Friday, May 22, 2015

ALWAYS GO TO THE FUNERAL

This is taken from an article that appeared in the Readers Digest and was written by  Deirdre Sullivan.


I believe in always going to the funeral. My father taught me that.
The first time he said it directly to me, I was 16 and trying to get out of going to calling hours for Miss Emerson, my old fifth-grade math teacher. I did not want to go. My father was unequivocal. “Dee,” he said, “you’re going. Always go to the funeral. Do it for the family.”
ADVERTISEMENT
So my dad waited outside while I went in. It was worse than I thought it would be: I was the only kid there. When the condolence line deposited me in front of Miss Emerson’s shell-shocked parents, I stammered out, “Sorry about all this,” and stalked away. But, for that deeply weird expression of sympathy delivered 20 years ago, Miss Emerson’s mother still remembers my name and always says hello with tearing eyes.
That was the first time I went un-chaperoned, but my parents had been taking us kids to funerals and calling hours as a matter of course for years. By the time I was 16, I had been to five or six funerals. I remember two things from the funeral circuit: bottomless dishes of free mints and my father saying on the ride home, “You can’t come in without going out, kids. Always go to the funeral.”
Sounds simple—when someone dies, get in your car and go to calling hours or the funeral. That, I can do. But I think a personal philosophy of going to funerals means more than that.
“Always go to the funeral” means that I have to do the right thing when I really, really don’t feel like it. I have to remind myself of it when I could make some small gesture, but I don’t really have to and I definitely don’t want to. I’m talking about those things that represent only inconvenience to me but the world to the other guy. You know, the painfully under-attended birthday party. The hospital visit during happy hour. The shivah call for one of my ex’s uncles. In my humdrum life, the daily battle hasn’t been good versus evil. It’s hardly so epic. Most days, my real battle is doing good versus doing nothing. In going to funerals, I’ve come to believe that while I wait to make a grand heroic gesture, I should just stick to the small inconveniences that let me share in life’s inevitable, occasional calamity.
One cold April night, my father died a quiet death from cancer. His funeral was on a Wednesday, middle of the workweek. I had been numb for days when, for some reason, during the funeral, I turned and looked back at the folks in the church. The memory of it still takes my breath away. The most human, powerful, and humbling thing I’ve ever seen was a church at 3:00 on a Wednesday full of inconvenienced people who believe in going to the funeral.

Friday, May 15, 2015

WHY YOU SHOULD ALWAYS GO to the FUNERAL

Why You Should Always Go to the Funeral

Sounds simple—when someone dies, get in your car and go to calling hours or the funeral. That, I can do. But I think a personal philosophy of going to funerals means more than that.


I believe in always going to the funeral. My father taught me that.
The first time he said it directly to me, I was 16 and trying to get out of going to calling hours for Miss Emerson, my old fifth-grade math teacher. I did not want to go. My father was unequivocal. “Dee,” he said, “you’re going. Always go to the funeral. Do it for the family.”
So my dad waited outside while I went in. It was worse than I thought it would be: I was the only kid there. When the condolence line deposited me in front of Miss Emerson’s shell-shocked parents, I stammered out, “Sorry about all this,” and stalked away. But, for that deeply weird expression of sympathy delivered 20 years ago, Miss Emerson’s mother still remembers my name and always says hello with tearing eyes.
That was the first time I went un-chaperoned, but my parents had been taking us kids to funerals and calling hours as a matter of course for years. By the time I was 16, I had been to five or six funerals. I remember two things from the funeral circuit: bottomless dishes of free mints and my father saying on the ride home, “You can’t come in without going out, kids. Always go to the funeral.”
Sounds simple—when someone dies, get in your car and go to calling hours or the funeral. That, I can do. But I think a personal philosophy of going to funerals means more than that.
“Always go to the funeral” means that I have to do the right thing when I really, really don’t feel like it. I have to remind myself of it when I could make some small gesture, but I don’t really have to and I definitely don’t want to. I’m talking about those things that represent only inconvenience to me but the world to the other guy. You know, the painfully under-attended birthday party. The hospital visit during happy hour. The shivah call for one of my ex’s uncles. In my humdrum life, the daily battle hasn’t been good versus evil. It’s hardly so epic. Most days, my real battle is doing good versus doing nothing. In going to funerals, I’ve come to believe that while I wait to make a grand heroic gesture, I should just stick to the small inconveniences that let me share in life’s inevitable, occasional calamity.
One cold April night, my father died a quiet death from cancer. His funeral was on a Wednesday, middle of the workweek. I had been numb for days when, for some reason, during the funeral, I turned and looked back at the folks in the church. The memory of it still takes my breath away. The most human, powerful, and humbling thing I’ve ever seen was a church at 3:00 on a Wednesday full of inconvenienced people who believe in going to the funeral.
“‘Always Go to the Funeral,’” copyright © 2005 by Deirdre Sullivan, from the book This I Believe, edited by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman, copyright © 2006 by This I Believe, Inc., is published by Henry Holt and Company LLC, us.macmillan.com.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

CONFIDING YOUR WISHES

     Unless you take certain commonsense measures now, the arrangements for your funeral and burial may turn into a source of conflict and misery among your loved ones.  It is not enough to confide your wishes to your spouse or perhaps a close friend..  Other relatives may take exception to certain arrangements and try to override such wishes and even take over responsibility altogether - particularly if you have entrusted this to a friend.
     Your best course is to tell all involved parties what you have decided so there is no question about it later.  You may even wish to name the responsible party in a will, or better yet; a written instrument, called
"An Appointment of Agent to Control Disposition of Remains".  The agent appointed in this document overrides the legal chain of authority.  You should also prepare a "Letter of Instruction," along with specific wishes.  Unless you do this, thee is a good chance that such responsibility will be turned over to your closest living relative, regardless of your relationship to the person, and arrangements made alien to your wishes.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

MENTION THE UNMENTIONABLE

     There has been a recent trend, particularly among psychologists, in discussing and writing about death.  Rather than being seen as a morbid development, the admission of death is actually considered rather healthy, AND practical.
     On the personal level, one can remove death from the list of unmentionable topics by talking openly and frankly about funeral plans and making a Will.  Including your family and loved ones in such a discussion will ultimately do more to prevent pain and anguish than any discomfort saved by leaving them in the dark
     Naturally, if you are married you should consult with your spouse.  The same applies if you are a single adult living with a friend.  You might be startled to find out that he or she often thought about the subject but was afraid to mention it to you for fear of being thought insensitive.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

IMPOTANCE OF PLANNING

     Often one works for a lifetime, makes countless sacrifices, and does a great deal of plannng in order to provide financial security for one's heirs.  On the other hand, often too little time and thught is spent on other considerations involving one's survivors.
     What should be done in the event of one's death is of primary importance.  It is a difficult enough time for the spouse and close relatives without having to make decisions regarding your wishes - particularly if these have never been expressed.  Discuss the subject openly and, better yet, include your wishes in written form (called Letter of Instruction).
     Plan ahead concerning other matters as well.  Should the survivor stay where he or she is and live alone?  Would it be better to move in with grown children, another relative, a friend, a retirement community?  Unless this type of question is explored and answered, one has not fully provided for one's survivors.

Friday, April 17, 2015

HELPFUL THOUGHTS

     You may never get over grieving, but you can get through it.  The best therapy for grief and loneliness is loving relationships with others.  In fact, one of the antidotes for loneliness is people.
     It is not what happens to you but what you do about it that determines the outcome.  Human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes.  People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges.  Loneliness can never be overcome by inactivity.
     Healing takes time. No matter how hard you try, no matter how firmly you believe, no matter how sincerely you pray - it takes time.  Grief is the price tag we find on the package of love.
     Learn to manage your grief or it will manage you.  If you keep looking back at the door of sorrow, you will miss the doors ahead which may offer happiness and fulfillment.  Try it - maybe something good will happen.  T it - maybe something bad will happen.  Don't try it - nothing will happen.

Monday, March 30, 2015

PRESELECTING A FUNERAL HOME

     There are a number of important advantages to choosing a funeral home in advance of death.  To begin with, it will enable you to find the one that best suits your needs.  As with most other professions, there is a whole range to choose from.  With a little effort on your part, you can find a funeral home that will offer the arrangements you want, whether simple or elaborate; and at a price you feel is fair.
     Having preselected a funeral home can be especially helpful if you or a loved one dies away from home.  They can help make arrangements with a funeral home in the area where the death occurred to bring you or your loved one home.  If the place was another country, this is doubly true.  Our county's embassy or consulate abroad MUST have the name of the receiving funeral home in the home city so that the remains can be brought back into the United States and ultimately home.  Having named one in advance will save the survivors from having to investigate and decide upon a funeral home under the pressure of haste and grief.