Sunday, February 23, 2014

3 Myths About Funerals and End of Life

Because death and end of life have traditionally been difficult subjects for us to talk about, there are many misconceptions that add stress as families plan funerals and end of life services. Here are some of the most common.
Myth #1: There Are No Ways to Make Funerals or Cremations Less Stressful. The loss of a loved one will always be difficult; for many of us, it is the most difficult time of our lives. What makes this even more stressful for many families, however, is that end of life is unfamiliar territory, so we just aren't sure about our choices, or even if we have any. As Remembrance Providers℠ we are committed to using the knowledge we have to support you emotionally, to give you all the information and choices you need, and to show you and your family proven ways of making funeral and cremation planning as stress free as possible.
Myth #2: There is no good way to learn about funeral choices. In the past, there have been few simple, clear materials about funerals, and in our culture it has been difficult to bring up the subject. That’s why we've developed The Remembrance Process℠; it’s a simple overview of the funeral and cremation process. In addition, we've created videos, and print materials that can help understand key aspects of funeral and cremations. 
Myth # 3: You have to make all your decisions on a strict timeline. One of the best ways to reduce stress at end of life is to give yourself the time you need. Take a breath. Talk to your Remembrance Provider℠ about a funeral schedule that is comfortable for you and your family. Allow yourself time to think and plan. Understand that the funeral or cremation is about your loved one, but is for you and your family. If you have family members that live out of town, allow time for them to travel, and most importantly, allow time for yourself and your family to begin grieving.
Talk to your Remembrance Provider℠ to learn more.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Importance of Remembrance

Show me the manner in which a nation or community cares for its dead
and I will measure with mathematical exactness the tender sympathies of its people,
their respect for the law of the land and their loyalty to high ideals. -Gladstone
People who deal with death every day, professional caregivers such as hospice, grief counselors, clergy and medical practitioners have long understood the importance of remembrance. It is an established principle that helps heal, so we can go on living our lives in meaningful ways.
Funeral and cremation services remembrance rituals are not only ways to say goodbye to a loved one, but are also time-tested ways that can help families and friends move from grieving to remembrance. Also, permanent remembrances further provide a place and a way for families to remember and honor their loved ones forever.
There are many reasons to celebrate and mourn the life of a loved one, but for many, these six things sum up why remembrance is important:
  1. To acknowledge the reality of death.
  2. To acknowledge the emotions associated with the death.
  3. To acknowledge that the relationship with the person who died has shifted from physical presence to memory.
  4. To acknowledge changes in personal self-identity.
  5. To ponder and search for new meaning in life.
  6. To receive the loving support of remaining family and friends.
Sadness at the loss of a loved one may never entirely go away, but remembrance lives on.
The desire to be remembered lives within our genetic makeup. It is the age-old reason people carve their initials in trees, place their hands in cement, and chalk their names on rocks. They want to leave their mark. They want to be remembered. But for the living, the real marks they leave are the ones they've left on us. A hug. A smile. A timely word of advice. We want to remember those we've loved and lost, not only for them, but also as importantly for ourselves, to mend, to heal, to live, and never to forget.

Monday, February 17, 2014

5 Things Many Families Don't Know About Cremation

1. Cremation does not limit your funeral choices.

Our research shows that many families aren’t aware of all the choices they have for saying goodbye to loved ones. You can be as creative in planning the way you want to say goodbye to your loved one as you wish. Cremation or Burial, your services should be created to meet your family’s emotional needs. We offer many examples of how other families have created services to help move from grief to remembrance.

2. Cremation does not limit your ways of creating permanent remembrances.

In fact, when you choose cremation you have a wide variety of choices that include permanent memorials, cremation niches, and cremation gardens. And new technologies allow you to create truly personal remembrances that capture a life in uniquely meaningful ways.

3. Cremation does not just mean scattering.

While advertising makes it seem like that is the only choice, when you choose cremation you can have any kind of service, and any kind of memorial you wish. That means you can have a traditional service and a cremation, a scattering and a permanent cemetery niche, or space in a cremation garden. And for many families having a permanent place to remember their loved ones fills an important need that a scattering just can’t.

4. Many religions have special considerations around cremation.

For example, while the Catholic Church now permits cremation—the Church requires that the cremated remains be treated in the same respectful way that a body in traditional burial receives. Other religious traditions also have requirements regarding cremation and funerals. 

5. “Direct Cremation” means not seeing your loved one.

Many families don’t realize that with a direct cremation, when the body is removed, they will have no opportunity to ever see their loved one again. And for many families being able to see their loved one at least one last time is very important.
For more information on your choices, contact an Authorized Remembrance Provider℠ or use the search box below to find a provider near you.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Caskets and Remembrance- Ways Families Are Saying Goodbye

 Over our lifetimes our personality becomes our trademark. It reveals the essence of who we are and is what people remember most about us. Today, when people are faced with the loss of a loved one, they are able to make final arrangement choices that truly reflect the personal spirit of their loved one.
One of those choices is the selection of a casket, which can be among the most significant of all the arrangement decisions. For many families a consideration in selecting the most appropriate casket is thinking about the personality of your loved one and then viewing the casket selections with their personality in mind. Some aspects of a casket may then seem appropriate and your decision becomes more meaningful. For example: If your loved one furnished their home with primarily cherry furniture, selecting a wood casket with a beautiful cherry finish may seem fitting.
It should be noted that families choosing cremation today frequently select caskets to conduct the farewell service because they feel that this allows them to say good-bye in a more personal way.
Caskets are available in a variety of metals such as bronze and copper as well as stainless steel and are are also crafted from beautiful natural woods such as mahogany, cherry, maple and oak. In addition, casket interiors can be personalized with meaningful words and symbols tastefully designed, customized and beautifully embroidered.

Today, many families decide to personalize their casket selection. Your Remembrance Provider℠ can show you all of the personalization choices available as well as assist you in deciding upon the most appropriate casket for your loved one.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Preparing a Eulogy: A Step-By-Step Guide

Delivering a eulogy for a friend or family member is a wonderful way to participate in the funeral service. It is an opportunity to acknowledge the importance of the life lived, and to remind survivors of the memories and legacy left behind. Nearly any eulogy, if delivered with love and respect, can be considered a good one, and a funeral audience will be one of the most sympathetic and forgiving audiences you will ever find.
A funeral is a very important occasion and those in attendance are very emotionally fragile. Preparing and delivering a eulogy can make those unaccustomed to writing and public speaking very anxious. Understandably, the eulogist wants to get things right. The most important thing to remember as you go through this process is to focus on the deceased, rather than your own nerves and concerns. If you can do that you will be able to write a heartfelt tribute that expresses your feelings about the life you are there to remember and honor. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you create and deliver a meaningful eulogy.
Step One- Share stories and memories
One of the most wonderful and satisfying things we can do when we lose someone we love is to learn something new about that person from others. So whether you are preparing an obituary for someone you know intimately, or for a colleague, it’s a good idea to start out by gathering ideas and stories first. Set aside a couple of hours to share stories and talk about the deceased with family and friends. Write down stories and memorable sayings as you go along. Learning these stories will help bring to mind your memories of the deceased, and go a long way towards preparing your eulogy.
Step Two- Brainstorming and editing
Brainstorming will be similar to your conversation with the family, only this time it’s just you. Write down any ideas that come to you about the deceased, whatever they happen to be. In this stage you don’t want to edit anything out. A small idea may lead to a great one, so just open up and allow any ideas to come out onto your paper. You’re looking for stories, perspectives, memories, music and food associated with that person; mental images about the life of the deceased. After you’ve brainstormed for an hour or so, step back and look at what you’ve got, along with the notes you took when talking with family and friends. Look for descriptive items that can paint a picture in the mind of the audience. Select the stories and images that stand out as being really representative of the personality of the deceased
Step Three- Develop a theme
The theme of your eulogy is a way to tie together some of the best stories, images, and impressions from your sessions into a somewhat unified piece. Don’t feel as though you need to make sense of the death, provide some profound insight, or ‘make things better’ by finding some silver lining or rationalization for the death. No one expects this of you, and trying to do this can make others feel like their grief is being minimized. It’s OK to just admit that the death is a terrible thing that we just don’t understand; that we are sad, hurt, even angry about the loss, but we’re gathered together to support one another and to remember our love for that person. Themes can be questions like:
  • “Who was Bob Miller?” A son, a husband, a brother, a mechanic, a sports fan…
  • “What makes a father special?” Giving you advice and letting you make mistakes on your own...
  • “What would this town be without Martha Evans?” No meals on wheels, no arts and crafts club, kids who never learned how to read…
These themes ask a question. The question is answered by all the stories and memories you’ve collected. Other themes could be:
  • "Courage in the face of adversity”
  • “He will live on through…”,
  • Metaphors, like “His life was like a garden”
  • A loosely organized series of stories like ‘All I know about life I learned from fishing with dad."
The themes are there if you look. Perhaps it’s:
  • "The kitchen was the center of our family"
  • "The seasons of her life"
  • "He showed his love through his actions, not his words"
  • "She taught us all the importance of thrift”
  • “She taught us all the importance of having a good time”
If you have trouble coming up with a theme, take a look at the "Quotes," "Readings," "Scripture and Prayers" and other resources on this site for inspiration. Adding a quote or a reading to a eulogy can help organize your pieces and add another level and perspective to your piece, but don’t try to force your pieces together to fit the quote or reading. The honesty of the stories is more important that any theme, so if the important ideas don’t fit, choose a more loosely organized theme like:
  • "All the different sides of Uncle Charlie," or
  • "What I learned from Mom"
You may find that more than one theme works best to present the material you have collected. That’s fine too. Your theme is important, but should be subordinate to your content. Ultimately, the overarching theme of any eulogy is simply "the life of this person was important to us."
Step Four- Weave your eulogy together
Now is the time to put all you’ve got in order. Write the draft out just as you would say it. Use your normal conversational vocabulary and tone, and avoid fancy or unfamiliar language. Don’t feel compelled to turn your tribute into a poem. What is important is clearly expressing your thoughts. Trying to do that and rhyme at the same time can work at cross-purposes.
A funeral is not the time to ‘set the record straight’ on contentious or unresolved issues. That would be a help and comfort to no one. It is important to work through these issues, but not at the funeral. Your eulogy needs to be a kind and respectful tribute, and it can be honest in spirit without going into detail about shortcomings or attacking the deceased. If you feel that you cannot give your eulogy without announcing to the world that mother had a drinking problem, or that Uncle Rex was unfaithful to Aunt Betty, let someone else deliver it. Start out your eulogy with a statement of your theme; a quote or reading that illustrates your theme, or a story that does the same. Whatever your theme, think of it as an ‘argument’ that you ‘prove’ in the body of your eulogy. If your theme is a question, you will answer that question with various examples though your eulogy. Don’t be afraid of getting things exactly right at this stage, just get it all down, then take a break and come back to it with fresh eyes.
Step Five- Add and edit 
Does your eulogy make sense? Do your examples prove the point of your theme? Have you included the most important milestones in the person’s life? Have you included too many details? Would a quotation, a poem, or a prayer add something meaningful? Now is the time to make structural changes before you polish it all up. Think twice about anything that may be in questionable taste for a mixed audience, or may be too sensitive to discuss publicly. If you are in doubt about this, run it by someone you trust. Another important idea to keep in mind is that while the eulogy may mention many people including you, it needs to be focused on the deceased. If your eulogy mentions you more than the deceased there is a problem.
Step Six- Practice 
Once you are pleased with reading the eulogy over in your head, it’s time to read it aloud. Practice reading clearly and slowly; giving your audience enough time to hear and understand all your hard work. Practice and practice again. The more familiar you are with your piece, the easier it will be to catch yourself if you falter, to look up from your notes and engage with your audience, and to put feeling and emphasis into your speech. Time yourself to see if your piece is too long or too short. A good guide is about 15 minutes. If you go longer than 20 minutes, you may have overstepped your bounds. If your eulogy is shorter than 5 minutes, you may not have said enough.
Step Seven- When you deliver your eulogy, be sure to speak slowly and clearly.
Make sure you have a copy of your eulogy written out in large enough type that you can read it easily. Keep a glass of water, a cough drop, and a handkerchief handy as well. If you falter, or are overcome with emotion, allow yourself to cry (no apologies are necessary) and resume reading when you can. Try to look at the audience at least occasionally, and at the family as much as you can. Feel free to gesture with your hands, but try not to fidget. If there is a microphone available, use it. Delivering a eulogy is a great honor. Friends and family will be forgiving of mistakes, and grateful to you for this gift. Throughout it all, remember that this is about the deceased, not about you. Most eulogies are prepared and delivered by people unaccustomed to writing and public speaking. Great oratory and profound insights are not expected, and are not even the point of a eulogy. What makes a great eulogy is a heartfelt message of love for the deceased, and stories reminding us of why we all share that love. If you deliver that message in a clear, straightforward manner, you will have succeeded.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

LifeGem Diamonds

A LifeGem is a certified high quality diamond created from the carbon of a loved one as a memorial to their unique life.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Cremation and Permanent Remembrance

We have learned from the experience of thousands of families that working through the time-tested steps in the Remembrance Process℠ helps in moving from grieving to remembrance. Saying Goodbye to Your Loved One with the support of your friends and family can be a huge part of this process, and we strongly suggest that you and your family explore the choices that most appeal to you. The memories shared, the stories told at these “goodbye” services will be remembered and valued forever. What many families don’t realize is how personal and creative saying goodbye can be.

Eulogies and obituaries can also be a key part of remembering your loved ones, and this website can give you the information you need on how to write a eulogy or how to write an obituary so they can be most meaningful. Friends and family are often eager to help here, and often some of the most memorable parts of the service are the words said about the loved one.

Lastly, many families find that permanent remembrances like cemetery monuments and headstones and grave markers can be especially valuable for now and for decades to come, but many families don’t know that they can have these remembrances even when they choose cremation. Having a permanent place to remember your loved ones is another time-tested way of helping move through grief. For families who choose traditional burial, a cemetery is the clear choice.

But many families who choose cremation don’t realize they have even broader choices for permanent remembrance. These choices can include special sections in cemeteries, cremation gardens, cremation niches, columabariums, and even highly personal locations. All of these choices allow a family to choose a headstone, monument, grave memorial or other permanent tribute. To learn more about the ways other families have remembered their loved ones and the many choices you have for permanent remembrances with cremation.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Cremated remains building living reefs

A unique project lets families send their cremated loved ones to a place where they'll help the environment forever.