Published: February 25, 2019 by Ask The DirectorWhen a family member or a close friend has just passed, it may seem crass to think of financial matters—and yet, even during a season of bereavement, families must consider the monetary. You may have a funeral to plan and you may want to make sure it is exactly what the deceased would have wanted, but you also need to know how much the thing is going to cost.
This is a more variable figure than you might think. Funerals are hardly one-size-fits-all, and there are a lot of different factors that can determine their total price tag. Some families want their services to be simple and straightforward; others want something more elaborate. Moreover, there isn’t a clear indicator as to whether it is more or less expensive to have a cremation or traditional burial—either can be as simple or as elaborate as a family wishes.
More and more families want memorial services to be all-day gatherings of family and friends, which means food and music are required. This is a perfectly acceptable trend, of course, but these families need to know that their bills may be higher.
Ultimately, the total cost of the funeral is well within your control, and you should know roughly how much you’re going to be spending before the plans become final. Your funeral director should have a list of all the options that are available, along with their corresponding prices. Make sure you sit down with him or her to make some decisions and calculate your total.
More likely than not, you can arrange to make a single payment to your funeral director, who will, in turn, pay the vendors—caterers, florists, and the like. Your funeral director will be an invaluable ally in organizing the whole affair, and this is surely the simplest way to conduct your business.
Published: February 25, 2019 by Ask The DirectorSometimes, parents and grandparents can be reluctant to involve children in a funeral, or else feel unsure of how young people can participate. The fear may be that a funeral is too "heavy" for children, and that involving them in the active work of bereavement may be too much for them. On the contrary, many children not only want to be involved but actually need an outlet for their own mourning and sadness. Involving children in the service can be therapeutic for them; it can also ensure that the funeral is something that truly represents and encompasses the entire family, not just part of it.
The question is, what can children do to participate in the funeral service? There are no right or wrong answers here; it largely boils down to the age of the children and what they feel comfortable with. Giving kids a window for creative expression is always healthy. For example, encouraging children to color a picture or write a quick note, and then giving it to a funeral home attendee to place into the casket, can help kids to feel included.
Children might also be invited to participate in the actual service—either by doing a reading or even by sharing a story or simply reading aloud their own note to the deceased friend or relative. Meanwhile, at the gravesite, some funerals provide children an opportunity to release balloons, which can feel cathartic and celebratory in equal measure.
Don’t ever make the assumption that your kids are too young to be able to participate in the funeral, or that they are not interested. Talk with them about it, and also to the funeral home team about ways your kids can be involved. Speak with a funeral director today by giving us a call.
Published: February 22, 2019 by Ask The DirectorIn the interest of public health and the common good, the government provides some basic guidelines and regulations for the upkeep of cemeteries. Many of these regulations center on the notion of perpetual care. There are many misconceptions about what perpetual care is and what it isn’t, but basically, it just refers to the funds that are used to repair and maintain cemeteries. For example, lawn mowing and landscaping are encompassed by the perpetual care fund. Perpetual care may also entail the upkeep of paths used by visitors to the cemetery.
Depending on the state you’re in, perpetual care may or may not be mandated. And if you pay perpetual care fees, that money may go toward the upkeep of a specific plot (e.g., the one where your loved one is buried or where you one day plan to be buried), or to the more general upkeep of the cemetery.
Perpetual care covers a lot of the expenses associated with cemetery upkeep—but there are still a few responsibilities that fall to families, outside the scope of perpetual care. For example, in most cemeteries, families are required to maintain the cleanliness of the headstone, niche, and/or crypt. And, the family must supply floral decorations. Some cemeteries may assist with the removal of dead flowers.
If you have questions about perpetual care, or about what your duties are beyond that perpetual care fund, you can always ask your funeral director. Indeed, it’s wise to know where your responsibilities lie, and also to be aware of what the cemetery staff will do to help you honor your loved one’s final resting place.
Published: February 13, 2019 by Ask The DirectorThe etiquette of acknowledgment is truly a very personal and individual matter. While it may be difficult to find the energy to write a thank you note after a funeral, doing so is an important way of acknowledging the love and kindness that friends and family members have shown you during this challenging period in your life. There is no set deadline when it comes to sending out thank you cards, though getting them out within two to three weeks after the funeral is ideal.
For simplicity, there are many sympathy acknowledgment cards that are printed with verses appropriate for the given situation. Others may find that a blank note card is a great way to express thoughts, as the individuals can write special messages for each recipient. Individuals may also order formal, customized cards to make distribution easier, without taking away from sentiment. The funeral home can assist with these options.
Sending thank you notes to every attendant is not necessary, but it is important to formally acknowledge those who provided extra assistance or services throughout this period. For instance, those who have:
To make sure that you do not forget anyone during this chaotic time, you should keep a notepad and pen handy at all times. Do not rely on your memory to keep track of what people have done for you. If need be, you can assign a friend or family member to keep a record for you, to make the task more manageable.
By identifying floral tributes with information cards, the funeral home can be especially helpful when keeping track of who contributed. Digital photos of these arrangements can make for an easier reference at a later date as well.
When writing thank you notes, length is not important. Individuals will find that sending out short messages, rather than long letters, can be just as appropriate when acknowledging one for their kindness and respect.
Published: February 07, 2019 by Ask The DirectorOne of the advantages of cremation is that it allows for many different forms of memorialization. For instance, when a loved one is cremated, the surviving family members may only want the remains to be placed in an urn and then honored with a place in an urn garden or columbarium. In other cases, though, they may prefer to have some of those remains turned into heirlooms or keepsakes—and one especially exciting option is the cremation diamond.
Cremation diamonds are precisely what the name suggests—beautiful, precision-cut gems that are made from cremated ashes. These diamonds can be displayed as-is or set into any kind of jewelry—rings, necklaces, bracelets, and beyond.
Crucially, these are real diamonds—not just knickknacks that are made to look "fancy." A good cremation diamond company will guarantee a final product that is authenticated, graded, and identified by skilled jewelers or gemologists. That means that cremation diamonds have real value, and not just sentimental.
With that said, the apparent appeal of cremation diamonds is that it allows you to take a loved one’s legacy and turn it into something beautiful and precious—something that is sure to become a cherished family heirloom.
One final note about cremation diamonds is that they can be made with just a small quantity of ashes—meaning that multiple diamonds can be made, or ashes can be left over for other keepsakes or for memorialization in an urn.
There are plenty of options for unique and beautiful cremation diamonds—so if you’ve sought an elegant way to keep your loved one’s memory close at hand, it may be worth looking into. As always, you can ask your funeral director for specific recommendations.
Published: January 30, 2019 by Ask The DirectorOne of the most common misconceptions about cremation is that it precludes a traditional memorial service. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, many families ultimately choose to honor their deceased loved one with a traditional service—either before or even after the cremation of the body. honor their deceased loved one with a traditional service—either before or even after the cremation of the body.
These traditional services have endured for a reason, after all: Many people find them to be comforting. That’s why even those who choose cremation may still wish to have a final viewing, a visitation or wake, and then a funeral service.
In some instances, the body can be cremated before the funeral service takes place; the cremated remains are then placed into the urn, which can be displayed at the service, in place of a casket. Following the service, there can be a gravesite service as the urn is either buried or placed into a columbarium. Alternatively, the family may simply wish to take the urn with them, leaving it in their home for a few days before ultimately returning it to its final resting place.
Another option is to delay the cremation, allowing the body to be displayed for a final viewing and then a visitation and funeral service. In other words, it can be just like any other traditional memorial—except rather than being buried, the body is taken away for cremation.
Most funeral homes will be more than willing to provide your family with whatever arrangement you find most meaningful, or most in line with the deceased’s wishes. If that means cremation and traditional funeral services, that’s perfectly doable. As always, speak with your funeral director about any of the specifics.
Published: January 27, 2019 by Ask The DirectorSocial media has made it easier than ever to connect with people all over the world almost instantly. Facebook posts are a quick way to share the news with all of your connections at once. However, not all news is always good news. While you’re scrolling through graduations, birthdays, anniversaries, engagements, and birth announcements, you may also come across posts expressing the loss of a family member or friend.
Grief is something many people have trouble dealing with. What do you say to someone who has just lost a loved one? And more so, what is the appropriate response in an online environment?
First of all, simply acknowledging their loss is a good place to start. Click the "like" (or "sad") button to let them know you’ve seen their post. They aren’t necessarily looking for everyone to comment, but just to know they’re not alone and others know what’s going on.
If you do leave a comment, make it brief yet thoughtful. Refrain from asking what happened or sharing your own stories of loss. Focus on them in their time of need. Show your sympathy through a simple statement such as:
Avoid messages such as "They’re in a better place now" or "Now they’re free from pain" – while true, they won’t necessarily make someone feel better. If it is someone you are close to, you may want to give them a call to follow up and see if there is anything you can do or anything they need.
Remember that loss is not a once-and-done event. Keep in touch and check in during the weeks and months to come to see how they’re doing and offer your support – even if it’s through a Facebook post.
Published: January 22, 2019 by Ask The DirectorMillions of people are active on Facebook every single day. However, have you ever wondered what happens to your profile when you pass away? Does it remain frozen in time? Does it eventually disappear? As it turns out, that is up to you and your family. There are two options when it comes to handling your Facebook profile after death:
You can opt-in your setting to have your profile memorialized. Doing this means that it will be locked so that no one can log in as you, but your Facebook friends can still make posts and share memories. All of your previous posts and pictures will remain intact, and this can be an excellent way of letting others reminisce and helping to keep your memory alive.
You can also choose a legacy contact, which is a person from your friend list that you designate to manage your account. They cannot log in as you or read your messages, but they can make posts, change your profile and cover photos, and respond to friend requests.
You may decide that once you pass away, you want your Facebook account removed entirely. In this case, your entire profile and everything you have posted will permanently be deleted. Your family can also request to have the page removed after you die but must submit a special request with Facebook that must be approved. More information on how to delete your Facebook account can be found here.
You can also request to download and archive all of the information from your account, but that also must be approved by Facebook.
It can be a good idea to talk to your family ahead of time and let them know how you want your social media accounts handled and to choose the settings that align with your preferences.
Published: January 10, 2019 by Ask The Director
Typically, eulogies are given by just one or two people who are chosen by surviving family members. Most eulogies are given by close relatives, children, friends or members of a congregation. When selecting an individual to give a eulogy, it is important to select someone who is close to the deceased and can offer genuine words on the individual’s life and memories.
Those who are asked to deliver a eulogy may feel that there is a lot of pressure to deliver an exceptional speech. However, it is important to remember that this commemoration does not necessarily hold the speaker as the focus—as it is designed to honor the deceased. There are many ways to deliver a eulogy, and practice is recommended for those who are nervous about the speech.
It is recommended that in order to understand how their speech will play a part in the overall procession of the event, individuals speak with whoever is arranging the funeral service. Eulogies are typically brief, lasting only a few minutes.
Those preparing for a eulogy are encouraged to make an outline to deliver a smooth speech and to make sure to address the audience in order to connect with the entire crowd. Exploring a significant memory, even humorous or emotional, can be a great way to emphasize the personality and values of the deceased.
Wakes are more informal than funeral services and offer more time and flexibility for individuals to share their memories and well wishes with loved ones. While only one or two individuals may be asked to provide a eulogy at a funeral service, other loved ones may have a chance to deliver a speech at the wake.
Published: December 27th, 2018 by Ask The DirectorWhen a loved one dies, you’re suddenly forced to make a lot of tough decisions about cremation, burial, and memorialization. One of the biggest challenges is mastering the terminology; simply put, cremation entails a lot of "lingo" that you may be unfamiliar with. For example, what’s a columbarium?
This is a structure, typically found in a cemetery or church setting, with different compartments or niches in it for placing urns. These structures serve as mausoleums and provide a way for you to give your loved one’s cremated remains a final resting place.
Another term you might come across is cremains—and this one you can probably guess all on your own! It’s simply a portmanteau of cremated remains, that is, the "ashes" produced in the cremation process.
Disposition is the act of placing cremains in their final resting place—whether that’s in a cemetery, a memorial garden, or elsewhere. Entombment specifically refers to burial in a mausoleum. Finally, internment refers to a burial of cremated remains in the ground or in a mausoleum. This is not to be confused with inurnment, which refers to the placement of cremated remains in an urn.
An urn, of course, is simply the container in which you place cremated remains. You might memorialize this urn in your home for a season, but most of the time the urn finds its final destination in a cemetery. One final term to know is niche, which refers to the place in a columbarium where you might place your loved one’s urn.
Knowing some of these terms can help you feel more confident as you seek to make the best decisions for your loved one, or even when pre-planning your own cremation and funeral. Contact a local funeral provider for additional assistance and guidance
Published: December 13th, 2018 by Ask The DirectorWhen a loved one dies, surviving family members are faced with many responsibilities—including the responsibility to alert other friends and family members as to what has happened. In the age of social media, making a death announcement is more complicated than ever before, and it is important to approach this task with the appropriate etiquette.
An important step is to enlist the help of a funeral home director. Make sure you get planning underway before making any sort of formal announcement about the location of the funeral or memorial service. Only publish the obituary once confirmation is received about the availability of a church, funeral home, or other locations. In the obituary, you will want to specify the time and location of the memorial service, but before doing so it is critical to confirm the availability of the venue in question along with any necessary vendors, such as an officiant or caterer. This is something a funeral home director can assist in.
In addition, funeral home directors are skilled in regards to sensitivity, compassionately discussing matters related to death. During a season of grief, you may have a hard time articulating the passage of your loved one, but a funeral home director can be invaluable in helping you craft a message.
As for social media etiquette, the most important thing is to abstain from posting online until you have had a chance to speak directly with family members and other important people. Ensure that you make specific, one-on-one announcements before you make any kind of a more general update.
Telling others about the death of a loved one is never easy, but even so: Following the right protocol is important. Speak with your funeral director about any questions.
Published: December 5th, 2018 by Ask The DirectorNobody likes dwelling on mortality, and conversations about death tend to be "downers"—not least during the otherwise-joyful holiday season. And yet, talking candidly with your family members about end-of-life issues is imperative. And for many families, the holiday season is the best time to do it, simply because the whole family is actually together.
Consider: Should your parents pass away unexpectedly, do you know their wishes for a funeral or memorial service? Do you have a clear understanding of their desires for their estate? And should something unthinkable happen to you, will you be leaving your own kids with a clear plan—or simply with burdens?
For many families, end-of-life preparations go neglected and ignored—but simply having a conversation can be clarifying and even encouraging.
Over this holiday season, we encourage you to have "The Talk" with your family members. That doesn’t necessarily mean hammering out all the issues on the spot, but it does mean getting the conversation going—encouraging everyone to think sensitively yet strategically about end-of-life issues.
Included here is an insert that might be helpful to you—some quick tips and guidelines for starting this conversation, and for keeping it positive and productive.
Some brief bullet points to consider, even as you dip into the insert:
Don’t delay in having The Talk. And don’t put it off just because of the holidays. In truth, this may be the ideal time to engage your loved ones in a conversation.
Published: December 1st, 2018 by Ask The DirectorWhen someone dies, there is almost always some sort of an estate left behind—typically an estate that encompasses a few priceless treasures. In some cases, these items may hold immense monetary value. In other instances, they may hold little financial value but immense sentimental import—think of family heirlooms and other handed-down treasures.
The question that always arises is, who gets to keep these items? To which surviving family member do they go? Hopefully, a will is left behind that specifies these matters. This is seldom the case, however. Specific items are usually not addressed in a will whatsoever.
It is more likely that post-it notes or handwritten memos will be found, specifying who gets which items. The problems here are twofold. For one, such notes are not legally binding. And two, they can sometimes add to the confusion, as they are not always clear and may sometimes be contradictory.
As such, it may be mandatory to get the family together to have an open dialogue about these items—to discuss who wants what and to try to reach a consensus about the fate of each family treasure.When disputes arise, it can be helpful to consider the financial worth of each item, and to try to ensure that each family member gets roughly the same value. This may seem cold, but often this level of objectivity is helpful in sorting out complicated family matters.
Finally, remember that there doesn’t need to be a rush to distribute these items—and often, the best thing to do is to wait a little while until emotions begin to cool and more rational decisions can be made.
Published: November 20, 2018 by Ask The DirectorPaying tribute to your loved one may take on many different forms. Catholic families may choose to hold a rosary service, while other Christian denominations may opt for a wake. Depending on the background and preference of the deceased, as well as that of their bereaving loved ones, there may be a rosary service or wake planned to accompany the funeral.
In Catholic tradition, praying the rosary is a multiple-step process, including praying many well-known prayers. They include the Apostles’ Creed, the Hail Mary, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Glory Be to the Father. In some cases, it may also include the Fatima Prayer.
The rosary service is traditionally a Catholic funeral rite that is held on the evening prior to the burial of a loved one. This service is open to anyone wishing to commemorate the deceased. The family will use this time to pray the rosary and receive visitors. The ritual may be held during a vigil service or wake.
Vigil Service or Wake
These events are typically held the evening prior to a burial. They are used to offer condolences to the grieving family and share memories of the person who has passed. Such services are frequently held at a funeral home, as they often include a viewing of the deceased. However, they were traditionally held at the home of the person who has passed.
The term "wake" originally referred to a nighttime prayer vigil. But modernly, it is used to refer to the social interactions and gathering that accompany a funeral. A wake or vigil is considered a social right, which recognizes that the loss of a person greatly impacts the group as a whole.
When preparing to honor a loved one who has passed, it is important to know what to expect of services. Consider the religious or faith background of the person who has passed, as well as that of the remaining family. Be respectful of their preferences, and consider these differences when commemorating and remembering the deceased.
Published: November 12, 2018 by Ask The DirectorA military funeral service is an important way to honor a person who has bravely defended and served his or her county. Military funeral traditions can actually be traced back to ancient Greece and Rome. While today’s ceremonies still incorporate some of these ideas and principles, current military funerals also have a decidedly American feel. They are full of respect and honor, and can also be a source of comfort for surviving family members and friends.
United States law now mandates the rendering of military funeral honors for an eligible veteran at the request of the family. This funeral comes at no cost to that family, courtesy of the Department of Defense. This allows the brave men and women to receive the gratitude and honor that they deserve, and is an important way of allowing the family to mourn the loss of a loved one.
At the service, you will see a flag draped over the coffin. If you are having a chapel service, the flag will be pulled away from the head of the coffin and the coffin can be open for viewing (should you so request). There should not be a spray of flowers on top of the flag. If you wish to adorn the casket with flowers, request a crescent-shaped arrangement from the florist. This is to be placed upon the open lid of the coffin at the upper left corner.
At the gravesite, a military detail (if available) will carry the coffin to the grave and prepare for honors. The honors will include details about the individual’s service (usually given by family clergy or a family friend), military rifle salute (if available), folding of the flag, presentation of the flag, and the playing of Taps. Military honors are provided to the family at no cost.
The following people are eligible to receive a military funeral:
Published: November 5, 2018 by Ask The DirectorAs cultural norms continue to change, the way we handle the passing of loved ones also evolves. Today, there are many ways that people choose to celebrate the lives of those they care about, leading some to question the true difference between funeral services and memorial services. With the introduction of new traditions and burial practices, many professionals may use the terms "funeral" and "memorial" interchangeably. However, there are some key differences that are worth noting if you are attending or planning a funeral or memorial service.
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