Archive for the ‘Beyond Indigo Funerals’ Category

Sending Your Furry Friend Off In Style: Tips for Planning a Pet Funeral

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

Pet cemeteryIn modern society, pets are more than furry creatures who look cute and are fun to cuddle. In fact, according to the American Human Association, an overwhelming nine in ten owners view their pets as members of the family.  Pet spending has kept up with change in status, with “The Telegraph” reporting an annual level of spending upward of $43.3 billion. (more…)

Loosing Your Life Partner

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Question: So Many people lose their significant others. How can I help them cope?

Answer: No matter how long you have been married or living with your mate, their death comes as a shock. Your partner was your mate in life to help enjoy the good times, to endure the bad and make each day a little brighter. When you loose your mate you experience grief in different ways then if you had lost a parent, a sibling, a friend or a child.  Many times you have to restructure your life to reflect that there is just one person instead of two.  Depending on whether you are male or female will also determine how you respond to the loss of your mate. What makes losing your mate so different then other types of grief?

1.  If you are man, society may have a different assumption on how you should grieve and be less accepting of your grief. You might hear:

  • Be strong!
  • Don’t cry!
  • Move on why are you still sad?

You may actually have to tell people it is okay for you to grieve and you will cry if you want to. Remember people are uncomfortable around grieving people if they themselves have never grieved.

If you have been a caregiver you might be eating worse then when you were married or had a mate. Perhaps you have tended to have a less balance diet and have been eating many of the fried foods. Perhaps you aren’t eating many meals, or are skipping eating significant meals.

2. More Health Risks. People who hae lost a mate seem to be more likely to get sick physically and mentally. This is not overly surprising because of the intensity of grief you are facing but it is worth noting.

  • You have a greater chance of being depressed, even up to a couple of years after the loss of your spouse.
  • Elderly individuals may suffer low-level depression that could go unnoticed and be related to grief.
  • There is greater chance of suicide later in life…especially for mean without partners.
  • You immune system is weaker.
  • There is a higher chance of turning to addictive substances such as tobacoo, drugs and alcohol, which make you a risk for other health concerns.
  • If you had a great marriage or partnership, it is more likely your health will suffer after the loss.

Now it is important not to allow yourself to become depressed just by reading what can happen to your health. Cheer up. Forewarned is forearmed. You don’t have to be sick if you are aware of your health and keep an eye on it. Make sure that you eat well, or at the very least are mindful to eat something, sleep and drink plenty of water. It is the simple things that work, but they are also so easy to forget. If you start not feeling well don’t shove the thoughts aside thinking things will get better . Go to the doctor and be proactive instead of trying to get well later.

3. Adjusting is individual. People grieve at their own rate. People also adjust differently.

  • The younger you are when you have lost your mate the harder it is for you to adjust. The theory is that not only have you lost your “present” but you have also lost your “future”–depending on where you are in the life cycle.  People who have been married for 30 to 40 years have already lived a larger part of their life. Younger people have lost the future in children, grandchildren and other family events.
  • Remember each loss is not just a single loss. You have had multiple losses. You have lost the person to have a conversation with over dinner. The person to help you get dressed for fancy occasions or help with the maintenance of your house, doing groceries, laundry and bills. Be prepared for the pain from these losses to show up when you least expect it.

Going on in life without your mate will probably feel like you are starting over in some ways. It is hard journey to walk but it can be done. Remember to watch your health, have a good support system, and take care of your first. Grief is not a destination but a journey.

Independence

Monday, July 1st, 2013

A death is a life-changing event for every person and family. Studies have shown that people undergo transformations as they grieve over their loss. On Beyond Indigo we have heard many times from people that the loss of their loved one has brought positive changes into their lives. One of these changes is freedom.

Freedom occurs in so many ways.  For example, death may give us the chance to discover that we cannot always foresee or control events in our lives – therefore we can be free of future worry.  Death, or change, can give us a chance to redefine our belief systems. (more…)

What is Value?

Friday, June 14th, 2013

Lately I have been struggling with the word “value”. We have been born in interesting times where everything changes. As soon as you buy the new “must have” it is instantly out of date. You drive a brand new car off the dealer’s lot and its value has depreciated by thousands of dollars. If so much is changing so quickly, where do we find value in what we buy for either our businesses or ourselves?  How do we know we are giving a solid value to our families with our services? What products or services can a service business comfortably purchase? Are we so used to helping others that we forget that there are services to help us.

This question of value caused me to search for the definition of value in the dictionary – on the Internet. I realized I did not own a hard copy dictionary anymore. Clearly, I do not see the value in keeping one on hand. I went to http://dictionary.reference.com/ and this is what it said:

  1. An amount, as of goods, services, or money, considered to be a fair and suitable equivalent for something else; a fair price or return.
  2. Monetary or material worth: the fluctuating value of gold and silver.
  3. Worth in usefulness or importance to the possessor; utility or merit: the value of an education.
  4. A principle, standard, or quality considered worthwhile or desirable: “The speech was a summons back to the patrician values of restraint and responsibility” (Jonathan Alter). (more…)

The Love We Shared

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

Question: I am a new funeral director and I was wondering if you have any advice you can give me on how to relate to older people. My grandparents passed away when I was young and my parents are still living. How do I connect to a generation that  is foreign to me?

Answer:

Great question! By connecting to your families– as I have stated in other articles — a funeral becomes much more meaningful to them. To your families this funeral is all about them. It is about the loved one they have lost. Your families are trying to remember the connections they had to their loved ones. They want that relationship and that person’s life to have meant something that goes beyond death. There are a few ways to go about establishing rapport with your families that show them you care.

Talk about the loved one:  Before you conduct any business matters ask the family to tell you about the loved one they have just lost. What is their greatest memory? What is something they will always remember about their loved one? Were they a hunter? Did they enjoy the outdoors? Perhaps this person made beautiful quilts or knit. Listen to what the family has to say and then pick out nuggets of information and suggest you incorporate what you have learned into the service. For example, if the loved one was loved to fish the family could bring in some fishing poles or put a picture of that person fishing on the cover of the funeral program.

Ask the family before proceeding: As you are going through the funeral planning ask the family before proceeding to the next phase if they are comfortable talking about this section of the funeral arrangements. For example, many people do not want to go into the casket selection room. Mentally it is too hard on them to have had their husband/wife/parent living the night before and today they are putting them in a casket. Asking shows consideration for their loss. It shows that you care. If they are not comfortable show them a picture in a book or suggest you pick one out for them. Perhaps they would like to come back the next day to make a selection, or suggest cremation.

Share stories that relate: Share your stories that relate to their stories. If you had a friend who died who loved to fish you could share that story. However, be aware that it is not helpful for you to talk about your own personal problems to the family. Remember, this is first and foremost about them, not about you.

Touch the families: It is okay to shake hands, give hugs, and pats on the back. People know then that you care. When you greet people it is an okay to gently and briefly touch them. Some older men feel most comfortable with a handshake. Women are okay with hugs from other ladies and handshakes from the men. It is a judgment call. The most important thing is if you are comfortable with it they will know you mean it.

I would suggest you visit some seniors at senior living places. Many people are lonely and would love the company. You can get to know about their lives and what interests people in that age category. You might surprise yourself and find out how much you enjoy the visit too!

Ignoring a death

Friday, March 15th, 2013

Question:  I received a note from one of my families. This is not the first time I have talked to a family and heard this complaint. Do you have any insight into this situation? The family wrote:

“We have a strange question, especially when there should be more important things on our minds’ (and there are), but it is something that has upset me and my family quite a bit.  While we received many beautiful letters and cards of sympathy when my mother died, there were many people that we are close to that either haven’t sent a card or even called to acknowledge her death.

For example, my husband’s parents, who were very friendly with my parents (we spent holidays, birthdays, functions with the grandchildren together), did not call or send a card to my father until one month later.  The few times I had talked to my mother-in-law after my mom passed, she would mention that she had to get to the store to get a card, and actually said to me twice, “Better Late than Never.”  I have to tell you, I am so hurt by this behavior. (more…)

Myths and Facts of Children’s Grief

Friday, March 1st, 2013

Many families struggle with how to deal with children and their attendance at funerals.  How do children grieve.  What should kids do and not do when their is a death?

Children grieve at all ages.  Even infants will grieve.  Kids just show grief differently than adults. Also, as children mature the way they show grief changes as well.  Therefore, it can be very easy to feel confused about kids and grief. Just remember that children will learn about grief and how to cope with grief by watching adults.  To clear some of the Myths from the Facts about children and the grieving process, below is a compiled list of concepts to note.

Myth: Young children do not grieve and infants don’t grieve at all.

Fact:

  • Kids, even infants, do grieve.
  •  It is important for kids to grieve and express their emotions.
  •  A grab bag of emotions may be displayed in the child, even ones you may not think are emotions connected with grieving.
  • Many factors affect the grieving of a child – including the family situation, stability, health and mood of the child before the loss.
  • Children’s feelings need to be recognized as they grieve. Ignoring children’s questions, or behavior will not make their pain go away.

Myth: Children do not grieve as deeply as adults

Fact:

  • Children do not react the same as adults when they know someone has died but that does not mean children aren’t seriously affected by the loss.
  • A death can cause a huge fear of abandonment in a child.
  • Children need a safe environment with many hugs, loves and permission to express their feelings.
  • Suppressed grief can lead to emotional and behavioral problems, so encourage them to feel and to talk and/or draw pictures of their emotions.
  • Suppressed grief can bring physical and emotional problems later in life.

Myth: Kids are lucky because they are too young to understand death.

Fact:

  • Remember children lack life experiences to draw on to make the death easier to understand. They know death by TV, which is not real vs. death in their life right this moment.
  • Kids have limited “tools” to express their grief. Adults know feelings and how to communicate them better than children.
  • Death is new to children.

Myth: Children should be protected from the pain of death and retain their innocence.

Fact:

  • Death is part of a child’s life, especially in many TV shows, movies, and video games. However they need to learn death is permanent and it doesn’t solve problems.
  • Children do experience death through the loss of pets, family members, friends and people at school. If you do not talk about the loss they will think you are hiding something from them.
  • Kids will use their own imaginations to fill in gaps about the death if they are not talked to about the loss. Their imaginations might be scarier than real life.
  • Kids who aren’t included in the grieving and burying rituals loose the opportunity to learn and be part of family events. Children learn from adults how to act, behave and express emotions.
  • Children who are not included in the death process can develop anxiety and may get resentful. Kids are very aware of their surroundings and of the feelings of those around them, especially adults they care about.

Myth: Children can forget the death easily and grieve quickly.

Fact:

  • Children are like adults. They grieve on their own time. The death becomes part of their lives and how they perceive the loss changes with time.
  • Grieving is important for children to experience. This could take different amounts of time depending on the child.
  • Keeping a connection with the loved one is important even if it is symbolic.
  • Children grieve differently depending on age and other factors.
  • Remember, children may not look like they are grieving the way adults do, but rest assured they are assimilating the event, and learning new things about loss every day.

 

How to help children when your family pet has died

Friday, March 1st, 2013

The time your pet dies is a difficult time. Perhaps your grieving had been started if your pet had a terminal illness. Maybe you came home one night and found your special pal curled up in his bed, and he just had not awakened from sleep. Whether the death was sudden or slow, grief is inevitable – and necessary.

When grief can be expressed, healing can begin. In addition, healing takes a shorter time when your feelings can be voiced. Children often do not know how to express their grief and many times show it differently then adults. Adults can be confused when a child does not show the same signs of grief as an adult. Children grieve in ways that often are not understood by adults. Be accepting and understanding and be aware children may not seem unhappy and yet still be grieving. Remember:

  • Death is part of a child’s life-especially with TV and video games. However, they learn that death is permanent as they get older.
  • Children do experience death through losing pets, family members, friends and people at school. If you do not talk about the loss children might think you are hiding something from them.
  • Kids will use their own imaginations to fill in gaps about death if they have no way to talk about or express their loss. Their imaginations might be more scary than real life.
  • Kids who are not included loose the opportunity to learn and be part of family events. Children learn from adults how to act, behave and express emotions.
  • Children who are not included in the death process can develop anxiety and may get resentful.
  • Kids are very aware of their surroundings.

Death brings opportunities to work through grief for children and adults. There are many acceptable ways to get feelings “out”. Here are some ideas to help you get your grief process started.

Talk to others:  Cry and laugh and remember with warmness all the happy times. Be sure to discuss your feelings of loss yourself, and have your children do the same. When talking honestly with children be careful of your wording. For example, if you had to euthanize your pet, never use the terms “put to sleep” or “gone away”. Children can become afraid to sleep at night, or worry that you will do the same to them as you did to your pet if they become sick.

Celebrate the Life of the Pet: Find closure by having a funeral or memorial service. Have your children help plan the service.  If your pet has been cremated consider where you will put the ashes. There are many options available now that include a home memorial garden, a pet cemetery, or organization like Eternal Reefs where the ashes of the pet help make a reef out in the ocean.

Memorialization: Having visual memories of a pet can help children and adults through their grieving process. Creating or displaying the memorial can help get feelings expressed.  Activities for your children can include making a picture, writing a poem or story, or creating a scrapbook of your pet. Perhaps you could frame a special photo or a paw print of your pet. In the spring and summer planting a flower or buying a little garden statue for the yard or house is a healing way to grieve.

Make a Donation: Giving to others while grieving seems to help people during this difficult time. Make a donation to the animal shelter, or give a scholarship to the veterinary clinic for someone else that might not be able to afford services there for their pet. After you have had time to grieve and want to have the presence of an animal around, consider donating your time with animals. Many humane shelters need people to walk dogs, to foster animals and to help in the adoption process.

Getting a New Pet:  After the loss of a pet, some people want to get a new one right away in hopes it will help ease their pain. This is not recommended since it does not give you time to grieve and heal. A new pet can never be a replacement for the pet you lost.

Ways to present remembrances all year around

Friday, February 15th, 2013

February is the month for Valentine’s Day, the time of year when card companies write mushy love cards and flower vendors are creating flower arrangements as fast as their fingers can fly. Valentine’s Day is supposed to be a celebration of love. People who have lost a mate are excluded from this celebration. What flowers will they receive this year? I want to throw an out-of-the box idea to you about flowers.  Flowers traditionally are given to the grieving family at the time of the funeral or memorial service. However, flowers can be given all year around and especially for days like Valentine’s Day. Here are some suggestions for you to consider for your funeral home.

Suggest to inquirers who want to do something for a grieving family that it would be unique for their friends/family to receive flowers on other days of the year instead of, or in addition to, the day of the service. At the service a small note can be left stating, “I have arranged for you to receive red roses (or whatever flower is chosen) this year on Valentine’s Day. I am giving these to you in his/her name.” This same technique could be applied for other special days, such as a religious holiday, or Mother’s or Father’s day, or the deceased’s or the survivor’s birthday.

Flowers are not the only way to present remembrances all year around for your grieving families. Some other concepts that you, as a business, might do for survivors would include the following. Feel comfortable to charge a fee for those that would attend.

Dinner Out: Make reservations at a nice restaurant in town for people who are now alone on a holiday. Make time during the dinner to reflect on the loved ones who are no longer present. It will give survivors a place to go and something to help them to look forward. It is difficult for people to think of an event, plan it, and find others that are in their same situation. You, however, as a business can do these things and bring these people together.

Weekend Trips:  Plan a get-away at a location not too far away. If enough people join your group, you could rent a bus for the weekend or the day. When people are active, they are less likely to dwell upon sad thoughts and feelings. They may even surprise themselves and have a good time and meet some new friends.

Day At The Spa: Sponsor a day at the spa for men and women. Many people who have lost their spouse receive less physical touch. A day at the spa gives them a chance to experience touch in a therapeutic fashion. Most spas offer lunch for guests who spend the entire day in their care.

Admittedly, these are unusual concepts, but in today’s market of stiff competition, and people demanding more service, these kinds of ideas can help you expand your market, and make your business needed.

Understanding Our Own Deaths

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Question:  Have you ever had one of those moments when a realization hits you square between the eyes? I was talking to a family about their loss when I realized I personally was uncomfortable about the thought of my own death. If I am not comfortable with my own death will this somehow come across to my families?

Answer:  Thank you for writing to me about a topic of such importance! The answer is “yes”! If you are not comfortable with the subject of your own passing your unease will come across to the families you serve on some level. Our own death is a subject that is rarely discussed in our society. Those who attend religious services find that this topic may be addressed from time-to-time–otherwise we seldom think about it. Examining your beliefs regarding what happens to you after you die is not only good for yourself but for your families. Here are some questions to ponder:

  1. Why am I uneasy with my own death? Some people may have had a traumatic experience as a child. Perhaps your family never discussed death with you. Or, maybe your belief system shines a more fearful light on death. It is a good to get an understanding of why you are uneasy with death because then you can move forward to accept it. (more…)