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The Meaning of Burial Shrouds

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Published: April 19, 2019 by Ask The Director

The practice of using burial shrouds, or "burial sheets," is one that is rich in history across many cultures; however, for many, this can be a new concept, especially when planning for a funeral. Today, burial shrouds refer to any form of cloth that covers the deceased before cremation or burial. Typically, these sheets are made out of cotton or linen and are widely available from many specialty providers in various styles that fit the nature of the service itself.

The History of the Shroud

While many Christians are familiar with the Shroud of Turin—the mysterious cloth wrapped around Jesus Christ after his death—the practice of burial sheets is one that has been used all across the world. Shrouds are commonly used in a variety of manners and styles. Initially, Christians used burial shrouds as a way to save on materials and still present the deceased in a respectful manner. However, this practice also dates back to other funerary practices in Ancient Egyptian and Native American cultures.

Today, this tradition continues on in many religious and cultural circles. For instance, Jewish burials often utilize shrouds, known in Hebrew as “Tahirim,” that are white and made by hand, directly correlating to the religious, historical significance this cloth has carried. Many Christians also continue this practice, often signifying the fabric with a cross or the Trisagion hymn.

Muslim and Hindu cultures also utilize shrouds, but in a much different manner. In these cultures, shrouds become a part of preparing the deceased for their journey into the afterlife very much. These cultures take meticulous measures when making shrouds, such as by washing them an odd number of times with scented water.

Using Shrouds Today

While many still use shrouds as part of the cultural custom, others are beginning to use them as part of “green burial” practices, to encourage less material usage. Whatever the purpose, families have many options when using shrouds themselves, and funeral homes can often help direct individuals to professionals that specialize in producing these clothes.

Can Catholics Be Buried During Holy Week?

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Published: April 17, 2019 by Ask The Director

Holy Week—which extends from Palm Sunday to Holy Saturday, the day before Easter—is the focal point of the Catholic calendar. Due to its hallowed nature, believers sometimes wonder if there are any Holy Week restrictions on burial and funeral services. The answer to this question is multifaceted. Certainly, there is no rule directly prohibiting burial during Holy Week. And, for the early part of the week—Monday through Wednesday—there shouldn’t be any problem conducting regular memorial services.

For the remaining days of Holy Week, however, things are a little more complicated. Here it’s important to understand that there are basically three Catholic ceremonies to mark the death of a loved one. First, there is a vigil or wake. Second, there is a funeral Mass. Third is the burial service, which typically takes place immediately following the funeral Mass.

Catholicism does have rules about when a Funeral Mass can take place—specifically prohibiting them on any Sunday during Lent, which includes Palm Sunday. Additionally, funeral Mass services aren’t supposed to take place on Holy Thursday, nor on the Paschal Triduum (Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday).

Because funeral Mass services cannot be held on these days, it makes sense that burials usually aren’t scheduled on these days, either—simply because the burial takes place following the Mass.

One option available to Catholics is to have a funeral liturgy in lieu of a Mass—essentially the same service, but without Communion. This is not prohibited by any Catholic doctrine, but there can be practical concerns; finding a priest available to perform a liturgy amidst the busyness of Holy Week can be a challenge.

With any additional questions about Catholic funeral and burial practices, don’t hesitate to contact your nearby funeral director.

Grief and Depression

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Published: April 15, 2019 by Ask The Director

When you lose a loved one, it’s only natural to feel sad. Those feelings of melancholy may persist for weeks or even months, and that’s okay! However, there’s a difference between normal feelings of grief and diagnosable depression. It’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of the latter and to seek care when necessary.

Spotting the distinction between grief and depression can be challenging, as there is certainly some overlap between them. For example, both grief and depression can result in intense sadness, insomnia, a poor appetite, and weight loss.

One key difference, however, is that grief tends to abate over time—and it can also come in waves. For example, certain people or situations may help you feel better, at least temporarily. Depression, meanwhile, is much more persistent and pervasive. 

Some additional signs that it’s depression, not grief, that you’re dealing with: 

  • You have feelings of guilt that are unrelated to your grief.
  • You ever think about committing suicide.
  • You have low self-esteem or become preoccupied by how “worthless” you are.
  • You become sluggish, hesitant, or confused in your speech.
  • You have prolonged difficulty in carrying out simple, day-to-day tasks.

These are all signs that you have clinical depression, and should seek treatment. This could be as simple as regular therapy sessions, or it may include the use of antidepressant medications.

It’s important to remember that bereavement is natural and normal—but depression is something altogether different. If you believe you are struggling with depression, make sure you reach out to someone who can help you find the treatment you need.

Grieve the Way YOU Want To

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Published: April 10, 2019 by Ask The Director

Grieving the loss of a loved one is always hard—and we make it harder with the expectations we place on ourselves. All too often, people who are in mourning fear that there is a "right" way to process their emotions, then kick themselves when they fall short of that standard. The grief journey is made exponentially more grueling by this sense of failure—the idea that you’re somehow not measuring up.

The first thing you should know about grief is that there’s no one right way to do it; all of us express emotions differently, and that has everything to do with the way our brains are wired, nothing to do with how much we do or don’t love the person who passed. 

For example, some people may weep throughout the mourning process, while others don’t cry a single tear. Both are completely acceptable ways of dealing with bereavement. Similarly, some may want to be surrounded by friends, never to be left alone, while others may crave solitude. Again, both approaches are reasonable and natural.

One caveat to this: There’s no one right way of dealing with grief, but there are a couple of bad ways. It’s important to ensure that your bereavement doesn’t compromise your physical health, either because you stop eating, stop sleeping, or fall into self-medication. Additionally, dealing with grief means allowing yourself to feel and experience it. Trying to ignore your mourning, or to bottle it up in some way, can ultimately be self-destructive.

Take care of yourself, and channel your heartache through positive means—but don’t let anyone make you feel like your expression of grief is inadequate. That’s not going to accomplish anything but making your bereavement more difficult.


Healing Through Meditation

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Published: April 08, 2019 by Ask The Director

As you seek healthy and holistic ways to navigate the grieving process, one practice to consider is meditation. Even if you have never tried meditation before, you may find it to be beneficial to you in more ways than one. For example, meditation can teach you how to get your mind "unstuck" from a particular topic or feeling—the upshot of which is better rest, less time spent tossing and turning and trying to turn your brain off.

Meditation can have some profound benefits to your physical health, as well—alleviating headaches, muscle tension, and the unsettled feeling's in your stomach. Many experts will tell you that meditation boosts your immune system, too; during a season of life where stress leaves your body weakened and vulnerable, this immune system boost can help you stay well.

Additionally, meditation can help you cultivate mental resilience; it won’t take away your sadness or grief, but it may help you create a mental barrier against trauma and anxiety.

Finally, as you spend time in meditation, you may find that it enriches your sense of empathy and your ability to connect with other people in your life who are mourning—all of which helps you to feel less alone.

The tricky part is actually getting started with meditation. One option is to enroll in a local class or ask members of your grief support group for a recommendation. There are also some good apps and online videos that will guide you through mindfulness meditation and focused breathing exercises.

Consider meditation; even if you’re skeptical of its power, you may ultimately find it a powerful way to relax your body, fortify your mind, and put your emotional wellbeing first.


Can a Loved One Be Cremated After Burial?

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Published: April 06, 2019 by Ask The Director

What happens when you bury a deceased loved one and decide later that you’d rather have his or her body cremated? These situations are uncommon but not impossible. The first step is always consulting with your local funeral director to talk through some of the logistics.

First, there are legal concerns to take into account. The law changes from one state to the next, but generally, it’s required to have the approval of the deceased’s next of kin. You will also need to have permission from the person who owns the cemetery.

Once the right permissions are granted, the next step is disinterring the body—that is, physically digging up the grave plot and removing the casket and body. This is something that happens more often than you might think, usually for the purpose of moving a body from one cemetery to another.

Before actually cremating the body, a cremation permit must be obtained. Again, this will require signatures from the next of kin—surviving spouses or children. Additionally, you’ll need to file for an amendment to the death certificate. These are the kinds of logistic matters your funeral director can attend to on your behalf.

All in all, getting the necessary approvals may take a few weeks, but the actual cremation process will be straightforward. Again, your funeral director can keep you briefed on exactly what to expect.

This is not the kind of circumstance that arises often, but if it’s something you’ve considered, don’t hesitate to take it directly to a local funeral professional, who can help you get the process started.


Avoiding Cliché: How to Properly Express Your Sympathy

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Published: March 26, 2019 by Ask The Director

When a friend or loved one faces loss, it’s both good and right to say something to them—to express sympathy and to offer support. Knowing what to say can be difficult, of course. You want to be sensitive, heartfelt, and encouraging, but you also want to avoid cliché. Here are a few ideas to think about.

Saying something like “my thoughts and prayers are with you” or “I’m sorry for your loss” may be true, it may be well-intentioned, and it may even be well-received. For those who are looking for something a little bit more personal or eloquent, our best advice is to speak words of empathy and compassion, straight from the heart.

One particular suggestion? “Remember that we love and care about you.” The person who is in mourning may know this intellectually, but actually hearing it said out loud can be powerful—and there is nothing cliché about it. A similar sentiment is something like, “May you be comforted by the outpouring of love surrounding you.”

Also, remember that simplicity is usually the best policy—and that something very straightforward can be incredibly meaningful. “We will remember ____ in our hearts forever” is a wonderful affirmation that the deceased’s memory will linger and that the person mourning is not the only one committed to keeping that memory alive.

One more suggestion: “We send thoughts of peace and courage to you.” Those qualities can seem elusive during a season of mourning. So when you send them, they will surely be received with gratitude.

Speaking words of sympathy is an important way to console someone who is grieving—and you can do so simply and sincerely without reaching for the tried-and-true clichés.


How Do I Choose the Right Cemetery?

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Published: March 23, 2019 by Ask The Director

As you plan for the burial of a deceased loved one, you’ll need to address a few basic questions—and the first of those questions is where?

Often, individuals purchase cemetery plots well before they die. In other cases, they may leave behind a will or other document that stipulates where they wish their final resting place to be. Occasionally, though, it will be up to surviving family members to select a cemetery that will be suitable.

If your loved one was a military veteran, you may wish to look into VA cemeteries near you. Also consider that most cemeteries have veteran sections, which should provide you with plenty of options for personalization. And if your loved one adhered to a particular religion, it may be worth investigating cemeteries associated with that faith tradition. Otherwise, you’ll probably just want to find a public cemetery. A good starting place is to ask your funeral director for a recommendation.

If your loved one is to be cremated, it’s important to find a cemetery that offers either a columbarium or an urn garden, or at least one that permits urns to be buried in traditional plots. (Most do, but it doesn’t hurt to verify.)

In researching local cemeteries, make sure you ask about the cost as well as any maintenance fees associated with the plot. Also ask what the cemetery will do to maintain the gravesite, and what your responsibilities will be as the family member. Finally, ask if there are any restrictions or stipulations on the kinds of casket that are permitted.

Again, as you navigate this important decision, don’t hesitate to seek counsel from your funeral director, who will be able to help you locate the cemetery that best aligns with your needs and your loved one’s final wishes.


What are Some Ways to Personalize the Funeral Procession to the Cemetery?

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Published: March 22, 2019 by Ask The Director

When a funeral moves from the site of the memorial service to the site of the burial, it’s often necessary for mourners to pile into their vehicles and do a bit of traveling. This is what’s known as the funeral procession, and it’s an important part of traditional funeral services. In fact, there are even some customs and traditions concerning what order the vehicles go in.

You don’t have to adhere to such traditions if you don’t want to, of course, and even if you value the customs regarding the funeral procession, there are still some ways in which you can personalize it.

One simple option is to provide funeral attendees with some floral arrangements they can add to their vehicles—fastening them to the mirrors or the hood of the car. These can be a subtle way of distinguishing the cars in your funeral procession.

You can also consider the option of enlisting a special vehicle to lead the procession. For example, in more agrarian communities, the funeral procession is sometimes led by a horse or even a tractor. In a more metropolitan or suburban setting, a horse-drawn carriage can sometimes be employed. Fire trucks are sometimes chosen to lead the procession, and even something like a beloved fishing boat, when placed on a trailer, can be part of the lineup. And if your loved one was a bike enthusiast, motorcycle hearses are a popular option.

If geography permits, you might even direct the funeral procession on a brief, scenic detour—perhaps near a park, green area, or historic building that held some importance for the deceased.

There are a number of ways in which you can make the procession feel more personal. For some additional ideas, don’t hesitate to ask your funeral director, who will be happy to help however possible.


Do I Have to Use the Same Cemetery That’s Associated with My Chosen Funeral Home?

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Published: March 12, 2019 by Ask The Director

Here’s a scenario that occasionally comes up in the funeral planning process: There is a particular funeral home that you wish to help you with the service, but you don’t want to be limited in your choice of cemeteries. What many families want to know is, is it required to use the cemetery that’s associated with the chosen funeral home?

Thankfully, this isn’t something you will have to deal with too often; today, the overwhelming majority of funeral homes are independent, meaning they can work with any cemetery in the area, and don’t have a single cemetery that they are associated with. Indeed, this is one of the primary reasons to work with an independent funeral home—they can coordinate services with any cemetery of your choosing.

As for cases where the funeral home you choose does have its own cemetery, that’s usually not something you’ll have to worry about. The role of the funeral home is to help you through the necessary arrangements and to ensure that you get the kind of service that truly honors your departed loved one. It is almost unheard of for any funeral home to require the use of a particular cemetery.

The bottom line for those who have recently experienced a loss: You probably have a specific way in which you hope to honor the life and memory of your loved one, and a good funeral home can provide you with the options you need to do so. Contact a local funeral home director with any additional questions or concerns.


The History of RIP

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Published: March 12, 2019 by Ask The Director

It’s one of the most commonly used abbreviations in our culture—RIP, or rest in peace. Not only do you notice it on headstones, but you often see it employed on social media following the death of a loved one, friend, or celebrity. Have you ever stopped to wonder, though, where this abbreviation came from or how it started?

Something that may surprise you is that those three letters haven’t always stood for rest in peace. Initially, the acronym represented a Latin phrase—requiescat in pace, which means "may [the person who has died] rest in peace." This phrase goes back at least as far as the 8th Century when it became commonly used on Christian gravestones. In these early days, Christians intended the phrase as a kind of prayer—a request for God to be merciful to the deceased person, and for the departed soul to find eternal rest.

Eventually, of course, that Latin phrase was whittled down to three little letters; RIP became a common inscription on headstones back in the early 1600s, and it wasn’t long before its meaning was translated from Latin into English.

While the abbreviation has Christian origins, its meaning has become fairly widespread in Western culture; it represents a non-sectarian wish for the deceased to be afforded respect and for their passing to be acknowledged by well-wishers.

As you consider RIP and other ways to signify the death of a close loved one, make sure you speak to a qualified funeral director—someone who can guide you toward both timeless and contemporary expressions of mourning and bereavement.


Do I Have to Use a Funeral Home to Be Buried in a Cemetery?

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Published: March 11, 2019 by Ask The Director

Memorializing and ultimately burying a deceased relative can be an emotionally intensive process. As you grieve, the last thing you want is to feel overwhelmed by practical and logistical concerns. That’s the primary reason why most individuals choose to coordinate memorial and burial services through a local funeral home: Simply put, your funeral director can handle the practicalities on your behalf, giving you the time and space you need to mourn and to spend time with your family members.

Indeed, your funeral director will handle logistical issues you may not have even thought of, and shouldn’t have to—issues like transporting your loved one, ensuring the gravesite is ready for the burial, coordinating with the cemetery owner, and more. As you think about working with a funeral director, consider all of these pragmatic concerns that can effectively be taken off your plate.

Something else to consider is that funeral homes are required by the FTC to provide you with a list of prices for each separate service—meaning you have the right to choose which funeral services you want and which ones you don’t. As such, you can decide to conduct a vigil or graveside service yourself, but still enlist a funeral home to help with moving the body, ensuring the proper casket, etc.

If you have any questions about the specific ways in which a funeral home can help you, simply reach out to your local funeral director today; let them know your wishes and discover some of the ways they can work with you to meet those wishes.


How Do Cemeteries Work with Funeral Homes?

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Published: March 09, 2019 by Ask The Director

When considering the end-of-life arrangements for a loved one, there can be a number of logistics to consider. For example, you will need to arrange for the body to be transported to the funeral home for viewing, and then ultimately to the cemetery for burial. Additionally, there is coordination that needs to happen between the funeral home and the cemetery, ensuring your memorial and graveside services are handled smoothly.

This is one of the main reasons why it’s beneficial to work with a funeral home, which will be able to handle the logistics for you. Indeed, that’s one of the funeral director’s primary roles—to take care of these pragmatic concerns on your behalf, leaving you free to mourn, to spend time with friends and loved ones, and to engage in remembrance and reflection.

The important thing is to let the funeral home know right off the bat where your loved one wishes to be buried and to provide documentation for whatever cemetery plot or space your loved one owned. If no plot was purchased, ask your funeral director to guide you through the process of purchasing a suitable space.

Your funeral director can also talk you through some of the additional logistics that need to be sorted out, such as ensuring there are employees on-site at the cemetery to conduct the burial itself. These are things you may not think of, and frankly don’t have to: Your funeral director will think of them for you.

The sooner you voice your wishes to the funeral director, the more quickly your funeral director can smooth over any potential roadblocks—ensuring that you don’t face any impediment in honoring your loved one according to his or her ultimate wishes.


What to Do With Family Plots When Families Change

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Published: February 25, 2019 by Ask The Director

Sometimes individuals will find that their relatives have purchased comprehensive family burial plots for children and other loved ones to use. However, many find that it is uncommon for families to "stay together" geographically in a way to practically use these burial plots. In addition, children—and grandchildren—of the original deed-holder will often wish to be buried with their spouse or pursue another form of burial.



Is it Disrespectful to Not Use a Family Burial Plot?

Many will question whether it is disrespectful to plan to be buried in another cemetery than what one’s predecessors purchased. However, it is important to remember that every individual has a right to carry out his or her funeral and burial as chosen. Having these discussions before the plot owner or deed holder has passed can be a great way to mitigate any future confusion—and possibly sell any unneeded plots.

Memorializing a Family Plot with a Marker

Although an individual may wish to place his or her remains somewhere other than a family plot, there are some ways to memorialize the concept of the family without having to pursue burial. For example, if the deceased wishes to be buried next to a spouse in a different location, the surviving relatives can opt to place an additional marker on the original family plot. Although an individual is not buried there, this is a great way to respect the wishes of parents, grandparents, and other ancestors without having to compromise the personal desires of the deceased.


When should I not attend a funeral?

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Published: February 25, 2019 by Ask The Director

Attending a funeral is usually a thoughtful gesture; however, in some specific and possibly unusual situations, it might be better to consider an alternative way of offering condolences.

Do not attend a funeral if you feel that your presence will in any way be offensive to family members or have a negative effect. Perhaps previous relationships or partnerships might play a role in your decision-making.

Do not attend a funeral if the service details provided a note that the ceremony is private or for family only. The deceased’s obituary, as well as shared information via social media, usually indicates this. You may also contact the service provider such as the funeral home, church, or cemetery for additional details.

Do not attend a funeral if the service location is simply geographically, logistically, or feasibly impossible to get to. Consider sending a meaningful floral offering, note, or letter that expresses your sympathy and desire to be there in person.

Do not attend a funeral if you feel as though the situation might be too emotionally challenging for you. Everyone goes through difficult times and funerals can take an emotional toll on individuals. Waiting to express your sympathies when it is a better time for you is acceptable. Sending a letter to friends or family members of the deceased is a lasting and memorable gesture.

The important thing to remember is that friends and families appreciate just about any effort made to celebrate and remember their loved one, be it a phone call, letter, or other act of sympathy.


What Determines the Cost of a Funeral?

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Published: February 25, 2019 by Ask The Director

When 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.


How to Involve a Child in a Funeral Service

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Published: February 25, 2019 by Ask The Director

Sometimes, 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.


What is Perpetual Care?

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Published: February 22, 2019 by Ask The Director

In 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.


Writing Thank You Notes after a Funeral

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Published: February 13, 2019 by Ask The Director

The 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.

Types of written acknowledgments commonly used.

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.

Who should receive a thank you card?

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:

  • - Sent or brought flowers
  • - Made a donation to a charity in honor of your loved one
  • - Sent personal letters of condolence
  • - Provided assistance with food, children or running errands
  • - Acted as Pallbearers
  • - Musicians who performed at the funeral
  • - Read at the service
  • - Presided as clergy over the service

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.


Turn Cremated Remains into Dazzling Diamonds

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Published: February 07, 2019 by Ask The Director

One 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.


Can I Have a Traditional Service if I Choose Cremation?

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Published: January 30, 2019 by Ask The Director

One 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.


Proper Etiquette in Responding to a Friend’s Loss on Facebook

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Published: January 27, 2019 by Ask The Director

Social 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:

  • "I’m so sorry for your loss."
  • "Your [mother/brother/aunt/friend] was a wonderful person, and s/he will be missed."
  • "Sending my condolences to you and your family."

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.


The Importance of Memorializing and Taking Quick Action with Cremated Remains

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Published: January 23, 2019 by Ask The Director

Families mourn the passing of a loved one in many different ways. For most, it’s essential to have a quiet, intimate season of family reflection—an opportunity for the closest relatives and loved ones to join together in remembrance. Cremation is well-suited for this because it allows the family to take their loved one’s cremated remains, housed in a decorative urn, and display it in their home for a short season.

This makes it easy for family members to honor their deceased loved one in the days immediately following the memorial service—but after this short season, it’s important to memorialize those cremated remains in an urn garden or a columbarium.

There are a couple of reasons for this, and the first one is practical. Simply put, if you keep an urn full of cremated remains in your home, sooner or later something could happen to it; the urn could be accidentally knocked or tipped over, and the results may be upsetting.

Additionally, it’s good to have a more public home for your loved one’s cremated remains—a "final resting place" where friends, family members, and other well-wishers can go to mourn, to lay flowers, or to pay their respects whenever it suits them. This is not always possible when the cremated remains are kept in one’s private residence.

Your funeral director can assist you with the timing here, recommending a reasonable amount of time to keep the urn in your home before you ultimately transition it to somewhere more permanent. Moreover, of course, your funeral director can also walk you through some of the best options for long-term memorialization—whether that’s burying the urn in a cemetery, placing it in a niche, or a different kind of arrangement.


What Happens to Someone’s Facebook Profile when they Die?

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Published: January 22, 2019 by Ask The Director

Millions 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:

1. You can choose to have it memorialized.

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.


2. You can choose to have it deleted.

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.


How To Write a Eulogy

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Published: January 10, 2019 by Ask The Director

What is a Eulogy?

Although there are many spoken traditions in funeral services—such as the use of hymns or prayers—eulogies also play an important role in honoring the life of the deceased. Eulogies offer the speaker—and the audience—a chance to truly reflect on the departed and the memories shared with them.

Who Provides Eulogies?

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.


How Can I Prepare for a Eulogy?

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.

What If I Want to Give a Speech, But Was Not Asked to Give a Eulogy?

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.


What Cremation Terms are Important to Know?

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Published: December 27th, 2018 by Ask The Director

When 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


Announcing the Death of a Loved One

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Published: December 13th, 2018 by Ask The Director

When 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.


'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.


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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