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.
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)
Today a green funeral is a new trend that is emerging in the death care industry. Green funerals, or environmentally-friendly burials, do without the use of artificial preservation methods and materials that may be harmful to the environment. By using minimalist caskets and grave markers, and natural habitats, this types of burial cost is a fraction of their traditional counterparts. Green burials promote harmony with nature and protect mother earth.
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.’”
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.
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.
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.
How to expand your horizons after a loss but still integrate the memory of our loved one is a common theme. A normal process through our grief and loss journey is how to integrate the loss into our lives. One of the symbols of your past is yours and your spouse’s wedding rings. Changing how you display them is one way to help you transition to the future. The key is to pick something that feels “right” to you. There are many options and we suggest you be creative. We have outlined some suggestions below that might “fit” you.
Change where you wear the rings. A simple solution would be to move the rings from the hand that symbolizes marriage to the other hand. Some people have also chosen to place the rings on a necklace and wear them around his/her neck.
Transform your wedding rings. If you chose to transform your wedding rings this is where you can be especially creative. Many people have taken the stones out of the rings and placed them in new settings or made them into a new pair of earrings for example. Another option is to consider adding memorial diamonds to your current settings.
For example one woman said: “My husband died this year, and I had a nice gold chain, took the diamond that was in his Masonic ring, and suspended it in the center of his wedding ring, all held together in the suspension with small diamonds encrusted in a slide. It is lovely, and I wear it all the time. Sometimes I find myself even bringing it to my mouth, and unconsciously kissing it. But, my left hand ring finger is empty.”
Position the rings in a place of respect. If you choose not to wear the rings, you could make a place of honor for them. An idea might be to make a shadow box that you hang on the wall that will hold the rings. The shadow box then can be placed in the house somewhere that will bring comfort to you as you view your creation. This is also a nice way to pass a keepsake onto children.
Some people choose to wear their wedding ring for the rest of their lives on their left hand, especially those that are older, and have made up their mind that they will not ever want to marry again. Feel comfortable to do that, if this is your choice. There are no rules about what you “must” do.
We have been told by those that want to take off their wedding rings as a symbol of “moving on” that they have chosen to give them to their children now, rather than wait for their own passing. If you have no children, perhaps a niece or nephew might be the perfect recipient.
If you want, you can put your wedding rings in your jewelry box, and keep them there until you decide what you do want to do with them. There is no need to rush to a decision.
Give yourself permission to take your rings off, if that is what you feel like doing. Sometimes, it is a simple as listening to your intuition to know what is the thing to do that “feels” like the perfect solution for moving to a new emotional plateau.
If you have come to a place in your stages of grief where you are truly ready to move forward, keep in mind to choose something that is right for you and that also symbolizes you are moving on from your loss. Symbols, such as wedding rings, are powerful. Potential mates will respect that you are honoring the past while being ready to accept new people and new love into your life.
But above all else, be creative, and do what pleases you!
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.
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!
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.
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.
Funeral Directors and Families Benefit From
New Memorial Technology
The following is a true story;
“Not too long ago, a friend of mine approached me whose aunt had just recently passed away. He was unable to travel to the funeral service due to a serious prior work commitment, but was comforted to hear that the technology existed to broadcast the funeral service LIVE on the internet. At his request, we contacted the funeral home that was caring for his aunt and informed them of the family’s desire to broadcast their memorial service LIVE on the Internet. Unfortunately, this particular Funeral Home was not willing to expand their services for his family’s request and take advantage of today’s new technologies. I regret to say that my friend was unable to participate in his aunt’s life celebration, and his family was extremely upset when they heard about the incident.” Curtis Funk, President, FuneralRecording.com.
The moral of the story…
If you really think about this story, not only can I can assure you that this person’s family will be taking their future business elsewhere, but I can also assure you that there are many other people who will be hearing about this story.
Now, maybe this story is an extremely uncommon situation, but what I believe is most important here is the underlying message. Funeral Webcasting, despite all of the recent hype in the funeral industry, is by no means a new technology. In fact, over the last few years it has been quickly gaining traction to the point where most family members are beginning to request it, or at the very least, expect this to be a regular part of a Funeral Director’s recommendations and services. So I cannot emphasize enough how important it that Funeral Directors embrace the many new technologies that are being so widely embraced today.
To further prove this point, in the March 2009 edition of the National Funeral Directors Association Magazine, called “Director“, John D. Reed, NFDA’s President, had the following to say;
“There is no doubt that with today’s technology, even the smallest Funeral Homes can be more competitive and cost-effective and offer the families they serve a wider range of products and services.”
New Memorial Technology – or Not?
The reality is Funeral Webcasting is just one of today’s many new and innovative memorial technology tools that are widely recognized in the funeral industry as common services that help make a difficult situation a little easier. In fact:
4. FOX News featured an excellent story about Memorial Reefs, which is a cremation option also referred to as a “Green Burial at Sea”
It is a proven fact that there are many other new funeral and memorial technologies that can significantly benefit most families. In fact, our surveys indicate that a Video Tribute and Memorial Website are also among the most popular technology tools families are searching for today. Therefore, it only makes sense that these should be viewed as standard funeral home services that today’s Funeral Directors recommend and provide.
The reality is that these new funeral technologies can help every Funeral Director in multiple ways too, such as helping strengthen the relationship with their families and communities, keeping pace with the competition, increasing website traffic, receiving more family referrals, increasing their credibility, and opening up many more opportunities for new services and growth.
Just as they have done for centuries, most Funeral Directors are quickly adapting to these new industry changes. One of the key ways a Funeral Director can measure success is through ensuring their families make the most out of this difficult situation. Since these new memorial technologies can only benefit their valued public service, most Funeral Directors are becoming more proactive. Instead of sitting back and waiting for their families to request these new helpful tools, today’s industry leaders are being proactive by taking advantage of these new opportunities in the marketplace…and adding them as a standard part of the services they provide.
Our experience with both families and Funeral Directors is that regardless of the family’s situation, or the size of your city or town, families of all kinds and sizes will warmly embrace and accept these types of services when they are correctly presented to them.
Two things we know for certain…
Here are two things we know for certain. First, given the advent of the Internet and the constant evolution of new and improved technology, we know that the funeral industry needs to keep pace with today’s constantly changing environment. Second, we know that Funeral Directors will do what they have done for centuries, which is find new ways to adapt the these changes. Our goal at FuneralResources.com is to help facilitate this process sooner versus later.
I would like to ask you to please spend some time reading this personal story of mine. I am FULLY confident that you will find something in this story, some special message, that will make your life better, and end up being worth a few minutes of your time.
When it comes to financial planning, I will spare you the boring details about the importance of having a plan in place for the unexpected, using products and strategies like Umbrealla Policies, Life Insurance, Wills, Trusts, Estate Planning, Disability Insurance, Long-Term Care Insurance. etc.
In the past I might have boasted about how well-versed and experienced I was with helping my clients design and create strategies to protect my clients, and my own family, against the unexpected. But the truth is, my life has been forever changed since I lost my mother on Thanksgiving Day of 2008.
Since nobody in my family had ever really dealt with losing a “close” family member before, we had no idea what to expect. In fact, we didn’t know and we didn’t plan for this outcome in any way, simply because we never once thought about – or talked about = being in that situation.
Once my mother became sick, the thought never crossed our minds to talk about what would happen “afterwards”. Truthfully, in those situations, talking about someone’s death is an unspoken, unlikely, and unacceptable outcome that never crossed your mind. All you can think about, and all you can talk about, is how they are going to be ok. They will make it. Stay strong. You have loving family, friends, and medical support – all of which will help you get through this.
After she passed, I can vividly remember that feeling of being so confused, uncertain, and disappointed. Why? Because I didn’t know what to do next, or who to turn to. I also remember realizing that I didn’t know the any of the details regarding what my mother would have really wanted with regards to her end of life plans and preferences. Why? Because I did not have the courage to ask while she was still alive and healthy. Once she back sick, it was simply never the right time to discuss death or dying.
Even after almost 5 years now, I still don’t feel comfortable talking about it. But what I do feel comfortable talking about is what happened after.
What Happens After a Loved One Passes?
My next memory is, right about the time the enormity of the situation was just starting to sink in, we were sitting in a local Funeral Home, surrounded by various types of caskets and cremation urns, reviewing a two-sided legal page (General Price List) which is filled with countless options on how to plan a funeral – all of which probably add up to well over $200,000.
Now please keep in mind that, at that time, the last thing in the world any of us wanted to talk about or think about was planning a funeral and memorial service, much less having to make decisions regarding any of the financial aspects.
Things I Bet You Never Thought About…
Here is a list of some other funeral planning challenges we faced that. Keep in mind that, like our family, all of these decisions are usually made within a period of a few days, and with little or no education or professional guidance:
How do we determine which Funeral Home, Cemetery, or Funeral Director?
How do we arrange and notify family members and/or loved ones who live out of town? Who contacts who?
How do we determine exactly what type of memorial service is most appropriate? Do you celebrate a life? Do you mourn?
Knowing whether there was a preference to be cremated or buried?
Choosing among many different types of caskets or urns?
Where should the final resting place be for the cremated remains?
How should our plans and preferences work with regards to your religion? Which Church? Which Priest?
Who should be invited, and how do you locate all their names and numbers?
Who will pay for these funeral expenses, and how will this be paid for?
Who will give a eulogy at the memorial service? Who will do a reading?
What is funeral etiquette with regards to dress, time, date, day?
Will there be a gathering after the memorial service? If so, who should be invited?
How do you place an obituary? What should it say? Who should handle this?
Choosing among pictures, funeral music, videos, and much, much more…
It is Time For Change…
They say “everything happens for a reason“. Well, even though I believe there is never a valid “reason” to lose a loved one, I can say that this experience has opened my eyes to a lot of things that have previously gone unnoticed. And as time passes, the one thing in particular that is becoming crystal clear is the fact people and families need to prepare their end of life plans and preferences in advance.
In all my years of financial education and training, I have never once heard someone so much as talk about how to help the families we serve by encouraging them to create an end of life plan.
Well my friends, it is time for change. Maybe losing my mother is the “reason” and inspiration behind my serious movement to help families make a difficult situation easier.
So from this day forward, I will be seeking the help the finest associations, organizations, and people in the funeral and financial planning industries. Along with their help, I am going to be speaking loudly, boldly, and clearly, about the need for change when it comes to financial, retirement, and estate planning. There is a missing piece to the financial puzzle that needs to be fixed, which is helping families Create an End of Life Celebration Plan.
How to Create Your End of Life Celebration Plan…
Below is a link to four guides I have put together that will help you learn more about how to create your End of Life Celebration Plan:
In the financial planning industry, it is very rare that a financial advisor can use the word “guarantee“. And usually the word “guarantee” needs to be accompanied by a prospectus and/or extensive legal disclaimers, documents, and details.
However, when you look at this from a real-life experience like I now can, financial advisors actually have something that we can guarantee every client – which is the fact that some day you will die. Regrettably, this may happen much sooner than anyone could ever imagine or plan. But regardless of the timing, some day your life will end. So begins the two all-important questions…
We All Have Two Choices…
1. Continue to Do Nothing
Do not plan for this guaranteed outcome in any way. After reading this article, you are well aware of the fact that you will be leaving your family behind to unnecessarily suffer through a tremendous amount of difficult emotional and financial decisions, during an extremely difficult time, in addition to coping with their grief and loss over your death.
2. Pre-arrange and/or Pre-Pay Today…
Set aside the time, put in the effort, and create your End of Life Celebration plan that you would want – and that your family deserves. If you are ready to take this step, here are some easy options:
My passion is to take this personal experience, learn from it, and turn it into a positive experience through helping other families make a difficult situation easier. Helping families become more educated, empowered, and most importantly, more prepared. My hope and prayer is that I can make my mother very proud one day. I pray that some day she looks down and sees that her never-ending selfless love and legacy will live forever, and that her death has become an inspiration to help others.
Preplanning is Not Fun or Easy…
Like many of the best things in life, nothing good comes easy. So as you would expect, talking about. thinking about, and planning about death and dying is not fun. However, a legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once said;
“The difference between failure and success is largely determined by the
amount of time and preparation put into planning for the future.”
A Gift You Give – and Receive…
After all, what better gift can you leave your family than showing them that you selflessly made time, took that extra step, and sacrificed a small part of your life to show how much you love them. Imagine knowing that one of the last memories you leave behind is that your family knew that you did everything possible to make their lives better. What memory could be better?
After sharing my own personal experience, I hope you can see that this kind of unselfish love actually provides you a huge gift too, and that gift is called peace of mind.