Funeral Etiquette for the 21st Century

2011 September 17 by

As our culture has become increasingly relaxed and even casual, many of the “rules of etiquette” have gone by the wayside. Women rarely wear hats and gloves when they go out – once a “must” – and gentlemen can often be seen sporting a golf shirt beneath a sports jacket. Ties are reserved for formal affairs and the occasional important meeting.
 
Nonetheless, a few etiquette rules remain when it comes to funerals.
 
Today dressing in black is not necessarily required for a funeral; in fact, some deceased request that no one wear black at all. However, bright colors and loud patterns can often send the wrong message to the bereaved so remember to be respectful. It is also very important to resist the urge to slip into that “little black dress” as being conservative is also a sign of respect. When in doubt subdued colors are always appropriate.
 
Upon learning the news of a death, always reach out to the deceased loved ones. This can be through a visit, a phone call, a card or flowers. If calling, keep the call brief and make sure to listen and focus on the survivor; also be ready to leave a short message as they may not be taking calls.
 
When sending a card, a personal message is always appreciated as is the simple gesture of the card itself. Sending flowers to the funeral home or survivors has become a natural reaction, but more and more families are requesting an “in lieu of flowers” donation to a favorite charity or cause. These directives are often included in the obituary, found either in the local paper or on the mortuary’s own website.
 
Finding the right things to say is never easy. A simple “I’m sorry for your loss” is always appropriate, but telling a story or fond memory of the deceased can be very meaningful for the family. Please avoid using the ‘it was for the best’ phrase. Despite one’s good intentions, it can be perceived as being disrespectful.
 
Don’t forget to sign the guest book. This is useful and even a bit comforting for the family, so they can later see who came to visit and how they knew the deceased.
 
Finally, turn off all electronics! A funeral is not the time or place to show off your new ringtone. Note, the buzz from the “vibration mode” does not go unnoticed. Set your phone to silent or better yet, leave it in the car.

Funerals provide a sense of closure for friends and families; it is a time to focus, show one’s support and offer a kind gesture. Remembering these things will make a difficult situation a bit easier.

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Grieving Process Unique to Individual

2011 September 14 by

In commemorating what would have been his 100th birthday, there have been numerous articles and television segments on about Ronald Reagan. But a “sound bite” that really caught my attention was from wife Nancy Reagan, who talked about her grief.
 
“Everyone said it would get easier as time went on,” she said. “But I think it’s gotten worse. I miss him more.”
 
In our 70-plus years serving families in Central Indiana, A.R.N. Cremation realizes this is not an uncommon occurrence. If you have experienced the loss of a loved one, you may well have felt the same way. As late as last week I was chatting with a friend whose husband had passed away three years ago. “I don’t know why, but this past holiday was the most difficult yet. I found myself crying all the time.”
 
My friend went to a grief counselor who proclaimed these feelings very normal and part of the grieving process. And for many, realizing that grief isn’t a day or a week or a month; grief is a process that is as unique as the individual experiencing it.
 
You’ve probably heard about those five stages of grief:

  • Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”
  • Anger: “Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”
  • Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”
  • Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
  • Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”

But even the author of these stages (Elisabeth Kübler-Ross) embraced the absolute individualism in which people mourn and grieve. She wrote in the last book before her own death, “They were never meant to help tuck messy emotions into neat packages. They are responses to loss that many people have, but there is not a typical response to loss, as there is no typical loss. Our grieving is as individual as our lives.”
 
So, with grief you may experience all of these stages and not in any particular order; you may experience none of these stages or only two or three. Most importantly, experts urge you to first, seek support of others; do not grieve alone. Friends and family, grief support groups, your faith and grief counselors are all ways with which people can openly discuss and address their loss and their grief.
 
Secondly, you need to take care of yourself. Give yourself permission to grieve and feel sad; maybe journal about your feelings. Some people even find writing a letter to their departed loved one is one way to find closure.
 
And finally, be prepared for “grief triggers.” Things that you see or hear through the normal course of a day that may resurrect your grief – a car, a song, and many times special dates like anniversaries or birthdays. These are perfectly natural, even coming years after your loss. Embrace these moments as a time to remember your loved one and share your memories.

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Pre-planning Final Arrangements Alleviates Stress

2011 September 13 by

The beginning of the year is traditionally a time when people feel the need to better organize their lives. They make resolutions to live happier and healthier lives; they tie up those nagging loose ends. They set a budget, invest in a financial plan and update their wills; they ensure that their families are taken care of in the event of their death.
 
However, one often-overlooked item is planning for one’s final arrangements. Pre-arranged funerals provide peace of mind for both you (in that your wishes have been carried out) and for your family (in that they’re not “guessing” about what you would want). In addition, a trust fund may be established to pay for the funeral arrangements in advance. When those funds are needed, they are applied to cover the cost of your funeral arrangements.
 
Trusted funeral advisors can assist you in planning all of the details of your final arrangements just as you wish. A few areas that are specified when pre-arranging these services:

  • Instructions of final disposition including of both location of service and cemeteries; if you are to be cremated, what do you want done with your ashes?
  • Who do you want to serve as pallbearers?
  • What clothing and jewelry do you want to wear?
  • What items/mementos would you like to have displayed?
  • What poems or literature you would like to have read?
  • What favorite religious passages would you like read?
  • What favorite colors and flowers would you like used in floral arrangements?
  • Are you eligible for military, graveside honors?

A.R.N. Cremation Services assists individuals in planning funerals, including those who wish to pre-plan their own services.  A convenient pre-planning form is available for download on our website (click here).   Locally owned by Max Nelson and Jennifer Nelson Williams, we have been assisting Indianapolis-area families plan and carry out final arrangements since 1935. For more information, call us at 317.873.4766 or visit the website, www.arncremation.com.

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On-Site Crematory Has Its Advantages

2011 September 12 by

If you follow the headlines, the past few years have painted some disturbing pictures of less-than-scrupulous mortuaries and crematories that have been remiss in the care given to human remains.
 
When we were planning our new facility (that we moved into earlier this year), one thing we were certain we wanted was an on-site crematory. We believed it would enable us to provide families with the ultimate care and respect their loved-ones deserved.
 
With an on-site crematory, we are able to control every aspect of an individual’s final arrangements – from preparing the remains for cremation to ensuring that the cremation chamber is thoroughly cleaned after every cremation, eliminating the risk of co-mingling remains.
 
As one of Central Indiana’s oldest and trusted funeral service providers, A.R.N. Cremation Services is proud to be one of only two on-site crematories in Hamilton County and only a handful in the Indianapolis area.
 
A few things to remember when selecting a cremation professional:
 

  • Seek out licensed professionals including a licensed funeral director or certified crematory operator
  • Ask about policies and procedures followed by the cremation service including the handling of the remains as well as documentation
  • Never assume that a funeral home offering cremations has an on-site crematory; more often than not, the remains are sent to an off-site facility.
  • Ask what options exist for those choosing cremation in terms of memorial services, casket rentals and urn/commemorative merchandise.
  • If you are anticipating an on-site memorial service, ensure that the facilities are modern and will accommodate your anticipated guests as well as any special needs they may have.

Deciding on cremation and subsequently choosing the cremation professional to provide those services are decisions that require a great deal of thought and consideration.  These decisions should be based upon reputation, location, facilities and the cost of services. Do not be afraid or embarrassed to “shop” these services; it is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make. Taking a little extra time to ask questions and do a bit of research will result in peace of mind for years to come.

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