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Ask The Director


'Tis the Season for Difficult Conversations

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Published: December 5th, 2018 by Ask The Director

Nobody 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:

  • When having The Talk, it’s vital to pick a good time and a comfortable place
  • Ask questions about your parents or aging family members. Learn their story. Get them talking about what matters most to the
  • Remember to keep it collaborative and conversational. Your loved ones may have different beliefs than yours—but your point is to learn, not judge.
  • Offer help to your aging family members—help in planning, organizing, cleaning their home, sorting through their things, or whatever they need.
  • Get everyone involved—including siblings and other family members, as appropriate.
  • Be patient. People may need some time before they’re ready to start talking seriously about end-of-life details. Remember that your aim is to start the conversation.

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.


Who Gets the Priceless Treasures?

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Published: December 1st, 2018 by Ask The Director

When 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.


How are a Rosary Service and a Vigil or Wake Different?

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Published: November 20, 2018 by Ask The Director

Paying 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.

Rosary Service

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.


The Military Funeral Service

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Published: November 12, 2018 by Ask The Director

A 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.


Who is eligible for a military funeral?

The following people are eligible to receive a military funeral:

  • Military members who are currently on active duty
  • Military retirees
  • Members and former members of the Selected Reserve
  • Eligible U.S. veterans
  • Veterans who served at least one term of enlistment and separated under conditions that do not include dishonorable discharge
If you have questions about how to apply to receive a military funeral for your loved one, contact us and we will be able to provide guidance on completing the process.


Whats the Difference between Funeral and Memorial Services?

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Published: November 5, 2018 by Ask The Director

As 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.


Remains

Funerals are generally held with the presence of the deceased at the funeral home or religious center where the service is held. After the service, these remains are often buried at a determined gravesite. Funerals also have grown to incorporate cremated remains that are generally presented in an urn, which are then buried, scattered or placed in an above-ground columbarium located at a cemetery.

Memorial services may sometimes have cremated remains of the deceased present, but typically are reserved for instances where the individual has passed and their remains were not available. For example, the lives of individuals who died overseas while missing or in combat may often be remembered without the presence of the deceased at the service.

Timing

Funerals traditionally occur soon after the passing of an individual, sometimes days after one has passed away. As cremation becomes a more popular option, many have found that there is more available time to create a flexible ceremony. As such, many professionals within the industry have witnessed memorial services that occur weeks or months after the deceased has actually passed away.

Location

Funerals are generally held at funeral homes or religious facilities that can accommodate such services. Once these services conclude, they are often followed by graveside burials that are either located at on-site burial grounds or off-site cemeteries. While modern burials may involve either cremated remains or caskets containing the deceased, funeral services still typically refer to burials that occur at cemeteries.


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