Funeral Planning and End of Life Planning Resource Center

Preplan Funeral Expenses

Pre Need

Preplanning for Funeral Costs and Expenses

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

$1,595             Non-declinable basic services fee

$  233              Removal/transfer of remains to funeral home

$  550              Embalming

$  203              Other preparation of the body

$  406              Use of facilities/staff for viewing

$  463              Use of facilities/staff for funeral ceremony

$  251              Use of a hearse

$  120              Use of a service car/van

$  119              Basic memorial printed package

$2,255             Metal Casket

$1,128             Vault

Total Cost  $7,323

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

 

Facts About Green Burials Versus Traditional Funeral Burials

 Green Funeral

The Key Differences Between

Traditional and Green Burials

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

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

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

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

Concrete burial vaults are not used for a green burial.

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

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

Click to Learn More About a Green Funeral

 

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

Green Burial Markers

 Green Burial and Funeral

Choose Green with a

Green Burial Marker

Consider a greener burial marker for your green funeral.  Instead of large, elaborate grave markers, green burials feature unobtrusive, natural markers. These often involve trees, funeral flowers, and rocks found on or around the gravesite. While some families opt for a small flat stone identifying the burial location, more common in a green cemetery are the use of GPS coordinates.  Though this modern global positioning method, the family of the deceased can find the exact burial plot for their loved one by mapping out the individual global position given to them by the cemetery manager.

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

 

Green Funeral and Green Burial Options

Green Funeral

A Green Funeral Can Help Save the Environment

Opponents to the traditional funeral homes view them as being more wasteful than green funeral providers citing the use of toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde in embalming fluid as unnecessary and damaging to the environment. To plan a funeral traditionally, this consumes enormous amounts of materials such as steel, concrete, copper, and bronze.  The figures are in the tens of thousands of tons annually.  During a burial, these elements remain in the ground indefinitely, polluting the earth.

Each year, cemeteries across the US bury approximately:

– 30 million board feet (70,000 m³) of hardwoods (caskets)

– 90,272 tons of steel (caskets)

– 14,000 tons of steel (vaults)

– 2,700 tons of copper and bronze (caskets)

– 1,636,000 tons of reinforced concrete (vaults)

– 827,060 US gallons (3,130 m³) of embalming fluid

*(Compiled from statistics by Casket and Funeral Association of America, Cremation Association of North America, Doric Inc., The Rainforest Action Network, and Mary Woodsen, Pre-Posthumous Society)

Learn More About Green Burials
Learn More About a Green Funeral

 

New Funeral and Memorial Technology for Fathers

Grief and Loss

New Memorial Tributes and Funeral Technology Options for Fathers

For those special Dad’s and Grandfathers who have passed and are dearly missed, creating a personalized and specialized memorial can provide an excellent opportunity to heal and remember.

Below is a list of some of the most popular memorial options that many families are choosing for a personalized and special memorial, tribute, keepsake, or family heirloom:

About New Funeral and Memorial Technology:

Technology is changing the face of the funeral industry and baby boomers, those ages 43 to 62 are at the root of it“, says John Reed, president of the National Funeral Directors Association based in Brookfield, Wis.

Today many new and innovative technologies are widely recognized in the funeral industry as common services that help make a difficult situation a little easier.  Boomers are memorializing their parents and loved ones in nontraditional ways and using new funeral technology to do it.

Technology is opening the doors to unique memorial ideas and expanding funeral planning and memorial service options.  With these tech-savvy Baby Boomers wanting to take the negativity out of funerals and find ways to celebrate a person’s life, using new funeral technology such as some of these listed below are among the most popular, common, and rapidly growing.

Top 5 New Memorials Options for Fathers:

1.   Video Tribute

2.  Gravestone Technology

3.  Memorial Website

4.  Memorial Diamonds

5.  Memorial Reefs

New Funeral Technology Offers Many Benefits:

Keep in mind that these gifts can serve as an excellent family tribute, keepsake, or family heirloom.  The main benefit from these gifts is that, although in different way, each of them offers a wonderful opportunity to honor and celebrate your Dad, as well as share many of the great stories and  memories you shared together.

Christopher P. Hill
FuneralResources.com

Funeral and Memorial Technology News

 Funeral and Memorial Technology

A Few Words Before I Go

The original Rosetta Stone helped translate the pictorial language of the ancient Egyptians, providing definitions of the imagery and bringing to life a long-gone culture. Now one company is offering personal versions of the stones to tell stories about an individual long after we’re gone.

Objecs LLC’s RosettaStone is an oblong — think full-sized iPod – piece of granite or travertine stone inscribed with pictorial images that stand for different aspects of an individual’s life. Seemlessly incorporated into tombstones and monuments, the stones invite cemetery visitors to plug into a website – or in some cases simply wave your phone in front of the stone – and see the meaning of each symbol.

Walk around a cemetery today and gravestones doesn’t tell you anything. Date of birth. Date of death. They’re cold and impersonal,” said Chris Hill, a financial advisor in northern Virginia and also Founder of FuneralResources.com, who personally owns two RosettaStones. “This will tell my story for thousands of years.”

Purchasers can choose up to six tablet symbols, reminiscent of hieroglyphics, from more than 300 options, including a striped pole for a barber, a caliper for an engineer, and a man behind bars for ne’er-do-wells who want to be remembered as such.

When selecting the symbols for his stone, Hill thought of his wife and two children, his passions for music and writing, his belief that life doesn’t end with death.

For his six symbols, he chose an “I” for general information, a U.S. map, stick figures representing a family, a music note, a hand holding a pen, and a telescope looking into space.

It’s just as important to document your life as it is to remember it”, Hill said.

John Bottorff, founder of Objecs LLC, said the tablet symbols spur interest and conversation.

When I see someone using a symbol I can relate to, I can’t help but be curious as to their life experience around it. We are seeing mini-meaning of life stuff here from common people, not a Dalai Lama,” Bottorff said. “I will never look at a barber pole symbol the same – I’m still awestruck at how a barber has learned the deepest values of life from his profession.  Not all of the messages are positive, but I think they are all gifts to future generations from today’s cooks, barbers, lawyers, fishermen and all kinds of people and professions.”

But it’s the memorial technology element that makes the RosettaStone special, Bottorff said. If the cell phone is NFC-enabled — something still rare in North America but common overseas – simply touching the phone to the tablet allows direct access to the story behind each symbol. The internal microchip uses the phone’s own magnetic field to work and transfer the data, then returns to a dormant state.

For a regular cell phone with Internet access, users can type in the web information on the tablet and have the same information appear. Each symbol can be accompanied by about 200 words of text.

So how is this better than including a memorial website’s address on a tombstone? The answer is permanence, Bottorff said.

Compare us to them and we look a bit primitive, he said. “The traditional memorial website is a much richer multimedia experience, but  not necessarily pursuing the long-term data survival  model we are. If you’re interested in a long genealogical surviving record, ours is a pretty good approach.”

RosettaStone boasts that the tablets’ information will remain accessible for the next 3,000 years. Even if the company folds, the tablets’ associated information will remain. In part, that’s because information is both hard-coded to the stones’ internal microchip and archived externally on the web. (Of course, without a time machine, it’s impossible to verify the 3,000-year claim, but the concept seems to sell nonetheless.)

Introduced a little over a month ago, Objecs has sold fewer than 100 of the products, which cost about $200. Among the buyers, Bottorff said, are a well-known American musician and a BBC Television personality.

Although Objecs initially offer for the product was a way to honor the dead, the living have quickly wanted it for themselves too. (In fact, the living are the product’s primarily buyers thus far.) On its website, Objecs notes that RosettaStones are also intended for “mature adults who have reached a stage in life with identifiable milestones and associations. Such milestones may include a profession, discipline, paternal capacity, love of music or skill….”

When people started buying it for themselves, it was an awakening that it was something people wanted to hold onto as a family heirloom, so we adjusted our message,” Bottorff said.

Hill has been updating and frequently rewriting the text he wants to accompany his RosettaStone entries frequently.

“If a truck hits me tomorrow, I’ve got some words that will last forever and that’s real,” he said. “It’s hard to write at first. You’re thinking, ‘Wow. These are my last words.’”

 

Remembering Fathers

Grief and Loss

For Those Who Have Lost Their Father

Finding ways to remember the happy times and keeping a father’s memory alive, even long after he has passed, can be challenging but rewarding.  This is especially true for younger generations. Telling funny stories or sharing memories about Grandpa or Great Granddad will help future generations to feel connected to their roots and get a true sense of the importance of family.

Given the advent of the Internet and new technology, we strongly suggest you learn more about today’s new memorial technology tools to help remember a loved one.  These new tools can also assist with the grief and loss process.

On special days such as birthdays and Father’s Day, we hope those who have lost their father may find comfort in this beautiful poem from our Preferred Provider, Grief Haven.

 

Coping with Fathers Death

Coping with Loss

How to Cope with the Loss of a Father

My three boys, who are four, six and ten, lost their father last year.  Since he has passed away, we have been working our way through the holidays.  How do I help them cope with Fathers Day?

A child can celebrate Father’s Day even though they have lost their father. When a person dies it does not mean all the love they have given to people just disappears. A father leaves a lasting imprint on the children he leaves behind. Helping the children remember this love will be important to them as they grow older. One of the most common things people in western society tend to do is act like a person never lived once they have died. Remembering Father’s Day will help keep a fathers memory stay alive.

Here are some things to help kids who are coping with grief and loss to celebrate Father’s Day, even after he has passed away:

Share a Memory: Since the age of the boys are spread out from four years old to 10 years old the way they communicate will differ. However they all can share their story of their father. The other boy can write down a memory from his father that made him feel loved. The six and four year can drawn a picture of a time they shared with their father that made them feel happy and loved. These pictures can be shared with their father and family on Father’s Day.

Make a Card: The boys can all make a card for their father. The card can be filled with how they are feeling with the loss of their mom. Once the cards are completed they can be put out at her graveside or sent up in a balloon if he was cremated.

Plant a Flower: Planting funeral flowers in memory can help the boys watch their love grow. Help them pick out a flower that means something to them and plant it in a cup. When the weather warms up they can plant their flowers outside and talk about the memories of their father. In the fall they can dry the flower(s) and hang them up in their room as a lasting memory through the winter.

Create a Memory Book: Adults in the boys’ life can help them start a memory book. The book would last until they are adults. Every year on Father’s Day the boys can add something to their book about their previous year. These events they would add would be the ones they felt they would want to share with their dad if he were here. For example a good report card, awards from sports, and other achievements that they were proud about.

The important thing to remember is to keep talking to the children about their father. Tell them stories about her that you remember. Ask other adults to share their stories as well. Maybe have the adults write the stories down and add it to the memory book if one is created. Then when the boys are older or they are missing their dad they can always go read the book.

Are you looking for others with whom you can relate? Visit the Beyond Indigo forums to connect with others who are on their grief journeys.

© 2010 Kelasan, Inc.

How to Create an Solid End of Life Plan

End of Life Planning

Your Family-Focused Gift of Love

Like so many families, when we suffered the loss of my mother last year we faced the difficult decision of what to do next. Because we were never willing to accept this as a possible outcome, nor did we think about planning in advance for this incomprehensible loss, we had no idea where to begin or who we could turn to.

Most people tend to overlook one of the greatest gifts you will give your family, which is properly preparing them for the inevitable. At best, you might have started your estate planning process by creating and choosing a Last Will or Living Trust.

However, the harsh reality is that approximately over 70% of Americans have no form of estate plan. So by having a will or Trust, you have clearly taken a step in the right direction toward preplanning your future financial wishes. The problem is, this form of planning fails to accomplish the most important task, which is addressing your family’s immediate concerns.

The person, or in most cases people, responsible for taking care of your final arrangements are usually forced to make extremely important decisions, as well as major financial purchases, within a small time frame…usually within approximately 48 hours after your death. Of course, you cannot expect to fully alleviate the emotional and financial stresses of your loved ones during such a difficult time, but you can help them tremendously by having a plan that outlines your funeral wishes.

Most financial professionals are realizing that an integral part of a sound financial and estate plan is taking care of your funeral services ahead of time.  To preplan a funeral gives you the ability to choose your method of disposition, the exact type of services you want, and allows your family to focus more on things such as grieving and recovery. In addition, preplanning is also a good thing for you because it allows you to make extremely important decisions through a calm and clear thought process. Emotionally, it is much more likely that you will create a more rational and logical end of life plan.

When preplanning your funeral, here are several general guidelines to begin your preplanning process:
* Visit various funeral homes and interview multiple funeral directors
* Choose a funeral home and director where you think your family would be most comfortable
* Consider bringing family members with you during this selection process
* Be aware and informed of bereavement entitlements such as veterans, unions, fraternities, etc.
* Consider religious and moral convictions, and discuss them with your family
* Determine your method of disposition (burial, cemetery, entombment, cremation, etc.)
* Plan your ceremony considering things like casket viewing, religious aspects, who should be included, etc.
* Itemize your costs
* The Federal Trade Commission offers a free funeral planning guide titled “Caskets and Burial Vaults” (202-326-2222) which has made it easier for consumers to comparison shop.
* The FTC Funeral Rule requires funeral directors to give pricing information over the phone, as well as provide you with a readily available General Price List if you visit them in person. This FTC Funeral Rule also allows you to purchase caskets, which are the single largest funeral expense, from outside vendors without the threat of a carrying charge.

What About Paying For Funeral Expenses In Advance?

Although planning your funeral arrangements in advance may help alleviate many of the details, prepaying (also known as prearranging or a Pre Need Plan) for your funeral services is a way of taking care of the actual expenses.

Prepaying your funeral or cremation is one of the fastest growing, and most appreciated and accepted aspects of funeral planning. Similar to preplanning your funeral, paying your funeral expenses in advance is also becoming widely accepted by many financial professionals as a solid piece of a sound financial and estate plan.

When prepaying your funeral plan, the most common and widely used strategies are savings and life insurance, mainly because they tend to be deemed the most reliable and readily available. However, there are several other strategies to consider when prepaying your funeral costs or expenses:

Savings

Although many people choose to set aside savings to pay for funeral expenses, there are several reasons this does not always end up working out as originally planned. First, the savings can be depleted based on unexpected financial circumstances, such as health or financial issues. Second, these funds are not always readily available and liquid upon death due to the challenges and restrictions often found in estate planning. Third, the funds set aside can often be insufficient due to inflation and the rising cost of funeral expenses. Finally, it should be noted that savings are included in a part of one’s estate, and, thus, the taxable consequences can often come into play.

Life Insurance


Term Life Insurance is widely considered to be a flexible, simple, and affordable way to pay for your final funeral expenses. Although Term Life Insurance has a set term, or set number of years, it also has multiple uses in prepaying for your funeral. Because upon your death it becomes a liquid asset that is usually not part of your estate, it can be used for many things such as funeral, burial, cremation, liquidity, and many other things, including debts or obligations.

In addition, there are some types of life insurance that allow the funds contributed to these policies (either in lump sum, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually) to grow and accumulate as a cash value that can be accessed if necessary. Therefore, these policies can not only be used for funeral expenses, but also for other financial planning options that may arise such as financial emergencies, college, etc.

Funeral Insurance

Funeral insurance is an insurance policy which is specifically designed to cover any costs or expenses which are directly related to your funeral. If you purchase one of these policies, one of the options you have is to determine exactly which funeral costs or expenses are to be covered, such as flowers, burial plot, grave marker, and much more.

Another option you have is for the policy to be paid out in a single lump-sum, which can be used to cover your pre-determined costs or expenses, or simply help your loved ones financially as they plan for you. There are many insurance companies that offer funeral insurance packages, and certain funeral homes or funeral companies also offer policies.

Pre-Need Trust Agreements

Another alternative to prepaying your funeral is to consider a Pre-Need Trust Agreement to pay for your costs or expenses. Generally speaking, these Trust accounts are typically funded with monthly payments that are invested in a fund which is designed to grow over time. Although a Trust account is designed to provide the potential for protection against inflation, it is not guaranteed to do so.

Take the First Step Today

In summary, although nobody likes to think or talk about dying, it is one of the facts of life we all must eventually face. If you are trying to build a successful financial plan, the only way you can be sure your plan works smoothly and efficiently is to be proactive about your planning process. This is particularly true and necessary when creating a proper plan of succession, which I firmly believe should include an end-of-life plan.

Christopher P. Hill, Founder

Death, Grief and Loss

Coping with Grief

The Simplicity of Blessings

Death can make us aware of the importance of life. When a person is a funeral director, he or she is surrounded by death. Many believe that blessings can arise out of grief and loss. As a society, we most often focus on the negative aspects of death. At 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.

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

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 and Death Estate Planning – Last Wills Versus Living Trusts

Funeral Estate Planning

The Differences Between a Last Will and Living Trust?

Which One is Best For You?

 

Who Should Have a Last Will?

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

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

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

The Statute Called “The Law of Intestate”

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

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

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

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

Why Would Someone Choose a Living Trust?

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

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

What is Probate?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 
Christopher P. Hill, Founder
FuneralResources.com
www.funeralresources.com

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

5 Easy Steps to Create Your End of Life Plan

End of Life Plan Steps

5 Easy Steps Create an End of Life Plan

The Greatest Gift Your Family Will Always Remember

Live As If There’s No Tomorrow

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

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

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

Use These 5 Easy Steps:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Benefits to You and Your Family

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

Chris Hill, Founder
https://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 Music and Top Funeral Songs

Funeral Music

Funeral Planning and

Funeral Music Considerations

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

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

Who Says it Has to be Sad Funeral Music?

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

 

Our Top 15 Favorite Funeral Songs:

1.   Amazing Grace

2.  The Grace of God, Patti Austin

3.  My Way, Frank Sinatra

4.  Let it Be, The Beatles

5.  Only the Good Die Young, Billy Joel

6.  She’s Finally Home, Cissy

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

8.  Live Like You Were Dying, Tim McGraw

9.  Candle in the Wind, Elton John

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

11.  I Hope You Dance, Joe Dee Messina

12.  Imagine, John Lennon

13.  Unforgettable, Nat King Cole

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

15.  Amazing Grace, Elvis Presley

 

Funeral Video Tributes Top Five Benefits

Video Tributes

Five Reasons A Funeral Video Tribute is an

Excellent Memorial Keepsake

 

1. A Quality Memorial Tribute

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

2. Restore Your Loved One’s Photos

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

3. Create a Fitting Video Memorial

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

4. Healing and Uplifting Music

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

5. A Memorial as Individual As Your Loved One

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

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

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

 

Funeral Planning is Turning to the Internet

Funeral Planning

Families are Searching the Internet for

Funeral Planning Help

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

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

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

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

At 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

Funeral Flower Arrangements

Funeral Flower Arrangements

FuneralResources.com Endorses FTD Flowers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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