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.

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.

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.

 

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
FuneralResources.com

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
https://funeralresources.com

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
FuneralResources.com