Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Choose Beautiful Fairmont Memorial Park

Mausoleum crypts and niches are available for families choosing a burial or cremation with inturnment. Mausoleum entombment is considered to be the finest type of burial known to man. A mausoleum’s solid construction signifies durability, devotion and honor.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Meaning Behind Military Funerals

A brief look at some traditional elements of military funerals in the United States including: Flag ceremonies, use of horse-drawn caissons, firing of rifles and the playing of Taps.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Sympathy Messages: What To Write In A Sympathy Card

Examples of what to write in a sympathy card. Use these card messages to help you pen the perfect sympathy message.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Coffins vs. Caskets

You think you know, but you have NO idea. This is the Real World: Death Receptacles.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Popular Funeral Songs

When a loved one passes away, families strive to put together the most meaningful service. One of the most difficult things to do can be music selection. Finding the right songs for a loved one's funeral can be overwhelming. The choices are literally endless.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a song can be worth a thousand memories. As more funerals are being personalized, to better memorialize their loved one, using popular music in place of hymns is gaining popularity.

Hymns and other so-called traditional funeral ways are giving way to funeral personalization and life celebrations. For instance, more and more pop music is being played during funeral and memorial services. Generic funeral stationery is being replaced with personalized funeral products. Even the way people attend a funeral is changing. Funeral webcasting makes it possible to attend a funeral online. Through a password protect site, the bereaved can log in and watch the service live or as a delayed broadcast. New technology and funeral software makes all this possible.

Another great way the bereaved are incorporating the most popular funeral songs and personal favorites into a funeral service is by including them in a DVD tribute video. Funeral directors can use specialized software to create these keepsake videos in-house using a menu driven program. The cinematic quality result is a moving tribute complete with favorite songs, pictures capturing special moments, and introduction and ending videos for a complete movie-like feel.

How to Select Funeral Music

Many people may select a funeral song that was meaningful to the deceased - perhaps it was their favorite hit that they played again and again. Other families choose more traditional funeral music.

The top funeral songs range from religious in nature to soft, slow melodies all the way to rock songs. Here are some examples of some popular songs:

Wind Beneath My Wings - Bette Midler

What a Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong

Knockin' On Heaven's Door - Guns N' Roses

Candle in the Wind - Elton John

Over the Rainbow - Eva Cassidy

Stairway to Heaven - Led Zeppelin

Amazing Grace - Various Artists

Currently, on a list of top 20 songs heard at funerals, while Frank Sinatra is on top of the chart with My Way, Adele isn't too far behind coming in at number 22 with her smash hit Someone Like You.

Whether the bereaved select songs about death, songs about love, sullen songs or bright anthems, each one, in its own way, can help connect the living to the deceased in a meaningful way.

Article Source:

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

How To Fold A Funeral Flag

Fold a funeral flag by folding it in half twice and then creating a crisp, tight triangle that is folded over itself several times. Tuck in the ends of a funeral flag, so that it forms a commemorative flag, with help from the owners of a flag and flagpole vendor in this free video on flags.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Funeral Planning : How To Write A Funeral Thank You Card

In order to write a funeral thank you card, it should be determined who the card is going to and what role that person played in the life of the deceased.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Sympathy Words - Tips For Finding the Right Words Of Sympathy After the Death Of A Loved One

When someone you love has passed on, it can be difficult to find the right sympathy words to say. You're grieving your own loss, but also know that their family is in a great deal of pain. The words of sympathy you want to convey may seem empty. However, it's important to express your sympathy to your friend or loved one. Show they know you care about what they're experiencing. Sympathy words can stand out in the mind of a survivor long after the sharp stab of grief begins to fade.

If you need to write sympathy words, but are unsure where to begin, consider consulting a book or website. There are a wide variety of sample phrases, ideas for sympathy cards, and even entire sample sympathy letters available online. You can use these examples to generate ideas, and then compose the sympathy letter that you've been imagining. This tip is especially useful if you find yourself stuck as to what to say, or if you're experiencing anxiety about writing a sympathy letter.

Sympathy Words Show Support and Acknowledge Grief

Keep in mind, however, that your sympathy message should still be friendly, personable, and show your unique personality. Your loved one needs your emotional support and friendship, not empty sympathy words. If you have a favorite memory of the deceased, a funny story, or an appropriate quotation to share, add them to your sympathy letter. Your sympathy words will hold a touch of your unique personality, making them something to be treasured for years to come.

Take the time to acknowledge the recipient's grief. This may well be the hardest thing they've ever endured, and they may not know where to turn. Don't wait for the perfect words instead, meet them where they are. Use simple, honest language to show them that you care, and that you're there for them when they need you. Your sympathy words, while they may seem imperfect to you, are sure to show your love and support.

Sympathy Words of Faith and Secular Words of Sympathy

If you know that the recipient of your sympathy messages is religious, it may be appropriate to include a relevant scripture, such as Psalm 23. If you know the deceased's favorite passage, this would also be appropriate to share. After a loss, many are able to find solace in their faith. You can also offer to pray as appropriate, whether for the bereaved family or the deceased. The survivors are sure to appreciate your spiritual and emotional support.

If you know that the family member left behind was not a religious individual, or if you are unfamiliar with their specific spiritual beliefs, you may want to find a secular sympathy card. He or she has lost a loved one and may be angry at the deceased, at the world, and at God. Now is not the time to share your religious beliefs. Instead, use sympathy words that are friendly and comforting, but nondenominational, to avoid alienating your loved one in their time of grief.

Following Up with Sympathy Words

If you are close to the surviving family members, consider following up with more sympathy words a month or so after the funeral. By this time, the initial shock will have begun to fade, and they may be wondering where to begin rebuilding their life. Many of their acquaintances will have lost touch, unsure how to speak to the survivor. You can offer your support by sending a simple sympathy message letting them know you are thinking of them and available to chat. This small gesture will mean more than you can imagine after all, grief doesn't end after a few weeks.

You can use these tips to write sympathy words that are both personal and appropriate for the occasion. Consult reference sources like those at, but be sure to include unique personal touches. Include a religious reference if appropriate, and follow up after a month or so to show your love and support after the funeral. By following these guidelines, you can write perfect sympathy words each time they're required.

Article Source:

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Funeral Planning : How To Attend A Funeral

When attending a funeral, it's important to show up 15 to 30 minutes prior to the beginning of the funeral service.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

What Do Kids Understand About Death And Grief?

Grief is love not wanting to say good-bye, the risk of love is loss; the result of loss is grief Life consists of greetings and partings, beginnings and endings. Children and adolescents usually do not need an introduction to the greetings and beginnings of life, but the partings and endings are usually out of the ordinary, confusing, and painful.

Children and adolescents will need help understanding death and grief This help will come from parents, caregivers, family members, friends, teachers and other supportive caring adults. Adults providing support for a grieving child or adolescent should provide safe places for him or her to grieve. Youth need acceptance from adults of their unique grief journey in a nonjudgmental way. Sensitive and supporting adults will help kids understand that his or her grief is a journey and not a one-time or short duration event.

As adults help kids work through and understand grief there are some common questions asked by kids:

- Why Not Just Avoid Grief? We may think we want to avoid grief but really, it is the pain of the loss we want to avoid. Grief is the healing process that ultimately brings the child or adolescent comfort in his or her pain.
- What Is the Difference Between Grief and Mourning? Mourning is the external part of loss. It is the actions we take, the religious ceremony, rituals, and customs. Grief is the internal pain we feel.
- When Does Grief End? Grief is a process, not an event. We live in a society that places enormous pressure on kids and adults to get through the grief "move on" with his or her life. There is no timeline for grief death happens in time but the emotional aftermath last a lifetime. A child or adolescent will grieve as long as they need to.
- Are There Stages or Phases of Grief? There are five stages of grief- denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Children do not experience or express their grief the same way adults do. Youth usually don't openly talk about how they are feeling, what they are thinking, or that a death in his or her life makes them feel different. Grief support groups can be extremely helpful for children and adolescents. Support groups provide the child or adolescent a safe place to talk and share their emotional distress with others who have experienced similar feeling.

When a child or adolescent experiences the pain of grief give them time and opportunities to talk, about his or her feelings and fears. Create opportunities for them to vent pent-up emotions of anger, sadness, guilt, and despair. Sharing our feelings can be one of the most effective ways to encourage kids to express their emotions, while listening carefully to understand what the child or adolescent is really saying.

What do we want children and adolescents to understand about death and grief? Death is a part of life and the grief attached to the loss of someone special is not a sign of weakness. Grief is a healthy and fitting response to a loss, a tribute to a loved one who has died.

Article Source:

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Broken Heart Pendant & Chain

The Broken Heart Pendant & Chain is designed by Deborah J. Birdoes from her "Inspirational Blessings" collection of jewelry.

• This sterling silver necklace comes with an 18" chain, packaged in a gift box.
• Also included is a poem card:
Hearts have many shapes and colors you will find.
A canvas of many feelings, opened one page at a time.
At the risk of being hurt, a heart gives openly.
Searching for another, sharing a part selflessly.
Yet sometimes it is broken, 'tho it beats just the same.
Pointing to the other heart, not facing the blame.
A heart that was whole is suddenly broken in two.
'Tho every new dawn gives a start to begin anew!
With the touch of our Father, hope is behind each new door.
Giving the heart another chance to love again once more.
Time will heal the wound and the memory you'll recall.
It is better to have loved than to have felt nothing at all.
©Deborah J. Birdoes

— Quote from Scripture: "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." -Proverbs 147:3
God can mend a broken heart, but we have to give him all the pieces. -Unknown

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

How To Write And Deliver A Eulogy Step 6

Everything you've worked for the past few days now leads to this point, the actual delivery of the eulogy on the day of the service.

Here's a checklist for the day :-

1. Allow plenty of time to get there early;
2. bring two copies of the eulogy with you (one you can later entrust to a helper);
3. bring a pen, a bottle of water and tissue paper;
4. allow time for yourself to relax and center, preferably in a secluded environment, no matter how short a time you have.
5. connect with your higher power and/or say a prayer, if within your belief system.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Funeral Flower Arrangements : Flower Arrangements

Funeral flower arrangements are an important final tribute to make during a difficult time. Learn about funeral flower arrangements with help from the go-to color and floral expert for political powerhouses, leading fashion and home designers in this free video clip.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

How To Write And Deliver A Eulogy Step 4

This step is about assembling all the "building blocks", or pieces of information about the deceased, together in an organized way in order to create a well written eulogy speech.
A eulogy is a funeral speech, and like all speeches, it has three parts :- a beginning, a middle and an end. All good speeches follow this format.
The aim now is to write out the speech word for word, as you would read it out at the funeral or service.
Do not attempt to "wing it" from memory. It must be written down. This video explains why this is necessary.
It also explains how to resolve differences in views of the deceased from different family members. One may have only good things to say about the deceased, whilst another may not. This video explains some of the ways to resolve this.
A guiding principle in writing the eulogy is to remember what exactly the word itself, a "eulogy", is and how it's defined.
The word "eulogy" means "good words" in Greek. And whilst the deceased may have caused some of us pain when they were alive (hopefully only a small minority of readers), we want to go beyond that to find those "good words". Hint at the bad times, if you must, but dwell on the good points. After all, it's a final send off. Whatever differences you had in life, now is the time to transcend them. If you have to mention the deceased's faults, as some family members may insist, this video explains ways of gently and tactfully doing this.
Another important function of the eulogy is to comfort the grieving.
This video then shows how we assemble and edit the pieces of information we have, and to connect them together in a meaningful way. After this is done, opening phrases are added to the start, and closing phrases are added to the end.

If you're the only speaker, a minimum speaking duration of five to seven minutes is recommended, and a little longer if you can. If your eulogy is too short, it may be a let down for those present who travelled far and wide, or who took time off work, to hear the eulogy. The next step, step five, is "Rehearse and Refine".

Friday, April 14, 2017

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

How To Write And Deliver A Eulogy Step 3

This step of this eulogy video tutorial series is about the material that will be in your funeral speech. Rather than trying to assembling the eulogy speech "finished" right from the start, in one go, we take time instead to gather raw information.

What is the raw information, or "building blocks"? It can be anything. Really, anything. For example, a memory from the past,
your feelings for the person, the quality of the person, a quote the person liked to repeat, your experiences growing up, what the person was like in their prime, the people the person loved, a
memento, a funny experience involving the person, how the person made a difference in people's lives, what the person said that made a difference to you, and so on.

We want to write all these down, regardless of the order in which they'll be placed in the final speech. Or whether we think we can use the material or not. We want to collect as many of these
points as possible. Write it down. You may remember it now, but may soon forget, and know you've forgotten something important. Ask me how I know!

This step of the video series involves just gathering all the facts, feelings, memories etc in the form of lots of notes. The next step in this video series is the arranging of this information into a proper funeral speech, but that's not the goal in this step.

It will help if we spend some time in quiet contemplation about the deceased. Find a place where you won't be disturbed. Then close your eyes, relax, and bring yourself back to an earlier time, when the person was alive. Commune with the memories of the past. Spend quiet time in contemplation. Then, as the ideas come to you for the funeral speech, write it all down.

An important point is to talk to family members, or close friends, about their memories. Involve them in the process. This will enrich the material with which you have to work with. Get on the phone and talk, or better still, have a face to face meeting.

By the end of this process you should have gathered a lot of material. The next step of this video series is crafting this material into a good funeral speech.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

How To Write And Deliver A Eulogy Step 2

This is the second step in this six part series.

There are two basic kinds of eulogy - a biographical and a personal view. You can have one or the other, or a combination. A biographical eulogy just speaks to the facts of the person's life. Where they were born, where they lived, where they worked, who they were married to, who were their children etc. I feel the biographical eulogy may be a little outdated now because it does not speak to feelings.

The other type of eulogy, which is more common, is the personal view eulogy. Here we speak about our feelings for the person, tell our memories of them and how they affected our lives. In other words, it's based on our feelings and our personal views. So it's not "objective", but then, a eulogy need not be objective. Later in this video series we'll explore the meaning of the word "eulogy", and the purpose of it. Let's agree to throw strict objectivity out the window!

This video gives you polar examples of these two types of eulogies, or funeral speeches. The second example is a eulogy for a father. I think most of us would prefer the second example to the first.
Most modern eulogies nowadays are a combination of the two, leaning towards the personal view.

The task of delivering a eulogy can be shared between two or more family members.

Also, if you're the only one delivering the eulogy, you can ask other family members for content to put into your eulogy. This process can be quite informative to you, and healing. Things you never knew about them while they were alive.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

How To Write And Deliver A Eulogy Step 1

At some point in our lives we may be called, perhaps unexpectedly, to give a eulogy for a close family member. Should it fall upon your shoulders, this six part video series was created for you. In your time of grief and need, I hope this video series helps.

This first video of the series focuses on you. The deliverer of the eulogy. The less you are anxious or worried, the better the eulogy you can deliver. It's very understandable that you may be in a place of turmoil at the moment, having lost a loved one. So it's important to center yourself, and find a place of peace and calm within, or try your best to. In looking after yourself, you will be better able to think, and craft the funeral or memorial speech, and to deliver it.

This first video offers a very simple meditation to help us relax and find the peace that is somewhere within. Don't be limited to this meditation, there are many that can be found on the web.

This video is subtitled "A Moment For Yourself". And you should do exactly that. Find a quite place away from the phone and other people, and simply relax, watch your breath, say a prayer or just contemplate. Know that Angels hold you in the palm of their hands.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Funeral Planning Essentials - Funeral Directors

Funeral planning is not something that we want to consider or think about however it is a reality we all have to face at some time or another in the course of our lives. While the subject may not be one you are very familiar with or one that you even want to be familiar with it is nevertheless helpful to have a good understanding of the various factors that make up funeral services.

When it comes to funeral planning the funeral director has a major role to play. The majority of funeral homes in the United States are family affairs. Some funeral homes are small and intimate with the funeral director fulfilling a number of functions including collecting the body of the deceased and transporting it to the funeral home for preparation for the funeral service. Other larger funeral homes often employ morticians that specialize in the preparation of the bodies.

Funeral directors are also known as either morticians or undertakers. These are qualified professionals who work in the business of funeral rites and control the whole funeral planning and funeral service. Among their tasks are embalming of the body which entails the removal of the blood and the insertion of embalming fluid, burial or cremation preferences, and planning and arranging the funeral ceremony.

Funeral directors are also approached by the family or friends of the deceased with regards to special requests such as ensuring that the loved one is dressed in a specific outfit, the way the body is arranged in the casket, and with regards to the application of cosmetics or substances to the parts of the body that will be visible during the service to enhance the deceased person's appearance.

Funeral planning involves a number of different issues and since there are so many practical considerations that must be addressed it is advisable to utilize the services of a professional funeral director. A funeral director is also experienced in dealing with grief and the grieving process and therefore proves beneficial in assisting the family through this process. There are also a number of legal requirements when it comes to funeral services and funeral planning that the undertaker or mortician can guide you on.

Generally speaking a funeral is conducted at the funeral home and then proceeds to the burial ground for the interment which the funeral director will oversee to ensure that it is carried out correctly. Funeral directors will usually make a view or visitation possible and this is often scheduled for the day preceding the funeral service so as to allow the family and friends an opportunity to gather together at the home to pay their respects to the deceased in private. While available to offer and provide assistance if need be the funeral director remains discreetly in the background.

Funeral directors are an essential part of funeral planning and funeral services and can oftentimes prove to be a great comfort for those who are grieving. They handle the details associated with the death which allows the family to cope better with their loss. They help to guide the loved ones through this time in their lives and enable them to honor the deceased in a respectful and proper manner.

Article Source:

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Songs For Funerals - Danny Boy, A Popular Funeral Song

Danny boy is a popular song for funerals, perhaps one of the most popular. The English lawyer and lyricist Frederic Weatherly wrote the lyrics to "Danny Boy" in 1910. The melody was taken from "Londonerry Air". Jane Ross of Limavady is credited with collecting the melody from a local fiddle player in the middle of the nineteenth century. A song that speaks of the changing of the season, of sadness and departure, of remembrance and love, and ultimate reunion. The triumph of love over death. This is the reason why Danny Boy is such a popular funeral song. It is also a top Irish funeral song but is heard at memorial services outside Ireland. Lyrics accompany the song in this video.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Funeral Poem "When I Am Gone" - How To Write And Deliver A Eulogy Speech

The eulogy is a very important task. Eulogizing the deceased helps us mourn and remember, honor and celebrate their life. And in the process ease our grief and pain from the loss. So the pain of the loss fades with time, but not the memories, which are cherished.

Giving a speech is challenging at any time, but having to deliver it when you are facing the emotional shock of loss of a beloved one makes it harder. However, eulogies are far easier to deliver than ordinary speeches. The audience is fully on your side and want you to succeed. And a eulogy is really something very simple. As it comes from your heart.

This video was based on a guide to writing a great eulogy by Kevin Burch. He is an experienced teacher and trainer and has personally delivered around a hundred eulogies, and assisted others in as many a number since 1999. His guide on writing and delivering eulogies is based on years of experience and a sense of compassion for those who are suffering loss of a loved one.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

5 Tips For What Men Should Wear To A Funeral

Need help with what to wear to a funeral? Funeral Guru Liz has 5 tips for how men should dress when going to a funeral.

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Advantages Of Pre-Paid Funeral Plans

Many people have a hard time accepting the fact that one day their life is going to come to an end. Death is just a part of life and sadly something that no one can ever avoid.

Nowadays a lot people plan ahead and make a Will, but in reality that is not all that needs to be addressed. After you have passed away you will need to have a funeral, and having funeral plans in place will make it easier for your remaining loved ones at the time.

You have a couple options when it comes to planning your funeral, and having a pre-paid funeral plan will help your family avoid thousands of pounds in funeral expenses upon your death.

There are other benefits that your family will get if you have a pre-paid funeral. It can be incredibly hard on your family to make funeral plans when they are still in mourning because of your death. Having pre-paid funeral plans in place assists them in a time of need so they do not have to worry about arranging the funeral when emotions are running high.

The good thing about considering a pre-paid funeral plan is you can do all this in advance and make your choices from a range of options. It will allow you to make the type of choices you want, and provide the kind of service you want your family and friends to remember you by.

It is hard to know when the right time to start your funeral planning is. This is especially true for younger adults that have a very long time before they have to worry about death. However, there is no time like the present!

The first thing you need to decide is what location you want to have your funeral held at. Most pre-paid funeral plan providers will offer you a choice of local Funeral Directors to assist you with your plans and provide a choice of payment options.

It is hard for many people to accept that they will eventually die. Planning ahead with a pre-paid funeral plan will make your death much easier on your family. At some point you are going to have a funeral, it is important that you make that as easy for your family as possible, by reducing not only the financial burden but also the emotional stress.

So there is also a clear financial benefit to pre-paid funeral planning. You can fix the cost of your funeral at today's prices.

Most pre-paid funeral plan companies will also offer you a choice of how to pay for funeral plan. These are usually in 12, 60 or sometimes 120 monthly payments. These make it a lot more manageable for you over time.

Some pre-paid funeral plan providers present plans that are inclusive of the main components of a funeral. Other cheaper plans may come with costly, and sometimes hidden, add-ons. You need to carefully check each plan before signing your application forms.

Clearly there are two ways for you to arrange a funeral. You may either go direct to a local Funeral Directors, or use one of the pre-paid funeral plan companies. The advantage of this is they tend to have a packaged list of funeral options for you which ultimately make it a lot easier for you to arrange with the minimal of fuss.

Particular facets of your funeral service, limousine or disbursement allowance may not be clear with a Funeral Director, but should be shown clearly in front of you with any pre-paid funeral option. You should also note that some Funeral Directors may have a restriction about the distance they may be ready to travel to acquire the deceased.

You should also use any pre-paid funeral company you choose the same as you would a local Funeral Director. Seek in-depth information from them about what services they offer. What is included in each of their options. What additional costs, if any you may incur if you decide to take up one of their repayment plans. This will avoid costly surprises down the line.

Planning a funeral in advance is a good idea as you never know what is around the corner and you will have your wishes guaranteed in good time. Usually, funerals are planned in a hasty fashion after a death and leaves loved ones with instant and sometimes painful choices to make. Pre-planning your funeral will takes all these stresses away, and you get the services you wish.

Knowing that all your wishes will be carried out at a cost which fits into your budget gives huge comfort so that you can focus on everything else. With pre-paid funeral plans you can plan everything in advance so that your family won't have to worry about the cost or other arrangements and you will be buried or cremated the way you want. Paying for the funeral in advance gives you the peace of mind as you fix your funeral costs at current prices and will not be subject to any future price rises.

When choosing any pre-paid funeral plan provider make a list of questions that might affect your planning decisions::

- How long is the plan for?

- What are the terms and conditions?

- How can you make the payments?

- Can any changes be made?

- What if you change your mind?

- Does the plan include everything you wanted?

- How safe is your money?

- What if you die before making the full payment?

Having a funeral plan in place will be a great comfort to your family at the time of your death. It will save them from any financial burden. It will avoid the stress of having to contact a local Funeral Director. It will save them time and emotional family stress. And it will also clearly outline your funeral choices and avoid any discomfort at the time.

Article Source:

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

How To Plan The Readings For A Funeral Service

The readings for a funeral service often include poems or passages from religious scriptures that the individual liked. Use significant verses to add meaning to an individual's funeral with help from a licensed funeral director and embalmer in this free video on funeral planning.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Save & Bake Beef and Cheese Rigatoni

Yields 2 9x13 in (23x33 cm) casseroles


2 pounds ground beef
Salt & pepper
3 tablespoons salted butter
⅓ cup flour
3 cups milk
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), melted
2 pounds rigatoni, cooked
4 eggs, beaten
24 ounces marinara sauce
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup shredded parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375°F/190˚C.
In a skillet, cook and crumble the ground beef with garlic powder, onion, powder, salt, & pepper. Remove from pan and drain.
In the same pan, melt the butter, and mix with the flour until it forms a paste.
Add the milk gradually, and bring to a boil, until it thickens into a creamy sauce. Set aside.
In a bowl, mix the rigatoni with the eggs. Divide between two 9x13 inch (23x33 centimeter) baking dishes.
Layer on the marinara, ground beef, mozzarella, white sauce, and parmesan.
Bake both for 30-35 minutes, or until cheese is melted and golden brown.
Cool and freeze extra casserole up to 2 months. (To cook, transfer to the refrigerator overnight. Bake covered at 375°F/190°C for 40 minutes. Remove cover and bake an additional 10 minutes.)

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Dealing With Grief And Mourning

This video is to encourage anyone who is grieving or mourning. It has motivational scripture to help you better deal with this hard time.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Grief Support Resources

The emotional upheaval these trying times can cause is sometimes so overwhelming that even the support of friends and family may not help relieve the amount of sadness and grief you feel.
At Bryan-Braker Funeral Home we offer the following aftercare grief sessions:
»  Center for Loss & Transition 
A leading provider of information and inspiration in the areas of illness and dying, loss and grief, healthy caregiving, life transition, and spirituality.
»  Growth House 
An international gateway to resources for life-threatening illness and end of life issues. Hypertext topic pages link to sites around the world. Links to hospice and home care, bereavement, death with dignity, AIDS, and related topics in life-threatening illness.
»  GriefNet 
GriefNet is an Internet community of persons dealing with grief, death, and major loss. They have many email support groups. Their integrated approach to online grief support provides help to people working through loss and grief issues.
»  National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization 
Committed to improving end of life care and expanding access to hospice care with the goal of profoundly enhancing quality of life for people dying in America and their loved ones.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

How To Make A 3D Family Tree

Gather your photos! This DIY family tree is a three-dimensional tree made with branches in a pot.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Embracing Uncertainty After Loss

The script has changed. An unexpected detour has occurred. The GPS navigation system has malfunctioned. The next move is unpredictable. The future is uncertain. What do you do now?

Loss of any kind creates a feeling of uncertainty. Fear of the future might consume your thoughts and actions and might even negatively affect you physically, emotionally, spiritually, or psychologically. Although the emotions of loss such as sadness, denial, anger, hopelessness, guilt, regret, and many others are natural and normal responses to loss, at some point you must take steps to move forward. In order to do so, you will need to acknowledge, accept, and embrace your future. Your life has definitely changed after loss; but, it has not ended. So, how do you navigate this seemingly wilderness of grief? How do you journey through the unchartered territory? How do you come to terms with a future that you did not expect?

The journey begins with a choice. You must choose to face the fear head on. In other words, you will need to embrace it. Make a decision to allow and receive all the possibilities that lie ahead, even though they may not be visible, or even conceivable, at the present time. Change is inevitable and it is always occurring. Everything changes. You might have even forgotten the power of your inner strength as you embraced the uncertainty of previous situations and challenges in your life.

Think of changes you have embraced in the past, even if subconsciously they seemed insignificant. How did you embrace a bad weather day on a planned sun-filled vacation? How did you embrace a no-show commitment from a friend or business associate? How did you embrace test results and treatment after receiving a life-altering diagnosis? How did you embrace starting anew after a relationship demise? How did you embrace surviving a serious house fire, car accident, etc. In most cases, you made a choice, whether on your own or with guidance, to take positive, forward-moving action. The other choice, of course, would have been to do absolutely nothing and stay stuck.

Is there meaning and purpose in the uncertainty of changes, situations, or challenges? I believe there is, although maybe not apparent at the time. We all have a divine, unique purpose for being on this earth. The loss that you are currently experiencing just might be enhancing and moving you closer to your reason for being here. Or, it may be propelling you into a new and different purpose. Adopt an attitude that embraces learning and growing from each experience in life and keep moving forward.

My Mantra: Everything in life is temporary, including life itself. Decide to Say Yes! to the Gift of Now.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

How To Plan A Graveside Ceremony

When planning a graveside service, it's important to consider the type of cemetery involved and what types of tombstones it has. Make sure there is an adequate number of chairs for a graveside ceremony with help from a licensed funeral director and embalmer in this free video on funeral planning.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Modern Grief | Sophie Townsend |

You know who did grieving well? Queen Victoria. As a widow, Sophie reflects on her own experiences of grief in an age where the personal expression and symbolism of loss has been largely lost.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

How You Can Grow Through Grief

I once read an article by a British physician who said that, "Growing up is a series of mourning losses." It made sense because as we get into our teens and beyond we have gone through so many losses in which our childhood imagination of what life is all about is constantly challenged by the real world.

However, I also would argue that in one sense all of life is a series of mourning losses, from birth to the big death. Loss experiences never seem to stop coming. Yet we always seem surprised when they occur, as though we were unlucky, or we did something wrong to have such a thing happen. And there is good reason for this: we are focused on life and living, as we should be.

Nonetheless, everyone experiences grief and the loss of loved ones. But it never happens in a vacuum. There is much that mourners experience and learn from their ordeals that helps them become more human, whole, and sensitive beings. Here is some of what we can learn in the midst of our sorrows--that will change our lives for the better--if we will only be open to it.

1. We learn that everything changes. This means of course that we too have to change to meet the new conditions of life. We are not the same persons we used to be. Loss may cause us to go in a different direction. Since change is eternal, it teaches a big life lesson: to live in the present precious moment.

2. We learn that healing highlights the need for community. We need each other. The importance of deep human connection becomes clear. Sometimes you may realize that such connection is not just a part of healing--it is needed throughout life. We thrive on it. We want connections we can always trust and rely on.

3. We learn about the power of and need for love. Paracelsus, the Renaissance physician and alchemist said, "The main reason for healing is love." That is, the motivation to heal is closely wound up in the love of those who are near and dear to us. Perhaps healing love is what all of our lives should continuously be about. This could be the number one lesson that the pain of loss has to teach.

4. We learn the importance of dependence and the awareness that we all need help. Despite the run on rugged individuality, we all need assistance at various times and by the right people. It is okay to depend on others.

5. We learn we are so alike, but we are also very individual in how we mourn. Interacting with friends and relatives often shows that our grieving styles tend to mimic our lifestyles. They are so different and yet we all feel sorrow, each in our own way.

6. We learn that searching for meaning is necessary. Our grief often causes us to look at spiritual questions and find a different meaning in life and death. We often wonder where our loved one is now. Reflecting on the questions of why we are here and if there is an afterlife may affect our values, especially if we have input from those we trust and respect.

7. We learn the importance of holding the memory of the deceased. We learn that memories are critical grieving tools and that we can continue to use them as part of our new life. And we should always remember the advice of the great American writer Antoinette Bosco: "We do no honor to our departed loved ones if we change so much from the pain that they wouldn't recognize us as the person they knew and loved."

8. We learn we cannot control everything. The illusion of control hurts deeply when reality shows the way life really is. The universe is on its own schedule; our plans are second. Grief thrusts us into a totally unfamiliar existence where we feel confusion, usually traced to our inability to control what has happened. Acceptance of our inability to control much of life--and allow it to unfold--is a major step forward.

9. We learn that resistance to the normal flow of grief (with its many ups and downs) and to life changes brings more suffering. We have to let change happen; we can't stop it. We want our old life back but we can't have it. It is necessary to go on to the next stage, wiser and more knowledgeable.

In summary, every loss experience is an opportunity to learn and find new meaning in existence. Life is all about meeting continuous change through renewal. We have to reinvent ourselves to meet the new conditions of life. In short, we are continuous works in progress, gaining from each transformation. For our part, we have to let it happen, refuse to resist, take advantage of the wisdom presented to us, and use the insight gained to become more complete persons.

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Monday, February 6, 2017

Before I Die I Want To...

In her New Orleans neighborhood, artist and TED Fellow Candy Chang turned an abandoned house into a giant chalkboard asking a fill-in-the-blank question: "Before I die I want to ___." Her neighbors' answers -- surprising, poignant, funny -- became an unexpected mirror for the community. (What's your answer?)

Friday, February 3, 2017

Judy MacDonald Johnston: Prepare For A Good End Of Life

Thinking about death is frightening, but planning ahead is practical and leaves more room for peace of mind in our final days. In a solemn, thoughtful talk, Judy MacDonald Johnston shares 5 practices for planning for a good end of life.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Changing The Way We Mourn: Laura Prince

How do you go from world traveler to funeral counselor the span of one phone call? In her talk, Laura Prince explores the transformative power of grief , death, and her passion for changing the way we as a society approach death.

While studying Gerontology and working with elders who where close to their own death, she became inspired to celebrate life and live as passionately as possible. Later while working on the National Geographic Expedition ships, a tragic unexpected death in her close circle led her inadvertently into a career in the death care industry. To this day, it has been the most passionate time of her life. She is currently working on an organization called Good Mourning offering death education, holistic grief counseling, and funeral planning services. Laura stresses the importance of properly honoring the those who have died, as well as our resulting grief. By becoming closer to the reality of death, we can live more present, passionate lives.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Finding Peace And Joy After Grief

Twelve Essential Actions Steps

When a significant loss, or heartache occurs it can leave you stunned, shell shocked and filled with sorrow. You are likely in new and very unfamiliar territory. You may feel like a person who is blindfolded, setting at a table, trying helplessly and hopelessly too put 15,000 sorrow puzzle pieces together. You need help to make sense of it all. The circumstances leading to your grief may even result in your inability to fully recover, but seizing every opportunity to reclaim your life should be your prime objective. The poet Rumi suggests an important idea to ponder:

"Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow."

Finding Healing, peace and joy after grief involves a specific conditioning of the mind and a positioning of the heart. A steady satisfaction of contentment, confidence and hope are required. Joy is something that is deep within and doesn't leave hurriedly. It is more than a fleeting happiness. Following are 12 action steps to aid you in understanding and healing your grief and finding new purpose and added peace and joy:

1-Tell Your Story. One of the most powerful ways of healing from grief is to bring your feelings, emotions and thoughts to the surface. Sharing your grief experience can be healing. Writing your most inner most thoughts that you can go back to and remind you of what you feel and desire can be uplifting. If you are not keeping a journal or diary begin today. It is strongly recommended you begin a grief relief journal or diary. There is great empowerment in expressing your sorrow. This is to be for your own use so you can write your thoughts and feelings down with no need to filter or edit what is going on inside your mind or heart. Start today.

2-Today seize the flower pedals of renewal and rebirth. 
Renewal and rebirth begin and end with you. Start now. How you do it is a personal matter but it is vital to finding happiness, new peace and joy. Also, seek God's help to give additional inspiration, strength and wisdom to carry your grief cross. Consider saying a silent prayer. If you are out of practice, it is okay; you will feel additional comfort and peace when you continue to let humble thoughts flow. The more you do so with consistency and sincere effort the greater the possibility for inspiration from God. Ponder deeply all steps you might take to renew hope and find rebirth in a fuller life.

3-Count your grateful moments.
Be specific. Some blessings will be big and some small. They all count! As you count your blessings you will be surprised how many things you feel gratitude about. Count the blessings one by one. Realizing what you are grateful for will give you strength in times of discouragement. Acting upon your intentions to be grateful can bring you rich blessings. Practice gratitude every day to foster gratefulness in your life. Write at least five things in your journal you are grateful for right today.

4-Grief never finishes. 
Because of a dreadful sorrowful condition your life changed. Only when you understand what grief is, and how powerfully it can imprison your thoughts, emotions, and even your whole persona, can you begin to work through your grief. Grieving is a passageway of time, not a place to stay. Nonetheless, grief is not ever completely cured or entirely healed. Mourning may continue. Reconciliation of your sorrowful condition brings into harmony the grieving you experience. This leads to healing. Seize all the moments of every day to overcome loss, grief and sorrow.

5-Grief is the price of living through life's circumstances.
When your grief happening encompassed you, your life was most likely altered permanently. Grief is not a lack of faith, nor a sign of weakness. What you do with your grief is your choice alone. Understanding your grief and what you can do about healing helps you begin your healing journey to a healthier happier place in your life. Make a list of 5 steps you must take to understand and reconcile your complex grief. Begin following them today.

6-Re-evaluate Your Outlook
You may have to evaluate what has changed and explore what is still possible for you after a life-altering occurrence. It may take some time and patience for you to find your equilibrium again. Begin by recognizing that some of the shifts which have occurred in your life as a result of your experiences are likely to be permanent. List at least three actions you can take in the next week that will propel you forward toward greater happiness. Consider the possibility that your new path will be revealed as you progress. Courageously continue your journey while embracing the hope of greater understanding, peace and joy to come.

7-Find a grief partner.
Trying to survive your grief without the help of others to give comfort and support is not a good option. Trying to overcome your sorrow alone will hinder your progress and may even cause you to become severely depressed due to loneliness and isolation. It is essential that you seek support from others and find ways to express your needs. A partner relationship is essential to your wellbeing and happiness. Sometimes all you need to do is ask. But ask you must: "I need to have you spend time with me and here are my needs... " Cry with someone, at times it can be more healing than crying alone. Great comfort and peace, even hope, can come to those who know they have someone to whom they can turn to in time of crisis or need.

8-You are not alone. Because of your deep sorrow it can be extremely difficult for you to believe at this moment there can be hope, joy, and peace in your life. If you are going through a time of grief in your life recognize while your journey of grief is unique, take comfort in the hope and wisdom from those who have walked the path of grief before you. Can you let, literally thousands of others, who have cause to grieve, give you hope. You are not alone. Think of 3 ways how others have been able to reconcile their grief. Consider searching the internet for stories of how others have met their difficult challenges successfully. Let these examples empower you.

9-Embrace each positive moment. In doing so you can better find healing, harmony, hope, peace and joy in living. Peace and joy go together. While it is necessary to pass through the grieving process, don't allow grief to take away your faith in God, love of life and most importantly, your hope. Don't be sluggish; be proactive each day in seeking every hopeful and beneficial moment of each possibility for inner peace.

10-Turn inward and be compassionate.
Right now, discovering how to turn inward and be compassionate with yourself is perhaps one of your most important needs. Embracing your feelings of loss is essential to your survival and future happiness. The Grief from a life-altering circumstance may never completely go away. Learning how to reconcile your life after a time of loss requires self-nurturing, and continuing loving attention to enable you to move through your grief.

11-Reconnect with Your Passions. Because of the agony and heartache, you may have temporarily withdrawn from people, places or things which you previously enjoyed. While a temporary hiatus may be necessary in your healing process, isolation is not a healthy beneficial long-term strategy. In your Grief Relief Journal jot down the people, places or things that have brought you the most joy and satisfaction in your life. Ask yourself how many of these people, places or things can still be a part of your life now. Consider how long it has been since you have engaged with them. Make a plan. Schedule some time each day to involve yourself in something, or with someone, you have previously enjoyed. Give yourself the gift of something to look forward to each day. Have faith hope and contentment will return.

12-Gather precious moments. 
Seek to enjoy life and its gifts. Recognize the value of living in the moment. Believe in possibilities beyond what you may see today. You are invited to pluck each day's happenings, as if you were gathering precious moments like flowers. Are you? Experiment with ideas and actions to find the ones that most resonate with you and support your healing. Taking actions on new ideas and concepts can help you can find new purpose and understanding. Find the solutions that can support your healing. Take action today and always.

"I am responsible. Although I may not be able to prevent the worst from happening, I am responsible for my attitude toward the inevitable misfortunes that darken life. Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have - life itself." ~Walter Anderson

If you can't find reasons to be joyful, your perspective needs changed. Peace and joy go together. Grief doesn't only present aching of the heart and mind but also new possibilities and new roots for growth.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Beautiful Fairmont Memorial Park

Mausoleum crypts and niches are available for families choosing a burial or cremation with inturnment. Mausoleum entombment is considered to be the finest type of burial known to man. A mausoleum’s solid construction signifies durability, devotion and honor.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Good Grief! What I Learned From Loss

Elaine Mansfield is a writer and bereavement educator who has lived on land overlooking the Seneca Lake Valley since 1972. She leads bereavement groups and workshops, and writes for Hospicare and Palliative Care of Tompkins County. Her writing reflects her forty years as a student of Jungian psychology, mythology, meditation and nature. Until 2011, she was a nutrition and exercise counselor. Since her husband’s death in 2008, her work has focused on healing, finding meaning, and creating a new life after loss. Elaine’s book “Leaning into Love: A Spiritual Journey through Grief” was published by Larson Publications in October 2014. The poet Naomi Shihab Nye wrote, “This magnificent, profoundly moving book gives encouragement and solace to all.”

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Transitioning And Grief After The Death Of A Loved One

My entire life has been peppered with funerals. One thing that I have learned is death is not particularly about age. Our family has lost babies, grandparents and every age in between.

Grief is a strange emotion that is hard to describe. For me, it is as if I have no control over my body. The doctor told me that my father was not coming home from the hospital. For some reason my brain heard the words and intellectually I understood; yet the day I got the dreaded call, my body went into shock. I stood and my legs were too weak to hold me up. It was so surreal, as if I was having an out-of-body experience. My mom's passing was more unexpected and my body acted in the same way. I learned that there is no way to prepare for the passing of a loved one. Grief just takes over as if it has a mind of its own.

I have witnessed a lot of shame and blame after the death of a loved one. "If only I would have......" "I should have......" "If only you would have........." "You should have....." If you believe that there is a divine purpose then there is no reason for shame and blame. If there is a divine purpose for everyone's existence then a person dies when it is time or when they have completed their purpose. I am not here to convert anyone's belief system, as I honor and respect your right to believe what you wish. However, there is nothing positive to gain by shaming and blaming. Nothing will change the result and can only bring more pain.

Transitioning after the death of a family member can bring families closer or tear them apart. Each person grieves in his or her own way. There is no protocol on how to grieve a loss. Typically, men grieve differently than women, which can lead others to judge. Consider that a person not openly displaying great emotion may be hurting as much as someone that is displaying emotion. A member of my family appears to be devastated at every funeral or memorial. Oftentimes the behavior draws attention away from the service and prompts someone to take care of this person.

The loss of my parents was probably the most pain I have ever felt. I was the executor for both parents. Along with my life transitioning from the loss, I was dealing with disagreements and harsh words from siblings. One of the lessons I learned from my experience is; if you are an appointed executor, hire an estate attorney. I had one for both parents and it kept things very clear for others. Words from others may sting, but the attorney keeps everything legal. The last thing an executor needs is a legal battle.

The absolute worse pain that I have witnessed is when someone loses a child. A drunk driver killed my sister's only son Charlie a few days before his 24th birthday. A truck driver ran over and killed my 22-year old cousin Mike while he was riding his motor cycle. My grandmother lost her 16-year old son 2 years before losing her husband.

My cousin Jimmy drowned at 16 years of age. There are many more stories like these. Thankfully, I have not experienced losing a child; yet I know of no greater pain. Transitioning after the death of a child never ends. With each birthday, thoughts of what the child would be doing, how they would look, who would be in their life. The pain dulls over time but never leaves. There are no comforting words to say to a parent, who has lost a child. If someone has suffered a long illness, well meaning people may say," They are out of pain now and with the lord."

However, those words do not help the person that is in grief. A wife who loses a husband is called a widow. A husband who loses a wife is called a widower. A child who loses his parents is called an orphan. But...there is no word for a parent who loses a child, that's how awful the loss is! - Neugeboren 1976, 154 I have witnessed many people transition through the grief of losing their spouse. Each special occasion summons the sadness and draws attention to a time when their spouse was a part of the event. There is such loneliness that follows from the death of a spouse or long-term partner. My mother said the nights are the loneliest. The nights are when I would call her. After I left my ex-husband, I would call mom from my bed and she would talk to me until I was sleepy enough to drift off to sleep.

As stated earlier, there is no protocol for dealing with grief. It is so personal to each person. Please do not tell someone that is grieving "I know how you feel", it is impossible for anyone to know how another person feels even if they have suffered the same type of loss. Consider saying, "I sympathize with your loss." Another helpful thing to say is, "What is one thing I could do for you that would be the biggest help to you during this time?" My mother in law said after her husband died, "Remember his birthday, our anniversary, the anniversary of his death and call me to see how I am doing."

Journaling during my father's illness and after his death gave me great relief. I did the same thing after my mom passed. I would come home, turn on the computer, and just let it all go. I was not particular about the grammar, spelling, or sentence structure, I just released. Also, talking about your loved one keeps their memory alive. My brother and I talk about of mother at least once a week. I wear her favorite necklace around my neck everyday.

For a few days after mom passed I called her house every day, expecting her to pick up the phone. Then I learned to talk to her everyday as if she were sitting next to me. I believe that there is just a thin veil between what we know to be life and where our dearly departed now live and that they can hear us.

Another thing that I have learned when the loved one of a friend or co-worker dies they typically prefer that you not ask them how or why their loved one died. Rather, ask them to tell you about the person. When you engage a person in talking about a lost loved one they seem to come alive with wonderful stories and memories.

After memorial services, I think it is healthy to sit around talking about the deceased; recalling old stories, laughing, and crying. This is the beginning of the healing process. In some cases, the spouse or parent of the deceased will want to get away for a while. When my stepfather died my aunt, sister, mom, and I went to the coast for a few days. My mother slept a lot, which is also a part of the healing process. However, if a person spends an inordinate amount of time sleeping, it could be a sign of depression and may require medical intervention.

So many lovely things are said at memorial services and I often wonder if the deceased knew how much they were loved and appreciated by others. I have heard many people say that they wished they would have told the deceased certain things. I wrote a tribute to my father and mother, which the pastor read. I also wrote them personal notes. If you are not already doing so, consider telling every one you love how very much they mean to you, how they have inspired, lessons you have learned, how much you appreciate, love them, etc. In addition, it is never too late to write a personal note to them. It can be very healing.

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

A History Of Presidential Funerals At Washington National Cathedral

Washington National Cathedral has been the location of funerals and memorial services for nearly all the 21 U.S. presidents since Congress approved the Cathedral’s charter in 1893.

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Funeral Planning - Creating A Smart End Of Life Plan

Like so many families, when we suffered the loss of my mother last year we faced the difficult decision of what to do next.  Because we were never willing to accept this as a possible outcome, nor did we think about planning in advance for this incomprehensible loss, we had no idea where to begin or who we could turn to. 
Most people tend to overlook one of the greatest gifts you will give your family, which is properly preparing them for the inevitable. At best, you might have started your estate planning process by creating a Will or Trust. However, the harsh reality is that approximately over 70% of Americans have no form of estate plan. So by having a will or Trust, you have clearly taken a step in the right direction toward preplanning your future financial wishes. The problem is, this form of planning fails to accomplish the most important task, which is addressing your family's immediate concerns.
The person, or in most cases people, responsible for taking care of your final arrangements are usually forced to make extremely important decisions, as well as major financial purchases, within a small time frame...usually within approximately 48 hours after your death. Of course, you cannot expect to fully alleviate the emotional and financial stresses of your loved ones during such a difficult time, but you can help themtremendously by having a plan that outlines your funeral wishes.
Most financial professionals are realizing that an integral part of a sound financial and estate plan is taking care of your funeral services ahead of time. Funeral Preplanning gives you the ability to choose your method of disposition, the exact type of services you want, and allows your family to focus more on things such as grieving and recovery. In addition, funeral preplanning is also a good thing for you because it allows you to make extremely important decisions through a calm and clear thought process. Emotionally, it is much more likely that you will create a more rational and logical end-of-life plan.
When preplanning your funeral, here are several general guidelines to begin your preplanning process:
  •         Visit various funeral homes and interview multiple funeral directors
  •         Choose a funeral home and director where you think your family would be most comfortable
  •         Consider bringing family members with you during this selection process  
  •         Be aware and informed of bereavement entitlements such as veterans, unions, fraternities, etc.
  •         Consider religious and moral convictions, and discuss them with your family
  •         Determine your method of disposition (burial, cemetery, entombment, cremation, etc.)
  •         Plan your ceremony considering things like casket viewing, religious aspects, who should be included, etc.
  •         Itemize your costs
  •         The Federal Trade Commission offers a free funeral planning guide titled "Caskets and Burial Vaults" (202-326-2222) which has made it easier for consumers to comparison shop.
The FTC Funeral Rule requires funeral directors to give pricing information over the phone, as well as provide you with a readily available General Price List if you visit them in person. This FTC Funeral Rule also allows you to purchase caskets, which are the single largest funeral expense, from outside vendors without the threat of a carrying charge. For more information about The FTC Funeral Rule, you can visit 
What About Paying For Funeral Expenses In Advance?
Although planning your funeral arrangements in advance may help alleviate many of the details, prepaying (also known as prearranging) for your funeral services is a way of taking care of the actual expenses.
Prepaying your funeral or cremation is one of the fastest growing, and most appreciated and accepted aspects of funeral planning. Similar to preplanning your funeral, paying your funeral expenses in advance is also becoming widely accepted by many financial professionals as a solid piece of a sound financial and estate plan.
When prepaying your funeral plan, the most common and widely used strategies are savings and life insurance, mainly because they tend to be deemed the most reliable and readily available. However, there are several other strategies to consider when prepaying your funeral costs or expenses:
Savings Although many people choose to set aside savings to pay for funeral expenses, there are several reasons this does not always end up working out as originally planned. First, the savings can be depleted based on unexpected financial circumstances, such as health or financial issues. Second, these funds are not always readily available and liquid upon death due to the challenges and restrictions often found in estate planning. Third, the funds set aside can often be insufficient due to inflation and the rising cost of funeral expenses. Finally, it should be noted that savings are included in a part of one's estate, and, thus, the taxable consequences can often come into play.
Life Insurance Term Life Insurance is widely considered to be a flexible, simple, and affordable way to pay for your final funeral expenses. Although Term Life Insurance has a set term, or set number of years, it also has multiple uses in prepaying for your funeral. Because upon your death it becomes a liquid asset that is usually not part of your estate, it can be used for many things such as funeral, burial, cremation, liquidity, and many other things, including debts or obligations.
In addition, there are some types of life insurance that allow the funds contributed to these policies (either in lump sum, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually) to grow and accumulate as a cash value that can be accessed if necessary. Therefore, these policies can not only be used for funeral expenses, but also for other financial planning options that may arise such as financial emergencies, college, etc.
Funeral Insurance Funeral insurance is an insurance policy which is specifically designed to cover any costs or expenses which are directly related to your funeral. If you purchase one of these policies, one of the options you have is to determine exactly which funeral costs or expenses are to be covered, such as flowers, burial plot, grave marker, and much more. Another option you have is for the policy to be paid out in a single lump-sum, which can be used to cover your pre-determined costs or expenses, or simply help your loved ones financially as they plan for you. There are many insurance companies that offer funeral insurance packages, and certain funeral homes or funeral companies also offer policies. 
Pre-Need Trust Agreements Another alternative to prepaying your funeral is to consider a Pre-Need Trust Agreement to pay for your costs or expenses. Generally speaking, these Trust accounts are typically funded with monthly payments that are invested in a fund which is designed to grow over time. Although a Trust account is designed to provide the potential for protection against inflation, it is not guaranteed to do so.
In summary, although nobody likes to think or talk about dying, it is one of the facts of life we all must eventually face. If you are trying to build a successful financial plan, the only way you can be sure your plan works smoothly and efficiently is to be proactive about your planning process. This is particularly true and necessary when creating a proper plan of succession, which I firmly believe should include an end-of-life plan.

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Monday, January 9, 2017

The Benefits Of Grief Support Within A Group Experience

Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. We anticipate that someone close to us could die, but we do not look beyond the few days or weeks that immediately follow such an imagined death... No one can know ahead of the fact [and here lies the heart of the difference between grief as we imagine it and grief as it is] the unending absence that follows, the void, the very opposite of meaning, the relentless succession of moments during which we will confront the experience of meaninglessness itself.

Joan Didion. The Year of Magical Thinking. New York: Random House, 2005. pp.188-9

This passage reflects the overwhelming initial reaction of many to the loss of someone they love. The goal of a grief support group is to assist grieving individuals through the process of coping with this sense of meaninglessness. Engaging in this painful process within a group dynamic offers several unique opportunities for the grieving individual.

First and foremost, the company of others who are also grieving is enormously comforting. When we have lost someone, we are usually "allowed" a reasonable period of time to feel sad, after which a simmering impatience emerges, as others deem it is time for us to "get on with living." The beauty of the support group is that there is no impatience with the grieving process, which often continues well beyond society's acceptable "timeline" for grieving.

Second, grieving individuals need opportunities to tell their stories again and again. They need to feel safe to explore the painstaking details of their loss experience in order to begin to make sense of it. Group members understand and support this need. They often ask questions of one another, and are able to empathize in ways that only another grieving individual could.

While each individual's grief journey is uniquely their own-based on their relationship with the one who died and the circumstances of the death-there are many features of the grieving process that are universally experienced. The opportunity to sit with and share with others the sorrow and confusion that comes from grieving can serve as reassurance and comfort that the individual is not alone.

Additionally, recognizing one's own feelings in another who is also grieving offers comfort and confirmation that "I am (in fact) not going crazy," which is how many grieving people describe their early grief experience. Reports of confusion, distractibility, poor concentration, difficulty making decisions and emotional instability are common reactions to loss. In isolation, many are unaware that these experiences are a natural part of the grieving process.

Few people have the luxury of taking the time they truly need for their grief work. Families, jobs and other daily responsibilities are not able to be put "on hold" while we grieve. Being able to sit with others on a regular basis-as is offered through a group experience-often is the only time many find in which to actively allow themselves to process all that they are experiencing.

Because the group is composed of individuals with varying lengths of time passed since their loss, members are able to see others who may be a few steps ahead of them on their grief journey. This experience allows them hope that it can be done; that someone can traverse the incredible pain they are feeling-and survive. Likewise, there is tremendous reward in serving the needs of another grieving individual, and in recognizing how far we may have come ourselves. Group work provides this perspective on our own journey as well as, offering hope for others.

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