Millennials grieve differently than previous generations. Their lives have been remarkably different from their predecessors. Therefore, it is reasonable that their manner of expression, as well as, their way of digesting and reacting to information and events, will be different too. Millennials have grown up with instant information and instant gratification. My daughter, a Gen-Y girl, calls Millennials the, “Instant Oat-Mealers.” She hypothesizes, “They have grown up with instant friends, instant information, and instant gratification at their fingertips. Continue Reading →
Hustle and bustle during the holiday season are expected, however, when a loved one is ill and nearing death, hustle and bustle are not at all welcome. The confusion of loss makes life difficult enough without having to summon up extra energy for added tasks and concerns. To this end, it is important that one consider pre-planning, to the degree possible, prior to their loved one’s death. When one is called upon to care for a dying loved one, one must put other aspects of life on hold. There is no longer time for simple pleasures, socializing, or vacations. The primary focus of life becomes tending and caring for the dying loved one. At this juncture, funeral planning is by far the most distasteful duty one might face if it has not been previously addressed. Due to the discomfort of the caregiver, he or she might continue to put off this duty until the time of death inevitably arrives. Under such circumstances, the caregiver at this point has generally depleted nearly all of their abilities to cope with additional stress and confusion. Unfortunately, death’s accompanying influences are exactly these concerns. Death and grief cloud the mind with confusion. As a survival tactic, the mind will invoke denial. Denial numbs the senses. Without this numbing effect, the survivor’s pain would be so great that his or her own death would become an instant concern. The clouding of the survivor’s reality allows him or her to continue living through this very difficult and extremely painful experience. Unfortunately, if decisions surrounding the events that accompany death have not been discussed or planned, the survivor will be faced with them at a time when his or her brain is functioning at a lower than usual capacity. These decisions will have a profound impact on family and friends as they enter their grief experience and continue on with them as they pass through life. They are important decisions, legal decisions, and may very well be expensive decisions. Decisions such as these are better made with a clear mind rather than a cloudy one. If you find yourself in this situation, please take a moment and ask your loved one these few simple questions. His or her answers will make your life infinitely less stressful at the time of their passing.
Have you pre-planned your funeral services? Continue Reading →
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Today was an important day for my cousin’s grandson. He hit a milestone in his young life. At church, my cousin said that she was so very proud of her grandson for the efforts he has made to achieve this honor being bestowed upon him, and grateful that her uncle had driven three hours to witness it with her. She continued with a slight hesitation, “But the day is bittersweet as I greatly miss my deceased father today. I wish that he were here to bestow this honor upon my grandson and help him grow in strength and honor as he becomes a young man.”
Special occasions can present difficult situations for survivors. We are excited and happy for the anticipated event, however, our joy may be somewhat over shadowed by the heartbreak we experience, present through the absence of those we love who have gone on before us. Grief Brief 58
Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and especially the yearly loss anniversary, are extremely stressful for the survivors of loss.
The anticipation of these important dates may sometimes be worse than the day itself
If you have a close friend or relative, it may be a good idea to let them know that you might need extra understanding and support on these days. (Mourning Light, Tracy Lee, 2016)
The Grief Brief above points to the fact that special days may be difficult, however, one may add to it the fact that future events, especially those that would have traditionally involved the decedent, will likewise draw upon the survivor’s heartstrings. What then does a survivor do to overcome their heartache and join the celebrations accompanying milestone achievements? Let us look at my cousin’s case. Continue Reading →
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My mother’s health is failing. She may be gone from us soon. She is very sad and wants her children by her side at all times. She recently suffered a disastrous 11-day hospital stay following what was supposed to be a day surgery. From the hospital, she was released into a nursing home for two days. I was going grocery shopping early Saturday morning, August 5, 2017, as my cupboards were nearly bare from having spent most of the past 13 days at the hospital and nursing home with my mother. As I neared the freeway exit, however, I felt compelled to remain on route, and rather than finding myself at the grocery store, I found myself walking into my mother’s room to check on her. I saw that her eyes were closed. Softly, I called out to her in order that I not to wake her, should she be sleeping. She stirred slightly, so I touched her hand with mine. Faintly, she uttered, “I’m crying.” I was so startled by her statement that I didn’t know exactly what to say to her. In confusion, I asked, “Mom?” With eyes still closed, she grabbed my hand so tightly. She could barely speak. Between sobs, she cried, “I’m dying.” In dismay, I asked in disbelief, “What?” “I want my children here with me. I’m dying.” She sobbed. I immediately reached for my phone with my free hand. Trying to calm my mother, I sent out a text to my siblings, “Hurry here. Mother is very upset. She wants us all here. She is afraid she is dying. She is crying.” I noticed my mother was having some sort of involuntary repetitive twitching. It seemed to be rapidly increasing in severity, so I immediately ran to get a nurse. As the nurse and I reentered my mother’s room, things were not going very well. My mother had gone from bad to worse and needed immediate assistance. The nurse ran out into the hallway and began shouting out names. Apparently, the aids she called out for were not responding quickly enough because she ended her plea with, “anyone”, and ran back into my mother’s room. Continue Reading →
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Yesterday, my husband and I directed a funeral for a young man in an Historical Texas Cemetery. We arrived for the committal service one hour before the scheduled start time. Our service set up was accomplished quickly, so we began looking at the grave markers within the cemetery. Old Liberty Cemetery received Texas historical status in part by containing “Veterans, both men, and women, of six wars…The War of 1812, the Blackhawk War, the Civil War, the Spanish American War, and World Wars I and II.” (State Historical Marker, 1997) In walking the cemetery, I found markers from later wars as well. Old Liberty Cemetery is a very old cemetery. Unfortunately, ancient cemeteries sometimes suffer from low funding, and therefore, fall into a state of low maintenance. As my husband and I walked the cemetery and photographed the historical Veteran markers, we noticed that many of them stood in need of maintenance and repair. Stones dating so far back in history may no longer have family members who are aware of their relation to them, or family members who may not be physically able to maintain them.
There are sometimes groups who will organize a service project for cemeteries. Scout troops, churches, and historical organizations will often select a cemetery to scrub and level stones in need of maintenance. It is not necessary, however, to belong to an organized group to render such a needed service to great American heroes. My husband and I plan to return to Old Liberty Cemetery this weekend. We will scrub and remove debris from the gravestones of our nation’s heroes who rest there. If you find yourself in a cemetery that has American Veteran’s gravestones in need of maintenance, you might consider rendering this service. It is a good idea to notify the cemetery sexton of your intentions. He or she will advise you of acceptable maintenance methods and available times for your service. Depending on the size of the project, you might even consider organizing a work party for the event. If you would like to join a group or organize one, I have found that the website, aptly named, “JustServe.org” is a wonderful resource. Rendering service is uniquely American. No other nation compares to the American standard of offering humanitarian aid, assistance, and rendering service to those in need. The American military is very often the means by which this aid, assistance, and service are delivered to other nations. If you find it in your heart to give back to those who have served and protected our nation, and who may have likewise rendered service abroad, consider dedicating your weekend to veteran gravestone maintenance. It will be a worthwhile use of your time. Continue Reading →
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Today is a stressful day for me. My mother had surgery this morning. She is not doing quite as well as we had hoped. She remains on a ventilator, as she is unable to breathe for herself. I set my alarm clock for an early morning and drove to the city where her surgery was taking place. Continue Reading →
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Have you ever witnessed something so shameful that the moment you became aware of it, you were instantly ill? So unbelievable that the shock wave of awareness incapacitated your ability to function and for a moment, you stood frozen, as you were, in time? So startling that your brain had to struggle through a fog of confusion and disbelief to regain comprehension and use of your vocabulary? I have had this experience. I experienced it June 5, 2017, at 10:12 AM. My husband is a Retired United States Navy Veteran. He served his country with honor for twenty years. My children and I are very proud of his service, of his honor, of his loyalty. His medals, ribbons, and special letters of commendation are proudly displayed on the walls in our home. As a United States Veteran, funeral home owners, and a funeral director, my husband and I are always very honored when we have the privilege of burying one of our nation’s veterans. We extend special care to these dependent families as we understand, appreciate, and relate to the sacrifices they have endured throughout their service member’s careers. We too have endured the extended separations, poverty, displacements, discriminations, stresses, wars, illnesses, etc. that service members and dependents suffer throughout their tours of duty, and we have always been honored to bear them proudly. Recently, I became aware of a shameful act perpetrated against certain veterans that is so disconcerting that it has caused me great distress. I immediately notified the VA in Washington DC, and together we began working to reverse this dishonor. Both the VA and I thought that this issue was an isolated event, however, this past weekend has proven that this is not so. At this time, I do not know how far reaching this shameful issue impacts our nation. I do know, however, that something must be done to rectify it, something must be done to discover how far reaching it is, and something must be done to stop it ever happening again. Continue Reading →
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I have been an Insurance Agent for quite some time. When one becomes a Funeral Director, Insurance is one of those collateral duties that compliments your skill set and assists clients as they come to the funeral home looking for assistance for their future end of life (death) needs. Insurance offers a vast selection of products based on the needs of the client. The issues related to product selection are that although clients can vocalize their concerns, they often do not understand which product provides the most efficient solution for them. In most cases, their purchase decision will be based on one of two facts. Continue Reading →
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Last night I was surfing social media when I came upon a friend’s post stating that upon reflection, he was taking a break from social media. He stated that since the passing of his wife six months ago, his opinion posting had become offensive to his son. He was confused and hurt by his son’s chastisements, and to discontinue causing his son discomfort or embarrassment, he had concluded that his withdrawal was in order. His post was filled with sadness, despair, pain, and anguish. Regret was apparent that he had not foreseen that his posts might wedge a wound in his father/son relationship, and he was solemnly announcing his intention to bend to his son’s harsh rebuke. To show my support of this man’s right to post his opinion on a social media platform based solely on opinion posting, I went through his history and began liking every one of his opinion posts with which I could agree. It was not enough though. As I lay in my bed last night, I found that sleep was elusive. I tossed and turned all night worrying about this friend.
Grief Brief 7
People who have recently lost a loved one may tend to withdraw from family or friends in intimate and social situations. This tendency is generally brief and usually corrects itself without intervention. If one continues to withdraw from social interactions over an extended length of time, one might find it comforting to consult with a counselor. Continue Reading →
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Some of my fondest memories as I was growing up are of those spent with my family. Moments in time with parents, grandparents, and great grandparents that were once common are now priceless recollections that I hold dear to my heart. Yesterday as I sat in church, I sent out a text to my brother asking him to cook a Cajun dinner for my eldest daughter and her family who are visiting us from the northern states for a week. Fortunately, he graciously accepted, so last night, we traveled from Texas to Louisiana for dinner at his house. As I arrived at his home, the aroma of his cooking brought precious memories back to my mind of my childhood. Arriving at my grandmother’s house in south Louisiana was always a culinary treat. We entered his house through the back door directly into his kitchen and immediately my children and grandchildren began hugging their aunts, uncle, and great grandparents. The moment was so touching, I could barely hold my emotions. We enjoyed our dinner. The gumbo was excellent. Afterward, we walked next door to my father’s home. We gathered in his music room, played our instruments, and sang fun songs. When my father was a schoolboy, he played the bass clarinet. It just so happens that my granddaughter plays the same instrument. As my father played the bass guitar, he asked my granddaughter if she would like to play it. She accepted the invitation and within 60 seconds was playing the foundation base of each song. Her younger sister strummed along on the autoharp and we all learned the complicated vocal control needed for yodeling. We had a wonderful family evening. An evening I hope they will recall with fondness when they are grandparents and have the opportunity to spend time with their grandchildren. I see my grandchildren rarely, but that does not mean I do not love them. It means that they live far away and that my heart yearns for them daily. I was fortunate to grow up in the company of my grandparents, great-grandparents, and multitudes of cousins. My grandchildren do not enjoy that privilege. When I was a child, summer vacation meant fun and play to me. Now that I am a grandmother, it means my heartbreak will have a moment’s relief when my grandchildren pull up in my driveway and stay with me for a week. I hope last night will be one of those memories that will bring them strength and comfort once I am gone. I hope they will know that I loved them, that I lived all year for the moment I would be able to see them, and that I would give my last breath on earth in their defense. Continue Reading →