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Coping with Grief and Loss over the Holidays

Grief and Holidays

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

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

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

None of those choices seemed right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contributing author – Carolyn Parr with Tough Conversations

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

How to Face Grief and Loss

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

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

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

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

Putting Life’s Storms into Perspective

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

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

The Family Tree: The Night of the Storm

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

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

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

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

About Laurie Copmann, Author and Educator

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

How to Cope with Grief

How to Cope with Grief and
the Barrier to Grief

What do we mean by grief?

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

We all grieve in our own way

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

None of these are right or wrong.

The barrier to grief

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

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

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

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

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

Saying the Right Things When You Offer Sympathies

How to Offer Sympathy

Saying the Right Things
When You Offer Sympathies

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

Don’t Avoid the Issue

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

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

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

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

Be Supportive

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Funeral Etiquette for the Bereaved

Funeral Etiquette for
Sympathizing with the Bereaved

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

What to Do

Upon hearing of the death:

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

At the funeral:

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

After the funeral:

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

What to Say (and Not to Say)

Do’s:

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

Phrases that are likely to be appreciated:

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

Don’ts:

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

Phrases that you should avoid:

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

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

Etiquette for the Bereaved

Planning the funeral:

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

At the funeral:

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

After the funeral:

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

 

Courtesy of:  www.rhcfunerals.co.uk

Funeral Photography Tips

Funeral Photographs

Tips For Funeral Photography

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

Don’t Disturb People

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

Plan Ahead

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

Maintain Distance

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

Capturing Grievers

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

Quick Shots

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

Adhere to Requests

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

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

Source:  Robert Bruce, Great Lakes Caskets

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

What to Do When a Distant Family Member Dies

Death of a Distant Relative

What to Do When a Distant Family Member Dies

It’s never easy to know what to do when tragedy strikes. But, when you first learn of the death of a non-immediate family member, take action right away— or at least as quickly as you are able.

Express Your Condolences

Nothing expresses your concern and solidarity better than showing up in person. If the deceased’s immediate family members live nearby, make it a point to stop in. Sometimes people avoid this step because they don’t know whether it’s the right thing to do, but according to The American Cancer Society, letting someone know you’re there and you care when a loved one dies is more than appropriate— it’s vital. You don’t have to stay long. You don’t even have to cross the threshold of the doorway if you feel like you’ve arrived at the wrong time, but you need to show up long enough to say, “I heard your family member died, I’m so sorry. What can I do to help?”

Grief Counseling

Honor The Lost Loved One

It’s tradition to send funeral flowers and funeral gifts when a family member dies. Very few families are ever offended by a beautiful floral tribute or an enduring green arrangement to honor a lost life. If you’re purchasing flowers for the service that will eventually be placed by the grave, you’ll want to have them delivered to the funeral home. Another option is to send an indoor living arrangement in a planter directly to the home of those who survive to act as a lasting tribute to the person who passed away.

Offer Your Support

All areas of the country have different traditions. In some areas, it’s often appropriate to take a casserole to the grieving family so they can mark dinner off their list of things that need to be done. If this isn’t a tradition in your family, there are other ways you can help.

  • Volunteer to Make Notification Phone Calls
  • Go Along to Help Pick Out the Casket
  • Take the Children Out Somewhere
  • Send a Supply of Groceries for the Grieving Family

 

Be Tactful

Be there to listen and to validate the feelings of a person suffering from grief and loss by avoiding certain phrases. Never start a conversation by telling the grieving person you know how they feel, that their loved one is in a better place now or that what happened was God’s will. Aside from sounding pompous, statements like this only serve to make the person who’s suffering feel guilty for what they’re going through. Only God knows what His will is. Even if the person’s death ended an agonizing struggle, now isn’t the time to point it out. Allow them to feel how they feel and remember that your main purpose isn’t to argue them back into a healthy outlook, it’s to listen, offer support and find out what you can do to make things easier.

Don’t Forget About the Kids

Remember to consider the feelings and questions of the kids— your kids, that is. Explain what happened in a way that isn’t scarring or terrifying. If you’re not sure what to say, some valuable options are speaking with a school counselor or local organizations such as Hope Hospice that employ professionals who deal in loss and grief every day.

 

Talking About Death and Funeral Planning

Death and Funeral Planning

Why are Funeral Planning and Death

Considered Taboo Conversations?

There are few things in life that are certain, but one thing that can be relied upon is that we will all die. Although death is an absolute certainty for every single one of us, society at large still seems to find it difficult to discuss funeral planning, death and dying. Death has always been something of a taboo subject, but even in these relatively enlightened times it is still a topic that causes some to react with disgust, fear or denial.

As a result, to plan a funeral for yourself or a loved one can be tricky at best. It is important that everyone gets the kind of funeral plan that respects their beliefs and wishes.  However, if these are not discussed in advance, it is difficult for those left behind to know how the best ways to handle these difficult decisions after a person has died.

Fear of Death and Dying

It’s understandable that, as a species intent on survival, we are reticent about discussing our inevitable demise. Fear of death can encompass a number of things including concerns about grief and loss, worry about pain or suffering, fear of the unknown, and bereavement.  There is also the sense that in death, things that an individual values such as family, friends and loved ones will be lost.

Many people have superstitious beliefs concerning death and dying that can hinder their willingness to talk about their end of life plans and preferences – and what should happen after they’re gone. The belief that talking about death is somehow “tempting fate” or will hasten death is common and will cause problems with making clear plans for what should happen after death.

Some deaths are more predictable than others, and those people who are diagnosed with a medical condition with a prognosis of shortened life may be in a better position for terminally ill planning since they have “some” idea of how much life they have left. Still, even those people for whom death is imminent may not wish to talk about it.

Death and Money – The Perfect Storm of Taboos

If there is one topic that draws an equal amount of discomfort for open discussion, it is an individual’s personal financial affairs. In working through a funeral planning checklist, the subjects of money and death are brought together in a clash of two of the strongest taboo subjects for discussion in polite conversation.

According to AARP, today’s average funeral costs can run upwards of $10,000.  Clearly this is no small consideration when facing things like funeral estate planning and finding the money to pay for the essentials after a death. In addition to adding the stress of finding this money to the worry about doing the right thing, you also have the drawbacks of not discussing how to plan your funeral with loved ones when the opportunity has always been available.  So these drawbacks significantly outweigh the discomfort of talking about things that are often left unsaid.

An Open Conversation About Death

Although it is hard for some people to talk about dying, it is an extremely important conversation to have. Without an understanding of what a person’s wishes are for their end of life funeral arrangements, families can be left in a difficult position of trying to second guess what their loved one would have wanted after their death. Don’t leave it too late to have the conversation.

If you preplan a funeral, it gives you the opportunity to talk about preferences, funeral costs, and the way in which you want to be remembered.  This includes even the little details such what you want to say in your obituary, what kind of memorial service you would like, what to put on your monuments or head stone, or even new memorial technology for gravestones.

Getting your funeral plan, preferences, and finances in place early means that both the dying person and the family left behind have the peace of mind to knowing that the right thing was done, and the funeral plan and money are available to ensure the deceased’s wishes are fulfilled.

Conclusion

Death and dying is one of the final taboos for discussion in our society. However, making sure that everyone is clear about what they want in death and their wishes for their funeral can bring peace of mind to all concerned.

Article contributed by Memorials of Distinction

Death of a Loved One Funeral Planning Checklist

Plan a Funeral

Death of a Loved One Checklist

Checklist to Help Families Get Through a Difficult Time

Losing a loved one is arguably one of the most difficult experiences in life.  In addition to coping with the grief and loss, there are also a variety of challenging tasks and important financial decisions to be completed, some of which include:

– Making final arrangements

– Reviewing funeral costs and funding options

– Settling an individual’s estate and heirlooms

– Notifying family, friends and co-workers

– Working with various companies and government agencies

– Providing important vital statistics for insurance claims and death certificates

– Securing the financial security of the remaining spouse

Time-Sensitive Tasks

Contact all close family members, friends, co-workers and clergy first.  This is not only important to notify them of this loss, but because you will need their help with funeral planning and emotional support.

Begin working with the family and loved ones to arrange the funeral, burial or cremation and memorial services Since everyone knows that death is a guaranteed event, my hope is that financial professionals have properly planned and prepared their clients and prospective clients in most of these End of Life arrangements ahead of time.

Review all of the important paperwork and documents to identify any instruction containing their final wishes. In most cases, these key End of Life and estate planning instructions can be found in his or her Last Will, Living Trust, or other estate planning preparations.

Notify family, friends, co-workers and loved ones of the final arrangements.  These final arrangement notifications should include details such as cultural and religious rituals, funeral etiquette details, and funeral flowers or donation preferences.

Notify the decedent’s place of work, professional organizations, unions, associations, military branch, and any other organizations where he or she may have been a member or volunteer.

Recommend that each of the decedent’s loved ones notify their own personal employer and arrange for bereavement leave.

Make sure that an obituary is created in your local newspaper as well as on the Internet.

Promptly begin obtaining certified copies of the death certificate. In most cases the family doctor or medical examiner provides a death certificate within 24 hours of the death. The next step is for the Funeral Home and/or Funeral Director to complete the form and file it with the state. Note: Be sure to request and obtain many original copies, since photocopies are not always accepted. These death certificates become important for tasks such as applying for benefits and settling an estate.

Be sure to review all financial affairs, particularly focusing on estate planning documents such as a Last Will or Living Trust, deeds and titles, marriage certificates, birth and adoption certificates, military paperwork and other relevant documents.

If applicable, locate and contact the decedent’s estate planning attorney for all copies of estate planning documents, particularly the originals.

Contact the decedent’s local bank to verify if they had a safe-deposit box.  Note: If the decedent did not leave behind instructions or details regarding who is authorized to open their safe deposit box, you can petition the probate court for an order to open.

Contact the Social Security Administration to report the death.  Also note:

– If your loved one was receiving any benefits via direct deposit, request that the bank return funds received for the month of death — and thereafter to Social Security as well.

– Do not cash any Social Security checks received by mail. Return all checks to the Social Security Administration as soon as possible.

– Surviving spouses and other family members may be eligible for a lump-sum death benefit and/or survivor’s benefits. You can visit www.ssa.gov for more information.

Prepare a comprehensive list of all of the decedent’s assets.

If applicable, be sure to put safeguards in place to protect any key property.

Make sure any mortgage payments and insurance premiums continue to be paid while the estate is being settled.

Regarding the decedent’s place of work, be sure to:

– Request to receive their belongings.

– Inquire about collecting any salary, vacation or sick pay owed.

– Ask about continuing health insurance coverage and potential survivor’s benefits for their spouse and/or children.

– Review all employer, union, or association death benefits details.  Be aware of the fact that if the death was work-related, the decedent’s estate or beneficiaries may be entitled to workers compensation benefits.

Contact the decedent’s past employers regarding any pension plans, survivor benefits, as well as any other forms of defined benefit or defined contribution retirement savings plans.

If the decedent was a military veteran, inquire about any potential eligibility for burial and memorial benefits. This can be accomplished by contacting the Department of Veterans Affairs by either calling (800) 827-1000 or visiting their website www.va.gov.

Contact any IRA custodians, trustees, and guardians. Be sure to review and confirm all of the IRA beneficiary designations, as well as understand all of the IRA distribution options.

Locate and review all life and funeral insurance policies, which could include individual insurance, group life insurance, mortgage insurance, auto credit life insurance, accidental death and dismemberment, credit card insurance and annuities.

Contact each insurance company to find out the necessary procedures and documents needed to file claims.

Promptly contact all credit card companies to notify them of the death and, assuming there are no other names associated, cancel all credit cards.

Retitle all jointly held assets such as bank accounts, automobiles, stocks and bonds and real estate into the surviving parties’ name.  If the decedent was an owner, principal, or had a controlling interest in a business, review all corporate documents and details. Be sure to check to see if there are any additional business agreements such as a buy-sell agreements, split-dollar agreement, etc.

Tasks to Be Completed Within 9 Months:

If the decedent created a Last Will or Living Trust, be sure to file these documents with the appropriate probate court. If there was any real estate owned out of his or her state of domicile, be sure to file ancillary probate in that state also.

If the decedent did not leave behind a Last Will or Living Trust, contact the probate ask the court or a probate attorney for instructions and assistance.

With regards to any of the decedent’s creditors, be sure to notify them by mail as well as by placing a notice in the local newspaper.  Any debtor’s claims must be made within the statute of limitations.  Although this varies from state to state, the standard time is usually 30 days from actual notice. Once a claim has been made, be sure to insist upon proof of all claims.

With regards to estate taxes, you may be required to file a federal estate tax return within 9 months of the date of death. Due to the fact that state laws vary, there is the possibility that state estate tax and/or inheritance tax returns may need to be filed.  Federal and state income taxes are due for the year of death on the normal filing date, unless an extension is requested. Should there be any existing Trusts in place at the date of death, a separate income tax return may need to be filed. It is highly recommended that all financial professionals and their families seek the advice of seasoned tax and estate planning professionals.

Tasks to Be Completed Within 9 to 12 Months

One of the most important tasks, which can often be overlooked or postponed, is to update your own estate plan — or your client or prospective client’s estate plan — if someone was a beneficiary or appointed as an agent, trustee or guardian.

Along the same lines, it is also extremely important to revise and update all beneficiary designations on the decedent’s or surviving parties retirement plans. This includes accounts such as IRAs, Transfer-on-Death (TOD) or Payable-on-Death (POD) accounts, pension plans, life insurance policies, annuities and any other accounts on which the decedent was named as a beneficiary.

Review the impact of the “big picture” financial situation, which includes changes in the household income, expenses, budget, as well as short and long-term goals and objectives.

Review the families insurance needs, including the insurance amounts, types, beneficiary designations and most importantly, any needs for insurance.

Reevaluate whether or not the existing investment options still make sense. This includes reviewing details such as existing asset allocation, goals and objectives, risk tolerances, income and estate taxes, income distribution and legacy planning.

Other Key Considerations

Although this is a matter that most families and loved ones wish to complete and have behind them, take your time and do not try to rush the settlement of a loved one’s estate. When it comes to estate planning and distribution, there are many important decisions that must be made in compliance with the Last Will or Living Trust and applicable state and federal laws. This is exactly why it is so important to seek the help and advice of an experienced estate planning attorney.

If your client, prospective client or loved one did not leave behind any End of Life plan with regards to their final plans and preferences, you can visit www.funeralresources.com and www.memorialtechnology.com. These are family-focused resource centers that contains the large majority of information most families seek help for when it comes to funerals, burials, memorial services, End of Life Planning and much more.

Christopher P. Hill, Founder

Funeral and Death Estate Tax Planning

Funeral Estate Tax Planning

Estate and Inheritance Tax Questions to Ask

After Grieving the Death of a Loved One

When suffering from the grief and loss of a loved one, it can be the most painful and stressful time in our life. It’s important to surround our selves with close family or friends as a support system.

The experience is one that can seem like time is standing still because of the grief, but at same the time, it can be quite overwhelming and as if time were flying right past us. When someone we love passes away, there are so many details that need to be considered while grieving. That process in-and-of-itself can be painful. Funeral arrangements, memorial services, obtaining death certificates, and legal matters are all part of the details involved in losing a loved one.

Things like inheritance and estate tax issues don’t need to be addressed immediately. Focusing on our friends and family are obviously more important. But eventually the details will need our attention.

Helpful Considerations When Facing a Loss:

Is Life Insurance Taxable?

While life insurance proceeds are included in the estate, they are not taxable (as income) to beneficiaries. However, you should contact the life insurance company to understand the procedure to cashing in their policy. Typically insurance companies will require a claim form and death certificate. But generally, life insurance is not taxable to inheritors. (Click to learn more about burial insurance and/or funeral insurance)

What is My Inheritance Tax Rate?

Inheritance tax will vary from state-to-state. Typically if the value of the estate that’s being inherited is high in value, your tax rate will be higher as well.

For example, tax preparers in Indianapolis, Indiana will tell you that Indiana’s inheritance tax system breaks the heirs or inheritors into three classes or groups. Systems in Pennsylvania are very different. For Indiana, each group has different rate schedules and exemptions. Here’s how this looks according to the Indiana Department of Revenue:

•  Class A – direct ancestor or descendant, stepchildren, direct descendant of a stepchild: $100,000 exemption.
•  Class B – siblings, descendants of sibling, spouse, widow or widower of your child: $500 exemption
•  Class C – anyone else excluding spouse: $100 exemption

Are Bank Accounts Taxable?

Revenue-producing assets like bank accounts and stacks are not taxable upon inheriting them. However, the income that these assets generate is taxable to the recipient.

What About Pensions and IRA’s

A person inheriting a pension or IRA is required to pay taxes on the amount received, as the decedent (person who is deceased) would have during their life. An IRA or similar fund can be rolled over tax-free into the beneficiary’s name and treat it as their own.

While things like estate and inheritance tax is, by no means, the most important item to address when we suffer the loss of a loved one, it is important to understand what is and is not taxable during these times. Estate and inheritance taxes can be burdensome and stressful, but in some cases, an inheritance is not taxable to you.

Estate lawyers are available to help guide us during times of funeral estate planning, but they can often be costly. Check with your tax preparer or attorney handling the estate as to what you need to know when sorting out inheritance and estate issues.

End of Life and Death Donation Options

Consider Funeral and Death Donations

Afterward…

Dividing and Donating Your Loved One’s Estate

A Guest Blogger Shares His Personal Story:

 

When my grandmother passed away, my mother was named as executor of her funeral estate planning and was left with a house full of memories and possessions to distribute. After she and her siblings divided those belongings that they wanted, there were still many items left. My mother didn’t feel right selling these things, so she donated everything, in order to help others in need.

Clothing and Shoes

Clothing items can be donated to second-hand stores, homeless shelters, or battered women’s shelters. There are often used clothing drives in the fall and winter, and coats, gloves/mittens, scarves and boots are especially important donations during this time.

Bedding

If these items are in good condition, homeless shelters will put them to use, especially in the winter months. Additionally, hospices can always use quality donations in order to make their patients as comfortable as possible in their final days.

Books, Videos and CDs

With budget cuts, many schools and libraries are unable to buy new materials as often as they would like, which negatively impacts their students and patrons. By donating to these establishments, you are helping your community and aiding in the education of others.

Dishes, Silverware, and Food-Related Utensils

Homeless shelters that cater to families are often divided into small apartments, complete with kitchens.  By donating to these organizations, you can help a family sit down to a home cooked meal, thus providing stability during a difficult time.

Knick-Knacks, Artwork, and the Like

These are often tricky to donate, as many are personal mementos or are considered clutter by others. Residents of nursing homes, and those suffering from a terminal illness, can often live in drab surroundings.  Therefore, items such as these can brighten their rooms and bring smiles to their faces.

Furniture

Craig’s List is a great place to find people in need of free furniture. When posting, be sure to include a photo, and request that prospective owners pick up the furniture. Be cautious when using sites such as these, though, and use common sense when allowing strangers into your home.

Used Medical Equipment

It is not uncommon to have used medical equipment left after a loved one’s death, especially in the case of a prolonged illness or severe injury. When left with a wheelchair, walker, shower chair, or other equipment, find an area hospice in need of your items. These are often nonprofit, and can always use quality donations.

The death of a loved one can be a devastating time. The last thing you want to worry about is what to do with their possessions once they are gone.

However, with a little thought and end of life planning, you can make this a relatively painless process, and one that can be handled quickly and efficiently, so you can begin to move past your tragedy and start the grief and loss and healing process.

Courtesy of Joseph Baker

Hiring an In-Home Caregiver

End of Life Planning

Five Tips for Finding a Quality Home Care Provider

You and your family have decided that it is time to bring in outside help to assist with the care of a loved one in need. Because you want them to be able to remain safe, comfortable and independent in their own home for as long as possible, you have chosen to hire an in-home caregiver or home healthcare agency. The next step is choosing the best care provider for you and your loved one. But how do you know who the best is?

Here are five tips for finding a quality home care provider:

1. Get recommendations. Talk to trusted professionals and community members. Your parent’s doctor, financial advisor, attorney, other medical providers, friends or family members may have familiarity and experience with local companies that do a good job. A list of providers is also available from your local Area Agency on Aging or hospital social work department. However, it is rare for these resources to make specific recommendations.

2. Know your liability. Understand the possible liabilities and ramifications involved when hiring a caregiver privately. Consider issues such as taxes, insurance, liability and worker’s compensation, backup coverage, background checks/oversight and training. If hiring through a nurse registry or employment agency, the family may end up being the official employer, responsible for pay, taxes and other obligations. On the other end of the spectrum, fully licensed private duty home health agencies offer more comprehensive services and protections as employers of the caregivers.

3. Consider innovation. Research how current their monitoring and communications technology is. How easy is it to monitor the care your loved one is receiving? Can you speak to the caregiver or management at any time?

4. Get to know who you’re hiring. When talking with an agency, get a feel for their process. Will they allow you and your loved one to interview potential caregivers? How do they handle replacing a caregiver that is not a good fit? What steps do they take to ensure coverage and accountability? How do they supervise, train and support staff? Do they strive for continuity or will your loved one have different staff each time? How many caregivers will cover the shifts your loved one requires? While regulations standardize licensed home care agencies to a degree, these are the things that will set one agency apart from another.

5. Research involvement. Seek out providers who have a history in the community and the industry. Check if providers are involved with local and national associations such as the Alzheimer’s Association, the Area Agency on Aging and the National Private Duty Association. Their involvement demonstrates passion and dedication for their field. Management staff that has a history in the community and the profession demonstrates a commitment, stability and a positive reputation that they would want to protect.

With many years of advocating for the rights of seniors and their families in Pinellas County Florida, EasyLiving, Inc., a fully licensed, private duty home healthcare company, has dedicated its company to offering clients more personalized service, flexible scheduling and reliable, expert caregivers. EasyLiving caregivers undergo an extensive interview process to ensure that they maintain fully qualified and licensed team members. Every caregiver has completed a criminal background check and drug screening, and are insured, bonded and covered under worker’s compensation to ensure that our clients receive the highest quality service from trustworthy, experienced professionals. EasyLiving provides paid training as well as all continuing education requirements to its caregivers annually, enabling them to improve their expertise and service. For more information, visit EasyLivingFl.com.

About the authors: Alex Chamberlain is executive director at EasyLiving, Inc., a fully licensed, private duty home health care company serving individuals and families in Pinellas and Pasco counties in Florida. With a strong background of academic and practical experience in sales, marketing, administration and leadership, Alex handles overall company operations, strategic planning and overseeing staff. He serves on the boards of a number of local non-profit organizations and was named a 2009 Tampa Bay Business Journal “Up and Comer.”

Shannon Martin, M.S.W., CMC, has served as director of community relations at Aging Wisely, LLC, a comprehensive care management and consultation company in Clearwater, Fla, over 8 years. Shannon provides marketing and public relations support to EasyLiving, Inc. Prior to Aging Wisely, Shannon served as social services director and admissions coordinator in an assisted living/skilled nursing facility and worked as a social worker and volunteer coordinator for a large hospice in Atlanta, Ga.

For additional information on EasyLiving, Inc. contact Shannon or Alex at 727-448-0900 or Admin@easylivingfl.com.

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

College Students Coping with Grief

Grief and Loss

Coping with Grief  and Loss

While Going Back to College

Most people who begin their grief journey want straight facts. They want to know such things as what to expect, how long will the grief and loss can last, etc. College students are no exception. However, college students are in a unique niche of No- Longer-a-Teenager but not quite considered an adult as they are not melded into the working world.  Should you need it, here are some quick tips to print off and give to a grieving college student.

1. Most people grieve anywhere from three to seven years. The five stages of grief can last approximately three years. Some people say that the second year of grief is harder than the first year of grief, but this is not always the case.

2. You may find yourself crying on and off for the next three years. Don’t try to fight the tears, rather let them flow. Tears are your body’s way of helping you cope with grief. Tears actually release chemicals into your system that help you feel better.

3. Even if you don’t feel like it, try to eat three meals a day. They don’t have to be huge and they should be “healthy for you” food. Try to limit the amount of sugar and empty calories you take into your body. Grieving is probably the hardest job you will every do. It is demanding physically, mentally and emotionally. Because of this high demand, your body needs energy that comes from solid healthy food. Cut out the caffeine if possible, limit the amount of alcohol you take into your system and drink as much water as you can get down a day. Think of this as if you were training for a really big physical event. (Like the Olympics!)

4. Talk, talk and talk some more. Typically, you are going to find that people want to talk to you and listen to you for the first few weeks and months. Then most people don’t know what to say, or don’t want to listen anymore–all for a host of reasons. You probably will get to the point where people ask you how you are doing and you will say ”I am fine”. Try to find people to talk to about your loss who are willing to listen. Talking does you a world of good.  Journaling is also a great tool. One of the services offered at Beyond Indigo contains a private journal no one can access except you.

5. Be aware that you will have to be the one educating people on how to help you while you are grieving. This is ironic since you are the one that needs the support, not the other way around but, nevertheless, this tends to be a fact in our society. We are not socialized to talk about death. We are socialized to talk about boyfriends, our future children, weddings, etc. but not death. Therefore, people have no clue what to say. They mean well and are trying, but they may say the things that are not helpful to you. It is okay to say something like, “Listen, I know you mean well and are trying to help, but telling me my father is in heaven doesn’t make me feel better. What makes me feel better is______.  (fill in the blank with how you feel, or what you would like to hear.)

6. Taking care of you during school will be a big task. Your life now is very different. You know this, however, other people may not. They may not understand how your world has changed dramatically. Focusing on schoolwork might be more difficult. Make sure to give yourself permission to change your study habits if you need to. It is okay if you don’t socialize like you did before. Figure out what little things help you during the day, such as a soothing bath at night, or listening to special music. Make sure to tell your professors of your loss. Especially be aware that you might need to explain to them that you might have trouble concentrating. There might be some arrangement that you can make to take tests on a different day if the scheduled day of testing proves to be too emotionally difficult for you. Teachers will understand if you tell them ahead of time.

7. It never hurts to find a therapist and receive some grief counseling on campus (or in town) who can be there to help monitor you through this time. You’ll need a therapist who will listen and give you ideas to put in your “tool box” to help you communicate with peers, to help you adjust to your family’s new roles with your loved one gone and to help you get through this year of school. Though you may feel you want a therapist that just listens and says, “Right, okay then, we will see you next week”, in the long run this will not be quite as helpful as a therapist that help you develop communication skills and action plans. If you go to a therapist and find that you do not “bond” with him/her or feel comfortable in his/her presence it is totally legit to terminate your sessions and seek another therapist that will feel like a comfortable “fit”.

8. If you are not sleeping at night you need to go see the doctor on campus or in town to help you sleep. Sleep is hugely important to keep up your strength.

Remember to take care of “you” first and then school and everything else will become easier to manage. Good luck on your new learning experience!

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

© 2010 Kelasan, Inc.

By |August 11th, 2010|Categories: Bereavement, Children and Death, five stages of grief, Grief, Grief and Loss, Grief Counseling, Grief Support|Tags: , , , , |Comments Off on College Students Coping with Grief

Grief Coaching

Grief and Loss

The Purpose of a Grief Coach

When a family or individual is suffering from grief and loss and have important decisions to make under much duress, they often need a large degree of emotional support.  A Grief Recovery Specialist and Life Coach can help.

Here are Five Ways a Grief Coach Can Help:

  • Grief Coaching can offer the support a family or individual needs to get through a sorrowful time.

 

  • A grief coach can help families develop a short term, “What’s next”, plan for their lives.

 

  • A grief coach can help families establish new or revised long term life goals pertaining to work, school, relationships, hobbies and general wellness.

 

  • A grief coach can provide families with hope, motivation and direction to take control of their lives in the new role that they inherited as a result of their loss.

 

  • A grief coach is someone who listens – Sometimes that is what is most needed in a time of sorrow and confusion.

Grief Coaching is one of the fastest growing trends in self improvement, wellness and life in general.

For more information about Grief Coaching your can click on Grief Support, Grief Counseling, or visit Next Stage Coaching.

 

By |August 11th, 2010|Categories: Grief and Loss, grief coaching, Grief Counseling, grief support, Grief Support|Tags: , , , , , |Comments Off on Grief Coaching

Grief and Bereavement Help After a Death

Grief and Loss

Grief Help From a Family

An inexpensive, yet valuable offering to help a family while they are grieving is the ability to truly listen. You might say, “I know that!”  Listening can actually be harder to do than it sounds. We are living in a society today where we are conditioned to the 10-second sound bite. We focus for a moment, then turn our attention elsewhere.

People who have experienced a loss often say that no one will listen to them. They do not feel heard. Quickly they learn to say “I’m fine” because “I’m fine” doesn’t make the listener uncomfortable. Grieving people want to tell their story. They need to be heard, they need grief support.

How does one become an effective listener?

Silence: Be okay with silence. Don’t be in a rush to fill in the empty spaces while people are giving you their story. Just be patient and listen.

Wait: It is often tempting when people are struggling to assimilate new information to give too much advice too quickly. Allow some space between advice/information giving to provide the family member a chance to voice their desires and needs.

Focus on the individual: In today’s world we are constantly being bombarded with stimulation that can result in overload. You might have to consciously remind yourself to put down the pen, fold your hands on your lap, use direct eye contact and relax.

Use key words: Let the family member know they are heard by saying, “I hear you”, or “What I hear you saying is…”, or “How hard it must be…” or even ask them, “Do you feel like you have been heard?”

Body language: A grieving person may not be aware consciously of your body language but it is conveyed nonetheless. Sitting with your arms crossed, leaning far back in your chair, or having your desk or a large table between you and the family member could convey the message that there is distance between you. That can be interpreted that you are not being an effective listener.

Perception: Since the bereavement are extra sensitive they often can tell if you are actively engaged in listening to them or if you are just being “nice” and trying to get them out the door.  Perhaps many times in your career when dealing with grieving families you have had to check your frame of mind to see if you are in a receiving mode or just trying to be polite. Continue to monitor yourself. It will be worth it.

The simple act of listening to a grieving family member brings much comfort. One last thing you can do is make sure to give them your list of local resources that are specifically geared to listening to grieving individuals such as local therapists offering grief counseling, grief support groups, or grief message boards on the internet.

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

 
© 2010 Kelasan, Inc.

By |July 22nd, 2010|Categories: Bereavement, Death, Grief, Grief and Loss, Grief Counseling, Grief Support|Tags: , , , , |Comments Off on Grief and Bereavement Help After a Death

A Special Video Tribute With Custom Funeral Music

Memorial Technology

Sharing a Personal Story

The Powerful Combination of a DVD Video Tribute

and Custom Funeral Music

 

Talking About Losing a Loved One is NEVER Easy:

My name is Chris Hill, and many of you know I am the Founder of FuneralResources.com.

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

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

Live Every Day Like There’s No Tomorrow:

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

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

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

See the Powerful Combination of New Funeral Technology and Custom Crafted Funeral Music:

Today I feel very blessed to share with you this great opportunity I was recently given.  I was able to create a special memorial video tribute for my mother, which is comprised of three all-important pieces:

1.  Creating a personalized DVD Video Tribute for my mother

2.  Choosing the best photos of my mother thoughout her life.  The ones that help me see her as I remember her, and also help me remember all of the great times and memories we shared together.

3.  Creating personalized funeral music which was specially written, produced, and sung by a very special and talented singer and songwriter, Anna Huckabee.  Anna creates custom crafted funeral music which is solely created to tell an individual’s story of their special and unique life.  You can hear Anna’s song she created exclusively for me and my mother in this video.

Learn About the New Funeral Technology Options Available:

I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to have this professionally crafted and personalized video tribute as a memorial, since someone like her truly deserves nothing but the best.  This video says so much, and helps me tell the story and message.  I hope she hears every day and knows and believes it in her heart.

Best of all, creating this video helped me in coping with loss, but also provided me with something truly special that I can always remember her as that amazing and beautiful person you can see.

It is never easy to talk about someone you love who has passed, but I share this with you because I truly hope anyone who has lost a loved also considers taking advantage of this great opportunity!

Also, there are many other great new memorial technology tools that you should learn more about that, like me, might help you make these difficult times a little easier.

 
Christopher P. Hill, Founder
FuneralResources.com

Preplan Your Funeral

Funeral Costs

Top 10 Reasons to PrePlan Your Funeral

When You Die, Show Your Family How Much You Love Them…
Minimize Their Emotional and Financial Pressures

When you die, it should be obvious that your family and loved ones will be emotionally devastated as they try to cope with this grief and loss, but adding the stress of funeral costs and funeral plans is a burden you can help relieve.  So knowing these facts, one of the greatest gifts of love is to minimize (or preferably eliminate) as much of the emotional and financial pressures as possible.

The sad reality is that more than 70% of those who die today fail to leave behind as much as a Last Will for their family and loved ones.  As unacceptable as that may sound, it gets even worse.  More than 85% of those who die today leave their family with no knowledge of their end of life plans, preferences, or how to pay for their funeral expenses.

Top 10 Reasons to Preplan Your Funeral

1.  Upon your passing, most people don’t have any idea how to get started, what they should know, or who they can turn to.  If you preplan a funeral or burial arrangements, this significantly minimizes the stress and pressures that can accompany such a difficult time of grief and loss.

2.  This advanced planning offers you the opportunity to decide and control just about every detail of your memorial service and how you will be remembered.

3.  By documenting your last wishes, you can ensure that you and your remains are handled, cared for, and placed somewhere that fits you and your preference.

4.  By creating a plan for your final affairs, this can also minimize or eliminate any uncertainties or disputes among your family members. For example, one of the small details that can actually cause serious family disagreements are special family heirlooms.

5.  Preplanning takes the guesswork out of the common questions of “what do we do next” or “what would you have wanted”? A properly structured preplan ensures that your loved ones know exactly what to do, as well as instructions on how to most efficiently implement your bequests.

6.  After suffering the loss of a loved one, some of the biggest challenges your family will face are thing like time constraints, little or no experience with these matters, and limited access to the best possible help and guidance.  Therefore, one of the biggest advantages of creating a sound end of life plan is that, if it is properly structured, it can reduce (or even eliminate) the large majority of these difficulties.

7.  Through preplanning your funeral, as well as paying for your burial and covering your final expenses in advance, this creates a much better overall experience and memorial service for you, your family, and even your Funeral Director.

8.  Since preplanning reduces or avoids a great deal of the obstacles involved in planning a funeral, this extra time allows your family to work through other important matters such as dealing with the grief and loss, planning your memorial service, notifying your loved ones, creating your obituary, writing a funeral eulogy, etc.  The more free time your family has, the much more likely it is they can create a truly special celebration of your life and memories.

9.  After completing your preplanning preferences for your family, this actually ends up enhancing your future too. By having these details planned out in advance, you can now enjoy the “peace of mind” to live every day knowing that you have taken the time to leave behind one of the greatest gifts of love.

10.  By selflessly taking the time to create a comprehensive end of life plan, you will always be remembered in a special way. Your family and loved ones will never forget the fact that you sacrificed your time and resources to take care of these all-important details. In reality, what you’ve done is created an everlasting memory that shows just how much you truly love the ones you care most about.

Action Item – Give Your Family What They Deserve:

When it comes to the things that are important in our lives, proper planning and preparation are some of the key to a successful outcome.  In this situation, my sincere hope is that these 10 reasons serve as an inspiration and incentive to start this planning and preparation today, and become proactive about these all-important estate planning matters. 

Although most families never talk about these kinds of things, just about every family member and loved one would prefer to have these plans in place.  Quite frankly, I think they should demand this from you.  So at the very least, leave your family with two things they absolutely deserve:

1) A Last Will or Living Trust
2) A comprehensive end of life plan, which includes pre-arranging your final plans, preferences, and also your funeral costs

I can assure you that your family will thank you, see how much you loved and cared about them, and also remember your efforts as being one of the greatest gifts you have ever given them.

 
Christopher P. Hill, Founder
FuneralResources.com

Dating After the Death of a Spouse

 

Grief and Loss

Romance Do’s and Don’ts Following Loss

There are definitely some things to keep in mind when being in a new relationship with someone who has lost their spouse and some Do’s and Don’ts to consider.

The Don’ts

Coping with Loss

No Place for Jealousy: Countless people have written in to Beyond Indigo with frustration dripping from their emails. They want to know when their boyfriend/girlfriend is going to “get over” their past relationship. We have heard people say they feel there is a third person in their relationship; the third person being the deceased. Resist the urge to be jealous if you want your new relationship to continue. Instead, listening to the stories about the other’s loss helps him/her to grieve and heal. Remember your new boyfriend/girlfriend chose to date you even though they are grieving.

Stop Talking: One of the most common errors (at least in western society) is that people stop talking about a person once he/she has died. Do not act like your boyfriend’s/girlfriend’s past mate never existed. It will hurt your relationship instead of making it stronger.

The Do’s

Keep Communicating: Talk, talk and keep talking. Talk about everything. Do not assume that your boyfriend/girlfriend is mad at you, or hates you, or doesn’t want to be with you anymore because he or she is sad. Most likely, the emotions that he or she is feeling have nothing to do with you and everything to do with grief and loss. The more you talk about daily issues the easier it will be talk when the heavy emotional content emerges. A key to strong relationship is fluid communication.

I Love You! Express the positive feelings you have towards your new love. Time is short and you do not want to waste it stewing over feelings. Take the time to say I love you in many ways.

Eating, Sleeping & Drinking Water: Help your new love by watching if he/she is eating three healthy meals a day. (Potato chips and chocolate do not count!) Another key thing is sleep. If your new partner is having difficulty sleeping or has troubled dreams beyond six months after the loss, suggest that he or she should see a doctor. Getting rest helps the grieving process. Finally, keep an eye on your boyfriend/girlfriend to make sure that he or she is drinking plenty of water. Alcohol and caffeine dehydrate the body instead of giving it the nourishment it needs. Grieving is hard work and it takes a lot of energy.

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

 
© 2010 Kelasan, Inc.

By |July 2nd, 2010|Categories: coping with loss, Death, Grief and Loss|Tags: , , , |Comments Off on Dating After the Death of a Spouse

Funeral Etiquette Tips

Funeral Etiquette

Tips on What to Do…And Not to Do

Since people in our culture have not had much opportunity to be socialized regarding how to act at a funeral or how to be helpful to the bereaved, it falls upon professionals to assist people in these areas. I call it giving people “tools” to put in their “toolbox”.  Below is a list that can be copied and given out at services, left at churches or presented in school classrooms. In the instances of particularly harsh or draining deaths, I would suggest that information about that loss is placed first on the handout. This helps the people who are grieving so that they do not have to repeat the same story ad nauseaum.

Things That are NOT Helpful While Someone is Grieving:

Don’t Talk About God: Please don’t tell us our loved one is with God. We really would rather have our loved one still here with us on earth. Especially in the case of a deceased child the reminder he/she is not with us just hurts us more.

Don’t Bring A Ham: Right at the time of loss everyone feels like bringing us a meal. Please, if you know we have food to feed an army save your generosity for another time. I will be grieving for three to seven years. A meal will be really nice once everyone leaves after the funeral.

Don’t Forget: Please do not forget me after the funeral is over. I DO want to talk to people about my loss. Expect that I will cry and that you were not the one to cause the tears to flow. A phone call, a note in the mail or flowers would be appreciated.

Don’t Expect Me..: Do not expect me to be the same after my loss. I may be forgetful, have lower energy or just not want to socialize as much. Some events like holidays maybe very overwhelming for me. Realize it is not you. Please keep inviting me and in time I will rejoin events.

Don’t Set Me Up On Dates: If I have lost my mate please do not ask me when I am going to date again. This type of conversation causes me pain. It is normal for people to choose their own time when they are ready to look for a new mate. Remember some of us may never date again and that is okay too.

Things that Can be Helpful to the Grieving:

Do Call Me: The phone is a great way to see how I am doing. If I choose not to answer I will let voice mail pick it up. After the funeral it gets really lonely and people seem to disappear.

Do Speak Their Name: The person I lost lived a wonderful life. Please share your memories with me and speak their name. Just because he/she has died doesn’t mean they are gone. Please let their life mean something to someone. This is important to me.
Do Remember The Special Days: When everyone else is celebrating holidays and religious events keep in mind that I am remembering my loss. This holiday or spiritual event will never be the same for me again.  Phone calls, cards, flowers all would be a nice touch.

Do Give Me Gifts: Did you know there are services out there to help me while I am grieving? Memory gifts are now appearing that can help me during my time of grief. Even simple things like funeral flowers, chocolates, scented soaps, bath soaks and a gift certificate to a massage would be fantastic.

© 2010 Kelasan, Inc.

By |June 25th, 2010|Categories: coping with loss, Death, Funeral Etiquette, funeral etiquette tips, Funeral Flowers, Grief and Loss|Tags: , , |Comments Off on Funeral Etiquette Tips

Coping With Grief and Loss

Grief and Loss

When Coping With Grief and Loss,

Consider Grief Counseling, Support, and Books

Grief is a human way to deal with the feelings of love that we believe have ended.  Another way of defining grief is the normal and natural reaction to significant emotional loss of any kind.

There is no one way to grieve.  As we all are individual, we all grieve different and often turn towards grief support groups.  Also, our society at large does not have a general way to honor grief. Since we are a society that is always struggling with time management and high demands, taking time to grieve or knowing how to grieve is not part of our system. However, religion often fills this gap in our society.

Each religion has rituals to follow for grief and how to grieve a loss. These rituals can provide us with a way to get through the initial shock of grief, but as many people know who have been through a loss, that when the rituals of religion end there is still grief and the adjustment of loss with which to deal.

There are many different opinions about grief such as “time heals all wounds“, and many believe you can actually break this emotional experience into five stages of grief.   It is important to keep in mind that depending on the individual and their personal situation, many of these opinions or “myths” about grief, or even recommendations from some of the top grief books, can actually slow down or prevent some people from moving beyond their pain.

Where Should You Seek Grief Support?

When it comes to the most of the important things in our lives, seeking group or professional help can usually provide some of the best possible information, support, and direction. The two most common types of professional help families seek to help cope with grief and loss are Grief Counseling and Life Coaching.

How Can Grief Counseling Help?

Grief Counseling

Funeral Directors wear numerous hats, and are expected to accomplish many important things in a short period of time, while facing many funeral planning challenges. Families are grieving and have important decisions to make under much duress. They may often expect a degree of emotional support that some Funeral Directors may not have the time or skills to be able to provide.

Through grief counseling and working with a Life Coach, these added levels of emotional support and expertise can very often help families bridge and offer the help that most families are searching for.

Five Powerful Ways a Life Coach Can Help Families:

1.  Offer the support needed to get through this sorrowful time.
2.  Help families develop a short term, “what’s next”, plan for their lives.
3.  Help families establish new or revised long term life goals pertaining to work, school, relationships, hobbies and general wellness.
4.  Provide families with hope, motivation and direction to take control of their lives in the new role that they inherited as a result of their loss.
5.  Some families can turn to and listen, since many times what is most needed most in a time of sorrow and confusion is just simply listening.

Grief Counseling is one of the fastest growing trends in self improvement, wellness and life in general. By offering this level of grief support and Life Coaching services; you are keeping your business relevant, and fulfilling your potential to better serve your families.

Coaching is not therapy or counseling. A therapist would be recommended if your client is particularly overwhelmed and unable to cope with their grief.  Another popular and healing option is to consider using grief message boards, which is where people who are have experienced similar losses gather together online to talk in real-time via the Internet.

What is a Grief Recovery Outreach Program?

If you have experienced one or more losses, and you wish to move beyond the pain, this type of program offers step by step actions that will help you overcome your grief. It is the only program of its kind and has helped thousands of people worldwide recover from their heartbreak.

In summary, there are many ways to work through things like grief, loss, or even a crisis. There is help available to those who are grieving a loss, and we strongly suggest you consider seeking professional help in addition to some of the other excellent options mentioned above.

 
Christopher P. Hill, Founder
FuneralResources.com