The Benefits of Family Meals

Silverware Wrapped in Bow

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


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

Huddled on a Bench

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

Night Sky

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.

Memorialization on Social Media


Nearly everyone is online these days, and the innovation of social media has forever changed society and the way people interact. One of those changes has been the practice of memorialization on social media. Among their many other uses, social media outlets are now being used to honor departed loved ones in the wake of a death. Thoughts that were once very private are now shared openly online, including the grief one feels when a loved one passes away. It is important to Have the Talk of a Lifetime with your loved ones and to talk about if and how you want to be remembered online.

Social Media After Death

As families Have the Talk of a Lifetime with their loved ones, gauging how their family members and friends wish to be remembered when they pass away, the role of social media in their memorialization can be an important topic of conversation—including what they want to happen to their social media accounts after they die. An interesting phenomenon in this cyber age has been the posthumous use of social media accounts.

Some people, like famed film critic Roger Ebert, have chosen to pass their social media accounts on to another, who continues posting on their behalf and, in a sense, keeps them alive for their followers. Facebook now also offers the option of turning a deceased person’s profile into a memorialization page, where family and friends can still access their posts and photos and continue to post memories about the person. There are even apps that allow individuals to create messages to be posted after they die.

Whether your loved ones want their social media accounts to be shut down altogether, turned into memorial pages, or carried on by someone else, having the Talk of the Lifetime will help you ensure their wishes are known and fulfilled.

Remember Your Loved Ones Through Social Media

Talk with your loved ones about how you want to be remembered online. Explore the different options each social media platform offers. If a friend or family member wants their profiles to be controlled by you or someone else after they pass on, you will need login information and passwords, which are other pieces of information that can be gathered as you Have the Talk of a Lifetime. To learn more about Have the Talk of a Lifetime, contact us today.

Tapestry of Life

Tapestry Of Life

By Kim Farris-Luke

Farris Funeral Service

Selected Independent Funeral Homes

I like the imagery of our lives being like tapestries; the picture of who I am today is comprised of thousands of threads woven together to create something rich with meaning. But what does the back of that tapestry look like? Much like the reality of a full, vibrant life, lived with both joy and sorrow – a jumble of threads overlapping, knotted threads in some places, broken or frayed threads in others, a myriad of colors, both dark and light.

Through my work in funeral service and as a grief coach, I have walked with hundreds of people as they journey through grief. One of the most essential aspects of mourning is to accept the reality of the death, which often takes much longer than one would imagine. A healthy way to work through this aspect of grief is to tell stories over and over about the person who died – what your relationship was like, how the person influenced your life, what happened as the person’s life was coming to an end. Memories become sustaining over time, allowing those in grief to be connected forever to the one who has died through the enduring love.

Every person’s story has value

I believe when we open ourselves up to authentic conversations with those around us, we will gather stories that add to the tapestry of our own lives. Once our funeral home was called to care for a man who had lived most of his latter years in a care facility. He had never married, had no known survivors, and was alone in life except for his caregivers. As we began arranging for his burial, we asked a local chaplain to have a brief service for this man at the graveside. As far as we knew, there would be no attendees, but it felt like the right thing to do – to pay honor to his life.

At the graveside service, there were four people present besides the chaplain – me, my father, the cemetery groundskeeper, and one of the staff members from the nursing home. When the chaplain walked to the podium, I expected the standard order of service, with few personal details since the officiant had not known the deceased. Much to my surprise and delight, the chaplain began telling the man’s life story. The chaplain had contacted the caregivers prior to the service and asked for any details they could share with him about the man’s life. He learned the man had served in the United States Navy during World War II; he was a cook on various ships and later pursued work as a cook after leaving the military service. The man was quiet by nature, not prone to long conversations but always polite and thankful for his care.

Based on this small amount of information, the chaplain began to share how he imagined the man’s life had been. He talked about the young man who joined the Navy, perhaps full of fear of the unknown yet dutifully serving his country in the time of war. He talked about how the deceased had nurtured others on the ship by providing them hot meals, sustenance for the difficult work they faced. The chaplain went on to imagine what lay beneath the surface of the man’s quiet nature – what horrors had he seen in battle, how many friends had he made through his work in diners and coffee shops throughout the country, and how did he maintain his gentle spirit in his final years that were marked by physical pain?

The service for this man was one of the most meaningful ones I have ever attended, all because the chaplain chose to honor the man’s story by asking a few simple questions. And that man’s story is forever woven into my own, reminding me of the power of sharing our lives with one another. I don’t want to leave my unique stories untold; I want my family and friends to understand the significance of each thread in my life’s tapestry. My professional and personal experience speak to the importance of having the Talk of a Lifetime; allowing those who love us to truly know us sets the stage for healthy grief journeys in the future, which is a beautiful final gift for everyone involved.

Rekindle Relationships on Send a Card to a Friend Day

A card in an envelope on a table

Life moves fast, and we can end up losing touch with people we were once close to. But we can also experience the magic that happens when you reconnect with a beloved friend and it feels as though no time has passed—even if it’s been decades since you last spoke. Reach out to cherished friends and loved ones this year on “Send a Card to a Friend Day.” This day falls on Feb. 7, and it’s the perfect opportunity to not only rekindle a friendship but to also recall special memories you made together and work toward having the Talk of a Lifetime with important people you’ve lost touch with over the years.

Send a Card

Sit down with your loved ones and talk about people who were important in your life. It can be surprising to think about those friends that you haven’t seen in years. These are the folks who might most appreciate receiving a note in the mail “Thinking of you.” “Miss you.” “Wish you were here.” There are many ways to tell a friend or loved one that you’re thinking of them. If you’re not the creative type, you can always find a preprinted greeting card that expresses what you want to say but can’t quite seem to put into words yourself.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a silly card, a sentimental card, or a religious card. This year, on “Send a Card to a Friend Day,” send something to those loved ones you’ve lost touch with over the years. You may find this simple gesture will open a rich part of your life you didn’t realize you’d been missing. Put your message in the mail or send an e-card. It doesn’t matter which avenue you choose—it’s all about the reconnection.

The Importance of Reconnecting

Whether the person you’ve lost touch with is a relative or a dear friend, re-cultivating that relationship can be very important. When you begin to share stories, you develop an even greater appreciation for that person. Someday, that person will pass away. Don’t find yourself feeling full of regret that you meant to reconnect but never did it. The simple act of sending a note and letting someone know you’re thinking of them can reopen the lines of communication, and the chance to relive those special memories together.

Paving the Way for the Talk of a Lifetime

As you and your friend reacquaint yourselves, you may find a golden opportunity to Have the Talk of a Lifetime. Every person wants to feel they’ve made a difference in the world. When it’s time to memorialize someone who has passed on, you’ll be glad you had this important talk with the ones you love. Learn how to Have the Talk of a Lifetime today.

Thought Provoking Questions Make it Easy to Start the Talk of a Lifetime

Lightbulb on table Have the Talk of a Lifetime is just that – a conversation (or series of conversations) where you really talk deeply with your loved ones about your life, and how you want to be remembered. Sharing snippets of experiences and memories weaves the fabric of your life story together so that the people you care about have something to hang onto, even when you’re gone. Meaningful memorialization planning starts when loved ones talk about their lives. Thought provoking questions seek to uncover what matters most to your loved ones.

Thought-Provoking Questions

It may not seem easy to begin the Talk of a Lifetime. You may want to talk about important memories and milestones in your life, but don’t want it to seem like it’s coming out of the blue. Have the Talk of a Lifetime provides tools and conversation starters. Below is a list of interesting and unusual questions that can help spark some discussions and may help you remember things long-forgotten. In addition to this list, you can also download our free workbook or consider ordering the Have the Talk of a Lifetime Conversation Cards to get the discussion started. The goal is to open up with someone close to you and share meaningful memories and ideas, so you’re sharing a legacy that can live on:
  • If your life story was a movie, what would be the title?
  • What do you love to do? Why?
  • What or who makes you smile?
  • When was the last time you tried something new? What was it?
  • When was the last time you traveled somewhere you’d never been before? Where did you go?
  • What does “home” mean to you.
  • Is there anything you regret not doing in your life?
  • Is there a time when you didn’t speak up when you should have?
  • What do you want people to remember about you?
  • When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?
  • Whose life have you impacted the most?
  • Tell me about the greatest adventure you’ve had in life?

The Talk of a Lifetime

These thought-provoking life questions will help launch a conversation about the things that really matter. When you Have the Talk of the Lifetime, you’re laying the foundation that can help make the grieving process easier when you’re gone. Find out more about Have the Talk of a Lifetime now.

How Well Do You Know Your Family History?

Photographs and a camera Every family is rich with stories passed from generation to generation. While some are ingrained in our memories, other important tales may have slipped through the cracks between the hustle and bustle of everyday life. So, how well do you know your family history? Get to know your loved ones a little bit better by having the Talk of a Lifetime. Not only will these conversations strengthen the bond between families in the present, but they ensure that these stories are remembered and shared by future generations, making it easier to celebrate the lives of our loved ones when they are no longer with us.

Why Should We Share Family History?

You may be surprised to learn just how many benefits are involved in sharing the family history. Experiencing the stories of happiness, adversity, and triumph through the words of a loved one is a privilege in its own right. But, these tales may also hold great importance for practical reasons as well. When having the Talk of a Lifetime, you can explore topics such as medical history in a more meaningful way. You can also learn more about what is most important to your loved ones, and how they want to be remembered when they die. Additionally, families can strengthen their connections to one another by having the Talk of a Lifetime. In fact, a study by Marshall Duke and Robyn Fivush from Emory University found that children benefitted tremendously from learning their family history. Kids reported higher self-esteem and a better sense of independence.

How Do I Get Started?

Having the Talk of a Lifetime may seem like a daunting task, but you’ll find that it’s actually a lot of fun! If you are having trouble breaking the ice, consider downloading our free workbook or ordering a deck of Have the Talk of a Lifetime Conversation Cards. These simple tools can lead to big breakthroughs in family communication. Use the workbook to guide your conversation, and write down important or interesting facts. Flip through the 50 different cards to inspire conversations about important events, memorable places, life lessons, and so much more.

Learn More About the Talk of a Lifetime

So, just how well do you know your family history? You’ll soon know more than ever when you engage with your loved ones. Find out more about the Talk of a Lifetime, and start a conversation that brings everyone closer together.

Have the Talk of a Lifetime and Essential Life Lessons

Essential Life Lessons Don’t you wish you’d known then what you know now? Perspective comes with life experiences, and we usually wish we’d learned a lot more of life lessons when we were younger, especially the tough ones. When we Have the Talk of a Lifetime, that conversation when we share the really important things with someone we love, it’s amazing the things we’re able to realize with new clarity. The essential life lessons learned over the course of a lifetime are not just interesting, they’re also meaningful to our loved ones. Think about how valuable that information will be to them later, when all they have are memories.

Life’s Big Truths

Life’s big lessons aren’t really that complicated. Our life experiences help shape us into who we are. We all have a unique life story and many times these stories can share valuable perspective, especially when discussed through Have the Talk of a Lifetime. We discovered perspective from this list of truisms, and maybe you and your loved ones will, too:


  • Don’t let your age define you – It’s just a number, right? How many times have you met someone and been shocked when you learn how old they are?
  • Face fear – Fear and worry can actually paralyze us. It’s important to remember that fear is in our mind, and a lot of what we’re afraid of never actually happens or isn’t as bad as we pictured. What are you afraid of? Have you passed that fear on to your children? Did your parents pass it on to you?
  • Embrace failure – If you’re a certain age, you already know this is true: we hate the frustration and disappointment of failure, but that’s when we learn the most, and those lessons bring you that much closer to success. What failure in your life taught you the biggest lesson?
  • Be kind – Even the smallest acts of kindness can make a huge impact on someone else. What act of kindness made the biggest impression on you in your life?


  • Relationships first – Ultimately, our relationships with our family and friends are among the only things that matter. Make time to talk to them. Nurture and protect these relationships every single day. Who haven’t you talked to in a while?
  • Manage your anger – Anger is part of life, but we all need to learn how to deal with it in a healthy way. Figure out which strategies work best for you – communication, exercise, cooling off, keeping a journal – whatever it takes, commit to it. Share your thoughts with those closest to you. Happy memories are not the only memories you should share.
  • Grudges only hurt you – The negative energy of holding a grudge against someone doesn’t hurt that person, it only hurts you. Letting go and freeing yourself of a grudge is life-changing. Talking to your loved ones about these situations, and how you moved past them can be a wonderful teaching moment.

Things vs. Experiences

  • Move beyond the material world – We spend so much money accumulating stuff, and we don’t realize how unimportant it all is until we’re packing to move. The less you have, the more you can focus on the things that really matter. As you begin the process of letting go of some of the clutter, invite your loved ones to help you. Take the time to relive and share the memories associated with the items as you pack them up.
  • Experience life – Traveling and trying new things are incredibly satisfying, especially compared to material stuff. Seize every opportunity you can, and invite your family and friends to join you! Keep a journal as you go. It will help you share the memories when you get home.
  • Fun times – You should do something fun and laugh as much as you can, every day! Even when we have to be serious, a little comic relief goes a long way. Sharing your funniest memories is a great way to get the Talk of a Lifetime started. Who doesn’t like to hear hilarious memories from their loved ones?

Life is Happening With Every Moment

The here and now is life, but the past is important, too. If you don’t share it, it’s lost. Do yourself a favor – make Having the Talk of a Lifetime a priority. And take these life lessons to heart as you do, since every day counts! Contact us to learn more.