too. It is never appropriate to wear perky flowery designs and bright, bold colors. Wrinkled, dirty or transparent clothes can come across as disrespectful.

Choose a Simple, Classic Style

You can’t go wrong with a black dress or a black skirt paired with a dark top. Regardless of how close you were to the deceased, these outfits are acceptable at any location. Many cocktail dress brands offer conservative options. Alternatively, it’s acceptable for women to wear slacks or pant suits.

Shoes for Comfort

Pick tasteful shoes that are comfortable to wear. Classic leather styles are best; steer clear of suede, sequins, embellishments or glitter. Simple black flats are probably the safest choice. Do not wear flip-flops or peep-toe shoes. A low heel is acceptable but tall heels are inappropriate. In the winter a pair of low or no-heel boots are fashionable and keep your feet warm.

All About Accessories

Someone once said that accessories are the last thing a person puts on, but the first thing other people notice. An outfit for a funeral is not worn to get attention and should be relatively subtle. Likewise, accessories should compliment a look but should be small. Wear simple, traditional jewelry like a pearl necklace, diamond-stud earrings or a tennis bracelet. Choose a relatively small clutch or handbag free of flashy decorations.

Click here learn more about:  Funeral Etiquette


Talking About Death and Funeral Planning

Death and Funeral Planning

Why are Funeral Planning and Death

Considered Taboo Conversations?

There are few things in life that are certain, but one thing that can be relied upon is that we will all die. Although death is an absolute certainty for every single one of us, society at large still seems to find it difficult to discuss funeral planning, death and dying. Death has always been something of a taboo subject, but even in these relatively enlightened times it is still a topic that causes some to react with disgust, fear or denial.

As a result, to plan a funeral for yourself or a loved one can be tricky at best. It is important that everyone gets the kind of funeral plan that respects their beliefs and wishes.  However, if these are not discussed in advance, it is difficult for those left behind to know how the best ways to handle these difficult decisions after a person has died.

Fear of Death and Dying

It’s understandable that, as a species intent on survival, we are reticent about discussing our inevitable demise. Fear of death can encompass a number of things including concerns about grief and loss, worry about pain or suffering, fear of the unknown, and bereavement.  There is also the sense that in death, things that an individual values such as family, friends and loved ones will be lost.

Many people have superstitious beliefs concerning death and dying that can hinder their willingness to talk about their end of life plans and preferences – and what should happen after they’re gone. The belief that talking about death is somehow “tempting fate” or will hasten death is common and will cause problems with making clear plans for what should happen after death.

Some deaths are more predictable than others, and those people who are diagnosed with a medical condition with a prognosis of shortened life may be in a better position for terminally ill planning since they have “some” idea of how much life they have left. Still, even those people for whom death is imminent may not wish to talk about it.

Death and Money – The Perfect Storm of Taboos

If there is one topic that draws an equal amount of discomfort for open discussion, it is an individual’s personal financial affairs. In working through a funeral planning checklist, the subjects of money and death are brought together in a clash of two of the strongest taboo subjects for discussion in polite conversation.

According to AARP, today’s average funeral costs can run upwards of $10,000.  Clearly this is no small consideration when facing things like funeral estate planning and finding the money to pay for the essentials after a death. In addition to adding the stress of finding this money to the worry about doing the right thing, you also have the drawbacks of not discussing how to plan your funeral with loved ones when the opportunity has always been available.  So these drawbacks significantly outweigh the discomfort of talking about things that are often left unsaid.

An Open Conversation About Death

Although it is hard for some people to talk about dying, it is an extremely important conversation to have. Without an understanding of what a person’s wishes are for their end of life funeral arrangements, families can be left in a difficult position of trying to second guess what their loved one would have wanted after their death. Don’t leave it too late to have the conversation.

If you preplan a funeral, it gives you the opportunity to talk about preferences, funeral costs, and the way in which you want to be remembered.  This includes even the little details such what you want to say in your obituary, what kind of memorial service you would like, what to put on your monuments or head stone, or even new memorial technology for gravestones.

Getting your funeral plan, preferences, and finances in place early means that both the dying person and the family left behind have the peace of mind to knowing that the right thing was done, and the funeral plan and money are available to ensure the deceased’s wishes are fulfilled.


Death and dying is one of the final taboos for discussion in our society. However, making sure that everyone is clear about what they want in death and their wishes for their funeral can bring peace of mind to all concerned.

Article contributed by Memorials of Distinction

Death of a Loved One Funeral Planning Checklist

Plan a Funeral

Death of a Loved One Checklist

Checklist to Help Families Get Through a Difficult Time

Losing a loved one is arguably one of the most difficult experiences in life.  In addition to coping with the grief and loss, there are also a variety of challenging tasks and important financial decisions to be completed, some of which include:

– Making final arrangements

– Reviewing funeral costs and funding options

– Settling an individual’s estate and heirlooms

– Notifying family, friends and co-workers

– Working with various companies and government agencies

– Providing important vital statistics for insurance claims and death certificates

– Securing the financial security of the remaining spouse

Time-Sensitive Tasks

Contact all close family members, friends, co-workers and clergy first.  This is not only important to notify them of this loss, but because you will need their help with funeral planning and emotional support.

Begin working with the family and loved ones to arrange the funeral, burial or cremation and memorial services Since everyone knows that death is a guaranteed event, my hope is that financial professionals have properly planned and prepared their clients and prospective clients in most of these End of Life arrangements ahead of time.

Review all of the important paperwork and documents to identify any instruction containing their final wishes. In most cases, these key End of Life and estate planning instructions can be found in his or her Last Will, Living Trust, or other estate planning preparations.

Notify family, friends, co-workers and loved ones of the final arrangements.  These final arrangement notifications should include details such as cultural and religious rituals, funeral etiquette details, and funeral flowers or donation preferences.

Notify the decedent’s place of work, professional organizations, unions, associations, military branch, and any other organizations where he or she may have been a member or volunteer.

Recommend that each of the decedent’s loved ones notify their own personal employer and arrange for bereavement leave.

Make sure that an obituary is created in your local newspaper as well as on the Internet.

Promptly begin obtaining certified copies of the death certificate. In most cases the family doctor or medical examiner provides a death certificate within 24 hours of the death. The next step is for the Funeral Home and/or Funeral Director to complete the form and file it with the state. Note: Be sure to request and obtain many original copies, since photocopies are not always accepted. These death certificates become important for tasks such as applying for benefits and settling an estate.

Be sure to review all financial affairs, particularly focusing on estate planning documents such as a Last Will or Living Trust, deeds and titles, marriage certificates, birth and adoption certificates, military paperwork and other relevant documents.

If applicable, locate and contact the decedent’s estate planning attorney for all copies of estate planning documents, particularly the originals.

Contact the decedent’s local bank to verify if they had a safe-deposit box.  Note: If the decedent did not leave behind instructions or details regarding who is authorized to open their safe deposit box, you can petition the probate court for an order to open.

Contact the Social Security Administration to report the death.  Also note:

– If your loved one was receiving any benefits via direct deposit, request that the bank return funds received for the month of death — and thereafter to Social Security as well.

– Do not cash any Social Security checks received by mail. Return all checks to the Social Security Administration as soon as possible.

– Surviving spouses and other family members may be eligible for a lump-sum death benefit and/or survivor’s benefits. You can visit for more information.

Prepare a comprehensive list of all of the decedent’s assets.

If applicable, be sure to put safeguards in place to protect any key property.

Make sure any mortgage payments and insurance premiums continue to be paid while the estate is being settled.

Regarding the decedent’s place of work, be sure to:

– Request to receive their belongings.

– Inquire about collecting any salary, vacation or sick pay owed.

– Ask about continuing health insurance coverage and potential survivor’s benefits for their spouse and/or children.

– Review all employer, union, or association death benefits details.  Be aware of the fact that if the death was work-related, the decedent’s estate or beneficiaries may be entitled to workers compensation benefits.

Contact the decedent’s past employers regarding any pension plans, survivor benefits, as well as any other forms of defined benefit or defined contribution retirement savings plans.

If the decedent was a military veteran, inquire about any potential eligibility for burial and memorial benefits. This can be accomplished by contacting the Department of Veterans Affairs by either calling (800) 827-1000 or visiting their website

Contact any IRA custodians, trustees, and guardians. Be sure to review and confirm all of the IRA beneficiary designations, as well as understand all of the IRA distribution options.

Locate and review all life and funeral insurance policies, which could include individual insurance, group life insurance, mortgage insurance, auto credit life insurance, accidental death and dismemberment, credit card insurance and annuities.

Contact each insurance company to find out the necessary procedures and documents needed to file claims.

Promptly contact all credit card companies to notify them of the death and, assuming there are no other names associated, cancel all credit cards.

Retitle all jointly held assets such as bank accounts, automobiles, stocks and bonds and real estate into the surviving parties’ name.  If the decedent was an owner, principal, or had a controlling interest in a business, review all corporate documents and details. Be sure to check to see if there are any additional business agreements such as a buy-sell agreements, split-dollar agreement, etc.

Tasks to Be Completed Within 9 Months:

If the decedent created a Last Will or Living Trust, be sure to file these documents with the appropriate probate court. If there was any real estate owned out of his or her state of domicile, be sure to file ancillary probate in that state also.

If the decedent did not leave behind a Last Will or Living Trust, contact the probate ask the court or a probate attorney for instructions and assistance.

With regards to any of the decedent’s creditors, be sure to notify them by mail as well as by placing a notice in the local newspaper.  Any debtor’s claims must be made within the statute of limitations.  Although this varies from state to state, the standard time is usually 30 days from actual notice. Once a claim has been made, be sure to insist upon proof of all claims.

With regards to estate taxes, you may be required to file a federal estate tax return within 9 months of the date of death. Due to the fact that state laws vary, there is the possibility that state estate tax and/or inheritance tax returns may need to be filed.  Federal and state income taxes are due for the year of death on the normal filing date, unless an extension is requested. Should there be any existing Trusts in place at the date of death, a separate income tax return may need to be filed. It is highly recommended that all financial professionals and their families seek the advice of seasoned tax and estate planning professionals.

Tasks to Be Completed Within 9 to 12 Months

One of the most important tasks, which can often be overlooked or postponed, is to update your own estate plan — or your client or prospective client’s estate plan — if someone was a beneficiary or appointed as an agent, trustee or guardian.

Along the same lines, it is also extremely important to revise and update all beneficiary designations on the decedent’s or surviving parties retirement plans. This includes accounts such as IRAs, Transfer-on-Death (TOD) or Payable-on-Death (POD) accounts, pension plans, life insurance policies, annuities and any other accounts on which the decedent was named as a beneficiary.

Review the impact of the “big picture” financial situation, which includes changes in the household income, expenses, budget, as well as short and long-term goals and objectives.

Review the families insurance needs, including the insurance amounts, types, beneficiary designations and most importantly, any needs for insurance.

Reevaluate whether or not the existing investment options still make sense. This includes reviewing details such as existing asset allocation, goals and objectives, risk tolerances, income and estate taxes, income distribution and legacy planning.

Other Key Considerations

Although this is a matter that most families and loved ones wish to complete and have behind them, take your time and do not try to rush the settlement of a loved one’s estate. When it comes to estate planning and distribution, there are many important decisions that must be made in compliance with the Last Will or Living Trust and applicable state and federal laws. This is exactly why it is so important to seek the help and advice of an experienced estate planning attorney.

If your client, prospective client or loved one did not leave behind any End of Life plan with regards to their final plans and preferences, you can visit and These are family-focused resource centers that contains the large majority of information most families seek help for when it comes to funerals, burials, memorial services, End of Life Planning and much more.

Christopher P. Hill, Founder

Funeral Insurance

End of Life and Funeral Insurance

Everything You Need to Know About
Funeral Insurance

The Average Cost of a Funeral is $10,000 (


10 Important Things to Know About
Funeral or Burial Insurance:


1.) NO medical exam required
2.) Premiums NEVER increase
3.) Accumulates CASH value
4.) Insurance NEVER decreases
5.) EASY to obtain up to age 80
6.) Protection is GUARANTEED
7.) Prepays ALL funeral costs
8.) Prepay any expenses or debts
9.) Your beneficiary can ALWAYS be changed
10.) QUICK coverage ranges from $2,500 to $50,000

Additional Helpful Resources:

3 Most Common Ways to Plan a Funeral

How to Prepay Funeral Expenses

Key Burial Insurance Details

Top 10 End of Life Plan Benefits


Funeral Memorial Technology Services Options Offers Families and Funeral Industry New Ways to Memorialize Loved Ones


Vienna, VA – The beginning of a New Year is always special for those who have lost loved ones, as well as the funeral and cemetery industries.  However, 2012 is going to be particularly special because families can now take advantage of some of today’s new and innovative memorial technology and memorial services options.

Christopher P. Hill, Founder of, recalls “When my family and I lost my mother on Thanksgiving Day, we never knew these new memorial options existed.  I can assure you we would have used at least three of these memorial tools.”

Hill’s personal loss inspired him to create, a new educational website which simply makes it easier for families and Funeral Directors to raise awareness, education, and access to these new ways to better heal and remember. particularly helps the funeral and cemetery industry by offering Funeral and Cemetery Directors a quick and easy way to educate every family on excellent additions to their funeral and memorial services planning.

Top Six New Funeral and Memorial Technology Options contains six options that studies show most families are choosing to add to their funeral, memorial, or cremation planning:

1. New Gravestone Technology – Amazing way to see much more than a name and date
2. Video Tribute – A very powerful combination of video, pictures, and funeral music
3. Funeral Webcasting – Allows families to “attend” a memorial service “live” online
4. Memorial Diamond – Customized Genuine Diamonds for family heirlooms
5. Memorial Reefs – Green Burials at sea offer an underwater living legacy
6. Memorial Website – Personalized websites so families can share together anywhere

View This Brief Video Which Explains Today’s New Memorial Technology Options:

As we approach the New Year, Hill stated; “You will see that provides a true win-win situation.  For the Funeral and Cemetery Directors, they can now offer even more valuable services.  For the families, the can learn and maybe take advantage of ways to enhance and improved a loved one’s life tribute. I hope my mother is proud to know she inspired such a wonderful opportunity.” is the funeral industry’s leading online Resource Center for both families and Funeral Directors.  This comprehensive website offers easy access to help regarding how to plan a funeral, memorial services, and end of life plan services.

For more information or media contact, you can call (800) 379-2511, or email at

Digital Death Online and Digitial Estate Planning

Digital Death and Estate Planning

What Happens Online When You Die?

While it’s a scary thought, the thought usually passes quickly, possibly accompanied with a new status update and a quick image change. However, there are a lot of people who have given the issue of digital death a lot more thought.  This is particularly true given today’s new and innovative funeral and memorial services technology options.

Leading technologists around the world are grappling with the possibilities of what will happen to our online selves when we die. Currently there are no uniform policies across social media and online profiling sites regarding what happens when one of their users dies. As a result this raises questions about:

Privacy. Do you want anyone else accessing your Facebook or Twitter profiles and going through your emails after you’ve died? What about digital assets which are jointly held?

Access. Are you leaving behind the login details and passwords needed for a friend or family member to deactivate your accounts? Should the sites themselves automatically grant access to a deceased profile if a family member wants to close the account?

Legacy. Do you want your online self to remain ‘live’ as a legacy? Do you want friends and family to continue posting in your name? How do you want to preserve your digital estate planning online interactions, and how will that data stay relevant as file formats and technology change and develop?

Digital Death Day

While there may not be a holistic approach to what happens online when you die, there are a number of unique initiatives raising awareness and trialling new ideas and systems to make digital death easier to manage. For example, when the Digital Death Day conferences were held in North America in May 2011 this was the third time that attorneys, entrepreneurs, funeral directors, estate planners, researchers, archivists and leading thinkers gathered to have the conversation about the issues of family, privacy, digital property rights and the archiving and curating of data for anthropologists and future generations.

Digital Death Day calls itself an ‘unconference’ where all of the attendees work closely together to explore options for dealing with online profiles after death. Everyone is able to contribute and the first morning is spent creating a multi-track agenda from the feedback of all attendees, which makes for vibrant and relevant content. Digital Death Day explores the fact that while death is a part of life, what does that mean when most people’s end of life planning become largely digital?

Digital Death Resources

The conversation about what happens online when you die is of course taking place online too with blogs such as Death and Digital Legacy which covers topics such as how to download data from a deceased Facebook profile, how to make sure your online storage of posts, photos and files are really preserved electronically and whether you’d want your family to notify your friends of your death using your own Facebook profile.

John Romano and Evan Carroll have even written a book called Your Digital Afterlife which compares the legacy of photo albums, diaries and video tapes left behind by our grandparents, to the plethora of thoughts, feelings, images and memories we leave behind online. Your Digital Afterlife also discusses the issues surrounding passwords and who really owns your online content, as well as how that content can be preserved as file formats change.

Adam Ostrow takes the preservation of our online selves a step further in his speech at a TED conference  Ostrow’s speech titled After Your Final Status Update asks whether we could, or should, be putting our online profiles in the hands of evolving technology in order to live on – there are already programs which can predict your next tweet based on your past posts, so why not upload the collective of your online interactions into a robot, or project your personality as a hologram to go on interacting with your family and friends after you die?

Digital Death Used to Save Lives

The conversation around digital death is also being used to stop unnecessary deaths from HIV and AIDS in Africa and India. The Digital Death Campaign to Keep a Child Alive began on World AIDS Day, 1 December, with the world’s most followed celebrities sacrificing their digital selves. This means that the celebrities’ Facebook and Twitter profiles go silent until a donation of $1,000,000 is reached to bring their online selves back to life. Plus, you can sacrifice your own digital life and encourage your friends and family to donate to the Keep a Child Alive campaign, and bring you back to life online.

Three Facebook Users Die Every Minute

At this rate that means that there will be 1.78 million Facebook accounts in limbo in 2011 because those users hadn’t prepared for their digital death. That’s the equivalent of the population of Western Australia, and as users and status updates continue to grow exponentially, how many deceased pages will there be in 10 years, how will Facebook and the probably non-tech savvy families of these people manage this amount of digital content?

In 2011 there are over 500 million people on Facebook and that number is expected to double by the end of the year to 1 billion users. As you think about those numbers, consider the fact that around 1 billion pieces of information are shared on Facebook every day. That is a staggering amount of information that we all felt compelled to share, so if it was important enough to post, isn’t it important enough to preserve?

However, despite digital content growing so rapidly, there are no plans for a way to manage, archive and remove our digital content when we die. For example, if you die and your friends or family want to close down your Facebook account they have to fill out a form and provide a link to your obituary search. If a copy of a key vital statistics such as a Death Certificate is sent to MySpace or eBay the account will be closed however, closing one of the 20 million eHarmony accounts can only be done by using a Last Will, Living Trust, and power of attorney who even then can’t gain access to the account.

There are 100 million tweets being posted each day from the 175 million users, and Twitter will allow a family member to save a copy of your tweets if you die, but no one else will be given access to your account.

Leave a Digital Legacy?  Or Have Your Digital Self Euthanized?

While you are alive you have absolute control over your online profiles and this is one of the main attractions of the medium – the fact that you can share your thoughts, your feelings, your questions and your experiences freely, with whomever you choose. As a result you are creating a rich database of yourself and your life experiences and isn’t that exactly why we put photos in photo albums, create a video tribute, keep diaries, have children and grow businesses – so we can leave something behind to be remembered by? So would you want to live on through your online self or would you rather leave the physical and the digital plane all together?

Digital Privacy

While most social media and online accounts have a policy to dictate what happens to your account when you die, there is still an overarching policy to protect your privacy when you are gone. For example, do you want your parents reading your Facebook status updates or do you want your partner reading through your private emails? Take a second to think about the contents of your inbox or the photos on your Facebook page – what digital dirty laundry would you be leaving behind if you died? However, it’s not only your own privacy that you should be protecting when you die, consider what would happen to the private messages stored in your Facebook or Twitter accounts, or emails which contain private information about friends, family, clients or colleagues. When you die, once private information is no longer bound by the terms and conditions of your friendship, but by the terms and conditions of your email provider or social network.

The various deceased policies of social media sites you may use include:

Twitter. Family and friends can notify Twitter of your death and your account will be removed. Family members can also save a backup of all of your public tweets. Twitter simply needs the name and contact details of the family or friend deactivating the deceased account and their relationship to the deceased, the username of the deceased Twitter account or a link to the profile page, and a link to a public obituary or news article. Twitter has the specific email address for this process.

Facebook. Facebook has a feature where you can download all of your photos, videos, wall posts, notes, messages, events and friends which can be great for your records, as well as help your family manage your account after your death. Your family will need to know your username and password to access your account and archive the information and deactivate your account. However, even when a Facebook account has been deactivated, Facebook itself retains a copy of all information and there is currently no way to permanently delete a profile. Or family or friends can also complete a form and provide a link to an obituary to confirm your death and your profile will be officially memorialized. This means you won’t show up in Facebook suggestions and status updates won’t show up in the news feeds but your profile will remain as an online memorial technology.

MySpace. If MySpace are sent proof of death they will cancel a deceased user’s account.

LinkedIn. LinkedIn will also close your account if they receive confirmation of your death.

YouTube. YouTube allows your heir or power of attorney control of your account and all of the content.

Google + and Gmail. Google will provide account information to family members at their discretion.

Yahoo and Flickr. Yahoo owns Flickr and as a result both sites have a strict digital death policy, that once they receive a copy of your death certificate they will permanently delete all of your accounts and their contents so that no one but you can access them.

Hotmail. Hotmail will send a copy of all email messages which are stored on the account and the current contacts list to help your family notify your contacts of your death. Hotmail will then close the account on request.

eBay. Your family will need to fax a copy of your death certificate to eBay to close an account and all customer details are then deleted from the eBay database. eBay may also need to call to verify the account information.

PayPal. PayPal will need to view a death certificate before closing an account, and if there is money in the account a cheque will be issued in the name of the account holder. will block the account of a user who has died so that it is no longer visible on the site and your power of attorney will need to contact to retrieve account information. Your eHarmony account will remain open until a family member or power of attorney contacts the site. Even then no third party will be allowed to access your account and eHarmony will close the account.


Grave Headstone Monuments Tombstone Memorial

Grave Headstone, Tombstones and Monuments Memorial

What to Put on a Grave Headstone, Monuments,

Grave Marker, or Personalized Memorial?

Losing a loved one is hard.  Honoring that loved one after they are gone can be just as hard.  The first step is choosing what to say on the memorial for a grave headstone, grave marker, or any other type of monuments.

What Do You Want to Say About Your Loved One?

You could mention their time served in the military or their relationships to the family.  You could incorporate some of their favorite hobbies or passions.  Over the years we’ve seen a lot of memorable quotes and sayings.

Grave Headstone

Here are just a few that you might use as inspiration:

“An officer and gentleman, he touched the lives of many with a hug, a smile, humor, and a generous spirit. Rest, my dear father, in God’s loving embrace.” ~ Donna Shackelford Jones

“Grieve not, nor speak of me with tears, but laugh and talk of me as if I were beside you there.” ~ Isla Paschal Richardson

“What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” ~ Helen Keller

When choosing a saying, you might ask yourself, would your loved one like this and does it reflect their impact on the world?

What are Your Options When Designing a Memorial?

Once the text is chosen, you’ll need to consider the design.  There are numerous options for engraving and designing a custom headstone or marker.  Elements like font size and color greatly impact the design of the memorial.  If you’re working with a custom headstone designer, you’ll want to defer to them for the best font choice.  Your designer will also be able to determine the best layout so everything is easy to read and well balanced.

There are also other options when choosing a custom headstone or memorial.  For instance, do you want to have a vase, religious symbol, or even a picture on the monument?  These questions should be brought up with your funeral director and cemetery coordinator.  To keep track of these answers you might want to download the Cemetery Regulations Checklist, put together by Quiring Monuments.

Remember to keep in mind the purpose of the memorial, whether it’s a grave headstone, grave marker, cremation memorial, or any other type of personalized monuments, it should represent your lost loved one and be a place for the family to remember them fondly.

Funeral and Death Estate Tax Planning

Funeral Estate Tax Planning

Estate and Inheritance Tax Questions to Ask

After Grieving the Death of a Loved One

When suffering from the grief and loss of a loved one, it can be the most painful and stressful time in our life. It’s important to surround our selves with close family or friends as a support system.

The experience is one that can seem like time is standing still because of the grief, but at same the time, it can be quite overwhelming and as if time were flying right past us. When someone we love passes away, there are so many details that need to be considered while grieving. That process in-and-of-itself can be painful. Funeral arrangements, memorial services, obtaining death certificates, and legal matters are all part of the details involved in losing a loved one.

Things like inheritance and estate tax issues don’t need to be addressed immediately. Focusing on our friends and family are obviously more important. But eventually the details will need our attention.

Helpful Considerations When Facing a Loss:

Is Life Insurance Taxable?

While life insurance proceeds are included in the estate, they are not taxable (as income) to beneficiaries. However, you should contact the life insurance company to understand the procedure to cashing in their policy. Typically insurance companies will require a claim form and death certificate. But generally, life insurance is not taxable to inheritors. (Click to learn more about burial insurance and/or funeral insurance)

What is My Inheritance Tax Rate?

Inheritance tax will vary from state-to-state. Typically if the value of the estate that’s being inherited is high in value, your tax rate will be higher as well.

For example, tax preparers in Indianapolis, Indiana will tell you that Indiana’s inheritance tax system breaks the heirs or inheritors into three classes or groups. Systems in Pennsylvania are very different. For Indiana, each group has different rate schedules and exemptions. Here’s how this looks according to the Indiana Department of Revenue:

•  Class A – direct ancestor or descendant, stepchildren, direct descendant of a stepchild: $100,000 exemption.
•  Class B – siblings, descendants of sibling, spouse, widow or widower of your child: $500 exemption
•  Class C – anyone else excluding spouse: $100 exemption

Are Bank Accounts Taxable?

Revenue-producing assets like bank accounts and stacks are not taxable upon inheriting them. However, the income that these assets generate is taxable to the recipient.

What About Pensions and IRA’s

A person inheriting a pension or IRA is required to pay taxes on the amount received, as the decedent (person who is deceased) would have during their life. An IRA or similar fund can be rolled over tax-free into the beneficiary’s name and treat it as their own.

While things like estate and inheritance tax is, by no means, the most important item to address when we suffer the loss of a loved one, it is important to understand what is and is not taxable during these times. Estate and inheritance taxes can be burdensome and stressful, but in some cases, an inheritance is not taxable to you.

Estate lawyers are available to help guide us during times of funeral estate planning, but they can often be costly. Check with your tax preparer or attorney handling the estate as to what you need to know when sorting out inheritance and estate issues.

See Why a Video Tribute Helps Funeral Memorial Services

Tribute Video

Four Reasons to Offer DVD Tribute Videos to Families


DVD tribute videos are becoming a popular way to memorialize a loved one who has passed. Client families want to include a video tribute as part of the funeral or memorial services. They also wish to have these memorial tributes created so that they can watch them after the services are over as they work through their grief.

Client families are seeking out companies via the internet or are attempting to create these tribute videos themselves. Often their funeral professional has not made the service available to them. If your funeral home is not currently offering DVD tribute videos, here are four compelling reasons to rethink that choice:

1. Tribute Videos Fill a Need

Tribute videos help a client family tell the story of their loved ones life and relive cherished memories. They allow families to leave a legacy and connect generations by preserving memories and events. More and more client families are tech savvy and have seen tribute videos online or at a funeral service. While many would like to have a DVD tribute video created for their loved one, and may know how to make one themselves, during this stressful time they need someone to take the reins, relieve the burden and offer the service. Providing a world class professional tribute, one that far exceeds the quality of a homemade version, will ingrain you and your funeral home in their lives each and every time they watch the DVD tribute video.

2. Tribute Videos Are Easy to Create

Outsourcing a tribute video can be a nightmare to coordinate and to find a trustworthy company that won’t let you down. Thankfully, in-house funeral software has come a long way. Tribute video software has been developed that allows a funeral professional to create a professional, high quality tribute video in-house in just three simple steps. You simply import the photos, edit the copy, music, top funeral music, and motion effects, and burn the completed video to a DVD. The menu driven application guides you through the entire process. In minutes you’ll have created a stunning tribute video that will amaze the families you serve. Plus, the online tribute player allows you to upload your video to the web and link it to your website. Client families can direct friends and families to your website to view the tribute video.

3. Tribute Video Software Features Cutting Edge Memorial Technology

The quality of a DVD tribute video created in-house by a funeral professional utilizing today’s robust funeral software is unmatched. With the invention of high speed scanning technology, funeral professionals and funeral home services can now scan one photo every two seconds making the creation process a breeze. At the click of a button, innovative tribute video software can also bring life to each photo with motion effects, set transitions, sync funeral music, and create a stunning DVD menu. Every day, thousands of funeral home professionals rely on tribute video funeral software because of the state-of-the art memorial technology it provides and the results it delivers.

4. Tribute Videos Are a Value Added Service

Tribute video software has been designed specifically for the funeral industry.  Because of this, for funeral professionals, creating an in-house tribute video is simple and affordable. Tribute video software available today has no long term contracts, no upfront costs, no equipment to buy and no support fees required. With a simple pay as you go system, you can create an unlimited number of professional quality video tributes in house quickly and easily. The quality is competitive with professional video tribute services, yet costs you and the family a fraction of the price. And, the value added service you are providing is priceless.

Learn More About the Top 6 Memorial Technology Options

This article was contributed by Frazer Consultants.  This company has a solid reputation of developing high performing and reliable technology for the death care industry.

End of Life and Death Donation Options

Consider Funeral and Death Donations


Dividing and Donating Your Loved One’s Estate

A Guest Blogger Shares His Personal Story:


When my grandmother passed away, my mother was named as executor of her funeral estate planning and was left with a house full of memories and possessions to distribute. After she and her siblings divided those belongings that they wanted, there were still many items left. My mother didn’t feel right selling these things, so she donated everything, in order to help others in need.

Clothing and Shoes

Clothing items can be donated to second-hand stores, homeless shelters, or battered women’s shelters. There are often used clothing drives in the fall and winter, and coats, gloves/mittens, scarves and boots are especially important donations during this time.


If these items are in good condition, homeless shelters will put them to use, especially in the winter months. Additionally, hospices can always use quality donations in order to make their patients as comfortable as possible in their final days.

Books, Videos and CDs

With budget cuts, many schools and libraries are unable to buy new materials as often as they would like, which negatively impacts their students and patrons. By donating to these establishments, you are helping your community and aiding in the education of others.

Dishes, Silverware, and Food-Related Utensils

Homeless shelters that cater to families are often divided into small apartments, complete with kitchens.  By donating to these organizations, you can help a family sit down to a home cooked meal, thus providing stability during a difficult time.

Knick-Knacks, Artwork, and the Like

These are often tricky to donate, as many are personal mementos or are considered clutter by others. Residents of nursing homes, and those suffering from a terminal illness, can often live in drab surroundings.  Therefore, items such as these can brighten their rooms and bring smiles to their faces.


Craig’s List is a great place to find people in need of free furniture. When posting, be sure to include a photo, and request that prospective owners pick up the furniture. Be cautious when using sites such as these, though, and use common sense when allowing strangers into your home.

Used Medical Equipment

It is not uncommon to have used medical equipment left after a loved one’s death, especially in the case of a prolonged illness or severe injury. When left with a wheelchair, walker, shower chair, or other equipment, find an area hospice in need of your items. These are often nonprofit, and can always use quality donations.

The death of a loved one can be a devastating time. The last thing you want to worry about is what to do with their possessions once they are gone.

However, with a little thought and end of life planning, you can make this a relatively painless process, and one that can be handled quickly and efficiently, so you can begin to move past your tragedy and start the grief and loss and healing process.

Courtesy of Joseph Baker

4 FREE Guides to End of Life Planning

Four Key Guides to End of Life Planning

Our Personal Gift to You and Your Loved Ones…

4 FREE Guides to Creating a Smart End of Life Plan

(Note: You can download, print, or save each guide below at NO COST)

Please Watch This Brief Video About Creating Your End of Life Plan:

1.  Completing Your Family Record Guide:

• Benefits of keeping all of your financial affairs in one place

• A complete list of key matters to have readily available

• Who can access and how often to update this information

2. Guide to Knowing Your 3 Best Options to Pre-Pay Funeral Expenses:

Pre Need Plan – How this plan works, who it fits, pros and cons

Final Expense Plan – How this plan works, who it fits, pros and cons

• Cemetery Pre-Purchase Kit – Burial Versus Funeral Pre-Planning

3. Guide to Choosing a Will Versus a Trust:

• The importance of creating an estate plan and how to start

• Easy-to-understand difference between a Last Will versus Living Trust

• Helpful ways to determine which is one is best for you

4. Guide to Creating a Love Drawer:

• Benefits of keeping all of your financial affairs in one place

• A complete list of key end of life matters to have readily available

• Who can access and how often to update this information

See Exactly Why a “Love Drawer” is So Valuable For EVERY Family:


Best Ways to Prepay Funeral Expenses

How to Prepay Your Funeral Expenses…
And Why?

According to AARP (, the average cost of a funeral today is approximately $10,000.  So by preplanning a funeral and creating an end of life plan, your are certainly doing a wonderful thing by helping to alleviate many of the funeral planning challenges.

Therefore, over 60% of people who are willing to selflessly take the time to create an End of Life Plan will also choose to prepay their funeral expenses.  By taking care of your funeral costs and expenses in advance, this is yet another added value.  Prepaying your funeral costs is another way of leaving behind a memory of how much you cared for your family and loved ones, rather than leaving them to deal with these financial challenges.

While you need to learn and understand the three most common ways to preplan a funeral, you should also be familiar with the various ways of prepaying your funeral expenses, since this is  one of the fastest growing and widely-accepted aspects of the funeral planning process.

Similar to preplanning your funeral, most financial professionals agree that prepaying your funeral expenses should be a standard topic of discussion when creating a financial plan and estate plan.

The most common and widely used strategies to prepay your funeral expenses are savings, life insurance, and funeral insurance (also referred to as burial insurance), mainly because they tend to be deemed the most reliable and readily available. However, there are several other finance advice strategies to consider when prepaying your funeral costs or expenses:


Although many people choose to set aside savings to pay for their end of life plan and 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.

Life Insurance

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 your funeral or memorial services, burial expenses, 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, and college.

Funeral Insurance

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 funeral 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 planning packages, and certain funeral homes or funeral companies also offer funeral insurance 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.

Get Help

Although the large majority of the funeral industry will tell you that most funeral costs can range anywhere from $5,000 – $10,000, it is very common for funerals to cost much more or maybe even less.

Also, as with any important financial decision or investment, there are many advantages and disadvantages to each of the options mentioned above. Before choosing a policy, it is important to consider many things, including but not limited to your age, health, financial status, objectives, liquid assets, tax issues, estate tax issues, family needs, etc.

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, and everyone should consider including an end of life plan.

Please consult with your attorney or financial advisor before applying or purchasing any of these policies, pay close attention to your specific state requirements, and also the financial strength and claims paying abilities of each company, funeral home, etc.


Who Really Needs an End of Life Plan? And Why?

Who Really Needs an End of Life Plan?

See Exactly Why This Makes Sense…From the Heart

The sad truth is that the financial planning industry largely overlooks the fact that creating an End of Life Plan needs to be a part of a sound comprehensive financial plan.  To prove my point, as a Financial Advisor for nearly 25 years, I have never been trained or educated on how to help my clients prepare their end of life plans and preferences.  Furthermore, I have also never been trained or educated on how to help my clients deal with the funeral planning process after a loved one has passed.

See For Yourself Why This Makes Sense:

The Missing Piece of the Financial Planning Puzzle

The reality is that a client should logically turn to their Financial Advisor for anything that has to do with not only their money, but also  the best interests of their family.  This involves a detailed review and analysis of things like insurance, investments, estate planning details (How to Choose a Last Will or Living Trust), minimizing or eliminating taxes, college planning, mortgages, and so on.

The key point here is that as Financial Advisors, arguably the most important role we play is helping protect families against unexpected events that can cause major financial or emotional challenges…and possibly irreparable damages or losses.

Most Financial Advisors typically protect their clients by implementing traditional financial products and strategies such as life insurance or creating a Last Will or Living Trust with Estate Attorneys.  They also recommend and promote important insurance policies which are designed to protect against specific losses, such as disability insurance, long-term care insurance, annuities, car and home insurance, and many other options.  These recommendations can vary, since  of course, each family’s situation is usually unique and different.

To be honest, I considered myself to be extremely well-versed in how to protect my clients, as well as my own family, against unexpected events.  However, everything changed on Thanksgiving Day of 2008 when I lost a close loved one and had to go through this experience personally.

Very Few Families Know “What to Do Next”

Losing a close loved one is, by far, one the most difficult experiences anyone can face in their lifetime.  I remember feeling so disappointed as we went through this experience…thinking that since I was a Financial Advisor, I should know better.  However, the enormity of the situation really hit me when I realized that I was never trained or educated on how to plan and prepare my clients for this particular situation.  I am almost ashamed to admit, I was totally unprepared.

I can remember looking at my family, and without saying a single word, you could tell we were are searching for the same answers to “what happens next”?  Sadly, these are the questions that most families are forced to deal with every day when they lose a loved one, such as:

1.  What do we do now?

2.  Who can we turn to for credible help and advice?

3.  How do we get started?

What Could I Have Done Differently?

As I look back, I remember how comforting and gratifying it was to see our family come together and accomplish so many things in such a short period of time.  At the same time, I also remember feeling frustrated because we lacked the knowledge on how to deal with many of these challenges, and we also had not idea where to turn to for the help and answers we needed.

After experiencing all of the emotional ups and downs, the funeral planning challenges, planning all of the memorial service details, and even working out things like;  how to write a funeral eulogy, choosing funeral flowers versus donations, and choosing among the many cremation urns, I can honestly tell you that planning a funeral is overwhelming.

May I Offer Some Valuable Advice?

So after all of this, here is what I think so many people need to hear.  Consider these facts:

1.  There is nothing more difficult than the loss of a loved one
2.  Planning a funeral and memorial service is an overwhelming process
3.  The large majority of families are uneducated on the many details involved in this process
4.  Very few families are left with any end of life plans – telling them “what to do next”

The truth is it really doesn’t have to be this way. Yes, we are talking about death and dying.  No, it is not fun, and not something we like to even think about.  However, the harsh reality is that some day we will all die.  So when you break it down to these simple facts, you are left with two choices:

1.   Do nothing – and let your family add insult to injury
2.   Plan in advance – and minimize or eliminate some of the burden you will leave behind

What is the Key Message Here?

Again, I fully understand that nobody likes to talk about death, dying, or end of life planning.  However, we have to face and accept the fact that not are we going to die some day, but it could happen much sooner than anyone ever expected.

So my sincere hope is that I can encourage anyone who is reading this…every son, daughter, spouse, grandchild, or loved one…to have this discussion with your family. And since nobody knows what the future might bring, have this talk sooner versus later.

There is no such thing as preparing your End of Life Plan too soon.  On the contrary, the worst thing you can do is take the attitude of “I don’t need to do this now, that won’t happen to me, or, I can do this later“. As the old adage goes;

“By Failing to Plan…You are Planning to Fail.”

You Can’t Go Wrong:

By creating an end of life plan in advance, here are a few of the meaningful benefits you will experience from this selfless act of love:

1.  Peace of mind – You will sleep better at night knowing that you have completed this all-important plan, and that your family and loved ones will be forever grateful.  This is the true definition of a win-win situation.

2.  You control how you will be remembered – Knowing this will be a time of great loss for your loved ones, you will be remembered for showing how much you cared by sacrificing the time to do something very special, and easing the burden when it is needed the most.

After going through something like this helps you realize that every day is truly a gift.  I guess that is exactly why they call it “the present“.  So please, take advantage of “the present” you are given today and build a plan that allows your loved ones to celebrate your life, and focus on how grateful they are today…and will be after you are gone…for all of the great memories they were able to share with you.

Get Started Today – Your First Easy Step:

I would like to personally congratulate you, in advance, for taking the first step towards creating a smart End of Life plan for you, your family, and all of your loved ones!

The first step to getting started is clicking on this link below to access our:

Four Key End of Life Planning Guides

(Note: There’s NO COST to download, save, or print these four guides)

Christopher P. Hill, Founder

Custom Crafted Funeral Music

Custom Funeral Music

The Powerful Combination of Custom Crafted Funeral Music, Pictures, and Professional Video

Creating a Healing Thanksgiving Family Keepsake

With the rapid growth in the Internet and new funeral technology, families today have access to many new and innovative tools that can help significantly increase their funeral and memorial planning experience. At the top of this list are DVD Video Tributes, which most families are choosing as a common addition to their loved ones memorial service.

In addition, I am happy tell everyone there is also the ability to work with a professional singer/songwriter/producer who can help families create “custom crafted” funeral music, which is a song that is personalized for either a special loved one and/or a special event.

Listen to this Beautiful Custom Crafted Song:

“Since my family never knew this powerful funeral technology existed,  I strongly encourage every family to learn more about this option as a great addition to a Memorial Service.  These professionally designed Video Tributes allow you to combine the personalized music, photos, and message of your choice.  Watching this together with loved ones, this provides a great opportunity for everyone to celebrate, remember, and heal…and ultimately becomes a treasured family heirloom to keep forever.”
Christopher P. Hill, Founder,

Consider Using Custom Crafted Songs to Help Heal and Remember

If you are interested in selecting funeral songs with meaningful lyrics it may be easy to use the internet to search and read lyrics of popular songs.  However, I believe a much better and more personal solution is to opt for a more customized music selection and have a song written and recorded to play at the funeral service or memorial service.

This DVD Video Tribute below contains a customized song that was created for me by Anna Huckabee of Custom Crafted Songs.  By taking advantage of creating a custom crafted song, this helped me to express how I truly felt about my mother, but in a very special and meaningful way.

By combining these personalized lyrics that Anna helped me create with a DVD Video Tribute, this helped me in so many ways.  First, it helped me to better see what a wonderful and amazing person she really was.  Second, since Anna needed to ask many questions  to know as much as possible about her, this helped me to express my thoughts and discuss some things that significantly helped in my healing process.  But most importantly, this custom crafted song allowed me to express some feelings and emotions that I was not able to say to her before she passed.  These words are things that I regret every day not telling her before she was taken above.

My mother passed on Thanksgiving Day of 2008, which clearly means that Thanksgiving will never be the same.  But since everyone who knew her would tell you she was one of the most giving people on the planet, I truly thank Anna for creating this personal song and tribute for my mother, and fittingly calling this beautiful song “Thanks For Giving“.

Thanks for your giving ways too Anna!

Top 5 Reasons Video Tributes are Common Memorial Options

1. A Quality Memorial Tribute

Each custom DVD Video Tribute is hand-crafted by professional technicians who artfully tell your loved one’s story. With expert direction, the funeral music and imagery join together in perfect harmony to create a healing experience as individual as your loved one’s life. This memorial tribute will be a treasured family heirloom for generations to come.

2. Restore Your Loved One’s Photos

Your precious photos are carefully restored, enhanced and artfully arranged by talented multimedia technicians. These experts can combine faded, tattered, torn, static snapshots into moving cinematic video, bringing your treasured photos to life forever.

3. Create a Fitting Video Memorial

From majestic mountains and oceans to the simplicity and beauty of a single rose, a Funeral Video DVD utilizes custom thematic scenery, filmed in stunning High Definition by world-renown videographers, designed to personalize and illustrate your loved ones life.

4. Healing and Uplifting Funeral Music

A professionally crafted DVD Video Tribute utilizes therapeutic, customized soundtracks. This personalized funeral music is specifically composed, arranged and/or produced to heal a broken heart as well as provide the perfect accompaniment to your family photos.

5. A Memorial as Individual As Your Loved One

These Video Tributes are professionally produced tributes which celebrate your loved ones life in magnificent cinematic quality, and are available in standard or wide-screen format.

Visit our site to learn more information about some of the other new and innovative funeral technology tools now available when planning a funeral. You can also learn about things like a Memorial Website, Gravestone Technology, Memorial Reefs, Memorial Diamonds, as well as Funeral Webcasting.  In addition, you can also visit our other website

Christopher P. Hill, Founder

New Funeral Memorial Technologies Help Families Heal and Remember

Memorial Technology

Six Memorial Technology Options Helping to Share, Celebrate, Heal, and Remember!

Today, many new and innovative memorial technology tools that are widely-recognized in the funeral industry as common services that help make a difficult situation a little easier. New memorial technology is helping families and friends who have lost a one heal, remember, and celebrate. Below are the most common new memorial technology tools that most families are choosing:

1.  Memorial Website

A Memorial Website is a personalized website that is created to celebrate a person’s life. Friends and family can grieve and celebrate the memories of a loved one by sharing stories, kind thoughts, condolences, photos, and videos online. These online memorial tributes can be kept online for life so that friends and family can view the wonderful memories year after year and additional content can be added at any time.

2.  Video Tribute

See a Sample DVD Video Here:

In its simplest definition, a Video Tribute is a professionally crafted video production which consists of digital images, video, and/or photos of your loved one, which are then combined and played simultaneously with the music or your choice. They can serve as an excellent presentation to complement your special funeral memorial service, and are a great way to help in the grief and healing process. A Video Tribute helps tell the story of your loved ones life, and also creates a family heirloom that can be treasured and kept for years to come.

3.  Memorial Diamonds

Created from a lock of hair or small amount of cremated ashes, memorial diamonds are an unique, heirloom memorial that will forever contain the essence of your loved one. These genuine, certified diamonds are created in a laboratory using your loved ones personal carbon and a diamond seed. By mimicking the earth’s natural high pressure, high temperatures necessary to create a diamond, in 70 days or less a personal diamond will emerge in one of the five brilliant colors you have selected. These memorial diamonds can be a stunning reminder of a loved ones life and unique spirit. Set into a beautiful piece of cremation jewelry, a memorial diamond can be worn close to the heart in a pendant, or into a memorial ring, bracelet or even earrings.

4.  Gravestone Technology

Due to advances in microchip technology, your family can now include detailed text and a photo within a headstone to create a high tech, high end memorial. RFID-enabled data tags are an addition to a loved one’s tomb stone – you can enter the person’s name and choose some representative symbols, perhaps a small epitaph via the web – then you embed the tag into a larger traditional tombstone.

This new technology will allow future generations, visitors and historians to access both a story and genealogical information about the deceased from an internet enabled cell phone while at the markers physical location.

5.  Funeral Webcasting

See the Many Features and Benefits of Funeral Webcasting Here:

For a wide variety of reasons, family members and friends are often unable to travel or attend the actual funeral service of a loved one. Using this innovative memorial technology, families and loved ones can now view the actual LIVE Memorial Service from the comfort of their own home, or whatever location is most convenient. Funeral Webcasting can be viewed on a private and secure website page by using password protection. This ensures that ONLY the people you wish to join in this Memorial Service can participate LIVE.

6.  Memorial Reefs

A memorial reef is an environmentally-friendly burial option that is being used to replace the more traditional green burials and cremation ideas, such as cremation urns or ash scattering. The process includes mixing a loved ones remains into an environmentally safe concrete mixture and create a personalized memorial reef. These memorial reefs are then placed into the ocean. This combination of new memorial technology, cremation, memorial reefs, and green burials can now offer families to provide their loved ones with a living legacy at sea.

Hiring an In-Home Caregiver

End of Life Planning

Five Tips for Finding a Quality Home Care Provider

You and your family have decided that it is time to bring in outside help to assist with the care of a loved one in need. Because you want them to be able to remain safe, comfortable and independent in their own home for as long as possible, you have chosen to hire an in-home caregiver or home healthcare agency. The next step is choosing the best care provider for you and your loved one. But how do you know who the best is?

Here are five tips for finding a quality home care provider:

1. Get recommendations. Talk to trusted professionals and community members. Your parent’s doctor, financial advisor, attorney, other medical providers, friends or family members may have familiarity and experience with local companies that do a good job. A list of providers is also available from your local Area Agency on Aging or hospital social work department. However, it is rare for these resources to make specific recommendations.

2. Know your liability. Understand the possible liabilities and ramifications involved when hiring a caregiver privately. Consider issues such as taxes, insurance, liability and worker’s compensation, backup coverage, background checks/oversight and training. If hiring through a nurse registry or employment agency, the family may end up being the official employer, responsible for pay, taxes and other obligations. On the other end of the spectrum, fully licensed private duty home health agencies offer more comprehensive services and protections as employers of the caregivers.

3. Consider innovation. Research how current their monitoring and communications technology is. How easy is it to monitor the care your loved one is receiving? Can you speak to the caregiver or management at any time?

4. Get to know who you’re hiring. When talking with an agency, get a feel for their process. Will they allow you and your loved one to interview potential caregivers? How do they handle replacing a caregiver that is not a good fit? What steps do they take to ensure coverage and accountability? How do they supervise, train and support staff? Do they strive for continuity or will your loved one have different staff each time? How many caregivers will cover the shifts your loved one requires? While regulations standardize licensed home care agencies to a degree, these are the things that will set one agency apart from another.

5. Research involvement. Seek out providers who have a history in the community and the industry. Check if providers are involved with local and national associations such as the Alzheimer’s Association, the Area Agency on Aging and the National Private Duty Association. Their involvement demonstrates passion and dedication for their field. Management staff that has a history in the community and the profession demonstrates a commitment, stability and a positive reputation that they would want to protect.

With many years of advocating for the rights of seniors and their families in Pinellas County Florida, EasyLiving, Inc., a fully licensed, private duty home healthcare company, has dedicated its company to offering clients more personalized service, flexible scheduling and reliable, expert caregivers. EasyLiving caregivers undergo an extensive interview process to ensure that they maintain fully qualified and licensed team members. Every caregiver has completed a criminal background check and drug screening, and are insured, bonded and covered under worker’s compensation to ensure that our clients receive the highest quality service from trustworthy, experienced professionals. EasyLiving provides paid training as well as all continuing education requirements to its caregivers annually, enabling them to improve their expertise and service. For more information, visit

About the authors: Alex Chamberlain is executive director at EasyLiving, Inc., a fully licensed, private duty home health care company serving individuals and families in Pinellas and Pasco counties in Florida. With a strong background of academic and practical experience in sales, marketing, administration and leadership, Alex handles overall company operations, strategic planning and overseeing staff. He serves on the boards of a number of local non-profit organizations and was named a 2009 Tampa Bay Business Journal “Up and Comer.”

Shannon Martin, M.S.W., CMC, has served as director of community relations at Aging Wisely, LLC, a comprehensive care management and consultation company in Clearwater, Fla, over 8 years. Shannon provides marketing and public relations support to EasyLiving, Inc. Prior to Aging Wisely, Shannon served as social services director and admissions coordinator in an assisted living/skilled nursing facility and worked as a social worker and volunteer coordinator for a large hospice in Atlanta, Ga.

For additional information on EasyLiving, Inc. contact Shannon or Alex at 727-448-0900 or

By |September 3rd, 2010|Categories: care giver, end of life, Grief and Loss, home care|Tags: , , , |Comments Off on Hiring an In-Home Caregiver

10 Questions About Estate Planning, Living Trust, and Last Will

Estate Planning

10 Most Common Questions Families Ask About Estate Planning, Last Wills, and Living Trusts

1. What is a Will?
A Last Will is signed writing in which a person (often referred to as the “testator”) directs what is to be done with his or her property after death. Each state has its own very specific laws as to what is necessary for a Last Will to be valid in that state.

2. Who Can Create a Will?
Any mentally competent person who is at least 18 years old may make a Last Will. However, later proof of any fraud, duress, or undue influence by another person or the testator may cause the Last Will to be invalid.

3. Who Should Have a Will…and Why?
Every mentally competent adult should have a Last Will. Here are a few of the reasons:
• You can direct how you want your property divided at your death.
• You can name the person you want to handle you estate (called the “executor” or “personal representative”).
• You can reduce the expenses of administering your estate.
• You can save taxes.
• You can nominate a guardian for your minor children.
• You may provide for a trust for the support and education of your children without the necessity of costly court proceedings.

4. Does a Will Need to Be Witnessed? Does a Will Need to Be Notarized?
Generally, most states require that the signing of a Last Will must be witnessed by two competent persons, who also must sign the Last Will in front of the testator. (An exception to the witness requirement is made if the testator writes out the entire Last Will in his or her own handwriting, and signs and dates it.)

Although the law does not require a Last Will to be notarized, it is a highly recommended practice, followed by most lawyers. If the testator’s and witnesses’ signatures have been notarized, the Last Will is presumed to be properly executed and is accepted by the court without testimony from the witness.

5. How Long is a Last Will Valid?
Your Last Will is valid until you revoke it generally either by physical destruction (tearing or burning it up, for example) or by signing a superseding Last Will or written revocation.  However, if you get divorced after signing a Last Will, the law may consider the Last Will partially revoked. Also, if you are married, your spouse may have rights in your estate regardless of what is provided in your Last Will.

6. Can a Will Be Changed?
Your Last Will does not take effect until you die; therefore, it can be changed at any time during your life as long as you are mentally competent. Traditionally, Last Wills were changed by an amending instrument called a “codicil,” but with the development of modern word processing technology, it is usually better and just as easy to sign an entirely new Last Will when you wish to make changes.

7. What Happens If You Don’t Have a Will?
If you don’t have a Last Will, a state statute directs who receives you property, regardless of your wishes. For example, in my home state of Virginia, if you are married, your estate generally passes entirely to your surviving spouse; however, if you have children who are not also the children of your spouse, your children divided two-third of your estate, and your spouse takes the other one-third.

8. Is Joint Ownership a Good Substitute For a Last Will?
In most cases, joint ownership is not an acceptable substitute for a Last Will. Contrary to popular belief, joint ownership of assets between husband and wife often results in excessive estate takes. Joint ownership between parent and child may foster disputes between family members and cause unexpected and unnecessary gift taxes.

9. Is a Trust (Also referred to as a Revocable Living Trust) a Substitute for a Will?
A properly funded Revocable Living Trust can be a valuable and important part of the estate plan for many people, but it does not eliminate the need for a Last Will. If you have a Living Trust, you will still need a Last Will to dispose of those assets that have not or cannot be placed into the Living Trust.

As useful as they are, Living Trusts are not appropriate for everyone. Only your lawyer can tell you if you should consider one, and only you lawyer should prepare it.

10. Who Should Draft Your Last Will?
A person who drafts a Last Will must be familiar with the law in order to avoid the many pitfalls and to comply with the formalities necessary to assure the Last Will’s validity. Only a practicing lawyer is professionally qualified to give you advice regarding your Last Will, to prepare your Last Will, and to supervise it’s signing.

A Few More Practical Suggestions:

More than 70% of Americans Die Without Leaving Behind a Last Will.  Planning your financial affairs, and coordinating this with your estate plan, is a very personal and individual matter. You should decide for yourself the general purpose you wish to accomplish, and then consult with a seasoned estate planning attorney, financial advisor, and CPA if you want to have a coordinated and comprehensive plan, which integrates and accomplishes all of your financial goals and objectives.

Four practical steps to save time and help assure a sound result:

1. Inventory you assets. List in reasonable detail all of your property, real and personal, life insurance policies, and retirement plans, with your best assessment of their values.

2. Inventory your liabilities. List all debts and obligations, including principal amounts, payees, and essential terms.

3. List your family members and any other persons whom you wish to participate in your estate. Decide who might be an appropriate executor, trustee, or guardian for your minor children.

4. Decide what you want to accomplish. Determine what your objectives are, and to whom you wish your assets distributed.

Getting Started is Easy:

It just takes five easy steps, where your only cost will be your time:

Step One: Spend some time with your existing financial advisor, or an experienced financial advisor in your local area, so you can review the basic details your “big picture financial plan” together

Step Two: Your financial advisor will review this information and help you assess confirm exactly what your estate planning needs and preferences are

Step Three: Once your financial advisor reviews your overall estate planning needs, they can help you understand exactly how Wills and Trusts work, as well as which one they feel fits your situation best

Step Four: After you are fully comfortable and confident with their recommendation, you can consult with a seasoned estate planning attorney who can help you properly draft these documents and details

Step Five: Arguably the most important step, and often overlooked, is making sure that your estate planning attorney, financial advisor, and CPA are all working together to ensure all of your estate plans and preferences are coordinated and working properly with your “big picture financial plan”.


By |September 2nd, 2010|Categories: end of life, Estate Planning, Funeral Estate Planning, Last Will, living trust|Tags: , , , |Comments Off on 10 Questions About Estate Planning, Living Trust, and Last Will

College Students Coping with Grief

Grief and Loss

Coping with Grief  and Loss

While Going Back to College

Most people who begin their grief journey want straight facts. They want to know such things as what to expect, how long will the grief and loss can last, etc. College students are no exception. However, college students are in a unique niche of No- Longer-a-Teenager but not quite considered an adult as they are not melded into the working world.  Should you need it, here are some quick tips to print off and give to a grieving college student.

1. Most people grieve anywhere from three to seven years. The five stages of grief can last approximately three years. Some people say that the second year of grief is harder than the first year of grief, but this is not always the case.

2. You may find yourself crying on and off for the next three years. Don’t try to fight the tears, rather let them flow. Tears are your body’s way of helping you cope with grief. Tears actually release chemicals into your system that help you feel better.

3. Even if you don’t feel like it, try to eat three meals a day. They don’t have to be huge and they should be “healthy for you” food. Try to limit the amount of sugar and empty calories you take into your body. Grieving is probably the hardest job you will every do. It is demanding physically, mentally and emotionally. Because of this high demand, your body needs energy that comes from solid healthy food. Cut out the caffeine if possible, limit the amount of alcohol you take into your system and drink as much water as you can get down a day. Think of this as if you were training for a really big physical event. (Like the Olympics!)

4. Talk, talk and talk some more. Typically, you are going to find that people want to talk to you and listen to you for the first few weeks and months. Then most people don’t know what to say, or don’t want to listen anymore–all for a host of reasons. You probably will get to the point where people ask you how you are doing and you will say ”I am fine”. Try to find people to talk to about your loss who are willing to listen. Talking does you a world of good.  Journaling is also a great tool. One of the services offered at Beyond Indigo contains a private journal no one can access except you.

5. Be aware that you will have to be the one educating people on how to help you while you are grieving. This is ironic since you are the one that needs the support, not the other way around but, nevertheless, this tends to be a fact in our society. We are not socialized to talk about death. We are socialized to talk about boyfriends, our future children, weddings, etc. but not death. Therefore, people have no clue what to say. They mean well and are trying, but they may say the things that are not helpful to you. It is okay to say something like, “Listen, I know you mean well and are trying to help, but telling me my father is in heaven doesn’t make me feel better. What makes me feel better is______.  (fill in the blank with how you feel, or what you would like to hear.)

6. Taking care of you during school will be a big task. Your life now is very different. You know this, however, other people may not. They may not understand how your world has changed dramatically. Focusing on schoolwork might be more difficult. Make sure to give yourself permission to change your study habits if you need to. It is okay if you don’t socialize like you did before. Figure out what little things help you during the day, such as a soothing bath at night, or listening to special music. Make sure to tell your professors of your loss. Especially be aware that you might need to explain to them that you might have trouble concentrating. There might be some arrangement that you can make to take tests on a different day if the scheduled day of testing proves to be too emotionally difficult for you. Teachers will understand if you tell them ahead of time.

7. It never hurts to find a therapist and receive some grief counseling on campus (or in town) who can be there to help monitor you through this time. You’ll need a therapist who will listen and give you ideas to put in your “tool box” to help you communicate with peers, to help you adjust to your family’s new roles with your loved one gone and to help you get through this year of school. Though you may feel you want a therapist that just listens and says, “Right, okay then, we will see you next week”, in the long run this will not be quite as helpful as a therapist that help you develop communication skills and action plans. If you go to a therapist and find that you do not “bond” with him/her or feel comfortable in his/her presence it is totally legit to terminate your sessions and seek another therapist that will feel like a comfortable “fit”.

8. If you are not sleeping at night you need to go see the doctor on campus or in town to help you sleep. Sleep is hugely important to keep up your strength.

Remember to take care of “you” first and then school and everything else will become easier to manage. Good luck on your new learning experience!

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.

© 2010 Kelasan, Inc.

By |August 11th, 2010|Categories: Bereavement, Children and Death, five stages of grief, Grief, Grief and Loss, Grief Counseling, Grief Support|Tags: , , , , |Comments Off on College Students Coping with Grief

Grief Coaching

Grief and Loss

The Purpose of a Grief Coach

When a family or individual is suffering from grief and loss and have important decisions to make under much duress, they often need a large degree of emotional support.  A Grief Recovery Specialist and Life Coach can help.

Here are Five Ways a Grief Coach Can Help:

  • Grief Coaching can offer the support a family or individual needs to get through a sorrowful time.


  • A grief coach can help families develop a short term, “What’s next”, plan for their lives.


  • A grief coach can help families establish new or revised long term life goals pertaining to work, school, relationships, hobbies and general wellness.


  • A grief coach can 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.


  • A grief coach is someone who listens – Sometimes that is what is most needed in a time of sorrow and confusion.

Grief Coaching is one of the fastest growing trends in self improvement, wellness and life in general.

For more information about Grief Coaching your can click on Grief Support, Grief Counseling, or visit Next Stage Coaching.


By |August 11th, 2010|Categories: Grief and Loss, grief coaching, Grief Counseling, grief support, Grief Support|Tags: , , , , , |Comments Off on Grief Coaching

New Preferred Provider for Digital Estate Planning

Online Estate Plan Selects

Preferred Provider for Digital Estate Planning, the nation’s leading family-focused online Resource Center for funeral planning and preplanning, announced today they will be selecting Entrustet as a Preferred Provider for their Digital Estate Planning services.

Entrustet’s Account Guardian is a free service that allows consumers to securely list all of their digital assets. Digital assets include any accounts which are currently being accessed through the Internet, as well as computer files.  By storing this digital information in a safe and secure place such as what Entrustet offers, this provides people and families with the option of transferring or deleting this information in the event someone passes.

To find our more information about this partnership, simply visit and click on their “Funeral Memorial Technology tab, and then click on the drop-down link entitled “Digital Estate Planning Services”.

Hill points out that; “Today, when a family or Funeral Director visits, our Resource Center is filled with helpful articles, brief educational videos, grief counseling and support, common  funeral planning merchandise and services, as well as just about every new and innovative funeral technology tool, such as Entrustet.”

Hill’s goal with is to help raise awareness about any helpful tools that can help make such a difficult situation a little easier.  Another goal is to provide quick and easy access to resources such as articles, free How-To Funeral Guides, and the constantly evolving and growing number of useful tools and technologies that most families and Funeral Directors are commonly searching for.  Given the growth of the Internet, Social Networking, and more, having a place to store your Digital Estate Planning Assets will inevitably continue to grow, becoming a larger part of Last Will, Living Trust, and/or Funeral Estate Planning process in the years ahead.

About Entrustet:

Entrustet is a free online service that allows you to securely list all of your digital assets, which are online accounts and files on your computer, and decide if you’d like them transferred to heirs or deleted when you pass away. Through its free Account Guardian service, individuals protect their digital assets by deleting them or designating heirs to oversee their personal information after their death. Users can also choose to delete private files and accounts by using the Account Incinerator. Other services include the Lawyer Directory for lawyer referrals and the Corporate Partner Program in which companies can protect their users’ last wishes.

Cremation Memorial Reefs Now in Texas

Green Funeral

Eternal Reefs Adds New Memorial Reef Site

New cremation memorial reef to be located in Galveston, Texas.

The new Texas location makes the twentieth approved site for the company to offer an eco-friendly alternative to spreading the ashes of a loved one:  participation in the preparation and placement of an individually-designed memorial reef ball that contributes to a new ecosystem.

An Eternal Reefs “memorial reefs” looks like a huge, hollow concrete ball with Swiss cheese holes specially designed to entice fish and other forms of sea life into the reef, building new habitats in and around the uneven structure.  Eternal Reefs takes cremated remains and incorporates them into an environmentally safe cast cement mixture weighing between 600 pounds (2’ high x 4’ wide) and 4500 pounds (4’ high x 6’ wide).

Eternal Reefs encourages family members and friends to become involved in creating their loved one’s memorial reef. If they wish, family members can mix the concrete and remains and have the opportunity to personalize the Eternal Reef with handprints, written messages and other memorabilia in the damp concrete. The entire Eternal Reefs process is designed to be a positive and healing experience for the families and the sea.

“While many people who participate in our programs have been vitally connected to the ocean their entire life, we get to memorialize people who just like the idea of making a meaningful contribution to the health of the planet and to benefit future generations,” George Frankel, Eternal Reefs CEO, said.  “We find it provides great joy for everyone involved to know their loved one will be surrounded by marine life and to know they leave behind an environmentally-sustainable, living legacy.”

Memorial reefs have become a solution for the “shelf people” crisis across the country.  An astonishing 45 percent of families that have chosen cremation still have their loved ones remains sitting on a shelf or in a closet.  Thousands of individuals pass away unexpectedly and don’t leave a will, leaving the next generation to handle their remains.  Eternal Reefs offers a final resting place for these individuals.

With every Memorial Reef, the executor of the estate receives two memorial certificates that identify the longitude and latitude of the memorials, which are marked with bronze plaques.  Loved ones can participate in every step of the Memorial Reef process and gather for the reef casting, viewing and placement ceremonies.  Throughout the year, families and friends often return to the memorial reef site to dive, fish or visit by boat.

The new reef site off Galveston, Texas will have its first memorial service and placement November 12, 2010 at Barr’s Reef, 11 miles off the water break in Galveston Bay.   It is anticipated the families of about 15 people will participate in the activities.

About Eternal Reefs Inc.
Eternal Reefs, Inc is an Atlanta-based company that provides creative environmentally enhancing means to memorialize the cremated remains of a loved one. The company incorporates cremated remains into a concrete mixture used to cast artificial reef formations. The artificial reefs are dedicated as permanent memorials while also bolstering natural coastal reef formations. Since 1998, the company has placed more than 300 Memorial Reefs in 20 locations off the coasts of Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey, Texas and Virginia, substantially increasing the ocean’s diminishing reef systems.  Memorial reefs can only go in properly permitted locations by the US Government.  Contact Eternal Reefs Inc.


Preplan Funeral Expenses

Pre Need

Preplanning for Funeral Costs and Expenses

The final expense cost of regular adult funeral including basic items, can be significant. To give you a quick overview of the funeral costs, we’ve developed a quick chart.  Keep in mind, these basic items do not include cemetery costs, cemetery monuments, or grave marker costs – nor any other miscellaneous charges such as for funeral flowers or obituaries.

$1,595             Non-declinable basic services fee

$  233              Removal/transfer of remains to funeral home

$  550              Embalming

$  203              Other preparation of the body

$  406              Use of facilities/staff for viewing

$  463              Use of facilities/staff for funeral ceremony

$  251              Use of a hearse

$  120              Use of a service car/van

$  119              Basic memorial printed package

$2,255             Metal Casket

$1,128             Vault

Total Cost  $7,323

For  more information about specific Final Expense Costs or strategies to Prepay Funeral Expenses and End of Life Planning, you’ll find a wealth of information throughout our website,


Grief and Bereavement Help After a Death

Grief and Loss

Grief Help From a Family

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.

© 2010 Kelasan, Inc.

By |July 22nd, 2010|Categories: Bereavement, Death, Grief, Grief and Loss, Grief Counseling, Grief Support|Tags: , , , , |Comments Off on Grief and Bereavement Help After a Death

A Special Video Tribute With Custom Funeral Music

Memorial Technology

Sharing a Personal Story

The Powerful Combination of a DVD Video Tribute

and Custom Funeral Music


Talking About Losing a Loved One is NEVER Easy:

My name is Chris Hill, and many of you know I am the Founder of

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.

See the Powerful Combination of New Funeral Technology and Custom Crafted Funeral Music:

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:

1.  Creating a personalized DVD Video Tribute for my mother

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.

Christopher P. Hill, Founder

FREE End of Life Planning Guides

End of Life Guides

Creating a Love Drawer

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.

Receive our Free Guide – How to Create a Love Drawer

By |July 6th, 2010|Categories: end of life, vital statistics|Tags: , , , , , |Comments Off on FREE End of Life Planning Guides

Preplan Your Funeral

Funeral Costs

Top 10 Reasons to PrePlan Your Funeral

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:

1) A Last Will or Living Trust
2) A comprehensive end of life plan, which includes pre-arranging your final plans, preferences, and also your funeral costs

I can assure you that your family will thank you, see how much you loved and cared about them, and also remember your efforts as being one of the greatest gifts you have ever given them.

Christopher P. Hill, Founder

Dating After the Death of a Spouse


Grief and Loss

Romance Do’s and Don’ts Following Loss

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.

The Don’ts

Coping with Loss

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.

The Do’s

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.

© 2010 Kelasan, Inc.

By |July 2nd, 2010|Categories: coping with loss, Death, Grief and Loss|Tags: , , , |Comments Off on Dating After the Death of a Spouse

Funeral Etiquette Tips

Funeral Etiquette

Tips on What to Do…And Not to Do

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.

© 2010 Kelasan, Inc.

By |June 25th, 2010|Categories: coping with loss, Death, Funeral Etiquette, funeral etiquette tips, Funeral Flowers, Grief and Loss|Tags: , , |Comments Off on Funeral Etiquette Tips

Facts About Green Burials Versus Traditional Funeral Burials

 Green Funeral

The Key Differences Between

Traditional and Green Burials

Commonly known as green burials, eco-friendly burials, natural burials, or woodland burials, there are distinct differences between a traditional burial and a green burial.

The first major difference is that most traditional funeral costs average approximately $10,000, while green burials are approximately $2500.

Green burials do not employ the use of embalming fluids, pesticides, herbicides, or irrigation.

Bamboo, wicker, cardboard or wooden caskets are used instead of metal caskets.

Concrete burial vaults are not used for a green burial.

The graves are usually hand-dug and are shallower than with those used in traditional burials.

Graves are marked with more natural landmarks that blend in with the area such as plants, rocks, trees or flowers.  Elaborate and prominent headstones or grave markers are not used in a green burial.

Click to Learn More About a Green Funeral


By |June 22nd, 2010|Categories: Blog, burial, burial vaults, caskets, Death, Funeral, Funeral Costs, Green Burial, green burials, green cemeteries, Green Funeral, green funerals|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |Comments Off on Facts About Green Burials Versus Traditional Funeral Burials

Green Burial Markers

 Green Burial and Funeral

Choose Green with a

Green Burial Marker

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.

Learn More About a Green Funeral
Learn More About Green Burials
Learn More About New Gravestone Technology


Green Funeral and Green Burial Options

Green Funeral

A Green Funeral Can Help Save the Environment

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)

Learn More About Green Burials
Learn More About a Green Funeral


A Green Funeral is a Growing Trend in the Death Care Industry

 Green Funeral

New Death Care Industry Trend Green Funerals

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.

Learn More About Green Burials
Learn More About a Green Funeral


By |June 22nd, 2010|Categories: burial, caskets, Death, Funeral, Funeral Planning, Green Burial, green burials, green cemetery, Green Funeral, green funerals|Tags: , , , , , , , , |Comments Off on A Green Funeral is a Growing Trend in the Death Care Industry

Coping With Grief and Loss

Grief and Loss

When Coping With Grief and Loss,

Consider Grief Counseling, Support, and Books

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?

Grief Counseling

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.

Christopher P. Hill, Founder

New Funeral and Memorial Technology for Fathers

Grief and Loss

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.

Top 5 New Memorials Options for Fathers:

1.   Video Tribute

2.  Gravestone Technology

3.  Memorial Website

4.  Memorial Diamonds

5.  Memorial Reefs

New Funeral Technology Offers Many Benefits:

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.

Christopher P. Hill

Funeral and Memorial Technology News

 Funeral and Memorial Technology

A Few Words Before I Go

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, 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.’”


Remembering Fathers

Grief and Loss

For Those Who Have Lost Their Father

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.


Coping with Fathers Death

Coping with Loss

How to Cope with the Loss of a Father

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.

© 2010 Kelasan, Inc.

How to Create an Solid End of Life Plan

End of Life Planning

Your Family-Focused Gift of Love

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.

Life Insurance

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

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.

Christopher P. Hill, Founder

Death, Grief and Loss

Coping with Grief

The Simplicity of Blessings

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, 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.

© 2010 Kelasan, Inc.

Bereavement and Grief

Grief and Loss

Inside the Grief Space

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.

© 2010 Kelasan, Inc.

Terminal Illness and End of Life Support

 Death and Dying

Terminal Illness Planning…

One Year to Live

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.

© 2010 Kelasan, Inc.

Talking About Death and Dying

 Grief and Loss

How to Talk to a Friend Who is Dying

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.

© 2010 Kelasan, Inc.

Seven Ways Funeral Directors Can Help You Plan a Funeral

 Plan a Funeral

How a Funeral Director Can Help

You Plan a Funeral

After losing a close loved one back in 2008, I am constantly trying to find ways I can help both families and Funeral Directors find new ways to make the funeral planning process easier.  After working closely and researching extensively, I have learned a lot about how to plan a funeral and end of life planning industries.

However, since I am not a licensed Funeral Director, I have also focused on learning how challenging and meaningful of a role a Funeral Directors can play in a families life, and therefore, I have gained a tremendous amount of well-deserved respect and appreciation for a Funeral  Director’s selfless contribution to this valued public service.

So given the importance and sensitivity of this matter, I am not only constantly trying to learn more each day, but also searching for any possible new and innovative ways to help add value to this industry.

When I look back on my personal experience, below are some of the key things I truly believe would have helped my family as we worked through the many funeral planning challenges:

1.  I believe it would be helpful if the Funeral Director could give a brief history about their Funeral Home, Cemetery, as well as their personal background and experience.

This would help families learn more about choosing a funeral home or cemetery, funeral director, and feel more comfortable about the qualifications, experience, and credibility of who they are dealing with.

2.  I think it could be helpful if a Funeral Directors would ask if anyone involved has any history or experience with planning a funeral.

This would help the Funeral Director and the family, since this lets the Funeral Director know if they need to begin slowly, starting with the basics, or whether things could be a little easier and streamlined based on any past experience.

3.  Before the Funeral Director begins to review the basic outline of the funeral planning process, it would be helpful if they ask the family if they have any important questions on their mind that they feel like they need to find answers.

This allows the family members to ask about things that might be of concern, time-sensitive, or important to know regardless of the planning process.

4. The Funeral Director could explain the general outline of what the funeral planning process involves and what they will review and work on together. Ideally, this overall outline would be great to have in writing, so they can see it, read it, plan ahead, and follow along step-by-step.

This helps the families to get an idea of what to expect, and also begin thinking about the many funeral planning challenges.

5. The Funeral Director could tell the family members to feel free to interrupt him/her at any time, and ask any questions that come to mind, no matter how basic or uncomfortable they might feel.

This helps families feel like it is OK to ask questions, since from my personal experience, I was very reluctant to ask things that I now wish I had.

6.  After the funeral planning process, the Funeral Director could find a way to help families learn about some of the new and popular memorial technology tools, resources, services, and funeral home services. In fact, I would even recommend offering families a printed list of these options so you can talk about them with the families, or simply let them research these things on their own to find out more.

In addition to the common funeral home services such as funeral programs, caskets, cremation urns, funeral flowers, etc., I firmly believe that families should also be aware of some of the new and increasingly popular new memorial technology tools such as Funeral Webcasting, Video Tribute, Memorial Website, Memorial Reefs, Memorial Diamonds, and the amazing new Gravestone Technology that includes microchips which can now show pictures and tell stories.

Why not let every family know about all of these options? If  families don’t choose to add these to their funeral or memorial planning, they are still better off from knowing these options were available.  And if families do find these options to helpful tools that can allow them to better heal, remember, and pay a special tribute to a loved one, everyone wins!

7.  Last, I would suggest Funeral Directors consider providing every family with helpful details, such as these below, at the end of their funeral planning discussion:

– Key things to consider when planning a memorial service
– Several phone numbers to contact for any questions or concerns, 24/7
– Grief support information, grief books, and local grief support
– Information on how to give a eulogy, funeral etiquette, how to write an obituary, and other common families needs
– Contact information on Charitable Organizations, and ways to help families donate funds “in lieu of funeral flowers”
– Key reasons and benefits to consider an End of Life Plan, and where they can go to learn more
– Names and contact information for people who you recommend that would be willing to help offer free advice for any financial planning matters, such as funeral estate planning, tax planning, wealth management, etc.

Again, these are just some thoughts I had after looking back on my personal experience, as well as some of the details I have found that most families are searching for – and today this is being done largely on the Internet.

I truly hope this helps both families and Funeral Directors, as I continue my quest to make this difficult process easier!

Chris Hill, Founder

Wearing Wedding Rings After Death and Memorial Diamonds

 Grief and Loss

Wearing of Wedding Rings

After the Loss of a Spouse

How to expand your horizons after a loss but still integrate the memory of our loved one is a common theme. A normal process through our grief and loss journey is how to integrate the loss into our lives. One of the symbols of your past is yours and your spouse’s wedding rings. Changing how you display them is one way to help you transition to the future. The key is to pick something that feels “right” to you. There are many options and we suggest you be creative. We have outlined some suggestions below that might “fit” you.

Change where you wear the rings. A simple solution would be to move the rings from the hand that symbolizes marriage to the other hand. Some people have also chosen to place the rings on a necklace and wear them around his/her neck.

Transform your wedding rings. If you chose to transform your wedding rings this is where you can be especially creative. Many people have taken the stones out of the rings and placed them in new settings or made them into a new pair of earrings for example. Another option is to consider adding memorial diamonds to your current settings.

For example one woman said: “My husband died this year, and I had a nice gold chain, took the diamond that was in his Masonic ring, and suspended it in the center of his wedding ring, all held together in the suspension with small diamonds encrusted in a slide. It is lovely, and I wear it all the time. Sometimes I find myself even bringing it to my mouth, and unconsciously kissing it. But, my left hand ring finger is empty.”

Position the rings in a place of respect. If you choose not to wear the rings, you could make a place of honor for them. An idea might be to make a shadow box that you hang on the wall that will hold the rings. The shadow box then can be placed in the house somewhere that will bring comfort to you as you view your creation. This is also a nice way to pass a keepsake onto children.

Some people choose to wear their wedding ring for the rest of their lives on their left hand, especially those that are older, and have made up their mind that they will not ever want to marry again. Feel comfortable to do that, if this is your choice.  There are no rules about what you “must” do.

We have been told by those that want to take off their wedding rings as a symbol of “moving on” that they have chosen to give them to their children now, rather than wait for their own passing. If you have no children, perhaps a niece or nephew might be the perfect recipient.

If you want, you can put your wedding rings in your jewelry box, and keep them there until you decide what you do want to do with them. There is no need to rush to a decision.

Give yourself permission to take your rings off, if that is what you feel like doing. Sometimes, it is a simple as listening to your intuition to know what is the thing to do that “feels” like the perfect solution for moving to a new emotional plateau.

If you have come to a place in your stages of grief where you are truly ready to move forward, keep in mind to choose something that is right for you and that also symbolizes you are moving on from your loss. Symbols, such as wedding rings, are powerful. Potential mates will respect that you are honoring the past while being ready to accept new people and new love into your life.

But above all else, be creative, and do what pleases you!

© 2010 Kelasan, Inc.

By |May 24th, 2010|Categories: Death, Funeral, Grief, Grief and Loss, Loss of a Spouse, Memorial Diamond, memorial diamonds, Monuments, stages of grief|Tags: , , , , , |Comments Off on Wearing Wedding Rings After Death and Memorial Diamonds

Funerals for Children

Grief and Loss

Funerals For Children

Losing a child is never easy even when the child is not your own. Children are the hope for the future and should have so much of their life ahead of them. When a child is lost so are the dreams and the hopes of the future. It seems unnatural to be taking care of any end of life arrangements of a child. Because of this, many funeral homes don’t display caskets, burial vaults, or items related to child loss.  There is for many a sense of loss of innocence when a child dies. Expectations are cut short, and the deep, unexpected grief and loss of the parents of the child is an additional factor that makes taking care of the child and the family difficult.

Here are some things you might do to take care of yourself while helping a family who has lost a child:

Be Prepared: Mentally prepare yourself that eventually it will be your task to help a family who has lost a child. We tend to push things out of our minds that are extremely unpleasant. Spend some time thinking about what you need to help yourself during this time. It is easier to plan ahead when you are not emotionally involved at the moment.

Be Aware Of Triggers: If you have children be aware that a loss of a child around the age of your children might affect you more. For some it is easy to think that the deceased child could be my child lying on the table. Remind yourself that your child(ren) are healthy and alive. Stop yourself from thinking in terms of the “What If’s”, and realize that your being so affected can help others feel your compassion.

Delve Into Your Spirituality: Even though you work with death every day are you comfortable with what happens to the spirit after a person dies? Do you have a strong faith system? Does it encompass the loss of a child? The more you are secure in your belief system the less rattled you might be at the time of a death of a child. Your stability will be an asset the family of the child can draw upon during the funeral service.

Have Resources Available: The loss of a child tends to bring out the community in force. Make sure to have avenues for people to express their grief. They will rely on you less if they have other places of support. Some items to keep on hand would be:

  • Online Journal with a guestbook. People can write in the guestbook at your funeral home, from home or school. It is accessible 24/7.
  • Grief Therapists and others who can help people through the grieving process can be written out and can be placed on tables or given out at the service.
  • Virtual Candles can be put on your website for families to light at the wake, service or at a later date.

Finally, remember to stick to the basics. Remember to eat complete meals three times a day. Put away the sugar and the chips. Drink lots of water and skip the caffeine and alcohol. Rest as much as you possibly can. Fatigue exacerbates difficult situations so when you can take a quick nap. If a child’s death is still affecting you after a month or two consider talking to a your doctor or seek grief counseling. Even those in the funeral profession need and can consult outside professionals to help them through emotionally trying times.

© 2010 Kelasan, Inc.

Death of a Parent

Grief and Loss

Death of a Parent

Organizing a deceased parents’ house or put it up for sale is not an easy task because, as you struggle through the various stages of grief, you are filled with reminders of their life. Going through a home is like walking through a photo album. Each room and item has the potential of holding a precious memory.  Some people tend to be more pack-rats while others had lived with their home being more spartan. Some people are very generous with those that they allowed in their living space while others tend to be on the paranoid side. When you are going through the house there might be a few extra places you might check to see if there are any hidden memorabilia or heirlooms.

The filing cabinet: Some people are super organized. If your family members were organized type of people, check the filing cabinet first. People have told us they have a red file in the front of the cabinet that is labeled “Love Drawer” or “Family Record Guide” on it. Inside is a list of where all the important papers are to be found, where hidden treasures in the house are stashed away and a copy of their will. Simply pull the file and follow the instructions they have left. The filing cabinets are almost always the last place people may search, as they seem overwhelming. I’ve also heard people say they didn’t check the file cabinets because they felt since the person was deceased, what was in there “didn’t matter anymore.”

Bathroom/Kitchen Sinks: Check under the kitchen/bathroom sinks. Sometimes there is an extra ledge up underneath there were people can hide valuables like important papers or jewelry. It wouldn’t do to sell the house with the family jewels still located inside!

Closets: Check all the bags in the closets no matter how big or small. People like to hide things in plain view and sometimes items such as gold, jewelry, stocks, etc. can be hidden in the closet.

Money Belts: Check to see if any of the belts in the closet are money belts. You might find some extra cash you would have otherwise sent to goodwill with the belts. In addition, check the pockets of suit coats, and inside all women’s purses. Look in the sock drawer for money rolled up in socks, or stuffed between underwear. I know someone that found a thousand dollars cash in a sock drawer.

Freezer: Before you throw out frozen food wrapped in tinfoil, make sure you unwrap it and verify that it is food. People have been known to wrap up stacks of cash and place them in the freezer. The same is true for cereal boxes. Plastic toys may not be the only surprise in a box of cereal!

Cans: Check to make sure the shaving cream can and other items of that type don’t have screened-off bottoms. These could be little safes that match common household products to deter theft. What you think is shaving cream could really be filled with an heirloom item.

Books: Ditto for books.  Expensive looking books in reality could be little boxes that hide valuables. Before you pack up boxes of old books, magazines and newspapers, shake out all the pages. Money and stock certificates have been known to drift to the floor when this is done!

Backyard: If you are sorting items from a very private family it might be worth your time to rent a metal detector and do a once — over in the backyard. Some families still believe the coffee can out back is the best place to keep investments safe.

Mattress: Don’t overlook the obvious — what is under the mattress, or the bed.

Knowing your parents and the type of people they were will help determine what they may have done to keep family treasures safe. Never assume anything, especially if your loved ones were suffering from a memory loss in their final stages of life. Remember to smile and think of it as a treasure hunt instead of a burden. You never know what you will find!

© 2010 Kelasan, Inc.

Children and Death

Grief and Loss

Children at the Deathbed

The topic of children and death is a hard one for many people in our society.  Keeping kids sheltered is thought to protect the children so that they will not suffer as much.  However, when we keep children away from a dying family member or don’t allow kids to attend a funeral we cut them off from the cycle of life. In addition, children realize they have been “left out” and because of this, some children can grow up feeling excluded in other important activities as they go through life.

One of the important ways children learn about death is through socialization. If we do not allow our children to socialize and learn the process of death, then they will not know about coping with loss when they are adults. Death is a natural part of life. In this instance, it most likely will not be as traumatic for these children to be with their mom as you might think–as long as you discuss what death is and where people go after they die. Since discussing death in our western society is a difficult subject for people, this topic is usually handled with evasiveness. Encourage the family of the children to discuss the death of their mother openly and honestly. Be sure to answer any questions the children ask honestly using correct terminology.

The kids are going to comprehend death differently depending on their ages and stages of grief. The seven year old in this case perceives death differently then his/her siblings. Children ages four to seven DO know something is wrong. They think in black and white so it is very important for the adults not to say something like “Mommy is going to heaven in an airplane.” The child will literally think this is happening. The older children can think in conceptual terms and do understand people die and go elsewhere.

I would suggest to the family that they utilize their local hospice, if there is one. The nurses through hospice are wonderful people who can explain in detail to the children the process of death and what might happen at each stage. They will know age appropriate words and concepts. They often can predict the time of death fairly closely.  Sometimes dying people see loved ones that have passed away in the room with them and they might talk to them. Dying people can hear music that no one else hears and/or they may see sparkling lights. Prepare the children for end of life behaviors that have happened to others dying for similar reasons.

Having the kids present can help their healing down the road. I would make sure to have them part of a grief support group or they seek some form of professional grief support. One final thing to note is people don’t always choose to die with others present. Some people wish to die alone and will wait to pass until is someplace else, or it is the middle of the night.

Remember that the children need to honor their own feelings, as well as that of their mother. If they want to be at her bedside, then make that possible for them. If they do not want to be there, allow them to feel good about their decision to stay away. Either way, there should be no guilt involved with the choices the children make.

Death is hard regardless if you are in the room with the person or not. Assist your family to know what supports are available to them.

© 2010 Kelasan, Inc.

Coping with the Loss of a Spouse

Grief and Loss

The Empty Space

When you lose a wife or husband it is the first of many end of life losses. As you are finding out there is more than one person/thing missing in your life. Everything about your life is now different. The empty space will seem smaller as you go through the various stages of grief and as you change and grow from within.  To help you with this change so that the empty space seem less empty you can:

Make a Plan:

You are changing even if you do not realize you are changing. The loss you experienced has created a vacuum in your daily life. In general, nature abhors a vacuum. Personally we do not like a hole or space so we rearrange things to make us feel complete. This change occurs whether you want it to or not. What you can control however, is how you want that change to look, feel and act. Make a list of goals of where you want to be in six months, a year or even eighteen months from now. What do you have to do to obtain these goals? For example do you need to downsize your home and move to a smaller abode? The more in control you feel the quicker you can manage your grief and loss.

Start Something New:

When change occurs in your life it is a good time to try something new. What have you wanted to do for some time but haven’t given it a go– like taking pottery classes? Perhaps there is a trip you have always wanted to take? Make a life list of things you still want to do before you die and start checking them off!

Rearrange Your Space:

It is important to change your personal surroundings to reflect the internal changes occurring in your life. Take stock of your material possessions and remove the ones from your living space that no longer suit you or that you no longer need/use. Go through your wife or husband’s belongings and keep a few treasured items and then remove the rest form your space. This cleansing process might be difficult but it will help you grieve and eventually help to fill that empty space.

Decide Who You Are:

No matter what our age we can always ask the question, “Who do I want to be now?”  You are moving from a time in your life where decisions were decided as a “we” and not as an “I”. How do “I” want to live? Where do “I” want to live? Who do “I” want as friends? How do “I” want people to see me now? What decisions do “I” need to learn to do that we used to make as a “we”?

I had a perfect example in my grandmother. My grandfather died in 1985 at the age of 82. Throughout their marriage he refused to eat pizza or have it delivered. My grandmother decided in her next phase of life that she was going to have pizza. It helped defined what she wanted be. Small things can be as important as the big things.

Remember that you will be changing over the coming years. You do not have to be a passive observer to your own life. You do not need to feel like a victim because your husband (or wife) died but instead you can take the control seat. With each change you make the empty space will start to fade and it will, in some ways, seem smaller.


By |May 13th, 2010|Categories: Blog, Death, end of life, Funeral, Grief, Grief and Loss, loss, loss of a spouse, stages of grief|Tags: , , , , , , , |Comments Off on Coping with the Loss of a Spouse

End of Life Conversations and Understanding

End of Life, Death, and Dying

Death and End of Life are

the Great Equalizers

No matter what we believe, what we have or have not studied, how young or how old we are, the end result of life is death. All of us are going to die. All of us will have the same journey to reach a new level of being. Therefore, it would be a great opportunity for compassion to understand those around the world, no matter what color, what country, or what religion, to realize that we are the same – and we are going to do the same thing as every other. Yes, unfortunately we will all die some day.

How will that affect what I think, how I treat others? What if someone wants a cremation rather than a funeral? Can I accept that concept? (For example, cremation is the norm, not the exception, in Asian countries.) How do I feel about the burial of a body within twenty-four hours, with no cremation or embalming? How do I feel about some religions that do not allow women to come to the funeral of a man?

There are as many different customs and rituals to plan a funeral as there are different religious belief systems. Many times I hear of funeral directors that are doing amazing things to help their families that have a different funeral ritual than what many in America have called “the traditional” memorial service. It would be impossible to learn all the rituals, but that may not be important. Perhaps the bigger question is have you as a funeral director thought of your own comfort level to the rituals common in other cultures or belief systems?  Ask yourself if you are opened minded enough to foster different services, and to be at ease during those services.

To help ponder these end of life planning matters here are a few questions and exercises to help you discover your comfort level.

1. When is the last time you had a service in your funeral home that was different than you traditionally hold? For example, did you serve a family that was Hindu but you are traditionally a Christian firm? How did that service make you feel? Comfortable? Out of place? Wishing it was over quickly?

2. When you are presented with something that is out of your comfort zone how do you cope with the situation? Do you have systems in place to help you process the new information?

3. What resources do you have in your community to help you learn about other cultures and their burial practices? Would you be willing to have someone from a different culture come and teach you and those you work with about their rituals and needs?

4. How can you expand your services to include “new” forms of service to families you have not ministered to before?

5. Can you discuss with friends and colleagues what they have done to incorporate the needs of other cultures? Can you be open and dialogue about how comfortable/uncomfortable you can be with opening your business and your psyche to something different?

Funeral Service is a great profession that gives service to people in need. If you can find great compassion for that ritual you do not know about, or agree with, you will not only be assisting your families, but yourself. Because, after all, we are all going to do the same thing –die, right?  It is the people left on earth who make it look like we are not doing the same thing…but we are!

In today’s world, we need to find our commonness, that which makes us the same, rather than focus on differences. You are in a rare business to recognize you are the one that can create harmony and understanding across cultures. You, of all people, know what we are like in death, and that we all face it alike, and all those left behind feel the same grief and loss.

© 2010 Kelasan, Inc.

Coping With a Pet Loss

Pet Death

Children and Pet Loss


Our family dog died last week and my son is beside himself. We held a small funeral for Scruffy and then had him cremated. Should I be worried about my son’s grief and loss?

Pet loss, and the stages of grief related to it, is just now coming into sharp focus. Researchers are beginning to contrast how the loss of a pet can affect a person with the loss of a relative or a friend. In 2006, the Journal of Death Studies (Volume 30: pages 61-76) did an article about children and coping with the loss of a pet.

Here is some information from the article which might be of help to you:

1. Depression and anxiety might occur over the loss of a pet but it probably won’t be as intense as the loss of a family member.

2. Some research has found up to 30% of children experience severe grief. What children might experience more grief then others is determined by how integral the pet was to the family, how strong the tie was to the pet, and if the death was sudden.

3. Adolescent girls have a harder time with pet loss than do boys in that age group.
For children, grief over a pet might last longer than for adults. It might be the child’s first time experiencing death and hence they may show more emotions as they learn what grief feels like and what it means to them.

4. A death of a pet can bring up grief from past losses. (If a pet was brought into the family before the loss of a loved one that pet is like a bridge to that person. When the pet dies people have said it brings back the loss of the loved one all over again. People state if feels like they have lost the last living link to their loved one lost.)

With your son, be aware that his grief might be very intense. His relationship to Scruffy was one that he had every day. Do not be surprised if his grief is more intense over the loss of his pet than if a grandparent dies that he has not seen very often. Children grieve differently than adults. Some warning signs of intense grief are: not wanting to go to school, wanting to go to heaven to be with Scruffy, and problems with eating and sleeping. You might see some acting-out behaviors because your son doesn’t know how to talk about his anger or sadness over the loss of his pet.

There are things you can do to help your son heal. They are:

1. Do not downplay your son’s grief over the loss of his dog. To him the loss is deep, personal, and hurts like heck. In other words, do not trivialize his feelings.

2. Talk to him about his feelings. If he has troubles verbalizing his thoughts then have him draw pictures of him and Scruffy. Then have him talk about the pictures.

3. Creating pet memorials for Scruffy either through clay, paintings, a poem, writing, or any other form of memorial services.

4. Talk about grief and feelings and explain that getting a new pet right away won’t make the sad feelings go away. Tell him that in time if it is right for him and the family a new dog will be brought into your home.

5. Let him know that you understand that a new pet will never be a replacement for the old. Help him to see that a new pet will bring new yet different delights.

Pet loss is a wonderful way for kids to learn about loss and the subsequent grief. The way you help them to handle their emotions and questions during this loss will set the stage for future losses amongst friends and family members. Don’t avoid the subject but address it head on.

© 2010 Kelasan, Inc.

Why Cremation Memorials Are Popular

Cremation Memorials

Cremation Memorials Help the Bereaved

Psychologists and counselors have been researching the effects of grief and loss with more frequency over the past century.  They are finding tangible positive effects of bereavement on the family members.  The positive healing effect can be explained when it is recognized that art expresses that which cannot be expressed through just words.  Grief often lies beyond words, beyond simple explanations of our conscience minds.  It is in the unconscious that expression of deep wounds and tragedy of loss is found.  Grief cannot be reduced to the rationale.  Art can speak to us and facilitate the connection with what is going on inside of our minds as we grieve to help us through the process.

Julie A. Burn, Director of Cremation Services for the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association, says today’s families have more choices than ever before. “It’s important for families to take the time to grieve their loss and to find a way to remember the life that was lived, regardless of whether they are choosing cremation or traditional funeral and burial,” Burn said. “Today’s cremation services offer many ways to honor the deceased, and so I would encourage families to be sure to ask the funeral home and the cemetery what their options are for creating tributes and memorials that are personalized and have meaning to them.”

It is expected that the Funeral Directors become an active part of the presentation of the Cremation Memorial in order to facilitate these benefits.

The Funeral Directors are expected to:

  • Become educated on the processes involved with creating the memorials
  • Gain a personal confidence in the company creating the memorials
  • Getting the sample of the cremated remains to the artist
  • Receive back the remainder of the cremated remains when the work is complete

Adding the additional service as an option to the families adds an additional source of income to add to the bottom line of the business.  The artisans producing the memorials typically recognize that the contributions of the Funeral Director are essential in making the transaction.  When the Funeral Directors have invested time into learning about the product and are able to represent the benefits to the family and confidence in the company handling the cremated remains that is when the families really consider the option.  Additional value is added to the families when the handling of the cremated remains is taken care of too.  The samples of remains are sent to the artist and the remaining cremated remains are received back when the work is complete.

Types of Cremation Memorials

Several new memorial technology options have been used as a medium to incorporate cremated remains, for example:

Memorial Diamonds

Man made diamonds are molecularly identical to naturally occurring diamonds.  By recreating the forces of nature to the primary element of all diamonds, carbon, a diamond can be made.  General Electric first pioneered this technology in the mid 1950’s.

By using the carbon from the cremated remains or a lock of hair, memorial diamonds can be created to forever encase the cremated ashes in a unique and beautiful memorial.

To create the memorial diamond, the carbon is heated to extremely high temperatures.  This step removes the existing ash and converts the carbon to graphite with the unique characteristics and elements that will create the diamond.  The graphite is then placed in a press capable of replicating the forces in the earth, heat and pressure.  The pressure needed is nearly 1,000,000 psi and the temperatures are up to 3000 degrees centigrade.  In approximately 70 days, depending on the size of the memorial diamond you wish to create, the resulting rough diamond crystal grows.  When the rough diamond is ready, skilled diamond cutters facet the memorial diamond according to the families’ selection.  The diamonds can be inspected and graded by trained gemologists, the same process used by the world’s finest jewelers.

These memorial diamonds are typically available in sizes from .25 ct. to 1.5 ct.  The colors that these memorial diamonds can be created range from blue to red to yellow to green.

Keepsake Jewelry

Keepsake jewelry is a small urn that can be worn as jewelry or hung in a display.  It has a small area inside to hold a memorial to the loved one, like cremated remains for example.  Keepsakes were first introduced by Madelyn Pendants in 1992.  Joni Cullen and Lisa Saxer-Buros created keepsakes when they lost their friend and mother Madelyn Saxer.   From Madelyn Saxer’s zest for living and her ability to embrace death, the concept of the Keepsake Pendant was born: A symbol of continuing love, a reassuring remembrance to keep close to one’s heart.  In creating the pendant line, they had a simple purpose: to enable others to cope more easily, to hold a source of comfort in their hands and to find peace in their hearts.  The keepsakes were initially intended for cremains but Joni and Lisa soon realized that was limiting the benefits of the keepsakes which also hold locks of hair, funeral flowers and other personal items.

The death care industry has used the term Keepsakes for so long now that it has come to be synonymous with all Cremation Memorials.  When Madelyn Pendants started marketing the keepsakes there were no other cremation memorial options available to the families.  They had to coin the term because there was not a name for the niche yet.  The acceptance to the keepsakes has been steadily growing since they were introduced.  If initiation is flattery then Joni and Lisa have been flattered.  Today there are a number of companies producing and marketing keepsake jewelry.

Keepsake Urns

Once keepsake jewelry started to catch on there was a recognition that the families could benefit from Cremation Memorials.  The urn companies began introducing lines of small urns.  The small urns, keepsake urns were designed to hold a portion of the cremated remains.  The funeral directors and urn resellers were able to fill the need of the families to provide a way to create multiple memorials to the loved ones.  Family members do not all live around the same cemetery or crematorium, in fact they often live in different cities and states.  The families still have the natural need to for a memorial.  Cremation urns fill this need perfectly.  Families often request several keepsake urns for all the family members.

Cremation urns come in as many forms and shapes and made of as many materials as urns have come to be found in.  And the variety is increasing.

Cremation Painting

Cremated remains are combined with the paint used to create a memorial painting.  The artists can paint a portrait of the loved one, a landscape or still life that invokes memories of the loved one.  Because the art is individually commissioned the size, form and subject can be personalized to the families needs.  This is one of the newest Cremation Memorial mediums that have come available to families.  It is testament to the even larger variety of memorialization options that families will be presented in the future.

Memorial Pottery

Pottery work that incorporates cremated remains into the clay or into the glaze that become the memorial.  As with the Cremation Paintings, the pottery form of memorialization takes on a very personal nature.  The individually commissioned pieces are designed to reflect the essence of the loved one as well as contain the cremated remains.


Terminal Illness Considerations and Planning

Terminal Illness

Helpful Considerations When

Facing a Terminal Illness

No one wants to talk about death or dying. Nor do they want to think about how to plan a funeral for someone they love, especially if they have not passed. Although extremely difficult, planning the funeral arrangements of a loved one who has been diagnosed as terminally ill is one of the best decisions you can make. However, we strongly encourage you to seek professional help!

When you combine the death of someone you care for with wanting to make the right end of life decisions, especially given the fact that you have a limited amount of time to attend to all the details, it usually leaves many families feeling overwhelmed.

Our Funeral Advisors, Family Counselors, and Funeral Directors can help answer some of the more common, and more difficult, questions that people have about many of the funeral planning challenges that may lie ahead.  They can also help guide you to become empowered by providing you with the information and resources you need – and deserve – to know.

Facing a terminal illness and loss is hard enough to deal with, but the end of life planning shouldn’t be. At your time of need, our nationwide network of pre-screened Funeral Advisors/Directors/Counselors are here to both educate and assist you in making the best possible decisions.


How to Find the Right Funeral Home Help and Funeral Home Services

 Find Funeral Help

Find a Pre-Screened and Qualified™

Funeral Professional Near You

To plan a funeral is widely recognized as an extremely difficult task, mainly because you are trying to cope with a combination of difficult decisions that usually involve your emotions, finances, religion, conflicting opinions, grief and loss, and time constraints. Therefore, when it comes to end of life planning for something so important, we strongly encourage you to seek the help of one of our Funeral Professionals:

What to Look for in a Funeral Professional:

  • Work through arrangements with the next of kin or responsible party
  • Clearly explain all the services they can provide, as well as those services they cannot help you with
  • Help coordinate the appropriate funeral home services and merchandise
  • Provide informative, educational, and compassionate advice and support
  • Assist in all forms of counseling with the family including planning, budget analysis, grief support, as well as legal services and connections
  • Review all of your financial options, work within your budget, as well as review their General Price List (which is required to be disclosed and readily available by state regulations as well as the Federal Trade Commission)
  • Discuss your options regarding transportation and choosing your preferred funeral home or cemetery
  • Help in your decision for burial or cremation options
  • Provide assistance with funeral options such as preparation of remains, embalming, restorative art, etc.
  • Help coordinate the use of their facilities to assist with memorial services, use of their chapel, hearse, etc.
  • Conduct cemetery or graveside burial service
  • Perform the funeral service
  • Coordinate your funeral plans with religious affiliations such as your Church, Synagogue, Catholic Funeral Planning, etc.

Three Main Reasons Families Seek Funeral Planning Help Online

Funeral Planning Help

Three Most Common Reasons Families

Need Help Planning a Funeral

There are three common situations where families need funeral planning information, guidance, and support:

1. A loved one has recently passed:

One of the best ways to reduce the stress and pressure involved when you need to plan a funeral is to make sure you’re well prepared. This involves being able to access helpful information, people, places, and resources.  It also helps to start with a plan. is solely designed to help you find complete details regarding everything you need to know when facing any type of funeral planning. Our goal is to help you organize this process and ensure educated and clear decision-making, as well as provide access to pre-screened funeral homes and professionals.

2. A loved one has been diagnosed as terminally ill:

There is usually a tremendous amount of chaos surrounding funeral planning, especially when the loved one in question has been diagnosed with a terminal illness.  At such a time, you will likely be overcome with grief and loss, and need someone slightly more removed from your loved one, such as professional grief counseling, to act objectively and handle the many options and responsibilities of planning a funeral in advance.

Key considerations when faced with a terminal illness:

a) Review the Last Will of your loved one to learn of any special or unique arrangements they might have in place. The goal here is to find any plans or preferences regarding their end of life planning, as well as to see if they might have accomplished any preplanning.

b) If established, be sure to review their Living Will and Advanced Medical Directives. These documents can become extremely important in the event certain difficult health circumstances arise. The goal of these documents is to ensure their last wishes are carried out by the people closest to them in the event they become physically or mentally incapable of making these choices on their own.

c) If everyone mutually agrees that the Last Will or Living Trust is not going to be discussed or reviewed until after death, we strongly suggest that you consult with a funeral estate planning attorney to review the Last Will and identify if there are any special instructions concerning their last wishes.

d) Inform certain key people of what likely lies ahead including immediate family, friends and relatives, co-workers, insurance companies, a family doctor, the Cemetery or other burial place, other organizations such as churches, social clubs, etc.

3. Preplanning your end-of-life plans and preferences

In the past, planning for your death in advance was considered to be taboo. Today, preplanning a funeral and the accompanying arrangements is a popular decision and should be considered an important part of planning for the future. There are many reasons to consider learning more about the 3 ways to preplan a funeral. The most important reason is because it reduces or eliminates the emotional and financial pressure of making difficult decisions during life’s most challenging circumstances. In addition, prearrangements also let you choose exactly how you want to be memorialized and allows for personal preferences in all aspects of the funeral service. Not only is this becoming a widely accepted part of a sound comprehensive financial plan, but we firmly believe this is one of the greatest gifts you can leave your loved ones.


How to Give a Eulogy

How To Give a Eulogy

Giving a Eulogy is Hard To Do…

But Good Things Don’t Come Easy


Most people will probably say they dread giving a funeral eulogy. This is partly because one of the biggest fears most people have is public speaking, and partly because it is so difficult and emotional to summarize a person’s life story in a series of moments.

I had to give a funeral eulogy at a loved ones memorial service, and I will not hesitate to tell you that it was extremely difficult.  Afterward I felt like I had experienced just about every emotion possible.  Some of the toughest parts were being nervous, having to reflect on my grief and loss, worrying about getting through it without breaking into tears, and trying not to forget anyone.  Some of the best parts about this was reflecting back on all of the great memories, the special people in her life, the amazing things she did for me and others, the funny stories, and being able to heal by sharing and expressing my thoughts and feelings.

I worked so hard, for what felt like countless hours, to try to find all the right words, recall all the most important memories and stories, and mention all the key people in her life.  And to be very honest, I wish I could go back and do it again.  To this day, I still look back with regret, wishing I could go back and say some things I neglected to mention.

Tips To Giving a Good Eulogy

In the event that you, or anyone you know, needs to give a eulogy, I have put together some tips that I learned that I hope can help you:

Giving a eulogy is a good thing for you

It may hurt to write a eulogy, and it also might be  hard to read it.  For some, that is the worst part.  The world might spin a little, and everything familiar to you might fade for a few minutes. But remember, remind yourself as you stand there that you are the lucky one who gets to tell everyone about this special person.

You were selected to face the group, the family, the world, and summarize the story of this loved ones life.  You are the one being asked to do something at the very moment when nothing can be done. You are the one who gets the last word in the attempt to define the outlines of a life.  You are the one who gets to tell everyone who this person was, the differences they made in so many lives, and the reason their life should be celebrated.  You are the one who gets to heal through this grief and loss process.

So it really doesn’t matter what you say, or how you say it.  The reality is this opportunity is both a privilege and a gift.

Don’t feel like you have to accept this offer

If on any level you are not interested in taking on this task, for whatever reason, that is perfectly OK.  Some people may choose to decline this gift for a variety of reasons.  They might feel putting together the story of someone’s life is too difficult, or too emotional.  Some people are simply too overcome with bereavement and grief.  Some people may feel like they are not the most appropriate person.  Others may feel as if they are not great expressing feelings or emotions publicly.

So know that whether you choose to accept this gift and give a eulogy, or not, there are no wrong decisions.  It is totally a matter of preference and comfort.

Creating a funeral eulogy will be difficult

Be prepared for the harsh reality that this will be a difficult thing to do, from beginning to end.  Writing and reading of a funeral eulogy is, above all, the simple and elegant search for small truths.  They don’t have to be truths that everyone agrees on, or even that everyone knows about.  The should just be the ones most people will wither recognize or appreciate.  This can be surprisingly hard to make note and mention of some of the smallest of details of a life.  But some of these details can define a person, and even serve as a form of recognition.

What I am referring to is small examples like:

  • She cared more about her family and her friends than she did herself.
  • He loved to talk about his football team, his military background, his career.
  • She never wanted to talk about herself, but rather listen and learn about you.
  • He had a loud voice that could be heard across a crowded room.
  • She always said and did the right things.
  • He was never found anywhere without a cigar in his hand or mouth.
  • She lived for gardening, and I will always think of her with every beautiful flower.


Don’t worry about time

They may tell you have have a specific period of time, and that there is a set schedule.   They may tell you that you have three minutes, or five minutes. They may tell you to take all the time you want.  Don’t listen or follow any limitations, as I firmly believe that time constraints are always an insult at funeral or memorial services.

Of course you want to be respectful and work within the finite space you’ve been given, and remember that the funeral eulogy is just one part of the memorial service.  However, tell your story, express your feelings, and it this ends up being shorter or longer than others may wish, it does not matter at all.

Remember who to speak to

As you stand there, think about the room as being filled with rings of loyalty.  The people in the nearest ring, or those closest to you, likely in the front row, are owed the most. You should speak first to them. And then, in the next measure, consider speaking to room itself, which is the next ring, which is usually filled with the closest family, friends, and loved ones.  Then consider speaking to the last right, which is the physical world outside, the neighborhood, the town, the place, the groups, the clubs, the associations, the companies, etc.

So try to remember your rings of loyalty, and also try to speak to them in the order they deserve.

Be sure to put your thoughts in writing

You must be sure to write down all of your thoughts.  In grief, people can have a tendency to wander through memories that may not be acute, relevant, well-framed, or purposeful.  Sometimes people can move off track into a personal feelings, stories or conversations that are not necessarily appropriate.  Therefore, make sure to have you thoughts documented, or at the very least a general outline.

You might be struck with emotion or cry

To give a funeral eulogy is one of the most emotional experiences you can go through in life.  With that in mind, you must accept that fact that you might get extremely emotional, cry, or even reach a point where you cannot continue.  But if possible, try not to give up.  Just remember that everyone who is in attendance and listening can  fully understand and relate to the fact that giving a funeral eulogy is an extremely difficult and emotional thing to do.  And also remember that everyone admires and respects you for having your courage and contribution to express these special words with them.

Since you may become overwhelmed with emotion or cry, this is another reason why you should have everything in writing.  This can help you stay on track, not lose your focus, and pick up where you left off should you need to stop for emotional reasons.

One final suggestion is to have a backup plan.  Sometimes close loved ones can break into an emotional state where they simply cannot recover or continue.  If you feel like this might happen to you, make sure you ask someone to be there for you, and be ready to come up and help you finishing giving your funeral eulogy.  Again, everyone understands and appreciates you for sharing, whether you finish or not.

Practice, practice, practice

As with any public presentation, the best thing you can do is practice this speech.  Read it aloud until you feel comfortable with the content and how it flows.  Practice and rehearse to the point where you might even be able to give this eulogy without reading if you had to.

Another major advantage to practicing is it will help you evoke the emotions you have inside, and determine which parts are the most difficult to deliver.  This can help you prepare more intensely in certain areas, or even redesign how to give a eulogy, if you feel like you need to minimize some of your emotions to get through this.

Prepare yourself for in case something goes wrong

Often times during public speeches, especially during such sensitive gatherings such as funeral home services, events can occur that will throw you off course.  There might be a noise, an unexpected emotional outburst, a child crying, or the microphone failing to work properly.  Again, this is where practice helps by allowing you to stay on track and keep your composure.  If it helps, make up something you say to yourself to help you through those moments and allow you to regain your refocus.

Also, one other note is that many people choose not give a eulogy by reading everything word for word.  The use bullet points and the expand on their thoughts from each bullet point, topic, or subject.  Keep in mind this during such an emotional and sensitive speech, you may say something that feels “out of line” or inappropriate.  But like I mentioned above, that is perfectly normal, to be expected, and something to prepare for and be ready to work through.

Finally, practice speaking slowly, and during times of great importance or intense emotion, learn to pause.  A pause is good for you because it allows you to collect your thoughts and gather you composure should you need to.  A pause is also good for those in attendance because the silence helps to create a stronger and more powerful message.

Consider using humor

For many people humor and laughs can be a pivot point in a funeral.  Especially when the deceased is someone who was known to have a good sense of humor.  Eulogies don’t have to always be about the sadness or the loss.  They can be about the funny memories, person, or stories.

In fact, some of the best laughs come by forcing people to remember who this person really was, versus strictly “glorifying” them.   For example, one of the best ways to use humor is through telling a story about something everyone can relate to about this loved one.  This can even be about something that was not among their best qualities.  At the closing of your story, the element of surprise always brings a good laugh when you can summarize with a conclusion that no one expects.

In summary

During any good eulogy, you can expect that there will be moments of panic, silence, laughter, sadness, or moments when the speaker gets choked up.  Giving a eulogy is almost always accompanied by challenges and surprises.  This is one of those things you can fully prepare for, but have no idea what to expect.

However, if you can find the strength to take advantage of this great opportunity, I am fully confident you will be glad you were able to tell your story and express yourself with so many other who share in your thoughts, feelings, and loss.  And no matter what happens, no matter what you say, no matter how you feel before or afterward, you will be loved and appreciated by those in attendance, as well as those listening above.

See Our Additional Funeral Eulogy Guides Here

Christopher P. Hill, Founder

New Memorial Technology is Changing the Funeral Industry

New Memorial Technology

Funeral Directors and Families Benefit From
New Memorial Technology

The following is a true story;

“Not too long ago, a friend of mine approached me whose aunt had just recently passed away. He was unable to travel to the funeral service due to a serious prior work commitment, but was comforted to hear that the technology existed to broadcast the funeral service LIVE on the internet. At his request, we contacted the funeral home that was caring for his aunt and informed them of the family’s desire to broadcast their memorial service LIVE on the Internet. Unfortunately, this particular Funeral Home was not willing to expand their services for his family’s request and take advantage of today’s new technologies. I regret to say that my friend was unable to participate in his aunt’s life celebration, and his family was extremely upset when they heard about the incident.” Curtis Funk, President,

The moral of the story…

If you really think about this story, not only can I can assure you that this person’s family will be taking their future business elsewhere, but I can also assure you that there are many other people who will be hearing about this story.

Now, maybe this story is an extremely uncommon situation, but what I believe is most important here is the underlying message. Funeral Webcasting, despite all of the recent hype in the funeral industry, is by no means a new technology. In fact, over the last few years it has been quickly gaining traction to the point where most family members are beginning to request it, or at the very least, expect this to be a regular part of a Funeral Director’s recommendations and services. So I cannot emphasize enough how important it that Funeral Directors embrace the many new technologies that are being so widely embraced today.

To further prove this point, in the March 2009 edition of the National Funeral Directors Association Magazine, called “Director“, John D. Reed, NFDA’s President, had the following to say;

There is no doubt that with today’s technology, even the smallest Funeral Homes can be more competitive and cost-effective and offer the families they serve a wider range of products and services.”

New Memorial Technology – or Not?

The reality is Funeral Webcasting is just one of today’s many new and innovative memorial technology tools that are widely recognized in the funeral industry as common services that help make a difficult situation a little easier. In fact:

1.  FOX News published an article entitled “8 Tech Trends of 2010; You’ll Attend a Funeral Online, where Funeral Webcasting was rated #1.

2.  NBC News contacted me to learn more about this new technology, and you can see the short video by Clicking Here

3.  ABC News contacted me for an interview regarding the new Gravestone Technology

4.  FOX News featured an excellent story about Memorial Reefs, which is a cremation option also referred to as a “Green Burial at Sea”

It is a proven fact that there are many other new funeral and memorial technologies that can significantly benefit most families. In fact, our surveys indicate that a Video Tribute and Memorial Website are also among the most popular technology tools families are searching for today. Therefore, it only makes sense that these should be viewed as standard funeral home services that today’s Funeral Directors recommend and provide.

Click Here to See:

The Six Most Common Funeral Technology Tools Families are Choosing


The reality is that these new funeral technologies can help every Funeral Director in multiple ways too, such as helping strengthen the relationship with their families and communities, keeping pace with the competition, increasing website traffic, receiving more family referrals, increasing their credibility, and opening up many more opportunities for new services and growth.

Just as they have done for centuries, most Funeral Directors are quickly adapting to these new industry changes.  One of the key ways a Funeral Director can measure success is through ensuring their families make the most out of this difficult situation.  Since these new memorial technologies can only benefit their valued public service, most Funeral Directors are becoming more proactive.  Instead of sitting back and waiting for their families to request these new helpful tools, today’s industry leaders are being proactive by taking advantage of these new opportunities in the marketplace…and adding them as a standard part of the services they provide.

Our experience with both families and Funeral Directors is that regardless of the family’s situation, or the size of your city or town, families of all kinds and sizes will warmly embrace and accept these types of services when they are correctly presented to them.

Two things we know for certain…

Here are two things we know for certain. First, given the advent of the Internet and the constant evolution of new and improved technology, we know that the funeral industry needs to keep pace with today’s constantly changing environment.  Second, we know that Funeral Directors will do what they have done for centuries, which is find new ways to adapt the these changes. Our goal at is to help facilitate this process sooner versus later.


Christopher P. Hill, Founder

End of Life Planning Personal Story

End of Life

My Personal Story…

That’s Not So Easy To Share…

I would like to ask you to please spend some time reading this personal story of mine.  I am FULLY confident that you will find something in this story, some special message, that will make your life better, and end up being worth a few minutes of your time.

When it comes to financial planning, I will spare you the boring details about the importance of having a plan in place for the unexpected, using products and strategies like Umbrealla Policies, Life Insurance, Wills, Trusts, Estate Planning, Disability Insurance, Long-Term Care Insurance. etc.

In the past I might have boasted about how well-versed and experienced I was with helping my clients design and create strategies to protect my clients, and my own family, against the unexpected.  But the truth is, my life has been forever changed since I lost my mother on Thanksgiving Day of 2008.

Looking Back…

Since nobody in my family had ever really dealt with losing a “close” family member before, we had no idea what to expect.  In fact, we didn’t know and we didn’t plan for this outcome in any way, simply because we never once thought about – or talked about = being in that situation.

Once my mother became sick, the thought never crossed our minds to talk about what would happen “afterwards”.  Truthfully, in those situations, talking about someone’s death is an unspoken, unlikely, and unacceptable outcome that never crossed your mind.  All you can think about, and all you can talk about, is how they are going to be ok.  They will make it.  Stay strong.  You have loving family, friends, and medical support – all of which will help you get through this.

After she passed, I can vividly remember that feeling of being so confused, uncertain, and disappointed.  Why?  Because I didn’t know what to do next, or who to turn to.  I also remember realizing that I didn’t know the any of the details regarding what my mother would have really wanted with regards to her end of life plans and preferences.  Why?  Because I did not have the courage to ask while she was still alive and healthy.  Once she back sick, it was simply never the right time to discuss death or dying.

Even after almost 5 years now, I still don’t feel comfortable talking about it.   But what I do feel comfortable talking about is what happened after.

What Happens After a Loved One Passes?

My next memory is, right about the time the enormity of the situation was just starting to sink in, we were sitting in a local Funeral Home, surrounded by various types of caskets and cremation urns, reviewing a two-sided legal page (General Price List) which is filled with countless options on how to plan a funeral – all of which probably add up to well over $200,000.

Now please keep in mind that, at that time, the last thing in the world any of us wanted to talk about or think about was planning a funeral and memorial service, much less having to make decisions regarding any of the financial aspects.

Things I Bet You Never Thought About…

Here is a list of some other funeral planning challenges we faced that.  Keep in mind that, like our family, all of these decisions are usually made within a period of a few days, and with little or no education or professional guidance:

  • How do we determine which Funeral Home, Cemetery, or Funeral Director?
  • How do we arrange and notify family members and/or loved ones who live out of town?  Who contacts who?
  • How do we determine exactly what type of memorial service is most appropriate?  Do you celebrate a life?  Do you mourn?
  • Knowing whether there was a preference to be cremated or buried?
  • Choosing among many different types of caskets or urns?
  • Where should the final resting place be for the cremated remains?
  • How should our plans and preferences work with regards to your religion?  Which Church?  Which Priest?
  • Who should be invited, and how do you locate all their names and numbers?
  • Who will pay for these funeral expenses, and how will this be paid for?
  • Who will give a eulogy at the memorial service?  Who will do a reading?
  • What is funeral etiquette with regards to dress, time, date, day?
  • Will there be a gathering after the memorial service?  If so, who should be invited?
  • How do you place an obituary? What should it say?  Who should handle this?
  • Do you want to request funeral flowers or donations?
  • Choosing among pictures, funeral music, videos, and much, much more…


It is Time For Change…

They say “everything happens for a reason“.  Well, even though I believe there is never a valid “reason” to lose a loved one, I can say that this experience has opened my eyes to a lot of things that have previously gone unnoticed.   And as time passes, the one thing in particular that is becoming crystal clear is the fact people and families need to prepare their end of life plans and preferences in advance.

In all my years of financial education and training, I have never once heard someone so much as talk about how to help the families we serve by encouraging them to create an end of life plan.

Well my friends, it is time for change.  Maybe losing my mother is the “reason” and inspiration behind my serious movement to help families make a difficult situation easier.

So from this day forward, I will be seeking the help the finest associations, organizations, and people in the funeral and financial planning industries.  Along with their help, I am going to be speaking loudly, boldly, and clearly, about the need for change when it comes to financial, retirement, and estate planning.  There is a missing piece to the financial puzzle that needs to be fixed, which is helping families Create an End of Life Celebration Plan.

How to Create Your End of Life Celebration Plan…

Below is a link to four guides I have put together that will help you learn more about how to create your End of Life Celebration Plan:

In the financial planning industry, it is very rare that a financial advisor can use the word “guarantee“.   And usually the word “guarantee” needs to be accompanied by a prospectus and/or extensive legal disclaimers, documents, and details.

However, when you look at this from a real-life experience like I now can, financial advisors actually have something that we can guarantee every client – which is the fact that some day you will die.  Regrettably, this may happen much sooner than anyone could ever imagine or plan.  But regardless of the timing, some day your life will end.  So begins the two all-important questions…

We All Have Two Choices…

1.  Continue to Do Nothing

Do not plan for this guaranteed outcome in any way.  After reading this article, you are well aware of the fact that you will be leaving your family behind to unnecessarily suffer through a tremendous amount of difficult emotional and financial decisions, during an extremely difficult time, in addition to coping with their grief and loss over your death.

2.  Pre-arrange and/or Pre-Pay Today…

Set aside the time, put in the effort, and create your End of Life Celebration plan that you would want – and that your family deserves.  If you are ready to take this step, here are some easy options:

1.  Call (800) 379-2511 to speak with a Licensed Funeral Counselor
2.  Email me at
3.  Visit this page
4.  Complete this easy 10 question survey in about a minute:

My Mission Going Forward…

My passion is to take this personal experience, learn from it, and turn it into a positive experience through helping other families make a difficult situation easier.  Helping families become more educated, empowered, and most importantly, more prepared.  My hope and prayer is that I can make my mother very proud one day.  I pray that some day she looks down and sees that her never-ending selfless love and legacy will live forever, and that her death has become an inspiration to help others.

Preplanning is Not Fun or Easy…

Like many of the best things in life, nothing good comes easy. So as you would expect, talking about. thinking about, and planning about death and dying is not fun.  However, a legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once said;

“The difference between failure and success is largely determined by the
amount of time and preparation put into planning for the future.”

A Gift You Give – and Receive…

After all, what better gift can you leave your family than showing them that you selflessly made time, took that extra step, and sacrificed a small part of your life to show how much you love them. Imagine knowing that one of the last memories you leave behind is that your family knew that you did everything possible to make their lives better.  What memory could be better?

After sharing my own personal experience, I hope you can see that this kind of unselfish love actually provides you a huge gift too, and that gift is called peace of mind.

Lastly, I hope watching this video helps too…

Christopher P. Hill, Founder

Your End of Life Plan is the Gift of a Lifetime

End of Life Plan

Creating an End of Life Plan…

And Leaving the Gift of a Lifetime!

Sometimes I feel as if I am the only person in America who is speaking about one of the most important plans you can create, an End of Life Plan. The harsh reality is that very few individuals, families, or even financial professionals are regularly teaching, practicing, or implementing End of Life Plans.

Nothing Good Comes Easy

Why is that that more than 80% of people in America die without leaving behind their End of Life Plan and preferences?  I believe it is because these are the only types of plans that directly addresses death and dying.  Therefore, most people would prefer to overlook or ignore this type of conversation.  The problem is that, in doing so, you are leaving these matters to your spouse, children, and/or family members – to pile on top of what is already one of the most difficult times of their lives.

The fact of the matter is that an End of Life Plan should be a standard and routine part of a comprehensive financial  or retirement plan.  Period.  It is the missing piece to the financial services puzzle that needs to be fixed.

Fact:  Some Day You Will Die

Sure, the last thing any of us want to do is talk or think about is how to plan a funeral. And this is not just “a funeral”, but rather your own personal funeral.  So I get it.  I fully understand why an End of Life Plan is not such an easy and comfortable discussion.  However, some day every single one of us will die (hopefully later versus sooner), but we will die.  So this means that “someone” is going to be forced to deal with planning your End of Life Plan and preferences.

So ask yourself this question; “Would you rather take care of your final arrangements yourself, or leave it to your loved ones who are already suffering from the grief and loss of your death compounding insult to injury?”

We all know for a fact, with absolute certainty, that we are all going to die some day, right?  So why is it that most people are not talking about this?  Why are financial planners not learning the best ways to plan their clients and families for their inevitable death?  Why is it that, at the very least, everyone is not taking a few minutes to simply document their End of Life Plans and preferences for our loved ones?


Financial Planners Should Encourage an End of Life Plan

In addition to being the Founder of this website, I have worked as financial planner for over 23 years and currently own my own Wealth Management practice.

I mention this because, for the most part, the financial planning industry overlooks and ignores End of Life Plans, Pre Need Plans, and Final Expense Plans.  These plans are not widely-recognized as an all-important additions to a comprehensive financial and retirement plan.

To prove this point, here is a fact:  Prior to losing a loved one and experiencing how to plan a funeral myself, I had never heard some talked about this subject.  This includes all of my 20+ years of studying, training, attending classes, getting licenses and certifications, and more.

How About You and Your Financial Plan?

Has your financial planner discussed this with you? Does your financial plan include your End of Life Plans and preferences?  Are these details documented and written down in a safe place?  Do you currently have a plan in place for your pre-arranged funeral or cemetery arrangements?  Have you created a plan to specifically designate which monies will prepay funeral expenses and funeral costs?  Do the people you love know what you really want?  Have you notified them regarding the fact that you have taken care of these End of Life Plan details?  Do they know where these plans and details are located?

You are Not Alone

If you do not currently have an End of Life Plan in place, you are not alone.  Given my personal experience, I can tell you that losing my mother was, by far, the toughest day of my life. And like our situation, here is what happens in most cases.  Just about the time when it starts to “sink in” that your loved one is really gone, and your emotions begin to elevate, all of a sudden you find yourself sitting in a Funeral Home or Cemetery, reviewing all of their funeral home services and planning a funeral.  This is probably the last thing anyone wants to be doing during a difficult time like this. 

Just Some of the Funeral Planning Challenges

• How do you transport the body?  Where do you transport it?  How soon?
• What vital statistics do we need to gather, and how soon?
• How soon afterwards should the funeral and/or memorial service be?
• How do you determine which Funeral Home, Cemetery, or Funeral Director?
• What if the deceased lives out of town?
• Sitting down with a Funeral Director to review all the details and options
• Try to figure out what your loved one “would have wanted”
• Making some incredibly difficult financial decisions
• Trying to figure out what type of memorial service your loved one “would have wanted”
• Did they want to be cremation or traditional burial?
• Choosing among many different types of caskets or cremation urns
• Where should the final resting place of their body or ashes be?
• How do you coordinate this with your religion/Church?
• Who should be invited, and how do you invite them?
• Arranging travel and accommodation plans for out-of-town guests
• Who will give the funeral eulogyHow to give a eulogy?
• How will this be paid for?  Were there any burial insurance or funeral insurance policies?
• Who will speak at the memorial services? Which songs and prayers do you use?
• Do you have a gathering afterwards?
• How do you place an obituary? Who does this?
• Do you want funeral flowers or donations?
• Arranging funeral programs, sending “thank you” cards, and much more…

End of Life Plans Save Money

Another huge benefit to creating an End of Life Plan is that, in addition to saving your family from going through emotional challenges and making difficult decisions, you could very likely save your family thousands – or even millions – of dollars. The reason why is when someone dies, there are many financial matters that accompany the funeral planning such as funeral estate planning, estate taxes, death taxes, capital gains taxes, income taxes, insurance policy proceeds, investments, real estate, bank accounts, mortgages, other debts, and much more.

Plan Now – Don’t Wait!

A wise man once said, “The difference between failure and success is largely determined by the amount of time and preparation put into preparing for the future.”  By creating a solid End of Life Plan – and then adding this as a part of a sound and comprehensive financial plan – nothing could be further from the truth!

Christopher P. Hill, Founder

Funeral Webcasting is a Popular New Memorial Technology

Funeral Webcasting

Attending a Funeral LIVE…

Or On-Demand

Which is Best?  Can You Use Both?

Today Funeral Homes and families can now take advantage of new memorial technology tools.  One of these new tools, Funeral Webcasting, offers families the ability to “attend a funeral” and watch a loved one’s Memorial Services on the Internet, the number of families who are searching for, and choosing, this Internet webcast option are growing rapidly.

Differences Between LIVE and On-Demand

LIVE funeral webcasting connects families all over the world, at the time of the funeral service, and is the next-best thing to being there. It brings comfort to the family members who are unable to attend the funeral in person.

On-Demand funeral webcasting is viewed after the funeral service, and usually the actual video footage is made available within hours after the funeral services has ended.  Therefore, since they are already in a form of a “stored version”, they can be watched at any later date and as many times as the family member or loved one would like.

Most Funeral Homes Are Choosing On-Demand Webcasts

It is important to point out that, whether a family chooses a  LIVE or On-Demand webcast, both are available On-Demand for up to 90 days.  However, what we have found in the large majority of our experience in working with Funeral Homes is they are choosing to only broadcast this video footage of the service using On-Demand.

The main reason why most Funeral Directors are choosing On-Demand versus LIVE Webcasts is because it is just plain easier and more efficient for everyone involved.   When faced with this educated decision, just about every Funeral Director would not prefer to deal with things like setting up a computer, ensuring connection to the Internet, making sure the camera is working properly, ensuring the camera is pointed optimally for viewing, worrying about the need for Wi-Fi or an air card in remote locations, power outages, dealing with family member who cannot get determine how to get this to play.  So if you really think about it, by choosing to use On-Demand, the only requirements are setting up the camera, pushing the “record” button, walking away, and coming back to end this after the service.

So it should be easy to understand based on what was mentioned above, given all of the LIVE broadcast possible challenges, the extensive work involved, as well as the increased probability that there can be many complications, we are seeing many more Funeral Directors choose On-Demand webcasts versus LIVE.

Focus on Offering This Service – Not the Type of Service

Although we simply wanted to point out the fact that we do see a growing trend here, the key thing to note here is that some of our Funeral Homes are more than willing to utilize this LIVE technology service anyway.  We also currently have many funeral homes working with us today who absolutely love to broadcast their services LIVE, and have been providing us with some wonderful feedback from their families and their practice.

Whether a Funeral Director chooses either LIVE and On-Demand funeral webcasting, what we have concluded over the years is that each Funeral Home and family is usually unique, and each have a different set of needs.  Therefore, our job is not just to aggressively promote the service, but rather promoting and facilitating the “right” kind of webcast technology for each individual situation.

Whether you choose LIVE or On-Demand Funeral Webcasting (or both) is purely a personal choice, and I strongly encourage each Funeral Director to look review all of the advantages and disadvantages with a funeral webcasting professional before making any decisions.

Last, but certainly not least, it is my strong opinion that if there are still any Funeral Directors today who have not yet embraced this popular funeral planning tool as a part of their practice, it is my strong belief that they will soon be saying something like: “I cannot afford NOT offering this helpful technology as a routine service that every family can take advantage of”.  The good news is, both the Funeral Directors and the families benefit from having this option.


Courtesy of Curtis Funk, President,

Funeral and Death Estate Planning – Last Wills Versus Living Trusts

Funeral Estate Planning

The Differences Between a Last Will and Living Trust?

Which One is Best For You?


Who Should Have a Last Will?

The sad truth is that most financial advisors and estate planning attorney’s will tell you that approximately 70% of Americans die without and End of Life Plan or Last Will, also known as a Last Will and Testament.  In my opinion, this is totally unacceptable! Why? Because I am fully confident that most of us:

• Truly love our family and loved ones
• Would prefer not to place any unnecessary or additional burden on our loved ones during a time of terrible emotional loss

Please allow me to explain why funeral estate planning is so important. Should you pass without so much as a Last Will, the unfortunate reality is that state law will determine how your property is distributed, as well as take control of your estate if you should you become disabled or incompetent.

The Statute Called “The Law of Intestate”

The best way I have found to describe intestate is simply; “having a lawsuit with your state of domicile over the management of your estate”. Put another way, it will not be you or your family who ultimately decides what happens to your assets, your children, and your financial legacy – but rather your state, the government, and your least favorite uncle – Uncle Sam.

I think it is safe to say that your personal wishes for the disposition of your money, children, estate, well-being, and how you want to be remembered would not be exactly the same as that of your state or local government. Therefore, dying without a Last Will is going to put your family through an extremely difficult, time-consuming, and expensive ordeal…at a time when they should be focusing on celebrating your life and the wonderful memories you’ve left behind.

So I think you can reasonably conclude that I firmly believe that everyone, regardless of your net worth, marital status, or age, should have a fully completed and executed Last Will!

Why? Creating a Last Will accomplishes two extremely important things for both you and your family. First, it helps protect you against scenarios in the event something happens unexpectedly such as a disability, incapacity, severe accident, coma, amnesia, etc. Second, as I mentioned above, it becomes one of the greatest gifts we can give our loved ones by making this difficult period easier, less emotional, time-consuming, expensive, and uncertainty.

Why Would Someone Choose a Living Trust?

Most Estate Planning Attorneys will agree that a better and more useful funeral estate planning tool is using a Living Trust, also known as a Revocable Living Trust.

One of the most common questions most families ask is “What are the advantages of creating a Living Trust versus a Last Will”?  Well, although a properly structured Last Will is a “must-have”, one of the biggest disadvantages with having a simple Last Will is that it must go through probate.

What is Probate?

Probate is a court supervised procedure by which the court ensures that the assets governed by your Last Will are valued properly, the debts of your estate are paid off, and the remaining assets are properly distributed to the persons named in your Last Will.

The probate process is typically a negative experience, to say the least. Here’s why:

It is expensive. Legal and executor fees and other costs must be paid from your estate before anything can go to your heirs. The costs are usually estimated at 1-5% of the gross value of an estate (before debts are paid).
It takes time. Often 1-2 years or longer, depending on your state. During this time, assets are usually frozen and nothing can be distributed or sold without the courts approval. If your family needs money to live, they may have to ask the court for a living allowance, which the court may or may not approve.
Your family has no privacy. Probate files are open to the public, so anyone (including a business competitor) can see what you owned and whom you owed. This knowledge can also invite disgruntled heirs to contest your Last Will.
Your family has no control. The probate process controls, and it can be very frustrating for your family to have to pay for the court to tell them who gets what money and when. This frustration very often leads to family feuds, disputes, and family members may even choose to contest the Will.

So as you can see, probate can be a very emotional and difficult process. If you ask anyone who has been through the probate process (like my father), they will very likely tell you it is something you want to avoid at all costs if possible.

That is why many families choose a Living Trust, also called a Revocable Living Trust. A Trust, if drafted by a seasoned Estate Planning Attorney, can be a comprehensive document that will allow you to avoid many of the challenges when handling a deceased estate, such as:

  • Avoid the probate process
  • It is extremely hard to contest
  • Can potentially reduce or eliminate estate taxes
  • Will preserve your privacy
  • Expedite the distribution of your estate
  • Allows parents of small children (like myself) to give specific instructions to the Trustee or Guardians as to when to make distributions to the children, what they can use the money for, and at what ages to begin letting the children have control over some (or all) of the monies
  • Many other challenges such as special needs, special instructions, multiple marriage situations, etc.


So Which Is Better…A Last Will or a Living Trust?

The reality is there is no exact answer to this question, simply because either a Last Will or a Living Trust can be deemed as most effective, but largely depends on each families personal situation is unique. Therefore, as with any decision that is extremely important to your financial future, the best way to make the right choice is to seek the help of qualified and credible Estate Planning Attorney who can help you determine whether a Last Will or a Living Trust makes the most sense.

One last suggestion that is very important is making sure you work closely together with both your Financial Advisor and Estate Planning Attorney when determining your most appropriate wealth transfer strategy. The reason why this is so important is because you need to ensure that, whether you create a Last Will or a Living Trust, this document is not only established correctly, but also that it is properly coordinated and integrated with the rest of your comprehensive financial plan.

I cannot encourage you strongly enough to be proactive, and take the first steps towards completing this necessary part of your financial and funeral estate planning.

Personally, I am proud to say that my family and I have completed our Funeral Estate Planning, as well as coordinated it with our comprehensive financial plan.  This helps me sleep better at night knowing I have created this all-important gift for my family…and I truly wish the same for you!

Christopher P. Hill, Founder

By |January 2nd, 2010|Categories: Blog, Death, end of life, Funeral Estate Planning, Funeral Planning, Last Will, last will and testament, living trust, revocable living trust|Tags: , , , , , , , |Comments Off on Funeral and Death Estate Planning – Last Wills Versus Living Trusts

5 Easy Steps to Create Your End of Life Plan

End of Life Plan Steps

5 Easy Steps Create an End of Life Plan

The Greatest Gift Your Family Will Always Remember

Live As If There’s No Tomorrow

The truth is nobody likes to talk about death or dying.  However, the unfortunate reality is that all of us will be forced to deal with this difficult situation at some point, and often times it happens when we least expect it.

Another harsh reality is that the large majority of financial professionals and families overlook or ignore the importance of incorporating a smart end of life plan as a part of a comprehensive financial plan.

I firmly believe that nobody would ever want their family and loved ones to have to deal with any unnecessary emotional and financial decisions (or costly expenses), during what could arguably be the worst times of their life.  However, yet another harsh reality is that over 70% of people who die fail to leave their family and loved ones as much as a basic Will, also called a Last Will and Testament.

Use These 5 Easy Steps:

I’ve put together 5 easy steps that should help every family improve their financial plan, simply by adding these key pieces of a smart end of life plan:

1.  Finish your Last Will or Living Trust, Living Will and other end of life directives.

2.  Complete our FREE Family Record Guide, which contains funeral plans including:

• A budget for the funeral costs that will be involved
• Your preference on a burial or cremation
• The location of your burial, or where you wish your ashes scattered
• Decide if you want a large memorial service or a small one
• Pre-arrange the caskets or cremation urns you like
• Choose officiates and others you want to run or speak at your service
• Pick the funeral music and Video Tribute you wish to have played
• What you would want engraved on your tombstone

3.  Create a “love drawer”, which is a central location where you keep all your end of life plans mentioned above. Choose someone to tell, and update it every two years.

4.  Consider using funeral insurance, such as pre need or final expense plans, which are specifically designed to pre-pay for all of your plans and funeral expenses

5.  Take advantage of the new memorial technology tools such as:

• Consider funeral webcasting on the Internet, so everyone possible can “attend”
• Build your own personal DVD Video Tribute, complete with songs and pictures
• Create and design a memorial website, who loved ones can share together online

Benefits to You and Your Family

By taking these steps now and creating your end of life plan in advance, you are sending your family a very strong message – which says that you cared enough to make this difficult time a little easier.  Not only with they thank you, but they will remember this selfless gift of love forever!

Chris Hill, Founder

Funeral Etiquette

Funeral Etiquette

Funeral Etiquette for

the Family of the Deceased

It’s not always easy to know what to say or do at a time of loss. Just being there for a friend or family member can be a comfort. However, there is funeral etiquette to be followed when someone passes away. Customs for expressing sympathy vary according to religious and ethnic background. The following information is a suggested guideline for what is generally accepted during a funeral. It is best to be aware of expectations to avoid acting in an inappropriate manner.

When to Notify?

The immediate family should receive notification first, preferably in-person or by telephone, followed by the closest relatives and friends.    Be sure to provide the name and address of the funeral home for the delivery of funeral flowers.  The service details can be relayed later when available

Dress Code?

Though it is no longer necessary to dress in black, do show respect when picking out your funeral attire.  Conservative suits or dress-clothes, in dark, respectful colors are most appropriate.  It is advisable to avoid floral or busy patterns.

What are Typical Visitation Rights?

Upon learning of a death, it is customary for intimate friends of the family to visit the family either at their residence or funeral home.  It would probably be more comfortable for all concerned to meet and learn more about their funeral home services since they are fully prepared for visitors. Each family should decide the number of family members needed during calling hours.

It is also not necessary for family members to engage in long conversations; a simple “Thank you, it means so much to have friends like you at this time,” is adequate. If the casket is open during calling hours, some visitors may want to bid farewell to the deceased.  Although sometimes a visitor will request that a family member accompany them to view the body, it is not a requirement.

Funeral Service Duration?

Modern funeral or memorial services are usually brief and last approximately 30 minutes.

Cemetery Service Duration?

The graveside service tends to be brief.  Customarily, once the commitment ritual is complete and the casket has been lowered to ground level, the family typically departs.  The casket is then placed in a vault, interred, and funeral flowers placed on the grave.

What Typically Happens Immediately After the Memorial Service ?

Immediately after the funeral service, the family sometimes invites the attendees to join them for food or a reception at their home or designated place.  This gives everyone a chance to talk and provides some time to relax and refresh.  Sometimes friends or church members will take it upon themselves to prepare food ahead of time and relieve the family of this task.

How Should You Respond After the Funeral?

For several days after the service, the family should be permitted to rest and have time to handle the myriad details that accompany such an occasion.  While some families enjoy the diversion of visits and calls from friends and family, others prefer complete privacy.  It is not inconsiderate to cut short calls at this time.

What About Sending Thank You Notes?

Most Funeral Directors can supply you with generalized thank you cards or the family may choose to send a more personal thank you note.  The thank you notes should be a concise, personal, and specific.  Also, yielding to modern tradition, a simple thank you card with a signature is accepted, with or without a personal note

Who Should Get a Thank You Note?

1.   Anyone who sent a gift or card to the family deserves a thank you note.  This would include anyone who sent funeral flowers, brought food, sent a memorial contribution, or in some other substantial way acknowledged the deceased. The notes should be sent within two weeks of the death

2.   A personal note is suggested for thanking the clergy person.  If an offering or donation is sent, send it in a separate envelope.  Never include it in the thank you note

3.  Pallbearers should also be sent a personal message of thanks

4.  For individuals who sent funeral flowers, you may wish to send a personal note or sympathy card.  Including a sympathy poem or sympathy quote that expresses your feelings is always thoughtful.

5.  For groups or organizations that sent flowers, send a note to the head of the group and remember to include all the members of the group in your note.  If individual member names appear on the floral card, a separate note should be sent to each one but a personal message is not necessary.

6.  Friends who have volunteered their time and effort helping in any way deserve a separate written thank you.  If the volunteers are close to the family, you may prefer to thank them in person.

Funeral Etiquette for Friends and Distant Relatives

Upon Receiving the News ? When learning that a relative or friend has died, you should express your condolences and offer assistance as soon as possible. Only very close friends of the deceased and the immediate family are expected to visit the family before the funeral. Let the family know if you will be attending the funeral.  It is important to keep the conversation brief taking in account their emotional state of grief and loss, and that they will be receiving numerous similar calls.

Funeral Flowers Etiquette?

Unless the family asks that donations should be made in lieu of flowers, you should honor their request.  Many people consider it obligatory to send flowers unless there is a prohibitive note in the newspaper notice.

Thoughtful Memorial Gifts:

1.  Food for the Family? Food is always a welcome gift as there are always visitors around that need to be fed.  Make sure to prepare dishes that require little preparation.

2.  E-mail? E-mail is only appropriate from those who are not intimate with the family such as a business associate.

3.  Phone Calls? All calls should be as brief as possible.

4.  Mass Cards? If the deceased was a Catholic, some people will send a mass card instead of or in addition to flowers.  Catholics and non-Catholics can arrange for a mass to be said for the deceased

5.  Donation to Suggested Charity? Usually the family will designate a specific organization or charity.  Remember to provide the family’s name and address to the charity so they can send proper notification.  Often the funeral home will offer a direct link to the charity requested by the family

Dress Etiquette?

Though it is no longer necessary to dress in black, do show respect when picking out your funeral attire.  Conservative suits or dress-clothes, in dark, respectful colors are most appropriate.  It is advisable to avoid floral or busy patterns

When Paying Respects ?

It is traditional for friends to visit the funeral home prior to the day of the funeral or memorial service.  The obituary in the newspaper will have the details as to the day and time for visitations

Etiquette for Casket Viewing?

Before or after the service, friends will often go up to the casket for a final farewell. It is not obligatory and is totally left to your discretion

Attending the Service ?

It is suggested that one arrive at the funeral home at least ten minutes before the service begins.  Funeral services usually start on time and it is considered rude to be late.  Enter quietly and be seated.  Do not conduct an animated discussion in the chapel; the mood should be somber.  Do not try to talk with family members you feel are suffering from bereavement if you arrive early.  The first few rows are reserved for family members.  At the conclusion of the service, you will want to leave promptly and wait in your car if you plan to follow the procession to the cemetery.  Remember to turn your headlights on so you can be identified as being a part of the procession.  The headlights are to be turned off once you arrive at the cemetery.  Attending the graveside service is optional and is usually determined by the relationship between the individual and the bereaved family.


Funeral Music and Top Funeral Songs

Funeral Music

Funeral Planning and

Funeral Music Considerations

You cannot lose sight of the fact that when you have to plan a funeral, without sounding selfish, the reality is that this celebration is all about you.  Therefore, you have every right to request a grand celebration with lots of fun, laughing, dancing, and funeral music.  Some of us may not want the typical “traditional funeral” and accompanying “traditional funeral songs”.  If people know you for your great sense of humor, then you may choose to have your loved ones laugh and have fun rather than spend this special day crying over sad funeral songs and videos.  The fact of the matter is you only get one chance, so it is really your opportunity to create that “special time to be remembered”.

So if you are ready to preplan a funeral and your end of life plans and preferences, this certainly includes choosing the “right” funeral music.  The most important thing to focus on here is this:  make sure the funeral music you’ve selected fits you, and how your loved ones remember you.  This can be very therapeutic for everyone since music can dramatically heighten the ability of your loved ones to connect the great memories of those moments they shared with you. Keep in mind that you probably don’t want your loved to be bombarded with sad funeral songs during your memorial service. Music is inspiring and can be used to help remember the joy a passed loved one brought to their lives.

Who Says it Has to be Sad Funeral Music?

So, just because it’s your funeral doesn’t mean that it has to be accompanied by your typical funeral hymns, sad songs, and lots of tears.  Since you have the ability to preplan these details in advance, why not help your loved ones by telling them exactly what type of funeral music planning you prefer, and will comfort them, along with other elements of the ceremony.  Heck, you may choose to throw the farewell celebration of a lifetime.  For example, maybe you wish to have one of your favorite bands play?  Or maybe just simply crank up the rock n’ roll music on the stereo and dance all night?  Regardless of what you choose, please do yourself and your family a favor – document your funeral music planning along with all of your other preferences now here:


Our Top 15 Favorite Funeral Songs:

1.   Amazing Grace

2.  The Grace of God, Patti Austin

3.  My Way, Frank Sinatra

4.  Let it Be, The Beatles

5.  Only the Good Die Young, Billy Joel

6.  She’s Finally Home, Cissy

7.  I’ve Had the Time of my Life, Jennifer Warnes and Bill Medley

8.  Live Like You Were Dying, Tim McGraw

9.  Candle in the Wind, Elton John

10.  What a Wonderful World, Louis Armstrong and Kenny G

11.  I Hope You Dance, Joe Dee Messina

12.  Imagine, John Lennon

13.  Unforgettable, Nat King Cole

14.  You are the Sunshine of My Life, Stevie Wonder

15.  Amazing Grace, Elvis Presley


Funeral Webcasting is a New Memorial Technology With Many Benefits

Funeral Webcasting

Many People Cannot Attend a Funeral But… Now They Can View it LIVE on the Internet

Since there are many valid reasons people cannot attend a funeral, such as health, finances, age, work, or timing, there is new memorial technology that exists today called Funeral Webcasting.  This is one of the many new funeral home services that is capable of broadcasting any funeral service LIVE on the Internet.  That’s right, LIVE!  All you need is to be somewhere that has an Internet connection, and you can now share in this special moment in real time.

But wait, there’s more…

It gets even better, because if you cannot attend the funeral in person, nor can you watch it LIVE on the Internet, the video footage of the memorial service can be stored for up to 90 days.  What a wonderful option this has become for so many people, especially given today’s economy and the financial challenges many people are facing. Over the last few years Funeral Webcasting has been quickly gaining popularity among funeral homes and is now to the point where family members are beginning to request these types of services. So this is making this an extremely important for Funeral Directors to not only embrace these new memorial technology tools, but also proactively promote them to those who are unaware these amazing new tools are readily available.

Key Benefits of Using Funeral Webcasting:

• Gives families and funeral directors a wider range of options which leads to a better overall funeral plan experience • Helps families appreciate the funeral director more, knowing he or she is keeping up with such innovative and helpful technology • Helps the families to join together in a much larger way for this special event • Gives families the ability to offer this privately, to only those who they wish to invite, by using a password-protected website • Families also have the ability to open up these memorial services for their loved ones to anyone who may wish to pay their respects by choosing not to elect a password • Allows families to include those you know really want to attend, but simply can’t make for whatever reason • Offers family members in other countries, from all around the world, to join in their loved ones celebration of life • Provide everyone the option to view this video again, or for the first time, after the memorial service for up to 90 days Given the many funeral planning challenges many families face today, funeral webcasting is just one of the technologies being used to BOTH help improve the families funeral planning experience, as well as strengthen their relationships with their funeral directors. For more detailed information about this new tool – and many of the other cutting edge memorial technology tools available today, you can simply CLICK HERE


Funeral Video Tributes Top Five Benefits

Video Tributes

Five Reasons A Funeral Video Tribute is an

Excellent Memorial Keepsake


1. A Quality Memorial Tribute

Each custom Video Tribute is hand-crafted by professional technicians who artfully tell your loved one’s story.  With expert direction, the funeral music and imagery join together in perfect harmony to create a healing experience as individual as your loved one’s life.  This memorial tribute will be a treasured family heirloom for generations to come.

2. Restore Your Loved One’s Photos

Your precious photos are carefully restored, enhanced and artfully arranged by talented multimedia technicians. These experts can combine faded, tattered, torn, static snapshots into moving cinematic video, bringing your treasured photos to life forever.

3. Create a Fitting Video Memorial

From majestic mountains and oceans to the simplicity and beauty of a single rose, a Video Tribute utilizes custom thematic scenery, filmed in stunning High Definition by world renowned videographers, designed to personalize and illustrate your loved ones life.

4. Healing and Uplifting Music

A professionally crafted Video Tribute utilizes therapeutic, custom soundtracks. This special music is specifically composed, arranged and/or produced to heal a broken heart as well as provide the perfect accompaniment to your family photos.

5. A Memorial as Individual As Your Loved One

These Funeral DVD Videos are professionally produced tributes which, celebrate your loved ones life in magnificent cinematic quality and are available in standard or wide screen format.

You can learn more about these Video Tribute Memorials as a helpful addition when funeral planning on our website by clicking on the following link:  Video Tribute

Get more information on other new and innovative memorial technology tools now available when planning a funeral.  You can learn about things like Video Tributes, such a Memorial Website, Memorial Tributes, Custom Funeral Music,  as well as Funeral Webcasting just by searching the various menus on this site.


Funeral Planning is Turning to the Internet

Funeral Planning

Families are Searching the Internet for

Funeral Planning Help

Although nobody likes to talk about death or dying, the reality is there are thousands of people every day who are faced with one of the most difficult decisions they can make throughout their lifetime.  For most families faced with the need to plan a funeral, they almost always begin by searching for the answer to the following question: “What do we do now?”

To get answers regarding funeral planning information, more and more families are turning to the Internet, especially given today’s new funeral and memorial technology tools available today.

Here are some eye-opening statistics that should make Funeral Directors, Funeral Homes, and Cemeteries adjust their business plans to make sure they include an Internet presence:

•    83% of families today are turning to the Internet to plan a funeral
•    There are nearly 300 million funeral–related keyword searches each month on Google
•    87% of people will research a company online before doing business
•    84% of online reviews influence buying decisions
•    Last year those ages 50+ accessing the Internet grew by over 100%

At, we believe that a quality funeral planning resource should provide families the answers they are searching for, as well as easy access the credible funeral home services, people, and products they need and deserve.

How can funeral resources online accomplish this?  First, they must contain valuable and real-life articles, information, as well as funeral planning and end of life planning resources that help families who are planning a funeral or memorial service.  This information and resources should be specifically designed to help families learn, prepare, and become more educated and empowered.

Second, if a Funeral Professional chooses to become associated with an online funeral services provider, they should find one with a “Pre-Screened and Qualified™” process.  This exclusive process is designed to ensure that their Members meet specific criteria which will likely increase the confidence families have in determining the credibility as funeral professionals.

And third, they must have different funeral services directories for all of the various funeral services families are searching for to plan a funeral.  Member listings should be equipped with innovative funeral and memorial technology that includes important details such as their full contact information, website, services provided, driving directions, sending funeral flowers, obituary search, and more.  This offers families the ability to quickly and easily find these the most credible funeral services providers, as well as make sure these providers can set themselves apart from the other 20,000+ Funeral Homes, Cemeteries, and Crematories listed online.

This is a sensible model where both families and funeral professionals can benefit.  The families can receive help searching for the funeral planning information and qualified funeral professionals they need.  The funeral professionals can be “found” by more families who are searching for the all-important family services they provide.  However, this quality funeral planning online resource center has not existed – until now. has filled the void and created a truly family-focused online resource center.  In addition, we have also created a “sister” resource center,  This new resource center is specifically designed to assist families who are searching for today’s new and innovative memorial technology options.  They new memorial technology tools can not only significantly help in the grief and loss process, but also enhance a families ability to heal and remember a loved one in a much more meaningful way.

We welcome and encourage all comments, feedback, input, and suggestions to (800) 379-2511 or

Christopher P. Hill, Founder and

Funeral Planning Help Families are Searching For

Funeral Planning Help

What Kinds of Funeral Planning Help

are Families Searching For?

When I recently lost my mother, the terrible loss was compounded by the need for funeral planning help.  Like most families, we had never discussed and quite honestly, we avoided answering the question of; “What do we do next?”  Also, similar to most families, we had no idea who to turn to, nor did we have a clue where to begin making our funeral planning arrangements.

Through extensive study, family surveys, and my own personal experience, I now understand what most families are searching for on the Internet, and the questions they need answers to.

Three main reasons families seek funeral planning help:

1.    A recent death has occurred
2.    A death is expected
3.    There is an interest or desire to pre-plan their funeral or cemetery arrangements

Three questions most families need answers to:

1.    What should I know?
2.    Who can I turn to?
3.    Where do I get started?

In such a difficult situation, most families feel vulnerable, uncertain, and quite frankly, uneducated on what to know or ask. It is during times like this where families need the comfort and confidence to know they are working with someone who is looking out for their best interests; someone who is credible and qualified.

With more than 25,000 Funeral Homes, the Internet is loaded with Funeral Home Directories. But most families don’t really want just a name in a Directory. With the advent of the Internet and new funeral and memorial technology, families want quick and easy access to the most qualified funeral professionals, combined with the right tools to help them research all the important surrounding details.

Three reasons funeral planning is overwhelming:

1.  They are in a state of shock, disbelief, grief and loss, and more
2.  This is usually a process that is unfamiliar and uncomfortable
3.  There are many difficult funeral planning and financial decisions to make

Most common questions families need answers to:

Here are just a few of the common questions that arise;  What are the burial wishes of the deceased?  A traditional burial, cremation, graveside burial, or memorial service?  Where do they want their final resting place to be?  How, when, and where are these services performed?  And by whom?  What other funeral home services should we consider?  What is the right amount to pay for the funeral costs?  And much more.

Another detail families need to consider is the religious preference of the deceased. Planning a Jewish Funeral is completely different than, let’s say, Catholic funeral planning. In Jewish Funerals there is typically no embalming, the funeral service is performed quickly after death, and wooden caskets are preferred. Preparing for a Jewish Funeral can be quite confusing for those trying to adhere to the end of life plan set up deceased.

The list of details goes on and on but, as you can see, there is a tremendous need for families to have access to high-quality information regarding every detail of funeral planning.  This includes information about how to locate a Funeral Home or Cemetery, how to preplan a funeral, making emergency funeral arrangements, or even preparing their end of life arrangements in advance.

Families want a centralized place for high-quality and family focused funeral planning help.  It is my own personal experience and other families needs that have inspired me to offer a place where families can get all the answers they are searching for.  Families can become more confident, educated, and empowered.  In doing so, it is my passion and dream to become the most credible and trusted online funeral resource center families are turning to.

Christopher P. Hill, Founder

Funeral Flower Arrangements

Funeral Flower Arrangements Endorses FTD Flowers

Sending funeral flowers has never been easier since has endorsed FTD as a preferred Funeral Flower Provider.

A lot has changed with funeral flower arrangements, and there are many tasteful options to extend sympathy to loved ones. FTD has funeral flowers to send to the home, office or as a part of funeral home services.  Also, you will be pleasantly surprised at how lovely and comforting these modern arrangements can be.

Sometimes it can be hard to find the words to express our bereavement and grief, as well as our sympathy for the bereaved. Sending sympathy flowers, plants and memorial gifts can help those who are grieving to know you are thinking of them in their time of need.

Traditionally, funeral flowers are sent to the funeral or memorial services as a way to provide beauty and comfort in a very solemn setting. But, funeral plants sent to the bereaved can provide long lasting comfort to someone in mourning in a very life-affirming way. Keep in mind that in many cases families will be inundated with floral arrangements, so sending a tasteful plant to the home may be an appreciated sympathy gift.

As mentioned above, a lot has changed over the years regarding funeral flower arrangements.  Gone are the days of completely somber tributes.  Therefore, below are the meanings of certain types of funeral flowers, which can hopefully help play a part in your memorial tribute:

Carnations – a red carnation implies admiration, pink carnations symbolize remembrance, and white carnations have the dual meaning of purity of love and innocence.

Lilies – an extremely common sympathy flower, which symbolize the restoration to innocence of the soul of the departed. Any type of white lily will also express purity and majesty.

Gladioli – a very traditional funeral arrangement which stand for strength of character, integrity, and sincerity.

Chrysanthemums – or “mums” are sent mainly to the funeral or memorial service, mainly because a white chrysanthemum symbolizes death in many Eastern and European countries.  Our understanding of “mums” are as a symbol of truth.

Roses – are popular in funeral tributes because a white rose means reverence, humility and innocence – whereas a red rose conveys courage, respect and love. Pink also symbolizes love, grace and gentility.

As one of the most recognizable flowers, roses can be a beautiful part of funeral flower arrangements. A white rose evokes reverence, humility, innocence, and youthfulness. Red roses convey respect, love, and courage.  And love, grace, and gentility are the message of a pink rose.

These aforementioned flowers, or any other flower, can be arranged in any custom fashion to convey a special message to the bereaved.  There is a lot of professional guidance available at FTD Flowers, and is proud to endorse their high-quality funeral flower arrangements.