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Understanding the Difference between Funeral and Memorial Services

As cultural norms continue to change, the way we handle the passing of loved ones also evolves. Today, there are many ways that people choose to celebrate the lives of those they care about, leading some to question the true difference between funeral services and memorial services. With the introduction of new traditions and burial practices, many professionals may use the terms “funeral” and “memorial” interchangeably. However, there are some key differences that are worth noting if you are attending or planning a funeral or memorial... read more

Items of Remembrance to Share After a Loss

Honoring the deceased can come in many forms. During a wake or other commemorative service, guests may be presented with items of remembrance to honor the deceased. These items may take many different shapes or forms, but what they all have in common is that they are reminders of the loved one who has passed. Books of Remembrance This is a book that is set in a common area, typically during a wake or vigil service. Guests who have come to pay their respects to the deceased and the grieving family may sign in and write messages, memories, or... read more

Estate Planning & Pets: Something to think about

The concept of legally transferring pet ownership – should the pet’s primary caretaker pass away or become physically incapable of caring for their animals— is relatively new. The wildly publicized story of Leona Helmsley’s “richest dog in the world” raised global awareness of the possibility of estate planning for pets. The truth is that estate planning for pets is not something people frequently consider. Although pets are legally classified as property, to their owners, they are valued and loved members of the family. Attorneys that... read more

Understanding the Idea Behind a Non-denominational Funeral Service

When a person who has passed away didn’t follow one particular religion or faith, a non-denominational funeral can prove to be the most appropriate way to honor that person’s life. Instead of focusing on religious texts during the ceremony, the family can choose to take a more humanistic approach. This makes for a poignant funeral, even without a religious element. Even if the person who passed did loosely follow a religion, it is becoming increasingly common for families to use a non-denominational service in order to honor their loved one... read more

The Grieving Process: Helping Friends Cope with the Passing of a Pet

I grew up, from kindergarten to college, with family pets. These dogs and cats were much more than merely animals – they could be described as family members. Each had a unique personality, but they all possessed some intangible quality that made me feel safe and comfortable. It never got easier to say goodbye when they passed away. The nature of humanity gives us an unparalleled perspective among all of Earth’s creatures. We have the ability to build strong relationships with the awareness that those relationships will come to an end. Our... read more

What is the Difference Between a Casket and a Coffin?

In the United States, the words “coffin” and “casket” tend to be used interchangeably. However, they are very different from each other, and there is often great misunderstanding surrounding their true meanings. The word “casket” was first used as a euphemism for “coffin,” when it became seen as a somewhat offensive term. It held a meaning of finality, which is often difficult to face. However, the original meaning of the word “casket” referred to a box that housed special belongings, such as jewelry. Using the word “casket” to mean “coffin”... read more

Honoring the Life of a Missing Pet

Honoring the Life of a Missing Pet Though the passing of a pet can be difficult, it is no less painful to cope with a pet that has gone missing. Having a lost pet can be an agonizing process, oftentimes involving months of waiting, searching and posting dozens of fliers.  However, when it is finally realized that your beloved animal is nowhere to be found, a new set of issues comes into play. Euthanizing a pet or allowing him or her to pass away peacefully at home provides the comfort of being able to lay the animal to rest—what’s more is... read more

Saying Goodbye: Helping Children Cope With A Pet’s Death

Saying Goodbye: Helping Children Cope With A Pet’s Death To a child, a pet is more than an animal. A pet is a child’s best friend and confidant. Children often consider pets their “secret-keepers” and playmates.  Thinking back, there is one commercial for Iams dog food that I feel is especially poignant. The advertisement features a seemingly big, tough dog that is graciously allowing his young friend to dress him up in frilly clothes—bearing the treatment, I might add, in a noble way. This commercial is a perfect representation of what the... read more

Q & A: Remembering a Lost Pet

Remembering a Lost Pet: A Q & A I recently held a memorial service for my 16 year old Shih Tzu, Henry, who died last month. As an individual who has spent many years working in the funeral industry as a funeral director, I have found that losing any loved one can prove quite a challenge. For some, saying goodbye to a beloved animal can be more difficult than letting go of a person we have known. However, while funerals and memorial services have become a standard part of the grieving process when we lose the people we know, some find it... read more

What to Do With Family Plots When Families Change

Family Plots Sometimes individuals will find that their relatives have purchased comprehensive family burial plots for children and other loved ones to use. However, many find that it is uncommon for families to “stay together” geographically in a way to practically use these burial plots. In addition, children—and grandchildren—of the original deed holder will often wish to be buried with their spouse or pursue another form of burial. Is it Disrespectful to Not Use a Family Burial Plot? Many will question whether it is disrespectful to plan... read more

How to Face Complex Relationships at Funerals

Funerals are a time for families and friends to gather to remember the deceased. However, not all of those associated with the departed may have perfect relationships with one another. For this reason, services can be awkward for those who carry negative feelings or have complex relationships with other guests. Planning a Service in a Complex Family Whether a family is rife with rivalries or opposing personalities, it is important to make sure that all voices are heard when planning the service. While spouses and parents may be the most... read more

Unexpected Death Behavior

Proper Etiquette for Approaching an Unexpected Death Generally, the loss of a loved one is not a welcome circumstance. However, in many cases, individuals have a chance to say goodbye or make proper arrangements. In other situations, a death may be caused by an unexpected event. Unexpected deaths can be a great burden to and create confusion for those who are left behind, so it is important to understand how to approach these very sensitive situations. Speak of the Deceased in the Present During funeral services, memorials and wakes for those... read more

The Role of Pallbearers at a Funeral

Having pallbearers at a funeral is a common tradition among many religions; however,manymay not be familiarwith this practice—especially if one has never attended a funeral service before. Pallbearers are individuals who are respected by the deceased and may have had a close relationship to him or her. These individuals are chosen—either in preplanning by the departed or their loved ones—to escort the casket or coffin in church and to carry the casket to the burial site. For many, this ritual carries great significance and offers closure to... read more

Important Facts You Need To Know About Your Veteran’s Burial Benefits

When it comes to the burial of a person who served in the armed forces, it’s important that family members and friends know what their loved one is entitled to when it comes time to lay that person to rest. Many people are confused about the benefits that veterans are entitled to, making these 10 facts important to learn and understand: Fact 1: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs benefits do not cover all of the funeral or cremation arrangements of honorably discharged veterans There are monetary, recognition, and service benefits that... read more

The Military Funeral Service

A military funeral service is an important way to honor a person who has bravely defended and served his or her county. Military funeral traditions can actually be traced back to ancient Greece and Rome. While today’s ceremonies still incorporate some of these ideas and principles, current military funerals also have a decidedly American feel. They are full of respect and honor, and can also be a source of comfort for surviving family members and friends. United States law now mandates the rendering of military funeral honors for an eligible... read more


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