Fairhaven Blog

Things of interest around Fairhaven.

Why Preplan The Funeral Ceremony

- Wednesday, May 11, 2011

            There are many ways to respond to the loss of a loved one. In almost every culture, ceremony is an important part of recognizing the loss and beginning the grieving process. The ceremony that helps to remember and honor that person can be healing to the loved ones, the family and friends of the deceased. I have heard so many say that they do not want a funeral, “Don’t make it a bother for anyone,” they would say and shake their heads. When I hear this, I shake my head. I will tell them what I told my mother, “The funeral is not for you, it is for the loved ones left behind.” It is important to make a funeral like the person; If they are quiet people, how would you best remember them? If they are a loud and boisterous person, how should you remember them? You shrug your shoulders. What would they want?

            Because we are all going to experience the inevitable, we could write down our wishes, honestly, thinking of the family and friends left behind. One of the best funerals I ever went to was the mother of a co-worker. Yes, he was a funeral director, but he confessed, his mother not only prepared her own funeral, but she updated it occasionally, changing this detail and that. It was a superb service. I never met the woman, however, I could support my co-worker, and attend the service. At the end of the service, I knew him better by learning about his mother. I found a new appreciation of him because of what I had learned about his mother. We all have the choice to preplan, at any age, and like this friend’s mother, we can update our plans every now and then. This is not an obsession with death, unless you work on your funeral once a week. It is pragmatic to check your funeral plan once a year, like your will or your insurance policies.

            You have the ability to plan your last ceremony. I find that people most likely think about planning their funeral after they have been to a very good funeral or a very bad funeral. Don’t let your very bad funeral be the reason for someone else to preplan. Write your wishes down on paper. Write out a brief or lengthy eulogy, whatever you want, but write it down, so that others do not have to imagine what you might have wanted.

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.

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