Monday, November 28, 2016

As Cremations Increase, Families Find Meaningful Places for the Ashes

The Washington Post reports that with almost half of families choosing cremation, there are increasing choices of what to do with the ashes.

Seeing a chance to increase both capacity and profits, cemeteries are opening sections where families can deposit ashes for a fee, by scattering them in gardens, burying them in small plots or placing them in wall niches. Some are constructing ossuaries, underground chambers where families can deposit the remains in velvet bags. (One Pennsylvania cemetery offers a separate ossuary for veterans of each military branch.)

Churches, universities and even a botanical garden in Arizona are among the institutions offering themselves as depositories for cremated remains, said Barbara Kemmis, head of the Cremation Association of North America. The trend is driven by the desire in many families for a more permanent memorial to their loved ones, she said.

Although many keep an urn on the mantel, Kemmis estimates that a third of families scatter remains out in the world, including on beloved beaches and from favorite roller coasters. Chicago’s Wrigley Field reported a minor blizzard of unauthorized ash spreading during this year’s World Series campaign by the Cubs. The Metropolitan Opera in New York recently shut down a performance after a man poured the cremains of his musical mentor in the orchestra pit.

A minor industry has arisen to deliver human remains to ever-more unreachable places, including the Holy Land, ocean reefs, the high atmosphere and space. According to U.S. Funerals Online, you can have your departed shot into the sky as a firework, made part of a coffee mug, incorporated into a tattoo or squeezed at super pressure into a fake diamond.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Going Into Shock After Hearing News of a Loved One’s Suicide | The Mighty

 "Shock is what you feel when you suddenly lose someone who lives in your home. When the shock begins to fade is when you will actually walk into your grief. "

Going Into Shock After Hearing News of a Loved One’s Suicide | The Mighty

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Clergy Confidential: Father Tim's Unofficial Eulogy Guidelines

Good advice, including:

  •  A Eulogy is Not a Therapy Session. Yes, all families are at least slightly dysfunctional. That's a reality of the human condition and the reason God created therapists. But if you find yourself speaking in "I Statements" throughout the talk, you may as well be giving it from a couch.
  • A Eulogy is Not an Obituary. It's safe to assume that everyone who cared enough to attend the funeral has read the obituary. Please don't begin with "XX was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 1942" and then proceed to list every job she ever held, every house in which she ever lived, and every person she ever met. We know. We read the obituary. 
  •  Keep it Short. The best eulogies are heartfelt and to the point And by "to the point" I mean five minutes or less. Don't go on and on as if you were channeling Bill Clinton giving that famously long and boring endorsement speech for Michael Dukakis at the 1988 Democratic National Convention. 

  Clergy Confidential: Father Tim's Unofficial Eulogy Guidelines

Monday, November 7, 2016

Help Someone Who is Grieving Take a Break

"One of my favorite grief theories, the Dual Process Model, says that a griever will oscillate between confronting their loss and avoiding the loss. Under this model, seeking respite from grief is a healthy part of coping.  This makes sense, right? Sometimes a person needs a little time to feel normal or to engage in activities that give them a boost of positive emotion.  This being the case, it may be helpful to offer or encourage distraction; with the caveat that you should never push a person to minimize, move on, or forget their loss and with the understanding that their grief could overcome them at any moment (especially in the early days) and that's okay."

From Six Practical Ways You Can Help Someone Who is Grieving:

Healing Your Grief by Helping Others | Huffington Post

"My complicated grief stretched over a period of ten years, beginning after my husband and son died within two years of each other. I tried many different methods to heal my grief but one of the things that was most helpful to me was reaching out and helping others who were in the same pain that I was experiencing.

At the peak of my struggle, I came across the Chinese parable of The Mustard Seed. Parables are stories which contain words of wisdom that can offer guidance and help us navigate challenging times in life. This particular story had a significant impact on me.

In the parable, a woman’s young son, her only child, dies suddenly from an illness. She is despondent. Carrying her son’s dead body throughout her village, she begs her neighbors to help her bring him back to life. None of them can help her, but she continues to roam the village, cradling her son and sobbing, inconsolable. The neighbors fear she is losing her mind. Finally, the village apothecary sends her to a wise man at the temple, who may be able to help the woman deal with her grief. The mother enters the temple and desperately throws herself and her son’s body at the feet of the wise man, begging for his help. She tells him he must bring her son back to her.

The wise man tells her to go back to her village and gather mustard seeds from all of her neighbors who had not been touched by death. He said he would use those mustard seeds to make a medicine that would bring her son back to life. Full of hope, the woman sets off for the village, determined to find the mustard seeds that would save her son. She went from door to door throughout the village. Her neighbors offered her mustard seeds, but she could not use them because every family had experienced some personal loss of their own. Through her conversations with her neighbors, she found that every home in her village had been touched by grief.

Through this shared experience of loss, she came to realize that death is an unavoidable part of life, something we all have to go through. The wise man had shown her that by sharing her pain and grief with others, who were experiencing their own, she not only helped her neighbors cope with their losses, but through the process, she also eventually healed her own broken heart.

I resonated strongly with this story and realized that I wanted to reach out to others who were also struggling. Hearing other’s stories that were so similar to my own, and sharing the pain helped me to let go of some of my pain. "

Healing Your Grief by Helping Others | Huffington Post:

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Kerry Egan On Fresh Air: 'On Living' : Shots - Health News : NPR

A chaplain should never go in and preach to someone; that's not our role. Our role isn't to tell you what to believe. Our role is to say, "What is it you believe and how does that help you — or not help you — in this process, this process of dying, this process of letting go of the life you've loved (or maybe have not loved) and coming to some peaceful place?" 

Kerry Egan On Fresh Air: 'On Living' : Shots - Health News : NPR:

Friday, November 4, 2016

Funeral Industry Seeks Ways to Stay Relevant - WSJ

As more Americans choose cremation—often dispensing with the need for caskets, burial plots and dreary rituals—the funeral industry is reinventing itself. The goal: stay relevant and avoid a plunge in profit. 
“This industry was really built around selling a casket,” Thomas Ryan, chief executive of Service Corp. International, the largest U.S. operator of funeral homes, said in an interview. “Now it’s really about remembering the person.” 
That can mean elaborate pageantry. “We don’t call it a funeral service,” said Brad Rex, chief executive of Foundation Partners Group, which owns 50 funeral homes and nine cemeteries in 14 states. “We call it a gathering.”

Funeral Industry Seeks Ways to Stay Relevant - WSJ

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Green Burial Eco-Friendly Funeral, Millennial Trends

"[M]any millennials like Scheffler (plus their baby-boomer parents) are becoming more interested in the simple but meaningful services non-traditional burials can provide. And, having seen how moving simple burials like these can be, more funeral directors are advocating for them, too. A "green" burial comes with some obvious environmental benefits, but those who have chosen natural burials find the services provide emotional closure unlike that of traditional services."

Green Burial Eco-Friendly Funeral, Millennial Trends:

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Dying woman writes humble, honest obituary for herself

Sonia Elaine Todd died of cancer at age 38. She wanted to write her own obituary.

The truth, or my version of it, is this: I just tried to do the best I could. Sometimes I succeeded, most of the time I failed, but I tried. For all of my crazy comments, jokes, and complaints, I really did love people. The only thing that separates me from anyone else is the type of sin each of us participated in. I didn’t always do the right thing or say the right thing and when you come to the end of your life those are the things you really regret, the small simple things that hurt other people.


If you think of me, and would like to do something in honor of my memory do this:

- Volunteer at a school, church or library.

- Write a letter to someone and tell them how they have had a positive effect on your life.

- If you smoke - quit.

- If you drink and drive - stop.

- Turn off the electronics and take a kid out for ice cream and talk to them about their hopes and dreams.

- Forgive someone who doesn't deserve it.

- Stop at all lemonade-stands run by kids and brag about their product.

- Make someone smile today if it is in your power to do so.

Dying woman writes humble, honest obituary for herself: