Top Six Memorial Technology Tools to Remember a Loved One
Like me and many other families who have lost a loved one, I was unaware of many of the new, best, and most innovative memorial technology options available for helping families plan a funeral, burial, cremation, or even serve as an added value to their end of life planning.
Each of these wonderful new memorial technology tools allow families to remember their loved ones.
They also provide a much better opportunity for individuals and families to heal from the inevitable grief and loss associated from losing a loved one.
You can find more information about each of these six new memorial technology options by visiting the following extremely educational and FREE family-focused online resource center:
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 daywe 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:
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:
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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:
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.
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 eulogy? How 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!
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:
• 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.
• 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!