Fairhaven Blog

Things of interest around Fairhaven.

What to do when there has been a death.

- Monday, January 17, 2011

There has been a death, now what do I do?

There is a lot to do after someone dies. This is not the entire list of things to do, however, it is a simple guideline to start the process. If you have to read and use this list, I am sorry for your loss. I hope that this will be some help to you.

Review any paperwork that may be on file at the decedent’s home for funeral plans and insurance information. Obtain the decedent’s social security number and any military paperwork. You will need discharge paperwork to receive a flag and other military benefits.

Determine if there was a will and contact the attorney for any additional paperwork.

Make sure you understand all of the death benefits and funeral coverage. If there is a cemetery plot already purchased, check to see if that location also has a funeral home. Making arrangements with one company generally helps to make the planning process easier for the family.

Contact your mortuary and your clergy who will assist you in arranging funeral or memorial services.

Determine the time and place of funeral or memorial service. This can be done at the mortuary, at your church or your mortuary may be able to suggest other locations.

Select the clothes you will want your loved one to wear. Don’t forget the details like underwear, makeup or nail polish.

Go through old pictures or writings of the deceased. This can be therapeutic, and you may want to do so with a small group of close family members.

Make a list of people to contact, for example close friends, relatives, church relationships and business associates.

Consider putting an obituary in the paper. Your funeral home can help you with this.

Decide the type of service that may be right for your loved one. If they had not preplanned, then try to design the service around the type of person they were. Consider the friends and family and try to determine their needs. Frequently a funeral service may help begin the grieving process. Many times a quiet person will select a small intimate service, which a more boisterous person would like an elaborate service with music, doves, horse-drawn carriages, a bag-piper and in some instances, clowns. I have seen a lot of things at funerals, including a knight in shining armor.

A funeral home can assist with all of the options relating to the type of service you or your loved one wanted. A traditional service does not have to be that traditional. A cremation may include a visitation or a memorial service. There are many options, and your funeral home counselor can assist with helping you understand what those options are.

Prepare a Eulogy. Funeral service or no, this is a good thing to have for the future, even if you do not have a service. I always encourage services, if possible, even if it is a small service at the house. There are on-line sources to help prepare a Eulogy.

Determine how many death certificates you will need. You will need death certificates to close out bank accounts, retirement plans and insurance policies. Some may accept copies, so ask first, if a copy will do.

Plan out meals for the family for the next week. Consider a special gathering after the funeral service. This may be a good time to show a video montage, if you did not have one at the funeral service. This may also be a good time for friends and relatives to share their memories. The more relaxed atmosphere of the reception might make sharing easier for some.

Find one or more hotels in the area for guests from out of town. The funeral home can provide a letter to the airlines to obtain a lower rate for traveling under urgent circumstances.

There are a lot of details to take care of when there has been a death. Sometimes, it is a good idea to reach out to friends, family or your church for help with this process. Your funeral home can arrange most of the details of the service, and most funeral professionals are good caring people who can help you through a death.

Coping in the Holidays - NFDA article

- Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The weeks between Thanksgiving and the New Year can be both joyful and stressful. While we often find warmth and comfort in our family traditions, for someone who has recently experienced the death of a loved one, family traditions can make their grief all the more poignant, and tackling the season’s “to dos” can seem an impossible chore. But there are things that can be done to help those that grieve cope with the holidays.

The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) offers the following suggestions for those grieving this holiday season:
Take care of yourself, both physically and mentally. The pace of the holiday season can wear anyone out, but carrying the weight of loss on your shoulders can amplify your stress. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating properly, and taking time for yourself.

Unburden yourself when and where it’s possible. If participating in traditions brings you comfort, by all means do so, but don’t be afraid to curb how much you take on this season. For example, perhaps you can be a guest at the family holiday party rather than hosting it this year.

Create a holiday plan. Decide which family traditions you want to take part in this year and plan out your participa¬tion. A plan can help you avoid getting caught off guard by unexpected activi¬ties or tasks.

Share your memories with others. The holidays surround us with fond memories. Don’t be reluctant to talk about those memories, and the special person who died by name. Sharing memories of your loved one with others can help ebb the loneliness you may be feeling.
Above all else, do what’s right for you. Your family and friends care about you and will most likely offer advice on what you should do. However, you are the only one that can fully understand what you need to make it through the holidays. Take time to outline your needs, then share your plans with your family and friends. Keeping your expectations realistic and letting yourself rely on family and friends will help you through your holiday grief.

For additional information visit www.nfda.org or contact a local NFDA funeral director about holiday aftercare programs. NFDA funeral homes around the country are participating in a national consumer education campaign, For A Life Worth Celebrating™, in an effort to help consumers make wise and informed decisions related to funeral service.

NFDA is the leading funeral service association, serving more than 20,300 funeral directors who represent more than 12,200 funeral homes in the United States and other countries.

Grief Support Groups - Why or Why Not?

- Friday, January 22, 2010

“I didn’t want to go to a grief support group,” a young lady who lost her husband in a car accident admits to the group.

“You know, I didn’t want to go either,” this time from a dignified woman in her sixties, who had lost her husband several years ago.

The rest of the group is quiet, yet they are all nodding their heads, as if in agreement. All of the group seems glad to be part of the group. They all share, and they all get an affirmation of their feelings.

I am confused by the fear or avoidance of a grief support group, however. I hear these types of comments so frequently. Why would you not ask for help? Most groups are either free or some nominal dollar amount. So what is the reason? I started to think about all of the reasons I have heard from people to avoid this type of help;

"I didn’t want other people to see me cry."

"I did not want to be reminded of my feelings, because it hurt too much."

"I thought I should be able to figure this out on my own."

"My family will help me to get through this."

"I will get over this eventually."

There are probably many other reasons for not going to a grief support group. However, I look at these reasons and my heart goes out to all of the people not getting help for their grief. There is no cure, no magic solution or any words that will make the pain stop. However, there are people out there who will listen to your story, share their story, and help you through a difficult time with their support and caring. So, I will give my arguments to all of those reasons I listed for why you would not go to a grief support group.

1) It is okay for people to see you cry. They will probably be crying also. Sometimes, there is nothing better than to have a good cry with someone else who understands.

2) Suppressing your feelings can be very harmful to your health, and can keep you from going through the grief process, which is a natural process for all of us. Acknowledging your feelings, and expressing them can be helpful.

3) I thought I should be able to figure this out on my own. If we broke our leg, we would go to a doctor. Why shouldn’t we seek help when our heart is broken?

4) My family will help me to get through this. Sometimes your family is trying to get through their own grief, and can’t help you. It is not their fault. Grief is a difficult emotion, and can affect us in many different ways.

5) I will get over this eventually. Sometimes we never do, for many reasons. While I have been at Fairhaven, I have received many unusual calls. I will never forget a call from a young lady who’s mother died seven years before this phone call. She wanted to be sure that there was a marker on her mother’s grave. She had been unable to visit the cemetery for all of those years. I wanted to help her with her grief, however, she did not seem to be reaching out to help herself.

So many people minimize the impact that grief can have on our lives. It is a very powerful emotion. The closer you were to the person you’ve lost, the greater the impact. There are usually so many wonderful people who can help you. Reach out, and grab a hand. Go to a grief support group. There are so many to pick from. If one is wrong for you, try another. You may meet some nice people, as well. Ask for help. You will be glad you did.

Planning - The Green Box

- Thursday, December 31, 2009

I received this from a friend, who recently had a difficult experience with a friend who had not planned for her death, although she had been ill.

Please think about this list, even if you are healthy and young, and spend some time putting together your Green Box. You can update this box every few years. This is written for the business owner in mind. You can adjust to your own circumstances:

The Green Box with 25 envelopes. Here are the labels on the envelopes:

Letter to spouse
Letter to each child
Letter to the employees
Letter to my mother/father
List of most important 5 employeesco-workers
Off balance sheet deals
Organizational Chart and future organizational chart
List of personal and business people that should be contacted in the event of passing
Strategy that I am thinking about but haven’t told anybody about
List of Trusted Advisors and their roles (may or may not be currently working with company) such as attorney, accountant, etc.
Instructions not addressed in Will
Copies of POA documents
Copy of Passport, Birth Certificate
Copy of all credit cards
Copy of physical property titles
Personal stock portfolio information
Details of Life insurance—personal and company owned
Details of all other insurance
Copies of personal property valuations (Jewelry, guns, collectables, etc.)
Computer passwords (Very Important)
Personal financial Statement
Extra passport photos- Picture you would like used for funeral or marker
Medical/Dental Charts
Funeral/Burial Instructions
Mementos and to whom you’d like them given

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