Coping with Grief and Loss over the Holidays

Grief and Holidays

In October of 2015 the man who had been my husband for fifty-six years died. December found me still numb with grief and loss. As my children and I struggled to navigate the season without a compass, we were feeling a lot of things. Joy wasn’t one of them. If it was there, it was buried under a thick layer of pain.

It was time to write the annual holiday letter Jerry and I had always written together, but I felt lost.

Should I just skip it and leave friends wondering whether they’d been abandoned? Should I spill tears all over the page? Should I put on a happy face to hide the pain?

None of those choices seemed right.

Then I reflected on what had followed Jerry’s death. I realized that this was a season when grief, like the Wise Men, came bearing gifts.

I rarely weep, but tears were a gift that relieved my anguish. Old photo albums revived happy memories. I was comforted by the simple presence of my family and others who loved me. My church community took over all of the funeral planning challenges. Neighbors brought food and chipped in with practical help. Loving messages poured in through letters, cards, and phone calls. Friends picked up relatives at the airport. Jerry’s former colleagues offered help.

And so I wrote my holiday letter mindful of the gifts I was receiving, gifts wrapped in love. The grief didn’t leave, but my dominant emotion became gratitude.

I decided to write as honestly as I could. The pain was there and I acknowledged it. I realized I was not alone, that many of my friends were suffering too. A few of them had also lost a loved one. Others might be facing a frightening medical diagnosis, or the end of a marriage, or a child mired in addiction. Or they were haunted by the gnawing fears of aging or loneliness.

My own grief had sensitized me to coping with loss that was also confronting others. I realized that many of the people who wrote only about family fun and personal successes and talented kids were also carrying an invisible bucket of tears. But keeping pain locked in a closet carries an emotional, spiritual, and sometimes physical cost. I wanted to be real, hoping this would give others permission to do the same.

My former pastor once said, “We love others because of their vulnerability, not their strength.” If you’re ready to risk being vulnerable, you might begin, “This has been a hard year.” Or “a year of love and loss.” Or, more positively, “This has been a year of grit and grace.” Be positive but be real. Your own truth-telling may free others to face their own situation with courage.

On a positive note, remember you’re still alive. You’re a survivor. Reflect on your own sources of strength. Work? Faith? Family? Friends? A larger purpose? A stubborn will that won’t give up? Name it and claim it. Others may need to hear what has helped you.

Finally, include at least one story in your letter. After he died people wanted to tell me stories about Jerry. Many surprised me. They illustrated his kindness and generosity and humility. They sparkled with humor. They showed why so many people loved him. I put them in my letter.

Ending your letter on a positive note will bring hope to the recipients. Your honesty will inspire courage. Your letter may be the best gift a friend dealing with grief and loss receives.

And having given it will bring you something that feels like joy.

This essay appeared in USA Today on 12/11/17

Contributing author – Carolyn Parr with Tough Conversations

By |December 15th, 2017|Categories: Blog, coping with loss, funeral planning challenges, Grief and Holidays, Grief and Loss|Tags: , , , |Comments Off on Coping with Grief and Loss over the Holidays

How to Face Grief and Loss

Facing Grief and Loss and
Putting Life’s Storms into Perspective

On a back to school shopping event with my daughter, we were drawn to display after display of beautiful pieces of costume jewelry. An elderly woman laden with packages passed by commenting on how tired she was feeling. She found a quiet spot to rest nearby, still holding her packages. I asked if she was alright or needed any help. She assured me she was fine, she just needed to rest. We continued to converse. The woman mentioned how thoughtful it was that I took the time to inquire of her well being. She said that I must not be from around here. I told her I lived 3 hours away in a neighboring state. As she spoke, I noticed some of her words and letters were not spoken clearly. Watching closely, I saw that she did not have any teeth. Her clothing was in good repair, but subtly stained, as if in need of being laundered. I admired a necklace with small charms from the display case. The woman was intrigued with the charm necklace and thought it would be perfect for me.

The next words she spoke caught me off guard. She asked me if I had ever been a victim of a house raid. She explained to me that everything she owned had been stolen. She had loved her porcelain doll collection that was now gone. Her brother was involved in drugs, and came into her house with his friends, and took all her possessions. She mentioned he had taken her dentures because she would not give him any money. She apologized to me for her appearance. Even though she had no teeth, and an empty house, she had a strong resolve. She was kind, grateful, and determined that her brother was not going to break her spirit. My heart went out to the small woman. I found myself watching her around the store as she moved on from her brief rest. The checkout lines were long. My daughter and I helped her get through the line so she was not struggling alone. Shortly thereafter, we headed our separate ways. I think of that sweet little woman often, especially when I wear the charm necklace I purchased that day. I have one regret however, I wish I would have asked the woman her name and contact information.

I tell this story because each of us weather various storms in our lives that affect our perspective. This can alter how we react to those experiences, and how we move forward. Our life’s encounters, as difficult and painful as they are at times help us to build resilience. We pray to find small rays of hope even in times of sadness. We may have to dig deep to find any hope, when there is little hope in front of us. Determination kicks in, and helps us keep trudging forward, so we can carry our emotional burdens.

Putting Life’s Storms into Perspective

Putting life’s storms into perspective is a conscious effort. When we are overcome with sadness or grief it can be difficult to continue the daily climb, and keep looking forward. Each of us have experienced a moment when it feels as if all hope is lost. How do we move past the grief and loss? How do we move forward again? Losing a loved one, a friend, facing a debilitating disease, divorce, or a job change, can tax the strongest hearts and minds. Even when carrying an umbrella, the storm is sometimes too strong and difficult to weather. What can be done to put the challenges into perspective?

Almost 20 years ago, I faced a storm in my own life. Being a strong person I had always believed I could handle whatever was thrown my way. I have learned to never assume. I was brought to my knees, facing a trial of loss that was numbing. A gray cloud settled over my life. I cried at the drop of a hat, and felt like I was wearing concrete shoes up a steep mountain path. Day after day, it felt like the sun would not shine again. Tackling the daily routine was a difficult feat.

The Family Tree: The Night of the Storm

I was inspired during that time to put pencil to paper and write. After months and months of writing, I wrote The Family Tree: The Night of the Storm. The story is about a wondrous tree that in a fierce storm loses a branch. The family who visited the tree, was very sad about the lost branch, so they come up with creative plan. They decide to build a swing with the broken branch, so the branch would be with the tree once more. The story’s message helped heal my heart. I was able to move forward again. My concrete shoes came off, I was not crying all the time, and it helped me by coping with loss.  It allowed me put the storm I was facing into perspective. I realized that life would not always stay exactly like I wanted it to stay. Change and loss are beyond our control. As difficult as my experience was, I had to force myself to rise above the grief. I needed to remain strong for those around me. So when life sends its storms, I now find my swing. In my swing I can sit and ponder, treasure great memories of those I love who have moved on, make future plans when my life needs direction, or just think about a sweet, elderly lady who touched my heart.

I have learned how important it is to not only put our own life’s storm’s into perspective, but to also be conscious of others who may be battling their own storm. In hind sight I always wished I would have given a copy of the book The Family Tree: The Night of the Storm to the woman in the store. Maybe it would have given her a moment of hope and inspiration. I hope each of you finds hope and promise in your future and can, in time, build your own swing.

The story The Family Tree: The Night of the Storm has won numerous awards. The message offers children and their families a sense of hope and promise for the future. In the aftermath of life’s storms the sun will continue to rise every day. Our perspective on life will in time find a ray of sunshine, that will chase gray clouds away, to give each of us hope for the future.

The Family Tree: The Night of the Storm can be purchased at www.lauriecopmann.com.  For more helpful information, use this link to learn more about the five stages of grief.

About Laurie Copmann, Author and Educator

Laurie Copmann is the principal of an elementary school. She has a Master’s degree in Administration and a Master’s degree in Counseling. She loves working with children and encouraging them to be confident individuals, excellent citizens, and to strive for high academic achievement. She writes stories for children in hopes of inspiring them to reach their potential, with the belief that anything is possible. Laurie lives in Idaho with her husband, two children and a dog named Tux the Terrible.

How to Cope with Grief

How to Cope with Grief and
the Barrier to Grief

What do we mean by grief?

Coping with the grief and loss of someone you love can be one of life’s biggest challenges.  In fact, the barrier to grief can be utterly overwhelming. Grieving is the natural human process by which we begin to come to terms with our grief and loss.

We all grieve in our own way

We all cope with grief and loss in different ways. Some people want to hide away quietly, others want to be busy and begin organizing. Some people surprise themselves that they appear to feel nothing at all. Others are waiting for the right time.

None of these are right or wrong.

The barrier to grief

As a counsellor in Tunbridge Wells working with grief and bereavement, one thing I have come to find is that most people who are newly bereaved are fighting a battle on two fronts. They are not only trying to come to terms with the loss of a loved one, they are also faced with their own, often life-long, processes of coping with the barrier to grief.

Their own methods for keeping safe can actually get in the way of allowing them to grieve now.   Therefore, it is very common that when we go to counseling for help with grief and loss, we are first of all faced with ourselves; “I can’t cry”, “I can’t stop crying”, “I’m having panic attacks”.

Each of us will have had a unique upbringing with different messages through which we learned different ways to think, feel, or be in order to be loved, praised, accepted; “Chin up, men don’t cry, get on with it.”, “Don’t be so selfish, think how hard this is for …!”, “Are you still upset about that?”. With messages like these, is it any surprise that so many people find it hard to process loss.

Thinking back to all those times you heard similar messages, I wonder if you can remember what you would have liked to have heard, how you would have liked to be treated. Now with those new messages in mind, is there room for a little self-nurture today? Can you say those messages or ask to be treated differently while you embrace this difficult time?

When it comes to coping with grief, and the barrier to grief, there is no right way. There is no time limit. You are allowed to feel whatever you feel.

Saying the Right Things When You Offer Sympathies

How to Offer Sympathy

Saying the Right Things
When You Offer Sympathies

What do you say to your best friend after the death of his father? How do you comfort your cousin who has lost a spouse? And what words can comfort a parent who has lost their child? These are common thoughts for anyone when trying to decide how to offer sympathies to a family member or friend who is suffering from grief and loss.

Don’t Avoid the Issue

Instead of trying to talk around the subject, acknowledge the situation. It is appropriate to say that you heard that a person died even if it occurred some time ago. This lets the other person know that you are willing to talk about it and allows them to say what they want.

You should always be honest and sincere even if that means admitting that you don’t know what to say. Sometimes just saying that you are sorry about the situation is enough. You can say it in a variety of ways.

  • “I’m sorry to hear about your loss.”
  • “I’m sorry that you are going through this.”
  • “I want you to know how sorry I am that this has happened to you.”

Showing your concern lets the other person know that he or she is not alone.

Be Supportive

You may feel like you should be doing something for the grieving person. It feels awkward to just stand or sit and talk about the situation. If you are the type of person who wants to “fix” things, you should use that attitude in this situation. While you can’t fix it, you can do things to make the burden easier.

Some examples of support include helping out with tasks around the house or caring for children so that the person can deal with other jobs. You may be able to take on some projects that the deceased handled, especially important when the people are older. Maybe he mowed the lawn or she cooked dinner. Now that they are gone, this task is left up to the family member. They may feel overwhelmed at all of the work to do and appreciate you taking on the responsibility for a few days or weeks.

One of the best ways to offer ongoing support is by asking how the person feels. This allows them to deal with their feelings and express any concerns they are having. This is a good question to ask even months later because grief doesn’t go away in a few days. Only the support seems to lessen as time goes by. When you receive an answer to your question, don’t assume that means you have to respond or “make them feel better.” Just the act of telling you that today is a bad day or they spent the morning crying can be enough.

The most important thing to remember about how to offer sympathy to people who are dealing with the loss of a loved one is that the words don’t matter as much as you think. It is the meaning and the intention behind the words.

 

Contributing editor is Suzie Kolber from http://obituarieshelp.org

By |April 23rd, 2016|Categories: Death, Grief and Loss, How to Offer Sympathy, Sympathy|Tags: , , , , |Comments Off on Saying the Right Things When You Offer Sympathies

Funeral Etiquette for the Bereaved

Funeral Etiquette for
Sympathizing with the Bereaved

The death of a close friend or family member is almost certainly the most difficult event that a person will experience. Observing appropriate funeral etiquette in terms of our words and actions is very important, although it can be hard for us to know exactly what to say and how to act when someone close to us has lost a loved one.

What to Do

Upon hearing of the death:

  • Acknowledge it in whatever way feels most appropriate. Even a short, simple phone call is preferable to taking no action at all to try and comfort the deceased person’s family.
  • If you are a very close friend of the family, it is a good idea to visit them. If you are a little more distant, sending funeral flowers or a sympathy card may be more suitable.
  • Offer to help in a practical manner, such as volunteering to cook meals for the family or helping to dig the grave.

At the funeral:

  • Only visit the funeral home during the times specified in online obituaries.
  • If attending the funeral service, arrive in plenty of time. Walking in late to the service is very disrespectful.
  • Put your mobile phone on silent or, better still, switch it off completely until you have left the funeral home or place of worship.
  • Do not bring small children to the funeral if you think they will be unable to remain quiet for the full duration.
  • Respect the family’s wishes if they prefer to mourn privately.
  • It is fine to cry, but if you begin crying uncontrollably, step outside.
  • Do not take any photos or videos of the funeral.

After the funeral:

  • If you are unable to attend the funeral, sympathize with the deceased person’s family the next time you see them, regardless of how much time has passed.
  • Don’t forget about the family as soon as the funeral has finished. They will continue to grieve and continue to need support in the weeks and months afterwards.
  • Remember that the family may take time readjusting to everyday life. Do not try to rush the process of grief and loss.
    Offer support to the family on occasions such as the deceased person’s birthday or anniversary, as such times can be emotionally tough on the family.

What to Say (and Not to Say)

Do’s:

  • Listen to those who are grieving and respond accordingly.
  • Refer to the deceased by name.
  • Speak genuinely and selflessly.
  • If you can’t think of what to say, keep it simple and appropriate.
  • Share memories of the deceased person, particularly in the weeks and months after the funeral.

Phrases that are likely to be appreciated:

  • “This must be very painful for you.”
  • “You must have been very close to him/her.”
  • “I can only imagine how hard this is on you.”
  • “I’ll really miss him/her. He/she was a very special person.”
  • “We’re thinking of you and wish we could do something to comfort you.”
  • “We care about you and we love you.”
  • “He/she was an inspiration to us and to so many others.”
  • Even a simple “I’m sorry for your loss. How are you doing?” shows genuine sorrow and sympathy.

Don’ts:

  • Don’t try to trivialize the death or say anything which implies it may have been for the best.
  • Never tell a grieving person that they need to get over their loss.
  • Do not put a time frame on a bereaved person’s grief.
  • Don’t talk about your own experiences of death, particularly at the time of a funeral.

Phrases that you should avoid:

  • “I know how you feel.”
  • “He/she is in a better place now.”
  • “It was his/her time to go.”
  • “He/she is no longer suffering.”
  • “Time is a good healer.”
  • “I know someone who had it much worse.”
  • “Try to move on from this.”
  • Anything beginning with “At least…

“We’re afraid we’ll say the wrong thing, but unfortunately what we all do out of our fear of saying the wrong thing, we say nothing and it leaves bereaved people feeling unsupported – and they do notice when you hop into a shop door to avoid them, or cross the street. Those are the hurtful things that people in bereavement talk about.”
Dr. Susan Delaney, bereavement services manager with the Irish Hospice Foundation.

Etiquette for the Bereaved

Planning the funeral:

  • Make the arrangements that you deem to be appropriate.
  • Decide if it is appropriate for young children to attend.
  • Tell children what to expect and how to behave if attending their first funeral.
  • Supply a guestbook for people wishing to sympathize by signing one.

At the funeral:

  • Wear black, or an alternatively subdued color (men should wear a suit and tie), unless the funeral arrangements include a themed dress code as per the deceased person’s wishes.
  • Thank anyone who comes to the funeral or takes time to sympathize.
  • Do not react angrily or rudely to someone who makes an inconsiderate but well-intended comment.
  • Feel free to cry.
  • Help family members who may find it difficult to move around, e.g. anyone in a wheelchair or with an injury or frailty.

After the funeral:

  • Take the time to send thank-you notes to all who participated in the funeral service, including clergy, undertakers, readers and musicians.
  • Never feel that it is too late to send a thank-you card, but try to acknowledge any delay in sending if it is left until 1-2 months after the funeral.

 

Courtesy of:  www.rhcfunerals.co.uk

Funeral Photography Tips

Funeral Photographs

Tips For Funeral Photography

For many people, photographs are the perfect way to remember an important or an emotional event and this is certainly true when you plan a funeral. However, these occasions are no easy task for the funeral photographer. How do you capture the event tastefully? While this is never an easy task and will likely change with each funeral in question, here are a few important tips for funeral photography to get you started.

Don’t Disturb People

As a photographer, you are simply there to observe, not get in the way. As such, your photographs should not be disruptive of the event, even if it means risking the quality of a shoot. Be happy with the arrangement (such as funeral flowers) as it is and don’t bring additional lighting. Lights will get in people’s eyes, distract them and make them more aware of your presence than focusing on the funeral. Most churches and official buildings will have adequate lighting but, if you think this is an issue, you can check with the person responsible before the event. The same also goes for flash photography, as this is far too disruptive.

Plan Ahead

On a similar note, you should always plan ahead when photographing funerals. Talk to the close family and visit where the event will take place. This way, you’ll have an idea of the planned procession and where to operate without getting in the way. On a similar note, you should also look into the specific faith and customs of those involved and other funeral etiquette matters such as dressing accordingly. This way, you will blend in respectfully, allowing you to get on with your task. Additionally, speaking with the immediate family or funeral planners will let you know of any additional rituals or rites that they wish to have captured.

Maintain Distance

All photographers aim to be objective but funerals are a true cause for literal distance. Don’t position your camera close to any caskets or ceremonies themselves – again, you’re just going to get in the way or distract people. It is better to stand to the side or back of the room and use a medium distance lens for any detail needs. This will help you get up close without having to physically interrupt anything. As for any close-ups of the deceased? Well, you shouldn’t do this without express permission from the family (and it’s worth asking beforehand in case this is what they want).

Capturing Grievers

For a funeral, the deceased is obviously the main focus. From a photography point of view, however, this restricts your creativity. Yet, in some cases this is also an advantage, since funerals are traditional, somber affairs. Don’t be too creative with your framing and be sure to film from the back. This way you can angle your camera to capture people suffering from such grief and loss, but you’re not directly capturing their faces or emotions – this is, again, something you shouldn’t do without permission. Remember that the deceased is the main priority here, so the photographs you aim to take should reflect this.

Quick Shots

On another note, funerals are live events and you can’t ask people to re-position themselves because you didn’t get the right shot. With that in mind, any photographer attending a funeral needs to be familiar with taking quick shots rather than long set-ups. Set your camera to quick exposure and rapid shutter settings. This way, you can take multiple shots rapidly and, in instances like this, it’s best to simply pick out the better or worthwhile ones after the event.

Adhere to Requests

Some people will not want to be photographed. Others may ask who you are, what you’re going to do with the photographs and if they could be blurred/edited out. These are all reasonable requests at a funeral and, as the photographer, you should adhere to any and all requests. If you can’t? Then don’t do what you were going to do. Your photography should not change the funeral in any way: you should change to meet the funerals needs.

All in all, these are some of the finer tips for funeral photography to consider when taking photographs at a funeral. This is a difficult challenge for even the most seasoned photographer but it’s often an important event to record.

Source:  Robert Bruce, Great Lakes Caskets

By |January 17th, 2016|Categories: caskets, Funeral Flowers, Grief and Loss|Tags: , , , , , , |Comments Off on Funeral Photography Tips

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, some valuable options are speaking with a school counselor or local organizations such as Hope Hospice that employ professionals who deal in loss and grief every day.

 

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.

Conclusion

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 www.ssa.gov 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 www.va.gov.

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 www.funeralresources.com and www.memorialtechnology.com. 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 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.

End of Life and Death Donation Options

Consider Funeral and Death Donations

Afterward…

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.

Bedding

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.

Furniture

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

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 EasyLivingFl.com.

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 Admin@easylivingfl.com.

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

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

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 FuneralResources.com.

First of all, I must admit that is not easy for me to publicly talk about the fact that I lost my mother a few years ago, or to say how much I love her and miss her.

And quite frankly, it is even hard to admit that looking back, I wish I could have done things diffrerently.

Live Every Day Like There’s No Tomorrow:

The truth is I wish I was with her more.  I wish I could have told her how much she meant to me.  I wish I had told her how special and amazing she really was.  I wish I told her how much I appreciated everything she did for me.  I wish she knew how lucky I was that she was my mother and friend.  Most of all, I wish I would have been there with her…and shared more time with her…particularly in her final stages.  But as much as it haunts me, I can’t turn back the clock.

Truthfully, I will always believe she needed to hear these things from me, and I will always regret the fact that I never had the chance to tell her how much she meant to me, and how much I loved her.

However, knowing how special she was, how selfless she was, and how unconditional her love was for her family and friends, I truly believe she knows.  I also believe that she forgives me for not being there as much as I think I should have, and for not letting her know the things I wished I had told her.

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
FuneralResources.com

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
FuneralResources.com

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

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
FuneralResources.com

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.

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 FuneralResources.com, we choose to focus on the positive aspects of death. Here are some things I have learned that might help you and your families:

Everyday Life: Grief often brings into focus our daily life that we assume will “always” be the same. What we might take for granted now can come into full bloom when contrasted with death. Our families, our loved ones and our health start taking on far more importance and they are treasured far more. Material concerns have a chance during a loss to take a second seat. We get back to basics and realize what we have is good. What a blessing.

Hidden Angels: People can be a blessing. As we walk through the five stages of grief, people come into our lives to help ease our pain. A member of Beyond Indigo wrote:

“One of the things I remember most about my horrible summer in hell were three people I met who were walking angels. Each of them, in their own way, made that summer bearable and is remembered now, after it has passed, as huge blessings. I’m actually glad I met them even though I met them only because of the situation, which was causing such grief.”

Look On The Bright Side: Things could be worse. As trite as it sounds, it is true. Life can always be worse. Looking at what occurred as a positive can bring new thoughts to the surface.

Another Beyond Indigo member wrote to us about her pregnancy. She was 21 weeks pregnant when her doctors told her that the baby would not survive the cyst that had become part of its little body.  She wrote, “Obviously, the RIGHT ending would have been for me to have a good, wonderful pregnancy that ended with a healthy baby. Wasn’t going to happen.  Options like having a kid with horrible life-affecting illnesses and handicaps, or having a stillbirth, or worst – not knowing and having to make a choice.  I ended up knowing what I had to do. I was able to end the pregnancy without wondering if I was making the right choice. That was a huge blessing.”

Opportunities: Death is permanent. Once a death occurs, it is hard to say,” I am sorry”, or, “I love you”. It reminds us that we have the opportunity to tell others that we love them or that we are sorry or how important they are in our lives. Take this blessing of time to let others in your life know how important they are to you. Do it now, and don’t wait.

Search: Search out others that have recently lost a loved one or acquaintance. Share your story, you thoughts, your feelings and your concerns and insights with them. Sharing, or volunteering to help someone else feel better will help you both.

Celebrate: Celebrate any occasion, any holiday or special event with a friend and share all the joys of the person lost. Remember well, and then go ahead and enjoy the day, the hour and the moment. NOW is what we all have.

© 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.

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

Question:

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.

FuneralResources.com 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
FuneralResources.com

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 info@funeralresources.com
3.  Visit this page www.funeralreosurces.com/funeral-help
4.  Complete this easy 10 question survey in about a minute:  www.funeralresources.com/funeral-help-survey

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
www.funeralresources.com

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

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 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 FuneralResources.com, 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.

FuneralResources.com has filled the void and created a truly family-focused online resource center.  In addition, we have also created a “sister” resource center, www.memorialtechnology.com.  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 info@funeralresources.com

Christopher P. Hill, Founder
FuneralResources.com and MemorialTechnology.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