Why do we have eggs and chocolate rabbits at easter?
How did rabbits and colored eggs come to be associated with Easter, the most significant holy day of the year for Christians? To get the answer to that question one needs to go back in time. Imagine yourself on earth before digital, before refractory lenses, before watches. Go way back to when people watched nature to gain some understanding of what was to come.
Envision what it must have been like to watch the days become shorter and darker and not have any idea of what was happening or how long it would last. It’s easy to see how it would be possible to fear the sun was burning out! Then think about how elated people would be when they figured it out. When they observed, and began to record, repeating patterns… the Equinox and the Solstice.
The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year and occurs in December. The summer solstice is the longest day of the year and occurs in June. The equinox also occurs twice a year. It occurs when the number of hours of daylight are equal to the number of hours of darkness. As you would expect, the Equinox is a predictor of what’s to come. In the Spring (hooray!) the cold will be coming to an end. Time to plant, fish, and hunt. In the Fall, the Autumn Equinox indicates the time to stock up. Salt the fish, and dry the meat, the cold days are coming.
In Roman times, before Christ, the Pagans (from the Latin, paganus meaning country dweller, villager, or hick) celebrated these natural repeating patterns in a big way. In the Spring the Equinox would be celebrated as a renewal of life. To the Pagans the egg was a symbol of the renewal of life. Eggs were presented to friends as gifts in celebration of Spring. Rabbits, baby chicks, and new fresh green grass were all signs of Spring and new beginnings.
That is what Easter, rabbits, and colored eggs have in common. The Spring Equinox! In 325 AD, at the Council of Nicaea, which was the first major church council, it was decided the celebration of Easter, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, would be celebrated on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the Spring Equinox.
Since that time, the celebration of the resurrection of Christ has been in the Spring very near the Spring Equinox. As a part of celebrating the resurrection, we go to church, we color and gift eggs, we line baskets with grass, and we devour our chocolate rabbits.
celebrating grads and grands
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, more than three million high school students will graduate this year. There will be parties, balloons, cakes and speeches. Many of these young people will receive the gift of a wonderful little book written at 87 years of age by Dr. Seuss.
Oh, the Places You’ll Go! was the last book to be published during Seuss’s lifetime. It’s about the journey of life and its challenges. It’s inspiring and makes a terrific graduation gift and is sure to be appreciated by any graduating senior…especially when a check, gift card, or tickets to Europe are stuck inside.
But what about the other end of life. Shouldn’t there be another book… Oh, the Places You Have Been? Why, do people feel diminished as they age? Why are we taking less and less time to wrap up a life and tie it with a pretty ribbon? Why do we say, “No fuss needed for me, no funeral needed.”? Surely six, seven, or even nine decades of life are worth celebrating.
At the end of every life shouldn’t there be a look back? What about the choices that were made, the work that was done, the people encountered, the things that were learned? What about all that? Shouldn’t just sticking with it through all the ups and the downs of life merit a celebration of some kind? As Seuss advises, “With brains in your head and shoes full of feet, you can steer yourself in any direction you choose.”
There have to be stories. This is the generation that began with a party line telephone and is ending up with telephone watches that take pictures and tell you how many steps you’ve taken in a day! There have to be stories. These people served in Vietnam, listened to the Beatles, watched a man land on the moon. They had black and white TV that only sent a signal a few hours a day and they walked to the TV to change channels! There have to be stories.
Now is the time. Capture those stories. Ask your parent(s) about their life before you. Ask the same of grandparents. Ask about their hopes and dreams. What surprised them? What was fun and what was hard? Capture the stories and the life lessons. Prepare to celebrate the grands as well as the grads.
preplanning your funeral in your 60's
According to a National Funeral Directors Association survey, more than half (62.5%) of us expect to participate in making our own funeral arrangements. And yet, less than a quarter of us have actually acted on that impulse. Not really so surprising since making funeral arrangements can literally be the very last thing we do. We can put it off right up to the end!
So, when do you think you should just go ahead and get it done? How about when you are critically ill? Or, maybe before you go on that cruise? Does when you go into the nursing home seem too late? How about as you are preparing for retirement? Actually, sooner is better than later for several reasons.
First, there is no down side to having your arrangements in place. If something new comes along or you change your mind about what you want, you can always make changes to your plan. If you move, you just move your plan. Nothing is carved in stone.
Second, there are some real up-sides to getting your funeral plan written and on file at the funeral home. For one thing, you just never know. people do die unexpectedly. And then there is the money. Historically funerals, like almost everything, have gone up in price over the years. The funeral of today will likely almost double in cost in 10 years. Why are you waiting?
Prearranged funerals are often funded in a way that buffers or even eliminates the impact of rising prices. You buy at today’s prices and you are done. When you plan in advance you also have the benefit of being able to pay over a specified period of time (you choose). As you age your choices become more limited. When you make your arrangements while you are in reasonably good health the cost of your funeral can be paid in full should you die before you’ve completed your payment cycle. Again, sooner is better than later.
The early 60’s is a good time to visit your neighborhood funeral home and get your plan written and on file. This is when you will get the most out of the funding options. It is also when you are likely to have a good idea of what you will want in the way of services. At this age you are grounded, and you are likely to still be earning income. Making payments for a bit will hardly be noticed. Then when you retire, and take that cruise, you can just enjoy. You’re all set to just enjoy the rest of what life has to offer.
death and taxes
Death and taxes (seemingly unlikely bed fellows at first glance) are often linked together because they have long been considered unavoidable life events. Some even say they are the only two things that are certain in life. Neither are something people typically look forward to, but they are both events that are anticipated and can be prepared for in advance.
This is the time of year when folks hope they have prepared well for their taxes. Most people prefer to get a tax refund rather than a tax bill. They hope the calculations have been made correctly and the payments made throughout the year will be enough to offset the sting of a big tax bill come April 15th.
Hmmm… come to think about it, most folks don’t typically look forward to a big funeral bill at the end of their life either. Few want to leave their family responsible for funeral costs. However, many people don’t plan to offset that expense like they do their taxes.
Even though most people, 62.5 percent according to the National Funeral Directors Association’s (NFDA) annual Consumer Awareness and Preferences Study, think it’s important to plan in advance. Only a small percentage (21.4 percent) actually act on their good intentions. Why? They have the perception that prepaying is too costly.
Most people are unaware that prepaying does not mean you must pay in one single payment. Many funeral homes offer specialized programs that allow funerals to be paid in advance, just like taxes, in small easily digested bites. Payments can be made on a variety of schedules allowing the consumer the opportunity to choose how long to stretch out payments and how often to make those payments. Individuals can even choose to make one payment per year! That means a person could choose to put their tax refund toward their funeral. Taxes could pay for death!
What about that roughly one quarter of people who do go beyond thinking they should make a funeral plan and actually make one? How do they feel once they have their plan in place? Ahh, they feel good. Funeral planners often say they see shoulders go down, hear audible sighs of relief and get hugs at the conclusion of a planning session. It’s like cleaning out the junk drawer. Something most folks put off but when they dig in and get it done, it feels so good they just keep going back to sneak a peak at that drawer all in order.
moving after a spouse dies?
One of the realities of losing a spouse or a parent is the impact that event has on living arrangements. Are we living in the “right” place? Is the house too big? Is it too far away from family? Will my surviving parent be safe where they live? Should I move to be closer to mom or should mom move closer to me?
These are tough questions and they come at a time when emotions are running so very high. They also come at a time when income has likely decreased, perhaps requiring a change be made sooner rather than later. Conventional wisdom says wait at least a year before you make any big changes to your living situation, but the reality is waiting a year may not be financially possible. If you are able to slow down and let the dust settle a bit, that is no small blessing.
Really, it all boils down to three considerations: happiness, safety, and finances. The surviving spouse needs to be in a place that not only works financially, but also is safe and happy. You are going to need to use both your rational mind and your emotions if you are to make the best decision.
On the face of it, the financial consideration seems to be the trump card. After all, you have to be able to afford where you live. However, it is not always that simple. When the happiest place is affordable but not the most frugal choice, then maybe happy trumps financially smart? Decisions based on both emotion and rational thought are usually the best decisions.
That emotional happiness factor also impacts the safety issue. Perhaps the safest living arrangement isn’t going to be a happy situation? In that case, put your rational mind to work on finding a way to make the happy place safer.
You have to find the best fit answer for your family. As you are weighing those three considerations, resist the temptation to base the decision on what you think may happen or will happen down the road. Consider the wisdom of making decisions in the present, based on present circumstances. So, if dad is safe, happy and can afford to stay in his present home maybe no change is necessary … for now.
we all love in very different ways: Preserving the family relationship while planning a funeral
You are with someone with whom you share some history. Maybe it’s a brother, sister, or a childhood friend. You are talking about an event from the “old days” and you suddenly realize you all remember the event a little differently. Most of us have had this experience. Our relationships work in a similar fashion. The way we love, like the way we remember, is unique to each of us.
A man’s children know him as Dad. Each child knows and loves a slightly different Dad. His wife knows and loves him in yet a different way. A wife may know fears, strengths, hopes, and dreams children never saw. They all love, but in such different ways. Though not a bad thing, it can add to the stress a family experiences during a death and subsequence funeral planning.
So how do you preserve your family relationship and plan a funeral that provides comfort for each family member?
1. Establish a common goal. For example: “We want a funeral that reflects Mom’s life, her love for us and our love for her.”
2. Understand someone has the final say. This is usually the person who is financially and legally responsible.
3. Agree to listen to each other. REALLY listen with purpose. Listen to understand a point of view, not with the singular intent of getting to the good part where you get to say what you want.
4. Seek input from a variety of close family members or friends. Don’t forget the little ones. Ask them about grandma. What did they love to do with her? Do they have a special memory or story?
5. Let go. Realize everything is not going to be as you would choose. Give a little or maybe even a lot.
6. Ask for a time out when you need it. Your first reaction to someone’s idea may be tempered with a little time and thought.
7. Use your questions: Tell me more about that? Why is ______ important to you?
8. Take the advice of Stephen Covey from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “Seek first to understand and then be understood.”
Emotions are raw when families are mourning a death. Tread lightly and be kind. Remember you may want to have Thanksgiving dinner with these people in a few months!
do i really need to attend the funeral?
Your presence is important. If there is any way possible, please, just be there. When a child is born it is a life changing event for the parents, siblings and grandparents at the very least. It may also be a life changing event for the kindergarten teacher five years in the future. Bottom line, life matters.
When a life ends, it is also a life-changing event. Regardless of the age at which the person dies or circumstances of the death, lives will change. Family and friends will never see that person again. They will not share in each other’s joy. Neither will they have the opportunity to heal old wounds. They will not hear that voice in praise, love or anger ever again. It’s over, and in some way everyone close will have to adjust to the change.
The funeral, the gathering together, acknowledges a living person is gone. Your presence says, “Yes, this life mattered. And, yes, your lives have changed. But not everything has changed, you still have us.” Going is important.
The funeral home is a safe place for the family to receive guests and their condolences. It’s ok to cry at the funeral home. In a few weeks when you see this friend of yours who lost her mom, you will want to say something. And when you do, the emotion will open up and the sadness will surface. Crying at the grocery store or the soccer field is uncomfortable for everyone.
When people organize a funeral gathering and ask friends and family to come to them to share in their loss and sorrow, to help them. Please go, hold a hand, give a hug, share a memory, offer your condolences, and smile at the video. Let them cry in a safe place.
Where should i send my condolences?
Condolences do matter and timing is important.
Do not put off contacting your friend to express your sympathy. Options and opportunities may have changes over the decades, but the importance of reaching out to those suffering a loss has not. A call or a written note is always just right. Social media is just fine under some circumstances and a personal visit is lovely. Additionally, many funeral homes have a place on their website to post condolences. This format allows your expression of sympathy to be delivered privately and quickly.
So, let’s start with the newest trend - technology and social media. It’s so fast and so easy to access. If you are texting a co-worker several times a day about other things, it would seem rude to not mention the loss of her mother. Do use private messaging forms of social media with people you communicate with regularly in this manner. Caution!! Be very careful to not send a public condolence message using social media if your friend has not made an equally public announcement of his or her loss on the same platform. Do follow-up your message with a call or personal note. Finally, do not use electronic messaging if the receiver is not a regular user of tech.
Hand written notes or cards made for just this purpose should be mailed to the person closest to the deceased or to a personal friend who has experienced a loss. Your personal note should be simple. Thoughts such as you are sorry for their loss, you are thinking of them in this difficult time or they are in your thoughts and prayers are appropriate. If you knew the deceased, you might share a brief story about the person who died and shares your connection.
Should you make a condolence visit? Oh, my yes! A personal visit is the only way to give a hug. However, do call ahead. Do keep your visit brief and do focus on the grieving individual. Please, don’t say you know how they feel even if you share a similar experience. There will be a time for sharing later. For now, just let them know you are sorry for their loss. Come as a listener not a problem solver.
When the soul leaves the body … reacting to a sudden unexpected death
Sometimes, if you are open to it, you can receive amazing information in the most unlikely ways. For example, there was a driver who was taking a woman to the airport when she received the news that a family member had died. The woman gasped and her driver, who was from another culture, asked if she was okay. Normally she would just say “I am fine” because she is a private person. On this particular occasion, however, she shared her situation with this driver. Upon hearing the news, this gentleman shared his cultural belief and at that moment…it was exactly what she needed to hear.
He said, “When the soul leaves the body, it can take a long time or it can happen very quickly. No matter how, it is painful. It is painful for the one who is dying, and it is painful for those who are left behind. The separation of the soul from the body, that is the ending of life. That is death. No matter how it happens, there is pain.”
When death is sudden and totally unexpected, you may find that you and your family members react in ways that seem strange and unfamiliar. You get the call. Something terrible has happened. Someone has died. You are stunned.
As you begin to process the news, you may experience a strong pull to see where it happened. This is a normal response. Before you can accept the reality of the death you may have to see.
Seeing a loved one after their passing is not an easy thing to do, but it is necessary for many. If you feel you need to see, honor your need. The funeral director understands this need and can help you. Even if your mother always said, “I don’t want people to see me after I die”, she probably didn’t understand back then how her passing would affect you now. Talk to the funeral director and he or she will help you honor your mother’s wishes and satisfy your need as well.
In addition to accepting the reality that a death has occurred, those who experience a sudden loss also have the burden of working out how the death happened and why it happened. Many questions will go through their mind:
• Who didn’t do what they needed to do to prevent the awful reality?
• Who is accountable? Is it, me? Did I miss something?
• Should there be a law?
• Why? Why? Why?
This is a normal. Be patient with your family members as each of you must work through this in your own personal way. When the soul leaves the body it is always painful, but when it happens suddenly and unexpectedly, there are additional burdens to work through.
Make Family the Foundation for Funeral Planning
There are two ways to take care of funeral planning: 1) you can plan your own funeral in advance or 2) your survivors can plan your funeral for you after your death. Regardless of when or who plans the funeral, the planning needs to begin from the inside out. It needs to start with your family. Your family should be the foundation for funeral planning.
After all, the funeral is not really for the deceased…it is for those who survive. We show respect for all human life in the manner in which we care for the body that housed the soul or spirit of our loved one. Respect and dignity for the body is important. The funeral helps those of us who survive as by changing our focus from the cause of the death to the life that was lived. The funeral is the beginning of our grieving process and that is why funerals are so important.
If you are planning in advance for your own final remembrance, begin by thinking of those who love you. Your spouse, your children, your grandchildren, your friends and even your co-workers, what will they remember? What will make them smile? What will comfort them? What will they need? When they think of you what will come to mind? How is faith a part of their lives?
If you are planning a funeral for a deceased family member, involve the children, grandchildren and even close friends in the process. Ask them how they remember their friend or relative. Remember, we have all had a unique relationship with the deceased, so what you want to remember may be different from what your brother remembers. Ask your funeral director for ideas so they can help you capture and express the unique personality of your family member in the service plan.
For many years funeral planning started with a different set of questions. It started with questions about the faith. What church did your mother belong to? It followed with questions about the decedent’s wishes. What do you think your dad would want? These are still good valid questions but basing the entire funeral plan on only these aspects may not touch every family member.
Mother may have preferred that no one see her after death, but if you, her daughter, need to see her, speak up. If you don’t share your brother’s faith and you need to hear a eulogy that is all about his life or see pictures that bring back your time growing up together, speak up. The imprint of the funeral sticks with the surviving family. It is literally the last memory we carry of someone we loved.
Who Will Take Care of My Funeral Plans?
It is not uncommon for people to ask themselves, “Since I never had any children, who will take care of my funeral plans?” That is all the more reason to preplan your own funeral!
Each state has laws that say who will “own” your body when you die. The “owner” is responsible for making and paying for your funeral service and “final disposition”. Final disposition is simply what happens to your body in the end and those choices include burial, cremation or donation. Regardless of disposition, a funeral service with or without a religious component will take place before or after disposition. These are all choices the responsible person will make.
If you are to be cremated, there is still the matter of what will be done with your cremated remains. They can be kept by a family member, scattered on private property, buried in a cemetery, or kept in a columbarium niche. Again, this is a choice the responsible person will need to make.
In most states the responsible person is your spouse. When there is no legal marriage then your parent will be responsible. If your parents are deceased, then your child will take the lead. When there are no children then your eldest sibling will be responsible.
As you can see, this system only works if you and your family are all of like mind regarding the funeral and you are on the same page regarding faith. Since this is not always the case, you can break the legal chain and designate a person of your choice to carry out your wishes.
It’s not at all difficult or even expensive. You just need to call the funeral home of your choice, ask for an appointment with the person who does the pre-planning. Be sure to tell that individual that you want to designate someone to carry out your wishes. He or she will need to get the proper paperwork for you to complete this task.
This is also a perfect time to talk to the pre-planning person at the funeral home about your ideas regarding both your funeral service and your final disposition. A funeral professional can help you get everything written down so that your designated person will know just what to do. Since this person will also bear the financial burden for your funeral service and burial or cremation, you will want to talk to the advance funeral planner about eliminating that burden by prefunding your plan.
Get your family involved in funeral planning
When death is near or has just occurred, there are so many things to do and yet there is nothing you can do. You feel helpless. You can’t make the person well or bring them back. But you know you will, very soon, need to make many decisions about the service, the final resting place, the music, food, flowers, donations, clothing and much more. Your mind is racing and oddly enough, at the same time, at a complete standstill. On one hand it feels like it is too soon to do anything. You’re just not ready. But at the same time, you feel the weight of all that is coming.
This is stress. It is hard. If you can, reach out to your family and friends and let them help you. Have your son or daughter get the older grandchildren involved in pulling together pictures and music. They are really good at this stuff. Going through the pictures brings back happy memories and it’s one of the most therapeutic chores that comes with funeral preparation. Let them do something that will help them - they are dealing with this loss too.
If would you would like family and friends to donate to a charity, put someone in charge of looking into that. Have your daughter-in-law pull together a few clothing choices for your final selection. Send your son-in-law to the cemetery or have him get the cars washed. You may want to delegate the task of writing the eulogy and obituary. Give someone the job of gathering information for the funeral luncheon or brunch.
Spread the work around. Let go, embrace help and give them something to do. You’ll feel better that things are getting done and they’ll feel better because they are involved and helping.
Control funeral costs by planning ahead
How does planning for your funeral in advance save you money? Doesn’t it just let the funeral home make money on your money? How big a part should emotion play in your funeral selections?
First, let’s be honest. Emotion is not a bad thing. Some life events should move us emotionally.
Marriage, birth, and death all appropriately tug at our heartstrings. But the cost of all three can also get out of hand if you make all the decisions when emotions are running high.
Put the word “wedding” in front of anything and the cost doubles. If you’ve ever planned a wedding you know that the dress will cost you half as much if you buy it in far in advance instead of just before you need it. The same is true of funerals.
When you and your spouse sit down together with the funeral director, well in advance, you’ll feel a little emotion as you consider the reality of your death.
But that little tug is nothing compared to what your husband or wife will feel if you don’t prepare in advance and they’re making those decisions alone hours after you’ve died.
Emotional overspending happens. Funeral directors don’t make it happen. In fact, they don’t like it either.
Advance planning allows you to make all the decisions that determine the final cost. Making them together with cool heads and warm hearts saves dollars.
Planning ahead eliminates the excessive spending that can occur when someone is in a heightened emotional state.
Think back to wedding planning.
Starting early can also help you absorb the cost over a longer period of time. That means you don’t drag the wedding debt into your brand new marriage.
When you plan your funeral in advance, you will also have the option of paying for it over time. That means you don’t have to take money from your savings or investments and your survivors won’t have the financial burden of paying for your funeral days after your passing. Advance planning eliminates the need for a lump sum payment when death occurs.
All money set aside in advance for a funeral should be held with a third party. Nearly all funeral homes participate in programs that hold the dollars in either insurance or a trust product until the death occurs.
The funeral home should not have access to your funds and the insurance products they use should have an increasing death benefit to help offset inflation, providing a cushion for increasing funeral costs.
Consult with an advance planning specialist for more details.
funerals are for saints and sinners
These days we’re hearing a lot about life celebrations. A funeral is a ceremony for someone who has died and the survivors. A celebration of life is a funeral with a celebratory feel and it may or may not have a faith-based component. Celebrating the life of the accomplished, the kind, and the generous feels natural. It feels like something we should do.
On the other hand, what do we do about the “broken” people? The bullies, the addicted, the angry, or those who just never got it all together. What do we do when they die? Most of us have one or more imperfect people in our immediate circle.
The loss of one of these folks is real and it hurts. Because they are gone, our lives will not be the same. We may be relieved of a burden, but we are also without hope. The hope that we will get a hug or a kind word is gone. The hope that a child will get sober and realize the potential you knew was there is gone. The hope that we will hear “I’m sorry” or understand the reason behind the addiction, the anger, or the hatred is now gone. It’s painful. Someone we love has died. Having a funeral will help.
It can be hard to know just what to do when “celebration” doesn’t feel right. This may be especially true if a faith-based service does not feel like the right fit. Ask your funeral director for help. There are funeral celebrants who are not attached to a church who can help you find the right fit. Your funeral director can help you find the right person.
Funerals are always for the survivors. Regardless of
how the deceased spent their time on this earth, survivors need to gather with
each other and their friends. Everyone
needs to share in a safe place. All survivors grieve. We all need the
opportunity to begin our grief journey in a healthy way. A funeral, a ceremony
for someone who has died, is the beginning of that journey.
how much do funerals cost?
For most of us, one of the first questions think of when we think we need a funeral home soon is, “How much will it cost?” It’s understandable that everyone wants a simple answer to this question. Unfortunately, there is no one simple answer.
Think of the last time you bought a pair of shoes. It’s not really helpful to know that the average cost of a pair of shoes is $75.00. So, what does an “average” pair of shoes look like? Shoes come in many different sizes, colors and styles. You wouldn’t expect to call the shoe store and ask, “How much does a pair of shoes cost?” Everyone needs some help finding the right fit for his or her feet. You also understand that you’ll need to share more information about the kind of shoe you are seeking before you find the cost.
It’s the same with funerals. The funeral you choose will need to fit your family’s needs as well as your budget. The funeral director will help you with both. You will be pleased to know funeral homes are required to have standardized prices for everything they do. This price list must be printed and available for you. You should also take comfort in knowing there will be a range of prices associated with the choices you will be making. The funeral director wants you to be satisfied with both the service you select and with the costs associated with those services.
As soon as you are able, it is a good idea to call the funeral home and ask to set up a time to meet with a funeral director to review your options and prices. There should be no cost for this meeting. This is the best way to assure that you understand what is involved with the various services so that you can get the best value for your dollar. You can schedule this kind of meeting with as many funeral homes as you desire.
At first, this may seem like a lot of work. The reality is, however, that you’ll obtain far more information by meeting with the funeral director versus searching online or making phone calls. You’ll save time, too. Don’t wait to set up that meeting if you think you’ll need a funeral home soon.
the first thanksgiving without the one you love
Oh boy, here they come. The holidays! You can’t really ignore them, but they are going to be different because that special person in your life is no longer going to be sharing the day with you. So, what do you do?
First, acknowledge your loss and be aware that you need a plan. Thanksgiving isn’t just another day unless it has been just another day for you in the past. So, what will change? Losing someone you love always leaves an empty space in your life so how will Thanksgiving be different this year?
For some it may mean you no longer have a place to gather. For others it may mean no one knows how to cook the turkey, make the dressing, or smooth gravy. Maybe you lost the one who carved the bird or said the blessing.
Regardless, you need a plan. The time to deal with the loss of the gravy maker is not at the last minute when the turkey comes out of the oven. A sudden realization catching everyone off guard is likely to intensify and expand the feeling of loss and your day may fall apart entirely. Plan in advance and give the gravy job to another family member. Be prepared for a different sort of gravy. There may be lumps, it may come from a box, it might be better or worse, but it will all right.
If you are going to be alone this year, consider inviting others who don’t have family close at hand to join you. Make Thanksgiving a potluck. After all, that’s what the first Thanksgiving was…people sharing the bounty of the harvest.
year be sure that you include some acknowledgement of the one who died in your
plans for the day. Maybe you pull out the photo albums after dinner and just
express your gratitude for the good days with your loved one. Maybe you include
your thanks in the blessing before the meal, or have everyone share something
special about your loved one as you gather around the table. Yes, it is difficult,
but don’t forget to look for the positives. They are there, you just have to
The cranberry sauce is for dad
People often say that one of the hardest things about that first year, the year after your loved one died, is that no one uses their name or talks about them. The hole in your heart begins to feel deeper and wider because talking about them seems forbidden. And as the holidays approach, the quietness can feel even more painful. So, why not take the bull by the horns, so to speak, and find a way to bring your loved one to your holiday gathering in a light but meaningful way.
A good example of keeping your loved one in your holiday gathering is the family that always includes that jiggly cranberry sauce straight from the can on their table. There it is - just as it comes from the can - indentations, ridges, and all. Every year it’s there for dad. Every year it is ceremoniously placed on the table accompanied by a few words about how important it was to dad’s enjoyment of the holiday. Every year it brings lots of smiles and stories about dad.
If you have lost someone dear, and you miss them more at the holidays, consider opening the conversation, using their name, and talking about them in a positive way.
What to expect at a funeral
We’ve all been there. Going to a funeral can be a little
daunting, especially if it’s your first or if it’s been awhile since you
attended one. Let’s talk a little bit about some of the terms you will hear and
what you can expect in general.
There’s a great deal of variety in funeral service today. The funeral home works with the surviving family to help them choose service options that reflect their lifestyle and belief system. The spouse, parents, or children of the deceased determine the content of the service.
The service typically includes:
1. A gathering or visitation
2. A religious ceremony
3. Burial or placement in a final resting location (committal)
4. A luncheon, brunch, or wake
The gathering may be held the evening before the service or the same day as the service.
The religious part of the service may be held in the funeral home chapel or in the family’s place of worship.
At the conclusion of the service, a procession will usually travel to the graveside where the casketed body will be buried. Cremated remains may be buried, placed in a niche, presented to a family member for keeping, or scattered.
The committal service is often followed by a meal at the church, the funeral home’s celebration center, the family home, or a restaurant.
If you are attending a gathering or visitation that takes place before the service, the body may or may not be present. When the body is present in an open casket, attendees will usually approach the casket briefly and silently say a few words of farewell or prayer.
The family may choose to receive their guests informally and casually engage in conversation as they circulate among those attending or they may choose to receive guests in a more formal receiving line.
If you are attending a memorial service, the body will not be present. A memorial service may take place weeks or even months after the passing and may or may not include the presence of cremated remains.
The family may choose to have a memorial service for a variety of reasons. Some religions require that the body be buried immediately, necessitating service after burial. Some families just need more time to come together.
How we celebrate a life is often less formal today.
The service may include pictures and music that reflect the lifetime of the deceased. Work or interests of the deceased are often reflected in objects placed in the room or favors shared with attendees.
Attendees may participate by sharing memories of the deceased. A family member or celebrant may also tell the life story in the form of a eulogy.
Funerals are an important part of the grief journey that all families must travel when they lose a family member.
We attend to support and help the family members transition their thoughts from the cause of death to the life’s legacy. This is so they can begin their long healing process.
Your attendance is appreciated and important.
How to say the right thing at a funeral
First, take a deep breath and relax. We all
worry that we’ll say the wrong thing.
Second, know that you don’t have to be eloquent. While we wish it were so, you can’t make everything all better with a few words.
Here are a few simple ideas to keep in mind to be sure you say the right thing when attending a funeral.
Don’t underestimate the power of your presence.
It’s important. Just being there says more than you can know.
Keep your words simple.
“I’m sorry for your loss” may be all that is needed.
Share your story.
If you have a brief anecdote about how you interacted with the deceased, share it. Knowing how her sister lit up her workplace may just be the most comforting thing a mourner can hear.
Use deceased person’s name.
“Mary always made me laugh.” “John had the longest drive, too bad it wasn’t always straight.” “We always knew when Big Bad Byron was in the plant, everyone was on their toes.” “Nobody made better chocolate chip cookies than your mother.”
Avoid using common platitudes.
Resist the temptation to tell the bereaved how they must feel -- “grateful that he is in a better place,” “relieved that his suffering is over,” “grateful for a long life,” etc.
We don’t know how that wife, husband, mother, son, or daughter actually feels. Just say you’re sorry for their loss.
Let them tell you how they feel and accept it with a nod or hug.
Don’t forget about listening.
Listen to understand, not just to hear. Listen to show you care, not to judge. Listen with love, even when you’ve heard the story before.
A year of firsts
When someone close to us dies, a spouse, a child, a parent,
a sister, brother, or friend, their passing leaves an empty space in our lives.
We will go on and we will have happy moments, then happy days, and eventually whole
stretches of happy time. However, that initial year, after the death, we must
deal with a whole year of firsts. The first anniversary, birthday, holiday or
vacation without the one we loved can be challenging to celebrate.
Why are these occasions so hard and what can we do to get through this hard place? They are difficult because the pain of that empty space our loved one filled is so very acute on these special days. There is probably nothing that can be done to prevent the feeling of loss. It will follow you for sure if you run away from it and try to ignore the special day. But perhaps, with anticipation and preparation, the occasion can be made easier and maybe even special.
Keep an eye on your calendar, don’t be blindsided by an event. Prepare in advance, make a plan and include others. Tap your family members or your friends and let them in, tell them this will be a tough day for you. Consider what will be the most difficult part of the day.
Maybe it’s not receiving a gift from the love of your life, or not having your wife bake your favorite cake on your birthday. What can you do to work around the pain, acknowledge the loss, and save the day? Perhaps you can go shopping with a good friend and buy yourself a “gift”. Then write a little thank you or whisper your thank you to the one you miss in your prayers. Pull out your wife’s recipe for that cake, call in a grandchild and bake it together. It won’t matter one little bit if the cake doesn’t match up to the quality of your wife’s baking.
As you make your plan for the special occasion be sure to
include some way to honor the memory of the person who died. Your day will not
be the same without the one you lost, death is a loss. However, you can ease
the pain and have a pleasant day in a slightly new and different way.
New year, new
you. It’s an exciting concept full of promise, right? Then we take all the fun
out of it by resolving to do things we don’t like to do. We’ll lose weight, eat
healthier, exercise more, give up ice cream. Ugh, no fun at all.
So how about selecting enjoyable resolutions instead? Some ideas to get you thinking are listed below:
1. Do more of something you love. Read more books, go fishing more often, spend more time with your kids or grandkids, binge-watch your favorite series from the start again. Just enjoy and give yourself a big old hug in the form of having fun your way.
2. Get better at something you really like to do. Take a lesson, learn to cook something new, improve your golf swing, learn a new knitting stitch, or just build on what you love.
3. Make a dream come true. See the mountains or the Grand Canyon. Go to the opera or to Disney. Buy the car, lease the car, or rent the car of you dreams for a weekend. Just complete the following sentence and do it: “I’ve always wanted to _______.”
4. See your town like a tourist. Everything fun doesn’t have to require a lot of money. Most of us have attractions, restaurants, natural wonders or parks close to home that we haven’t visited in ages. Just go.
5. Make lots of new friends. Some friends are for life while other friends can be for just for a few hours or minutes. Try smiling and talking to the cab driver, the checkout person, or the person next to you as you walk into or out of church.
life. Seize the day. Happy New Year!
How to dress for a funeral
that what you wear to the funeral is much
less important than actually going to the funeral or gathering. Don’t underestimate the value of your
Your kind words, shared stories, or even just a hug will mean a great deal to friends and family when there has been a death. Don’t let not having a pair of dress shoes keep you from offering your support.
That being said, what you wear depends on several different factors. The first thing to consider is who died.
If your 80-year-old grandfather passed, the funeral is likely to be more traditional. His older friends will attend, so you will want to be more conservative.
A pair of slacks and a collared shirt for men and boys will do nicely. If you own a sport coat, by all means wear it. A tie with or without the jacket would be a nice, but not a required, addition.
For the ladies and girls, dress slacks and a nice sweater or blouse will serve the purpose. A dress or skirt would also be lovely. Do pay attention to necklines and length of the skirt.
When the funeral is for a younger person or will not be faith based, it may be more informal.
A celebration of life is typically more relaxed and may even have a theme that the family will ask attendees to support. So if you’re asked to wear golf attire to the funeral of an avid golfer, don’t be surprised.
Like the dress code for most events today, what we wear to a funeral has relaxed. Black is no longer required, but neat, clean, and subdued are always in good taste.
A funeral is
not a place to stand out or be the center of attention. As you survey your
wardrobe, think in terms of what you would wear to an important job interview
or something you would want to wear to apply in person for a bank loan.
Why is food such a fundamental part of any funeral?
Food provides comfort and strength. A gift of food shows that we care. It’s natural to connect food with the healing process of a funeral.
When should you give food? What’s helpful without being overwhelming? How do you accept food graciously without having to buy a second refrigerator?
If you’re helping a friend who is dealing with the death of a loved one, a gift of food is appropriate before the funeral, at the conclusion of the funeral, and even weeks or months after the funeral.
As you think about your gift, be aware that your friend may not even know they’re hungry. They likely won’t be able to tell you what they want or need.
Take the initiative and make it easy on them. Call with a simple offer that can be changed to meet the needs of those on the receiving end. You might say something like this:
“I’d like to bring your family dinner tomorrow evening. I thought I’d bring you a turkey roast with a broccoli casserole. Will that work for you? I’ll bring dinner by around 10:30 a.m. It’ll be all ready for you to warm in the oven or microwave.”
When you’re on the receiving end, be gracious, but honest.
Your friends want to help you. If their offer won’t be helpful, give them an opportunity to make a different suggestion.
“Thank you for your offer, but we’re all set for the next few days. May I have a rain check?”
If you’re part of a close circle of friends, consider coordinating with others in your group to cover the family’s food needs on different days and with a variety of dishes.
Consider breakfast food. A basket with granola, muffins, or a breakfast casserole may be a nice change.
Sheet pan dinners, where the entire meal is cooked on one pan in the oven, are easy for both parties. You can find lots of recipes online.
If you don’t cook, consider giving a gift card for a local restaurant that offers take out.
Whatever you do, don’t forget your friend after the funeral is over. Most people find sitting alone at the dinner table one of the bigger challenges of their bereavement.
loaf of your famous zucchini bread will be greatly appreciated and it’ll be
even better if you can sh
Thank a Veteran
Three hundred and sixty five days a year, twenty-four hours a day, rain or shine, hot or cold, from the year 1776 to present day, they’re serving our country. They are our veterans and November 11th is the official day that we honor and thank them each year.
So what can you do to show your appreciation? Here are a few ideas:
· Attend a parade or remembrance event held in your community
· Brush up on your patriotic etiquette
· Teach your children things such as when to stand for the American flag or what to do during the playing of our National Anthem
- Visit the gravesite of a veteran
- Hang a flag in your yard
- Support a veteran-owned business
- Hire a veteran or the spouse of a veteran
- Visit a veterans hospital
- Say thank you to a veteran and his or her family
Did you know you can even hold a “Care Package Party”? Here’s how:
- Invite friends to bring items for those serving away from home.
- You can contact the US Post Office for help with packaging supplies for military care packages. Some items you could send:
- Foot care products
- Cotton socks
- Flavorings for water
- iTunes gift card
- Hand written notes expressing your thanks
is busy and on Veteran’s Day we’ll be inundated with advertising. It will be easy
to see November 11th just as another great sale day…but it is so
much more. Perhaps the most important thing you could do is ask a veteran you
know to tell you about their experience and then listen. Just really listen.
THE HISTORY OF VETERANS DAY
Veterans Day, a national and state holiday, serves as a day for Americans to come together to show their deep respect and appreciation for the military veterans of our country. It is the one day a year when we pause, reflect and show our gratitude to all those who are serving or have ever served in our military. So how did it come to be?
What we know today as Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day. On November 11, 2019, we celebrate the 101st anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I. This armistice was signed at the 11th hour on the 11th day in the 11th month of 1918. At the time, we believed World War I was “the war to end all wars”. One year after the armistice, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11th as Armistice Day to commemorate the end of World War I. In his address to his “fellow-countrymen” delivered from the White House on November 11, 1919, Woodrow Wilson praised the contribution of the American people and shared hope for the future.
splendid forgetfulness of mere personal concerns, we remodeled our industries,
concentrated our financial resources, increased our agricultural output, and
assembled a great army, so that at the last our power was a decisive factor in
the victory. We were able to bring the vast resources, material and moral, of a
great and free people to the assistance of our associates in Europe who had
suffered and sacrificed without limit in the cause for which we fought.
Out of this victory there arose new possibilities of political freedom and economic concert. The war showed us the strength of great nations acting together for high purposes, and the victory of arms foretells the enduring conquests, which can be made in peace when nations act justly and in furtherance of the common interests of men.
To us in America the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service, and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of nations.
Of course, lasting peace was not to be. After the Second World War, Alabama veteran Raymond Weeks had the idea to expand Armistice Day to honor all veterans. On May 26, 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower signed into a law a bill presented by Congressman Ed Rees from Kansas establishing Armistice Day as a national holiday eight years after Weeks began celebrating Armistice Day for all veterans. Congress amended the bill on June 1, 1954, replacing "Armistice" with "Veterans," and it has been known as Veterans Day since.
Memorial Day honors those who died in service, Armed Services Day honors those who currently serve. Veterans Day honors ALL veterans. Thank a Veteran on November 11th and be very proud and happy to go to bed tonight in the United States of America.
What Do Funeral Directors Do?
It’s late, why is the light on at the funeral home?
Today, there was a funeral. People cried. Tissues were crumpled and left on the tables. Flower petals fell to the floor. Now, the cleaning staff is making things tidy for the family who will be here tomorrow.
It’s late, why is the light on at the funeral home?
Someone in our town died away from home, the funeral director is traveling many miles to bring him home and into the funeral home’s care. The light is on in anticipation of his safe return.
It’s late, why is the light on at the funeral home?
Hospice called. The teacher who taught the funeral director -- and you -- in the third grade isn’t expected to make it through the night. He’s catching up on paperwork while he keeps vigil. Soon he’ll be called to the home and it will be his turn to take care of the teacher.
It’s late, why is the light on at the funeral home?
There are computer problems. The video tribute file a family sent won’t work. We’re staying late to make it right for their service.
It’s late, why is the light on at the funeral home?
It was a busy day today and we still need to notify Social Security and the Veteran’s Administration of Mr. Smith’s death.
It’s late, why is the light on at the funeral home?
There’s been a terrible accident. We’re doing our best to make a loved one presentable so that they can say goodbye with dignity.
It’s late, why is the light on at the funeral home?
The obituary the Jones’s gave us for their father is full of misspellings. We need to correct them and get it to the paper.
It’s late, why is the light on at the funeral home?
We’re reviewing all of the details for tomorrow’s service. When will the celebrant arrive? Do we have drivers for the cars? Who will be the pallbearers?
It’s late, why is the light on at the funeral home?
We’re checking tomorrow’s weather in case we need the umbrellas.
It’s late, why is the light on at the funeral home?
The light is on because your neighbor, the funeral director, is pacing the floor. He can’t sleep. Tomorrow, he will oversee the service for his daughter’s classmate.
death is just too close, even for him.