Before I get to my question, I have to tell you the background.
Friday after Thanksgiving I took my wife (who cooked for a week for that dinner) and my kids (who came from west coast, east coast, and the middle) and the grandkids (who only ate rolls for Thanksgiving) out for pizza.
Sounds nice, right? OMG! It took us forever to order, no one could agree! We ended up with one cheese pizza for the picky grandkids, a large with ¼ meat lovers, ¼ with anchovies, and ½ supreme. We also ordered a medium white with gluten free crust. Still they were all picking stuff off, making faces, and huffing and puffing. OMG again!
So, my question…and I need your opinion here…how are they going to do when the time comes for them to meet with you to plan my funeral? Do you think maybe the wife and I should do one of those funeral preplans or advance funeral plans?
OMG yes, you and your wife need a plan. Your family sounds perfectly normal! They’ll get over the pizza … but I’ve seen too many families break apart over disagreements about how to honor their parent’s life. Decisions such as burial or cremation or who is going to pay can be tough when families are grieving. A funeral plan is an easy fix. I‘d be happy to help. When do you want to meet with me? At the funeral home or your house?
To Plan or Not to Plan Your Funeral in Advance
How does Advance funeral Planning affect the
first hours before a funeral and the days and weeks that follow?
CALLING THE FUNERAL HOME / MORTUARY
Funeral preplan already in place: When a funeral preplan is already in place and on file
at the funeral home, there is no question as to who to call.The deceased has left a clear message. The stunned,
tired, grief-stricken family just makes the call and the funeral home takes
your loved one into their care.
No funeral preplan in place: When a death occurs and no funeral preplan has been
recorded at a funeral home, the first order of business is deciding which
funeral home to call. The stunned, tired, grief stricken family must agree upon
who they will trust to guide them through this difficult time. They must
determine the funeral establishment that will help honor their loved one in a
way that satisfies all their needs and fits their budget.
THE EVENING BEFORE THE FUNERAL ARRANGEMENT CONFERENCE
Funeral preplan already in place:When a funeral preplan is in place, the family can take
this time to comfort each other. They can share memories, go through pictures
or just rest. Tomorrow they will meet with the funeral director and review the funeral
plan their family member put together with them in mind.
No funeral preplan in place: For the family with no funeral preplan in place,
tomorrow will bring many questions and decisions. Tonight, they will be
weighing in on one big question – burial or cremation. They’ll be figuring out
how much to spend and who will pay for the funeral. They will need to decide
which of them will participate in the arrangement conference. They will need to
consider and agree upon how to honor their loved one’s life.
DAYS AND WEEKS AFTER THE FUNERAL
Funeral preplan already in place:The family with the funeral preplan has no doubts, no second-guessing,
and no regrets. They know they did the “right” thing.They know they spent the right amount of
money. They miss the one they lost but they have no regrets about the service
that honored their loved one’s life.
No funeral preplan in place: Sadly not all families are able to pull together
following the loss of a family member. Some are pulled apart because they
disagree about decisions great and small. The days and weeks following a death are
emotional and tense. It can be a very difficult time to be making group
When Your Parent Loses Their Spouse
“And the two
shall be as one” just rolls off our tongue. But think about it. What does it
mean to the one who lives when their partner has died? Are they now a half?
Families are interesting in that we tend to “know” our family member as their
role relates to us. Mom is mom, dad is dad. We kids typically don’t really see
the couple side, or the work side, or the friend side of our parents.
So how must it
feel to lose your life partner? Try to step into your parent’s shoes. Pretty
quickly in a marriage the jobs are assigned. She does the laundry, he cooks the
dinner, she manages the household budget, and he manages the retirement plan. Sure,
they have separate interests but look at all those shared interests. Are they
lost with this death? What happens to their couple activities?Do friends still invite them for bridge or to
join the bowling team when they become a single? Life changes drastically when
death parts a couple.
If your parent
begins to date, it is not so easy to move from your point of view to
understanding and accepting theirs. For a child it may feel too soon, like your
living parent is replacing your deceased parent. Perhaps this new wife or
husband is stepping in a way that you thought you would. She is going to the
doctor’s appointments with dad or cooking dad dinner when you expected to fill
that role. He is mowing mom’s lawn with dad’s lawn mower no less! It’s hard.
Consider working on
changing the way you look at this budding relationship. How hard would it be to live as a half when
you have been married for 35, 50, or even 60 years? Maybe this new relationship
is a search for the happiness they had with your deceased parent? Try to
understand that as we age, time really is limited and precious. And honestly…maybe
they can’t wait. Maybe they need a partner, or another half, to be whole again.
New Year’s Resolutions
New year, new
you. It’s an exciting concept full of promise, right? Then we take all the fun
out of it by resolving to do things we don’t like to do. We’ll lose weight, eat
healthier, exercise more, give up ice cream. Ugh, no fun at all.
So how about selecting
enjoyable resolutions instead? Some ideas to get you thinking are listed below:
more of something you love.
Read more books, go fishing more often, spend more time with your kids or
grandkids, binge-watch your favorite series from the start again. Just enjoy
and give yourself a big old hug in the form of having fun your way.
better at something you really like to do. Take a lesson, learn to cook something new, improve your golf
swing, learn a new knitting stitch, or just build on what you love.
a dream come true. See
the mountains or the Grand Canyon. Go to the opera or to Disney. Buy the car,
lease the car, or rent the car of you dreams for a weekend. Just complete the following
sentence and do it: “I’ve always wanted to _______.”
your town like a tourist.
Everything fun doesn’t have to require a lot of money. Most of us have
attractions, restaurants, natural wonders or parks close to home that we
haven’t visited in ages. Just go.
lots of new friends. Some
friends are for life while other friends can be for just for a few hours or even
minutes. Try smiling and talking to the cab driver, the checkout person, or the
person next to you as you walk into or out of church.
Enjoy your life. Seize the
day. Happy New Year!
Loneliness in Losing a Life Partner
To say one “feels
lonely” after losing their life partner is an understatement, especially if you
have been happily married for many years. In time, however, you may find
yourself at a crossroads. On one hand you can’t imagine life with another
partner while on the other you hand you can’t bear this loneliness. You want a
adult children are concerned, good preparation can literally keep your family
from falling apart. Hard as it may be, talk to them and share how you feel and
what you are missing. As much as you love your family and as much as they love
you, their love cannot satisfy what you need. Help your children understand
that you are not trying to replace their mom or dad, but that you may want to
have someone to eat dinner with or a bridge partner again.
As soon as the
thought of dating enters your mind, before you bring the thought to life with a
real person, think about how a new relationship will land with your adult
children. Consider both the emotional impact and the financial concerns that
might be raised. Make an appointment with your attorney and talk about how a
second marriage would impact your estate. Family concerns about money or the
inheritance will only make things more difficult if you begin to date. We’ve
all heard stories, so get your affairs in order BEFORE there is a person you
care about and share any changes you make to your estate with your children.
consider your pace. If you slow down just a little bit and really enjoy the
dating part of a relationship, it will give your children some time to get used
to the idea of you dating again. It can help everyone adjust to the changing family
dynamic that occurs when a new person is added to the mix. Just as the family
dynamic changed when your children dated and/or married, it will change again if
you start dating.
Communicate, talk about how
you feel, and if you decide to date, go slow. Take care of those money matters early
on so that any changes will not be seen as the fault of the new person in your
Previous blog posts have acknowledged how hard it is to deal
with special occasions (e.g. holidays, birthdays) when you’ve recently lost the
one you love. So, what do you do when you receive an invitation for that
special occasion that you don’t feel
like accepting? Maybe you are afraid you’ll be a wet blanket, or you aren’t
eager to do something new and different because you really just want things as
they were. That’s understandable but perhaps turning down the invitation isn’t
really in your best interest.
Before you say “no” to an invitation too quickly, give
yourself a few minutes to think about it. Take that time to consider your
alternatives. What will you do if you don’t accept it? Is there something you
would prefer to do? Think about it, do you really want to be alone on that
It is important to acknowledge that the day won’t be the
same. Acknowledge your loss. A woman who recently lost her husband goes to the
cemetery for a little chat on those special days. She tells her husband how
it’s hard for her and that she misses him. Then she tells him how she is going
to spend the day.
It is difficult to do something different on those special
occasions. Your first few efforts may even fall short. Eventually, perhaps even
sooner than you expect, you will find your joy in those occasions again.
A Year of Firsts
When someone close to us dies, a spouse, a child, a parent,
a sister, brother, or friend, their passing leaves an empty space in our lives.
We will go on and we will have happy moments, then happy days, and eventually whole
stretches of happy time. However, that initial year, after the death, we must
deal with a whole year of firsts. The first anniversary, birthday, holiday or
vacation without the one we love can be challenging to celebrate.
Why are these occasions so hard and what can we do to get
through this hard place?They are
difficult because the pain of that empty space our loved one filled is so very
acute on these special days.There is
probably nothing that can be done to prevent the feeling of loss. It will
follow you for sure if you run away from it and try to ignore the special day.
But perhaps, with anticipation and preparation, the occasion can be made easier
and maybe even special.
Keep an eye on your calendar, don’t be blindsided by an
event. Prepare in advance, make a plan and include others. Tap your family
members or your friends let them in, tell them this will be a tough day for
you. Consider what will be the most difficult part of the day.
Maybe it’s not receiving a gift from the love of your life,
or not having your wife bake your favorite cake on your birthday. What can you
do to work around the pain, acknowledge the loss, and save the day? Perhaps you
can go shopping with a good friend and buy yourself a “gift”. Then write a
little thank you or whisper your thank you to the one you miss in your prayers.
Pull out your wife’s recipe for that cake, call in a grandchild and bake it
together. It won’t matter one little bit if the cake doesn’t match up to the
quality of your wife’s baking.
you make your plan for the special occasion be sure to include some way to
honor the memory of the person who died. Your day will not be the same without
the one you lost, death is a loss. However, you can ease the pain and have a
pleasant day in a slightly new and different way.
The Cranberry Sauce is for Dad
People often say that one of the hardest things about that
first year, the year after your loved one died, is that no one uses their name
or talks about them. The hole in your heart begins to feel deeper and wider
because talking about them seems forbidden. And as the holidays approach, the
quietness can feel even more painful. So, why not take the bull by the horns,
so to speak, and find a way to bring your loved one to your holiday gathering
in a light but meaningful way.
A good example of keeping your loved one in your holiday
gathering is the family that always includes that jiggly cranberry sauce
straight from the can on their table. There it is - just as it comes from the
can - indentations, ridges, and all. Every year it’s there for dad. Every year
it is ceremoniously placed on the table accompanied by a few words about how important
it was to dad’s enjoyment of the holiday. Every year it brings lots of smiles
and stories about dad.
you have lost someone dear, and you miss them more at the holidays, consider
opening the conversation, using their name, and talking about them in a
The First Thanksgiving Without the One You Love
Oh boy, here they come. The holidays! You can’t really
ignore them, but they are going to be different because that special person in
your life is no longer going to be sharing the day with you. So, what do you
First, acknowledge your loss and be aware that you need a
plan. Thanksgiving isn’t just another day unless it has been just another day
for you in the past. Losing someone you love always leaves an empty space in
your life so how will Thanksgiving be different this year? So, what will
For some it may mean you no longer have a place to gather. For
others it may mean no one knows how to cook the turkey, make the dressing, or
smooth gravy. Maybe you lost the one who carved the bird or said the blessing.
Regardless, you need a plan. The time to deal with the loss
of the gravy maker is not at the last minute when the turkey comes out of the
oven. A sudden realization catching everyone off guard is likely to intensify
and expand the feeling of loss and your day may fall apart entirely. Plan in
advance and give the gravy job to another family member. Be prepared for a
different sort of gravy. There may be lumps, it may come from a box, it might
be better or worse, but it will all right.
If you are going to be alone this year, consider inviting
others who don’t have family close at hand to join you. Make Thanksgiving a
potluck. After all, that’s what the first Thanksgiving was…people sharing the
bounty of the harvest.
This year be sure that you include some acknowledgement of
the one who died in your plans for the day. Maybe you pull out the photo albums
after dinner and just express your gratitude for the good days with your loved
one. Maybe you include your thanks in the blessing before the meal, or have
everyone share something special about your loved one as you gather around the
table. Yes, it is difficult, but don’t forget to look for the positives. They
are there, you just have to find them.
Make Family the Foundation for Funeral Planning
There are two ways to take care of funeral planning: 1) you
can plan your own funeral in advance or 2) your survivors can plan your funeral
for you after your death. Regardless of when or who plans the funeral, the
planning needs to begin from the inside out. It needs to start with your
family. Your family should be the foundation for funeral planning.
After all, the funeral is not really for the deceased…it is
for those who survive. We show respect for all human life in the manner in
which we care for the body that housed the soul or spirit of our loved one.
Respect and dignity for the body is important. The funeral helps those of us
who survive as by changing our focus from the cause of the death to the life that
was lived. The funeral is the beginning of our grieving process and that is why
funerals are so important.
If you are planning in advance for your own final
remembrance, begin by thinking of those who love you. Your spouse, your children,
your grandchildren, your friends and even your co-workers, what will they
remember? What will make them smile? What will comfort them? What will they
need? When they think of you what will come to mind? How is faith a part of
If you are planning a funeral for a deceased family member,
involve the children, grandchildren and even close friends in the process. Ask
them how they remember their friend or relative. Remember, we have all had a
unique relationship with the deceased, so what you want to remember may be
different from what your brother remembers. Ask your funeral director for ideas
so they can help you capture and express the unique personality of your family
member in the service plan.
For many years funeral planning started with a different set
of questions. It started with questions about the faith. What church did your mother belong to? It followed with questions
about the decedent’s wishes. What do you
think your dad would want? These are still good valid questions but basing
the entire funeral plan on only these aspects may not touch every family
may have preferred that no one see her after death, but if you, her daughter,
need to see her, speak up. If you don’t share your brother’s faith and you need
to hear a eulogy that is all about his life or see pictures that bring back
your time growing up together, speak up. The imprint of the funeral sticks with
the surviving family. It is literally the last memory we carry of someone we
How Much Does a Funeral Cost?
For most of us, one of the first questions think of when we think we need a funeral home soon is, “How much will it cost?” It’s understandable that everyone wants a simple answer to this question. Unfortunately, there is no one simple answer.
Think of the last time you bought a pair of shoes. It’s not really helpful to know that the average cost of a pair of shoes is $75.00. So, what does an “average” pair of shoes look like? Shoes come in many different sizes, colors and styles. You wouldn’t expect to call the shoe store and ask, “How much does a pair of shoes cost?” Everyone needs some help finding the right fit for his or her feet. You also understand that you’ll need to share more information about the kind of shoe you are seeking before you find the cost.
It’s the same with funerals. The funeral you choose will need to fit your family’s needs as well as your budget. The funeral director will help you with both. You will be pleased to know funeral homes are required to have standardized prices for everything they do. This price list must be printed and available for you. You should also take comfort in knowing there will be a range of prices associated with the choices you will be making. The funeral director wants you to be satisfied with both the service you select and with the costs associated with those services.
As soon as you are able, it is a good idea to call the funeral home and ask to set up a time to meet with a funeral director to review your options and prices. There should be no cost for this meeting. This is the best way to assure that you understand what is involved with the various services so that you can get the best value for your dollar. You can schedule this kind of meeting with as many funeral homes as you desire.
At first, this may seem like a lot of work. The reality is, however, that you’ll obtain far more information by meeting with the funeral director versus searching online or making phone calls. You’ll save time, too. Don’t wait to set up that meeting if you think you’ll need a funeral home soon.
Thank You for Your Service
Because you are there we all sleep better at night. You
serve in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard. Some of you serve
for two years, some for twenty or more. Some enter into service at a tender age
looking for opportunity. Some are following a longstanding family tradition.
You are mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters. We, thank you for your service.
You spend days, weeks, and even years away from your family.
You are not always there to teach your daughter to ride her bike; perhaps you
missed your son’s first steps. Because you serve, you can’t always be counted
on to attend the baseball game or the teacher conference. With your service
comes sacrifice. Sacrifices made by both you and your family.We thank you and your family for your
Thank you for being ready and on alert so that we can go
about our business without even thinking about the “what ifs”. Thank you for
putting yourself in harms way.Thank you
for giving us your time, your energy and your youth. Thank you for representing
us with honor where ever you are stationed.
Regardless of whether you serve us at home or in foreign
lands, in time of war or peace, we thank you for your service.
On Memorial Day we remember those who gave their lives in
our service, on Armed Forces Day we honor those currently serving. On Veterans
Day we honor all who have served our country from the Revolution in 1776 to
today. Thank you.
Talking with a Veteran
Talking with a veteran of the more recent wars or conflicts such
as Vietnam, Afghanistan, or Iraq can be intimidating. You may have a parent or
spouse who served in Vietnam who has never shared anything about their
experience with you. The Vietnam War was different from wars in the past in
that the value of the war itself was questioned and many of those who served
came home to a hostile public. It was not a hero’s welcome. Their story may
have been bottled up all these years and time is running out for families to
learn about their loved one’s experience.
Since the Vietnam War, a small percentage of the U.S. population
has served in our armed forces. This means the Vietnam experience is not shared
by the broader population and those who did not serve can’t possibly understand
what war is like. Not understanding can make us uncomfortable about starting a
conversation.As a result, veterans can
feel isolated while we remain unaware.
How can we push past our discomfort? How can we talk with
these people we love and appreciate about a period in their life that was so
very important to them? It can be tricky depending on how well you know the
veteran. Below you will find some tips to aid your conversation with a veteran:
During the discussion:
Take your time, go slow
Plan to LISTEN
Listen without comment or judgment
Listen to learn, not to tell.
Below are some suggestions you can ask:
Would be willing to talk with me about your
What service were you in?
What inspired you to join?
What does your service mean to you?
Would you mind sharing what you are currently
You may want to avoid some of the
Don’t ask if they killed anyone or saw any dead
Don’t be surprised if they don’t want to talk.
Don’t ask about PTSD.
Don’t make it about you.
Don’t think you know what it is like to go to
war unless you have been to war.
It is always a good idea to do your homework and study the
war prior to your discussion. And most of all, express your appreciation for
their time and service.
How to Thank a Veteran
Three hundred and sixty five days a year, twenty-four hours
a day, rain or shine, hot or cold, from the year 1776 to present day, they’re
serving our country.They are our
veterans and November 11th is the official day that we honor and
thank them each year.
So what can you do to show your appreciation?Here are a few ideas:
Attend a parade or remembrance event held in
Brush up on your patriotic etiquette
Teach your children things such as when to stand for the
American flag or what to do during the playing of our National Anthem
Visit the gravesite of a veteran
Hang a flag in your yard
Support a veteran-owned business
Hire a veteran or the spouse of a veteran
Visit a veterans hospital
Say thank you to a veteran and his or her
Did you know you can even hold a “Care Package Party”?
Invite friends to bring items for those serving
away from home.
You can contact the US Post Office for help with
packaging supplies for military care packages.Some items you could send:
1.Foot care products
3.Flavorings for water
4.iTunes gift card
6.Hand written notes expressing your thanks
Everyone is busy and on Veteran’s Day we’ll be inundated
with advertising. It will be easy to see November 11th just as another
great sale day…but it is so much more. Perhaps the most important thing you
could do is ask a veteran you know to tell you about their experience and then
listen. Just really listen.
are for Saints and Sinners
These days we’re hearing a lot about life celebrations. A
funeral is a ceremony for someone who has died and the survivors. A celebration
of life is a funeral with a celebratory feel and it may or may not have a faith-based
component. Celebrating the life of the accomplished, the kind, and the generous
feels natural. It feels like something we should do.
On the other hand, what do we do about the “broken” people?
The bullies, the addicted, the angry, or those who just never got it all
together. What do we do when they die? Most of us have one or more imperfect
people in our immediate circle.
The loss of one of these folks is real and it hurts. Because
they are gone, our lives will not be the same. We may be relieved of a burden,
but we are also without hope. The hope that we will get a hug or a kind word is
gone. The hope that a child will get sober and realize the potential you knew
was there is gone. The hope that we will hear “I’m sorry” or understand the
reason behind the addiction, the anger, or the hatred is now gone. It’s
painful. Someone we love has died. Having a funeral will help.
It can be hard to know just what to do when “celebration”
doesn’t feel right. This may be especially true if a faith-based service does
not feel like the right fit. Ask your funeral director for help. There are
funeral celebrants who are not attached to a church who can help you find the
right fit. Your funeral director can help you find the right person.
are always for the survivors. Regardless of how the deceased spent their
time on this earth, survivors need to gather with each other and their
friends. Everyone needs to share in a
safe place. All survivors grieve. We all need the opportunity to begin our grief
journey in a healthy way. A funeral, a ceremony for someone who has died, is
the beginning of that journey.
History of Veterans Day
Day, a national and state holiday, serves as a day for Americans to come
together to show their deep respect and appreciation for the military veterans
of our country. It is the one day a year when we pause, reflect and show our
gratitude to all those who are serving or have ever served in our military. So
how did it come to be?
What we know
today as Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day. On November 11,
2018, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War
I. This armistice was signed at the 11th hour on the 11th day in the 11th month
of 1918. At the time, we believed World War I was “the war to end all
wars”. One year after the armistice, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed
November 11th as Armistice Day to commemorate the end of World War I. In his address
to his “fellow-countrymen” delivered from the White House on November 11, 1919,
Woodrow Wilson praised the contribution of the American people and shared hope
for the future:
splendid forgetfulness of mere personal concerns, we remodeled our industries,
concentrated our financial resources, increased our agricultural output, and
assembled a great army, so that at the last our power was a decisive factor in
the victory. We were able to bring the vast resources, material and moral, of a
great and free people to the assistance of our associates in Europe who had
suffered and sacrificed without limit in the cause for which we fought.
Out of this victory there arose new possibilities of political
freedom and economic concert. The war showed us the strength of great nations
acting together for high purposes, and the victory of arms foretells the
enduring conquests, which can be made in peace when nations act justly and in
furtherance of the common interests of men.
To us in America the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled
with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service,
and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has
freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her
sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of nations.
lasting peace was not to be. After the Second World War, Alabama veteran
Raymond Weeks had the idea to expand Armistice Day to honor all veterans. On
May 26, 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower signed into a law a bill presented by
Congressman Ed Rees from Kansas establishing Armistice Day as a national
holiday eight years after Weeks began celebrating Armistice Day for all
veterans. Congress amended the bill on June 1, 1954, replacing
"Armistice" with "Veterans," and it has been known as
Veterans Day since.
honors those who died in service, Armed Services Day honors those who currently
serve. Veterans Day honors ALL veterans. Thank a Veteran on November 11th and
be very proud and happy to go to bed tonight in the United States of America.
Funeral Costs by Planning Ahead
How does planning for your funeral in advance save you
money? Doesn’t it just let the funeral home make money on your money? How big a
part should emotion play in your funeral selections?
First, let’s be honest. Emotion is not a bad thing. Some
life events should move us
Marriage, birth, and death all appropriately tug at our
heartstrings. But the cost of all three can also get out of hand if you make
all the decisions when emotions are running high.
Put the word “wedding” in front of anything and the cost
doubles. If you’ve ever planned a wedding, you know that the dress will cost
you half as much if you buy it in far in advance instead of just before you
need it. The same is true of funerals.
When you and your spouse sit down together with the funeral
director or the advance planning specialist, well in advance, you’ll feel a
little emotion as you consider the reality of your death.
But that little tug is nothing compared to what your husband
or wife will feel if you don’t prepare in advance and they’re making those
decisions alone hours after you’ve died.
Emotional overspending happens. Funeral directors don’t make
it happen. In fact, they don’t like it either.
Advance funeral planning allows you to make all the
decisions that determine the final cost. Making them together with cool heads
and warm hearts saves dollars.
Planning ahead eliminates the excessive spending that can
occur when someone is in a heightened emotional state.
Think back to wedding planning.
Starting early can also help you absorb the cost over a
longer period of time. That means you don’t drag the wedding debt into your
brand new marriage.
When you plan your funeral in advance, you will also have
the option of paying for it over time. That means you don’t have to take money
from your savings or investments and your survivors won’t have the financial
burden of paying for your funeral days after your passing. Advance funeral
planning eliminates the need for a lump sum payment when death occurs.
All money set aside in advance for a funeral should be held
with a third party. Nearly all funeral homes participate in programs that hold
the dollars in either insurance or a trust product until the death occurs.
The funeral home should not have access to your funds and
the insurance products they use should have an increasing death benefit to help
offset inflation, providing a cushion for increasing funeral costs.
Consult with an advance funeral planning specialist for more
Food Provides Comfort
Why is food such a fundamental part of any funeral?
Food provides comfort and strength. A gift of food shows
that we care. It’s natural to connect food with the healing process of a
When should you give food? What’s helpful without being overwhelming?How do you accept food graciously without
having to buy a second refrigerator?
If you’re helping a friend who is dealing with the death of
a loved one, a gift of food is appropriate before the funeral, at the
conclusion of the funeral, and even weeks or months after the funeral.
As you think about your gift, be aware that your friend may
not even know they’re hungry. They likely won’t be able to tell you what they
want or need.
Take the initiative and make it easy on them. Call with a
simple offer that can be changed to meet the needs of those on the receiving
end. You might say something like this:
“I’d like to bring
your family dinner tomorrow evening. I thought I’d bring you a turkey roast
with a broccoli casserole. Will that work for you? I’ll bring dinner by around
10:30 a.m. It’ll be all ready for you to warm in the oven or microwave.”
When you’re on the receiving end, be gracious, but honest.
Your friends want to help you. If their offer won’t be
helpful, give them an opportunity to make a different suggestion.
“Thank you for your
offer, but we’re all set for the next few days. May I have a rain check?”
If you’re part of a close circle of friends, consider
coordinating with others in your group to cover the family’s food needs on
different days and with a variety of dishes.
Consider breakfast food. A basket with granola, muffins, or
a breakfast casserole may be a nice change.
Sheet pan dinners, where the entire meal is cooked on one
pan in the oven, are easy for both parties. You can find lots of recipes online.
If you don’t cook, consider giving a gift card for a local restaurant
that offers take out.
Whatever you do, don’t forget your friend after the funeral
is over. Most people find sitting alone at the dinner table one of the bigger
challenges of their bereavement.
A loaf of your famous zucchini bread will be greatly
appreciated and it’ll be even better if you can share it together over a cup of
How to Dress for a Funeral
First, understand that what you wear to the funeral is much less important than actually going
to the funeral or gathering.Don’t
underestimate the value of your presence.
Your kind words, shared stories, or even just a hug will
mean a great deal to friends and family when there has been a death. Don’t let
not having a pair of dress shoes keep you from offering your support.
That being said, what you wear depends on several different factors.
The first thing to consider is who died.
If your 80-year-old grandfather passed, the funeral is likely
to be more traditional. His older friends will attend, so you will want to be
A pair of slacks and a collared shirt for men and boys will
do nicely. If you own a sport coat, by all means wear it. A tie with or without
the jacket would be a nice, but not a required, addition.
For the ladies and girls, dress slacks and a nice sweater or
blouse will serve the purpose. A dress or skirt would also be lovely. Do pay
attention to necklines and length of the skirt.
When the funeral is for a younger person or will not be
faith based, it may be more informal.
A celebration of life is typically more relaxed and may even
have a theme that the family will ask attendees to support.So if you’re asked to wear golf attire to the
funeral of an avid golfer, don’t be surprised.
Like the dress code for most events today, what we wear to a
funeral has relaxed. Black is no longer required, but neat, clean, and subdued
are always in good taste.
A funeral is not a place to stand out or be the center of
attention. As you survey your wardrobe, think in terms of what you would wear
to an important job interview or something you would want to wear to apply in
person for a bank loan.
How to Say the Right Thing at a Funeral
First, take a deep breath and relax. We all
worry that we’ll say the wrong thing.
Second, know that you don’t have to be
eloquent. While we wish it were so, you can’t make everything all better with a
Here are a few simple ideas to keep in mind to
be sure you say the right thing when attending a funeral.
underestimate the power of your presence.
It’s important. Just being there says more
than you can know.
your words simple.
“I’m sorry for your loss” may be all that is
If you have a brief anecdote about how you
interacted with the deceased, share it. Knowing how her sister lit up her
workplace may just be the most comforting thing a mourner can hear.
deceased person’s name.
“Mary always made me laugh.” “John had the
longest drive, too bad it wasn’t always straight.” “We always knew when Big Bad
Byron was in the plant, everyone was on their toes.” “Nobody made better
chocolate chip cookies than your mother.”
using common platitudes.
Resist the temptation to tell the bereaved how
they must feel -- “grateful that he is in a better place,” “relieved that his
suffering is over,” “grateful for a long life,” etc.
We don’t know how that wife, husband, mother,
son, or daughter actually feels. Just say you’re sorry for their loss.
Let them tell you how they feel and accept it
with a nod or hug.
forget about listening.
Listen to understand, not just to hear. Listen
to show you care, not to judge. Listen with love, even when you’ve heard the
What to Expect at a Funeral
We’ve all been there. Going to a funeral can be a little
daunting, especially if it’s your first or if it’s been awhile since you
attended one. Let’s talk a little bit about some of the terms you will hear and
what you can expect in general.
There’s a great deal of variety in funeral service today. The
funeral home works with the surviving family to help them choose service options
that reflect their lifestyle and belief system. The spouse, parents, or
children of the deceased determine the content of the service.
The service typically includes:
1.A gathering or visitation
2.A religious ceremony
3.Burial or placement in a final resting location
4.A luncheon, brunch, or wake
The gathering may be held the evening before the service or
the same day as the service.
The religious part of the service may be held in the funeral
home chapel or in the family’s place of worship.
At the conclusion of the service, a procession will usually
travel to the graveside where the casketed body will be buried. Cremated
remains may be buried, placed in a niche, presented to a family member for
keeping, or scattered.
The committal service is often followed by a meal at the church,
the funeral home’s celebration center, the family home, or a restaurant.
If you are attending a gathering or visitation that takes
place before the service, the body may or may not be present. When the body is
present in an open casket, attendees will usually approach the casket briefly
and silently say a few words of farewell or prayer.
The family may choose to receive their guests informally and
casually engage in conversation as they circulate among those attending or they
may choose to receive guests in a more formal receiving line.
If you are attending a memorial service, the body will not
be present. A memorial service may take place weeks or even months after the
passing and may or may not include the presence of cremated remains.
The family may choose to have a memorial service for a
variety of reasons. Some religions require that the body be buried immediately,
necessitating service after burial. Some families just need more time to come
How we celebrate a life is often less formal today.
The service may include pictures and music that reflect the lifetime
of the deceased. Work or interests of the deceased are often reflected in
objects placed in the room or favors shared with attendees.
Attendees may participate by sharing memories of the
deceased. A family member or celebrant may also tell the life story in the form
of a eulogy.
Funerals are an important part of the grief journey that all
families must travel when they lose a family member.
We attend to support and help the family members transition
their thoughts from the cause of death to the life’s legacy. This is so they
can begin their long healing process.
Your attendance is appreciated and important.
What do funeral directors do?
It’s late, why is the light on at the
was a funeral. People cried. Tissues were crumpled and left on the tables.Flower petals fell to the floor. Now, the
cleaning staff is making things tidy for the family who will be here tomorrow.
It’s late, why is the light on at the
Someone in our
town died away from home, the funeral director is traveling many miles to bring
him home and into the funeral home’s care. The light is on in anticipation of
her safe return.
It’s late, why is the light on at the
The teacher who taught the funeral director -- and you -- in the third grade
isn’t expected to make it through the night. He’s catching up on paperwork
while he keeps vigil. Soon he’ll be called to the home and it will be his turn
to take care of the teacher.
It’s late, why is the light on at the
computer problems. The video tribute file a family sent won’t work. We’re
staying late to make it right for their service.
It’s late, why is the light on at the
It was a busy
day today and we still need to notify Social Security and the Veteran’s
administration of Mr. Smith’s death.
It’s late, why is the light on at the
There’s been a
terrible accident. We’re doing our best to make a loved one presentable so that
they can say goodbye with dignity.
It’s late, why is the light on at the
the Jones’s gave us for their father is full of misspellings. We need to
correct them and get it to the paper.
It’s late, why is the light on at the
all of the details for tomorrow’s service. When will the celebrant arrive? Do
we have drivers for the cars? Who will be the pallbearers?
It’s late, why is the light on at the
tomorrow’s weather in case we need the umbrellas.
It’s late, why is the light on at the
The light is on
because your neighbor, the funeral director, is pacing the floor. He can’t
sleep. Tomorrow, he will oversee the service for his daughter’s classmate.