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Why Does it Take a Tragic Event to Get People’s Attention?

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We all take different “journeys” with many people in our lives. As a result, the way we respond can vary when we lose these people. We have contrasting feelings when we lose a 90-year loved one compared to a teenaged loved one. We can even experience strong emotions when dealing with the loss of a celebrity or of someone we don’t know, but who experienced a tragic death.

Most everyone can remember where they were and what they were doing when they learned of the 9-11 attack. I am sure the families who lost loved ones during this tragic event wished they had spent more time talking to them. Do you remember the death of Princess Diana? I didn’t know her personally, but I was touched by the stories that were told about her.

Why does it take a tragic event to get people’s attention? The reason I ask this question is because as funeral professionals, we deal with the loss of people’s most priceless possessions – their mothers and fathers who made them into the people they are today, and heaven forbid, someone’s child who forever changed lives once born.

When people experience a loss, they come to us, the funeral professionals, because they trust us. They trust that we will help them celebrate the lives of the people that made their world better. How can we truly celebrate their lives if we don’t allow them to tell their stories? Trying to learn these stories after the fact can leave us feeling a sense of stress, regret and remorse. We need to Have the Talk of a Lifetime, to ask our loved ones to share stories of experiences, people and major events that shaped them as people.

Having the Talk of a Lifetime today helps us continue the journey with our loved ones, through shared stories. Plus, we understand that healing is its own journey. Every conversation we have now, leads to a healthier healing journey later. Go, Have the Talk and allow the journey to be full of fantastic memories that live on even after we’re gone.

The Importance of Memorialization to the Living

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Throughout history, nearly every culture across the globe has created rich traditions of memorializing those who have died. While these time-honored traditions serve as a method of preserving memories of the departed, the importance of memorialization to the living cannot be understated. What are some of the most common forms of memorialization, and how did these customs begin? We’ll explore the historical and sociological background behind memorialization today. Read on for a glimpse inside this fascinating process, and be sure to download a Have the Talk of a Lifetime Workbook for tips on getting your Talk of a Lifetime started.

Memorials in History

Every culture has their own unique customs to honor the lives of those passed. These traditions range from the intimate gatherings in small villages to grand displays in ancient cultures. Historically, everyday citizens received more humble memorials involving close friends and family. While traditional burials were common, cremation has also been a part of many services throughout time. More extravagant memorials, like monuments and temples, were reserved for the elite. However, some monuments were constructed in tribute to represent entire villages. These methods served to highlight the community, strengthening the bond between citizens. What kind of memorial will you want when you die? Be sure to Have the Talk of a Lifetime with your family to share your wishes.

Psychology of Memorials

Memorialization is a wonderful way to cherish the fond memories of those departed, while also allowing the living to grieve. In fact, social sciences believe that memorialization is a crucial part of the grieving process. In the case of unexpected deaths, such as motor accidents, scientists have noticed the phenomenon of “spontaneous memorialization.” Mourners will often leave flowers and letters at the site of the incident, even creating “road side memorials” as tribute to those passed. This process may help the living show their enduring affection and appreciation, while coping with such tragedy in the process. No time is too soon to talk about how you want to be memorialized. It’s important to Have the Talk with your loved ones today.

Honoring the Living

The memorialization process serves as a valuable reminder to cherish every moment with loved ones. One powerful way to strengthen your bond in the present is to Have the Talk of a Lifetime. Arrange some time in your schedule to speak with beloved friends and family about their proudest achievements, favorite memories, and more. You may learn new stories and valuable advice that may have otherwise been left unsaid. If you’d like to get started, visit the Have the Talk of a Lifetime website for more information about this powerful experience.

How To Help Someone Who is Grieving

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When your loved ones are dealing with the mourning process, it’s important to show your support. But, many struggle to know how to help someone who is grieving. While your heart may be full of love and sympathy, it may be difficult to articulate exactly what you are feeling during these difficult times. It’s good to explore ways to provide the support and comfort that your loved one may need. Learn what sentiments are worth expressing, and learn what phrases are best to avoid.

Supportive Communication

The grieving process is a long and stressful process, but it is one that must be experienced to properly cope with loss. Having the Talk of a Lifetime now will help make the grieving process less stressful when the time comes. But if you haven’t had the Talk, know that the best thing that you can do now is support your friend or family member emotionally during this time and focus on feelings. While many feel compelled to “fix” the situation, know that there is nothing that you can do to truly resolve the feeling of loss. No amount of rationalization, explanation, judgement, or minimization will make these emotions go away. Recognize the importance of the moment, and focus on really listening to your loved one. They will open up and grieve at their own pace.

Nonproductive Communication

As previously mentioned, there is a common desire to “fix” the situation. Friends and family members feel the urge to find a definitive solution to reduce the pain, but this is not an effective strategy. Try to listen and support your loved one, rather than instruct them. Here are some phrases that you may want to avoid:

  • They are in a better place now.

  • There is a reason for everything.

  • You should be strong.

  • At least they lived a long life.

  • I know exactly how you feel.

Talk of a Lifetime

While it may be difficult to know how to help someone who is grieving, your loved one will undoubtedly appreciate your kindness during these times. Having the Talk of a Lifetime with your loved ones can make the grieving process a little easier. The Talk of a Lifetime is one way to encourage the sharing of important memories. Consider setting up time with your dearest friends and family to Have the Talk of a Lifetime soon, so you can honor them the way that they want to be remembered.

Having the Talk of a Lifetime with Siblings

Siblings Day

National Siblings Day is on April 10, and there’s no better time to reach out to your brothers and sisters to catch up! Whether you communicate daily, or can’t remember the last real conversation with your siblings, anyone can use this annual holiday to reconnect with family members. While it’s always exciting to catch up on recent events, National Sibling Day can also be a great opportunity for more in-depth conversations. Find out a little bit more about this holiday, and then learn how to Have the Talk of a Lifetime with your brothers and sisters!

National Siblings Day

It’s true, most everyone knows about Mother’s Day in May and Father’s Day in June, but many families don’t know about another holiday that comes around every spring: National Siblings Day!

National Siblings Day was created in 1995 by New York resident, Claudia Evart. Evart, who had lost both siblings in separate accidents, was inspired to create an event that honored these valued members of the family. In fact, the holiday itself honors the birthday of Evart’s late sister Lisette.

Getting in Touch

This year on April 10, take some time to reconnect with your brothers and sisters and Have the Talk of a Lifetime. In today’s modern times, it’s easier than ever to communicate. Video chat with your brother in another state and say hi to your niece in high definition. Invite your sister over for a movie night and talk about your favorite memories. You can even use the hashtag #NationalSiblingsDay to send a shout out to your siblings on social media!

Have the Talk of a Lifetime

National Siblings Day is a great time for a quick chat. We encourage you and your siblings to have a deeper conversation about your lives as well. What are your proudest accomplishments? What advice would you give the next generation? Consider learning about Have the Talk of a Lifetime to inspire even more rich conversations about your lives and what is important to each of you. This can be a great time to bond and learn more about your siblings. Visit the Have the Talk of a Lifetime website for more information.

Honoring a Loved One at Home

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How will you remember your loved ones when they are no longer with you? By honoring a loved one in a special way within your home, you can pay tribute to those who’ve passed, while making peace with the present. The way in which you honor your loved one at home should be personal, and unique to that individual. Having the Talk of a Lifetime now will allow you to better memorialize a loved one when they die. Browse through these suggestions to bring a little brightness into the home with decorative, sentimental touches.

Plant a Tree

Planting a tree can be a great way to commemorate a life well lived, and there are a wide variety of types to choose. Consider a gorgeous flowering tree for someone who loved nature, or Have the Talk with your family and friends about what kind of tree they think best represents the person you’re honoring. Every year, you can remember your loved one while admiring the colorful blossoms. If your loved one was a baker or chef, a fruit tree may be a wonderful tribute to memories in the kitchen.

Create an Indoor Space

With a little creativity, you can set up a special space indoors that is dedicated to your loved one. Was your loved one an avid reader? Create a little reading nook with books from his or her collection of books. Did they enjoy photography? Mount a portrait and frame their old pictures on the wall. Was fashion their passion? Display memorable garments, like hats and even dresses. Developing this space can also be a great time to involve the little ones in the process, so they can make peace as well. Kids can illustrate their favorite memories, draw portraits, or write out stories to remember family members in a personalized way. Invite your family and friends over and use our Activity Guide (insert link here) for tips on how to share other memories.

Honor Special Memories

Did your loved one have any special hobbies that defined them? You may want to integrate a few of these pieces into your home, like sports memorabilia and artwork, but you also may share these pieces with other collectors. Whether handing a signed baseball to a cousin or selling a painting to an art aficionado, your loved one would want these cherished items to be enjoyed.

The Talk of a Lifetime

Honoring a loved one at home is a beautiful way to keep their memory alive for years to come. Gathering with friends and family to Have the Talk of a Lifetime in your remembrance space is also a great time to talk about the future. Find out their proudest accomplishments, their favorite memories, and other ways that they would like to be remembered. Visit the Have the Talk of a Lifetime website to see how you can get started.

Keeping a Loved One’s Memory Alive

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Have the Talk of a Lifetime so that even after loved ones have passed, they never truly leave your life. Keeping a loved one’s memory alive can be an incredibly valuable part of the grieving process, so the living can celebrate the departed in a meaningful way. Learn how to create your own personal traditions to keep those cherished memories alive forever.

The Importance of Remembrance

While the mourning process can be incredibly challenging, moving through the stages of grief is essential to healthy coping, and Have the Talk of a Lifetime can help. By working through the pain of loss in the present, you can learn how to create a more peaceful future. That’s why it is never too early to Have the Talk of a Lifetime and discuss how you and your loved one’s want to be remembered. Many find comfort in connecting with friends and family when Having the Talk, discussing your favorite memories or collaborating on a meaningful tribute. These important connections can help the living feel a greater sense of harmony while honoring the memories of the departed.

Creating a New Tradition

Keeping a loved one’s memory alive can be accomplished in a multitude of ways. Think about your favorite times with your loved one for inspiration. Did they have any defining hobbies? Did they support any particular charities? Did they adore their alma mater? These are important things to talk about. After a bit of reflection, you may come up with some ideas of your own. In the meantime, here are a few suggestions as a starting point:

  • Take the time to celebrate your loved one’s birthday every year.

  • Create a video or scrapbook of memorable moments from your loved one’s life.

  • Donate money or time to a favorite charity, school, or organization in your loved ones honor.

  • Bring fresh flowers to the gravesite on a date that is significant to you, like a birthday or anniversary.

  • Host an annual dinner featuring you loved one’s favorite dishes.

The Past, Present, and Future

Though the loss of a loved one is a tragic time, it can serve as a powerful reminder to reconnect and Have the Talk of a Lifetime with those close to you. While developing your own methods of keeping a loved one’s memory alive, you may find some comfort in speaking with friends and family about their lives. Have the Talk of a Lifetime is a rewarding way to find out about the things that truly matter to your loved ones. Visit the Have the Talk of a Lifetime website to learn how to get started.

The Benefits of Family Meals

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It was a familiar scene in the days of black-and-white television: a family—the father with his newspaper, mother in her apron, and children who have just come in from play—gathers around their dining room table for an evening meal together. Baby boomers may remember these times fondly, sharing stories with their kids and grandkids that start with, “When I was a kid…,” followed by memories large and small that shaped their lives.

Today, that scene may seem like fiction and nothing more. In our hectic world of electronic devices and 60-hour work weeks, family meals have become few and far between. Today’s families, in fact, may find themselves only eating meals together on holiday occasions like Thanksgiving and Christmas. But the benefits of family meals and sharing important family stories cannot be denied.

Benefits of Eating Together

Research conducted about the effects of regularly having family meals has concluded that families who eat together also reap various benefits, including:

  • Improved academic performance for children

  • Reduced risk of substance abuse

  • Enhanced self-esteem in children

  • Reduced risk of obesity

  • Reduced risk of teen pregnancy

  • Lowered risk of depression

  • Reduced risk of developing eating disorders

  • Lowered risk of obesity

Ideal Setting for The Talk of a Lifetime

Among the many benefits of having family mealtime, parents will find it is also the ideal setting for family communication. This important—and largely forgotten—tradition is not only a key to the health of a family, but is also the perfect setting in which to Have the Talk of a Lifetime. In our hectic world, family history may be far from our thoughts as we work to make it through each day and then get enough sleep to face the next day. But, eventually, it’s important to have these conversations.

During your family meals, make the conversation count. Talk about cherished memories, and let family members express how they wish to be remembered when their lives come to an end. Invite relatives over for family mealtime on occasion, and talk to grandparents, aunts, and uncles about their lives, their treasured memories, the things that have been most important to them.

Prepare for the Most Important Family Conversations

Don’t let cherished opportunities pass you by. Family meals provide many benefits, and are the perfect setting to Have the Talk of a Lifetime. Contact us today to learn more about how you and your loved ones can Have the Talk of a Lifetime.

Three Ideas for Memorialization on Any Budget

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A funeral or memorial service does not have to be too expensive for your budget in order to be beautiful and meaningful. When a beloved friend or family member passes away, there are many ways to honor that person’s memory that are cost efficient. Memorialization on a budget is not only possible, but is important for healing for those who take part in the creative memorialization effort. A truly meaningful memorial service begins with a conversation with your loved ones while they are still with you. It’s important to Have the Talk of a Lifetime with all those you hold dear, in order to learn about what matters most in their lives, and how they want to be remembered. These discussions will make planning a funeral or memorial a much more fulfilling process. After you’ve had the Talk, a funeral professional is your best resource for planning and creating a service that is not only beautiful and meaningful but that also fits your budget.

Inexpensive but Meaningful Memorial Ideas

The following are some creative and meaningful ways that families and friends can work with their local funeral professionals to remember a loved one without spending a great deal of money:

  • Memorial wreath: Using an inexpensive foam wreath purchased from a craft store, create a memorial wreath by attaching photos and mementos of the deceased. Other friends and family members can also contribute favorite photos to the project. You can prominently display the completed wreath at the deceased’s memorial service, and then it can be taken home as a memento by family members.

  • Butterfly release: Children and adults will both appreciate this special memorial activity. Friends and family release butterflies at a special gathering to honor your deceased loved one. For many, butterflies are a symbol of hope and uplifting spirit.

  • Memory sharing: During the funeral or memorial service, leave out paper and pens and a large jar, with a sign encouraging attendees to write down their favorite memories of the deceased and then drop them in the container. As part of the service, or afterward with family members, read the memories aloud.

Have the Talk of a Lifetime with Your Loved Ones

Do you know how your loved ones wish to be memorialized? Have the Talk of a Lifetime with your family members and friends and work with a funeral professional to develop a creative memorialization plan for any budget. Click here to learn more about Have the Talk of a Lifetime.

Learn More About Your Relatives Through Storytelling

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It’s very important to Have the Talk of a Lifetime with your family members, and part of what makes those conversations special is getting to know your relatives. At your next family gathering, pull out a smartphone or digital recorder and preserve all the wonderful “remember when” stories that begin to surface as your loved ones sit around together. Someday, you’ll be very thankful you preserved those memories!

How to Conduct Your Interview

You may think you know all there is to know about your family members—but one “interview session” with a relative may show you otherwise. The next time you attend a family dinner or holiday gathering, pull aside some of your relatives and start asking them questions about their lives. Urge them to tell their stories; funny, sad, tragic—you want it all!

The following are some questions that can help prompt a detailed, animated story from a loved one:

  • What is your earliest memory?

  • When, where, and with whom did your first kiss take place?

  • What did you do on your very first date with your spouse?

  • What was your most embarrassing moment?

  • What is the scariest thing you ever did?

  • What was the best prank you ever pulled?

  • What are some of your favorite family memories?

  • If you could go back in time and change one thing in your life, what would it be?

You can also use a deck of Conversation Cards developed for Have the Talk of a Lifetime to make the interview even more interactive and fun. As you conduct these interviews with your loved ones, be prepared to have some “I never knew that!” moments of your own as you listen and share. Once you’ve completed the interviews, make audio or written copies of the conversations and give them to your family members to save for generations.

Have a Life-Changing Conversation with Your Family Today

As you interview your family members, relive favorite memories and discover new ones. Every person wants to feel that their life has been meaningful. Talk to your family members about memorialization and how they wish to be remembered when they pass away. Contact us today to order your deck of Conversation Cards and for more information how to Have the Talk of a Lifetime with your loved ones.

Time is not Always on our Side

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By Ashley Cozine

Cozine Memorial Group

National Funeral Directors Association

Time is not always on our side. I was reminded of this recently with the death of my aunt. Her passing brought with it a certain void and a number of unanswered questions. Unfortunately, questions about family history, the difficulty of identifying unknown persons in old photos, cherished family recipes and traditions during the holidays, favorite memories and more went to the grave with her. I didn’t have the chance to find out many of these answers before my aunt died, and I had already missed the opportunity previously when my grandmother died a few years ago. I always thought there would be more time to talk. Now the answers to many of these questions lie solely with my father – the last of his generation. Since my aunt’s funeral, her daughter (my cousin) and I have talked about spending time and piecing the answers together so that we can pass this important family history on to our children.

Why do we often wait to find out the answers to many of these important questions until it is too late? My sense is that we are busy enough with the daily demands of life itself and we simply don’t get around to finding the time to actually sit down and talk about things that truly matter.

I am making 2017 the year that I talk with my mom and dad more about their own life and the memories and knowledge they have about their parents, siblings and previous generations. I want to locate and organize old family photos and write down these memories. Family has always been important to me and I want to be able to pass down our heritage to my own children. If I don’t do it, it will get lost and there will be more unknowns.

If my story sounds familiar, I hope you will make it your goal to talk with your own family and learn about your own heritage this coming year. Have the Talk of a Lifetime is a great tool to begin the conversation. The various resources that are available can help you talk with your family and hear about memories made, lessons learned, life stories, values, interests and experiences.

Remember that time is not always on our side. Don’t wait until it is too late.