Mourning Coffee

Recent Articles

To Vault or Not to Vault

I was speaking with a loved one recently. Our topic of conversation was to determine if he would add a burial vault to his wife’s burial plan. While conversing, it occurred to me that perhaps the purpose of a vault, compared to that of a casket, is confusing to those who are not funeral professionals. Casket: a receptacle of wood, metal or plastic into which the dead human body is placed for burial. The casket has only one basic function – to move a dead human body from one place to another in a dignified and safe manner. Continue Reading →

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Mikey Joe 7 – Due Date

Today was my grandson’s due date.  Instead of being at the hospital with my daughter to welcome him into our family, my husband, younger daughter, and I took our bistro table and set it beside his grave.  We had dinner and birthday cake and took photos to send to his mom in Hawaii.  We placed a baby boy balloon and carnations upon his tiny grave and prayed to our Heavenly Father to let our Mikey Joe know that we love and miss him.  It was a very somber and difficult day. When Mikey Joe passed five months ago, my world stopped.  It has been reeling ever since.  My concentration has suffered, my stamina has suffered, and I find that things that used to matter a great deal to me now are mediocre and somewhat unimportant.  I find that I do not wake up every morning ready to jump out of bed and begin my day.  I do not attack my work with fervor as I once did.  Even lifelong habits, like applying my make-up, fall out of order and are disorganized.  His tiny little life inside of his mother’s womb affected my life ever so deeply.  Only my belief that we will reunite as a family in God’s presence keeps my life going. As I prepared for bed, I checked social media and saw this post from his mother.  As her mother, my heart breaks for the pain she suffers.  I know it pales compared to my own. “Five months ago I gave birth to a baby boy. He was so beautiful and precious. Continue Reading →

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Breast Cancer

Six weeks ago, my sister-in-law was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer.  This devastating announcement was unexpected.  She and my brother rushed off to a cancer treatment center in another state.  We have great expectations that her treatment there will prove miraculous.  

I traveled to Louisiana this weekend to see my brother and his wife.  We are expecting results from a recent blood test to inform us of whether her condition has improved, remained the same, or worsened.  We are praying for improvement. My sister-in-law has always been very health conscious.  Among us, she has been the one who has deprived herself of any food-related pleasure, has maintained a routine exercise program, has avoided excessive sun exposure, and seen her doctor annually for check-ups; yet, it is she who has extensive cancer. She suffers pain, nausea, confusion, sadness, self-blame, fear, exhaustion, depression, etc.  My brother does too.  We are all confused.  We wonder how this happened and what should be done to save her?  She and my brother research exhaustively, potential treatments (natural, of course) and the rest of us pray intently for her return to health. We discussed possible treatment options this weekend.  There are so many obstacles to obtaining them, primarily distance and expense.  My brother and his wife are professional people; however, her treatments within the last six-weeks have already exhausted their financial reserves.  They are now looking at creative options to afford additional treatment. Continue Reading →

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Mikey Joe 6 – Abandonment

As I stood in line at the bank, Friday, the bank manager approached me and whispered kind words into my ear.  She thanked me for how I close the services for my client families.  She had recently attended the funeral of my cousin’s husband and wanted to express her appreciation for my closing statements.  I appreciate her encouragements.  

At the close of every funeral, I always come forward and thank family and friends, on behalf of the survivors, for their attendance and support during what is definitely the most difficult ritual accompanying death; the lowering of the loved one into the earth and sealing their grave with soil.  At that moment, fear, panic, and pain rush into the hearts of the survivors. I was there six months ago.  My son-in-law carried my grandson’s tiny white casket out of our chapel and placed him in his grave.  My daughter and her surviving two children followed, and we gathered around Mikey Joe’s resting place for the dedication and closing of his grave.  My husband, son-in-law, and three-year-old grandson began the arduous task of returning the soil of the earth into the oblong grave where my deceased grandson would now rest. I think my heart stopped beating at that moment.  I watched in horror as my little grandson grabbed a small fist full of dirt to throw into his tiny brother’s grave.  I could not see or hear anything else around me.  I was completely focused on my two tiny grandsons sharing their last moment on earth; one lying in a small grave and the other filling it with dirt.  Suddenly, my three-year-old grandson realized his hands were dirty and briskly wiped them up and down on the chest of his freshly starched shirt.  Those in attendance gasped and then broke into laughter.  With tears of heartache streaming down my face, I too broke into uncontrollable laughter.  He repeated his assigned task of filling his tiny brother’s grave until the task was completed, each time wiping his hands on the front breast of his white shirt.  The bright red dirt of East Texas, now permanently stains my grandson’s beautiful white church shirt.  What a wonderful treasure my daughter has of her two tiny sons:  a stained dress shirt, evidentiary of their brotherly love and care for each other. As the committal came to a close, I, like always, stepped forward.  Choking with sobs of sorrow, I thanked our family and friends for their support, participation, and attendance.  Then, one by one, they each left our funeral home.  Since that day, no one who attended his funeral has ever mentioned my grandson again.  My husband, daughter, and I speak of him continually, but no one in our family, nor do our friends ever speak of him. Continue Reading →

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Mikey Joe 5 – Angels of Comfort

What a blessing it is to be able to read.  It was not so long ago that reading was uncommon among the masses.  Even today, we see many people who remain illiterate due to dyslexia or some other underlying cause.  Reading is better than movies.  It is better than plays.  Reading is a gift to our souls because it allows us to engage our minds, imagination, reasoning, and intuition.  It allows us to accept the words to our brains at the speed at which we can understand and interpret their meaning.  Once we understand their meaning, we are at liberty to accept or reject them as truth or error.  I am thankful for the blessing of reading in my life.  I hope you are too. I read an article this morning. While I found some of the article acceptable, most of it seemed mystically based.  It did, however, evoke deep thought, encourage contemplation, critical thinking, and evaluation within my mind and soul.  At the end of the article, I had considered new theories, reasoned whether they were soundly based, and either accepted or rejected them.  It was an educational morning for me. The interesting part of the article for me was the section entitled “Angels of Comfort.”  In this section, the author addresses two different types of angels.  She writes of angels who take upon themselves a physical form.  She states, “A true angel encounter is when angels assume physical bodies.  They have a different essence about them. They come out of nowhere, deliver the message or assistance and leave without a trace.”  (Kermie Wohlenhaus, Ph.D., Angels of Grief, Comfort, and Hope)

Ms. Wohlenhaus also writes of angels who remain in a spiritual form and communicate soul to soul.  It is this second concept of spirits that had merit to me. Continue Reading →

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Challenges of Sudden Death

Sudden Death is a unique category of loss. It includes heart attacks, strokes, suicides, homicides, and accidents. GRIEF BRIEF 116

Sudden deaths are those that occur without warning. These types of deaths require special understanding and intervention. Sudden deaths are more difficult to grieve and recover from than other deaths that give some warning. Continue Reading →

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Never Play in the Street

When I was a little girl, my mother taught me never to play in the street.  When I was a mother with young children, I taught them as my mother did me; “Never play in the street.”

There is wisdom in teaching one’s children prudence, safety, and manners in their youth.  One hopes a well-trained child will carry the “Pearls of Wisdom” taught during childhood through the lines of lineage, and rely upon them during times of distress and danger.   Solomon’s advice to parents “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6), is literally as applicable today as it was when time first began. As a child matures, parents must bridge the concepts presented in childhood into their maturing environment.  One hopes that the child will process the concept of evolution and appropriate application within their maturing mind and adequately apply it to their ever-changing environment.  Parents should test the abilities of their children as they progress through the maturing process for concepts of critical thinking and application.  Additionally, parents should expand the concepts into wider applications expanding the child’s growing world. For example, “Don’t play in the street.” to a young child may mean, “Do not ride your tricycle in the road.”  However, for a teenager, “Don’t play in the street.” may mean, “No drag racing.”  The concept, “Being in the Road is Dangerous,” is the same.  The application, however, is age appropriate.  The concept has bridged the eras of life. Sadly, I recently served a family where the concept “Never play in the street.” did not bridge from tricycles to automobiles.  This heartbroken family suffered the loss of a young man practicing his independence.  One late evening as he traveled home from his activities, his vehicle became disabled.  Rather than utilizing his cell phone for roadside assistance, he ventured out into the street to flag down passing motorists.  Not expecting a man in the road, he was struck by an unsuspecting motorist. Now two families suffer from this tragic lapse of concept bridging.  One family has lost a son, the other carries the weight of that loss through feelings of guilt.  Both families grieve this loss; both feel sorrow, anger, and fear. Continue Reading →

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Death and Social Security

During the arrangement conference, I am often asked about Social Security income. Many American’s are confused about how benefits are calculated and how the death of their spouse affects their benefit status. It is noteworthy that the Social Security Administration points out that, “Social Security was never meant to be the only source of income for people when they retire. Social Security replaces about 40 percent of an average wage earner’s income after retiring, and most financial advisors say retirees will need 70 percent or more of pre-retirement earnings to live comfortably. To have a comfortable retirement, Americans need more than Social Security. Continue Reading →

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Embrace Every Moment

At the beginning of the first Gulf War, I had an opportunity to spend every penny I had to my name in order to fly to Singapore to see my husband who had been on deployment with the US Navy for five and one-half months.  The reality of war meant that his current trip home would temporarily port in Singapore for five days and then turn around and head straight back to where he had left; the Gulf War region of the world. In the life of a military wife, the possibility that I would not see my husband for another five and one-half months was now a reality, the possibility that I would never see him again was now a threat with a great big red exclamation point behind it.  I was terrified. I was very nervous to scrape up every penny that we had, but I was determined to see my husband before he went off to war.  I needed to express my dedication to him and my absolute dependence for him to return to my side.  He needed to know that without him I would be unable to breathe, that my heart would stop beating, and that my life would immediately end.  He needed to know that our sweet baby needed him to come home because she loved her daddy so deeply that growing up without him would not be possible.  He needed to know that our prayers of protection would pour out to heaven every moment of the day and that angels would surround him when he was in danger. Unfortunately, the airlines found out what was going on and instantly air tickets jumped from $500.00 to $5,000.00.  Five hundred dollars for a poor military family living in San Diego CA during that time was an astronomical fee, five thousand dollars was impossible.  But, I was determined that not even the airlines would keep me from what might possibly be my last chance to see my husband alive.  I pulled every penny we had out of the bank, dug for change through coat pockets and the couch, and purchased my airfare. I was teaching art classes at the time so it was necessary for me to rearrange my commitments to my students.  One of my students was a wife of a Retired Combat Veteran.  She pulled me to the side and shared her great wisdom with me.  She advised me that the first two days with my husband would be wonderful, but the third day together would be sad.  I was so confused.  I had no idea what she was telling me.  She continued.  The third day would be our “Hump Day”.  She cautioned me not to think about it, not to let the fact that we were on our downhill slide of having to separate, destroy the final few days that we would have together.  She said to push it out of my mind anyway possible and to enjoy every moment we had.  Her advice was worth more than I paid for that blasted airline ticket.  In fact, her advice was invaluable. Continue Reading →

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