You can find our latest posts on this page. Click on the blog titles below or click on the calendar to review postings from prior periods. Remember to check back here often!
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:
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.
Cremation has been around for thousands of years. It is required by some faiths and forbidden by others. Governments, charged with protection of the public health and esthetic of the community, have laws governing both cremation and burial practices. One way to view burial and cremation is to look at each as a means to the same end. Dust to dust. Cremation is quick, and burial is slow. Either one is a legal and acceptable means to the end. Most people understand what burial is about, but questions remain about cremation.
Cremation takes place in a chamber designed specifically for the purpose of reducing human remains to basic elements. This chamber is called a retort, cremator, or cremation chamber. One human body and only one at a time is cremated in the cremator. The body is clothed or shrouded and placed in a container before being placed in the cremation chamber. The container is made of a combustible material.
The cremation process takes from 2 to 3 hours. The time varies based on the size of the body and heat capacity of the cremation chamber. Typically, the chamber reaches between 1500 and 1900 degrees during the cremation process. The body is reduced to bone fragments. After cremation the chamber cools and the contents are swept clean, any metal is collected, and the larger bone fragments are crushed. The finished product is greyish white in color and is similar to the consistency of aquarium gravel. It is coarser than dust or ashes.
On average, four to six pounds of cremated remains are produced. The height of the individual has more impact on the amount of remains than the weight of the person. The composition of cremated remains is largely calcium carbonate. There are several options of what to do with remains. It is important, and sadly often overlooked, to have a plan for cremated remains that is acceptable for the family.
Cremated remains can be buried in a cemetery. Many cemeteries allow one cremated family member to be buried in the same grave space along with another family member. This option is a cost savings since a second burial space is not needed. It also gives family members the benefit of having a location to visit and remember.
Ashes can also be scattered on private property or buried at sea. See epa.gov for the laws regarding burial at sea. There are also services that will assist a family with carrying out a sea burial. It is always advisable to work through your family funeral home. Your local funeral director will know who to call and who can be trusted to carry out your family member’s wishes.
It is also possible for family members to keep the remains in an urn or in attractive jewelry pieces. The best person to help you sort out all of these decisions and choices is your funeral director or advance funeral planner. Both typically offer consultation at no cost.
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.