Recently my friend Dave passed away after battling with a terminal illness. He and his wife, another dear friend of mine named Iris, had had many interactions with my two young girls as they had assisted Dave many times when we volunteered with the facility in which Dave and Iris lived. Following multiple excursions to Walmart, with my two young girls arguing over who got to push Dave’s wheelchair, Dave had come to call them ‘his girls.’ He frequently expressed his gratitude for their presence both during, and after those volunteering encounters.
When I found out about his passing, I was faced with the decision on whether or not to bring the girls to the funeral. Since the girls had had such a positive impact on Dave’s life over the last few months, I felt that it would mean a lot to both him and his wife Iris for the girls to go to the funeral. Many parents may worry that exposing their children to such ceremonies at an early age will traumatize them or potentially desensitize them to the occurrence of death. However, this is not necessarily the case. Following a brief conversation about Dave’s death and his pending funeral, my girls were willing to attend.
This funeral was not the first that my girls had attended. Two years previous, my grandmother had passed away, so my girls and I travelled to Prince Edward Island with my mother to attend my grandmother’s wake and funeral. Despite their young age, following age-appropriate explanation, my girls seemed to understand the finality in death and the importance of celebrating a loved one’s life. Following my grandmother’s funeral service, my youngest had even commented to my mother about “Great-Granny-Nanny” not being alive anymore.
Dave’s funeral service was a beautiful one. While there was a tangible amount of sadness during the service, his eulogy contained many snippets of his humour which made some of the attendees laugh as they remembered Dave as he had been. It had also contained some memorable moments from the 64 years in which he and Iris had cherished together. Throughout the service, my girls behaved well and following it, they each took turns giving Iris a hug and we handed her a condolence card in which the girls had happily signed their names. After some visitation, we left the venue and went on about our day. My girls were okay, they were not scared or scarred. I think in a way, it helped them understand that we would not be helping Dave around in his wheelchair anymore.
The decision to bring children to a wake or funeral is a very personal choice. Many factors may play a role in that decision, but the fear of grief or in death itself, should not be a leading factor. Since death and dying are universal occurrences, which means that no one is immune to it, I believe that it is best that we empower our children with knowledge about death and dying. Death can happen for a wide variety of reasons, some of which are natural progressions in life. In addition to potentially providing our children with a sense of closure following a loved one’s passing, allowing children to attend funerals and memorials may help them acknowledging that grief is a natural reaction to a loss. Instilling the idea that we will still carry our memories of our loved ones with us all our lives, despite not having the person with us anymore, may further help children in dealing with the loss of a beloved friend or family member.
We went to visit Iris the other day and the girls were not upset, scared or fearful. They did not dwell on Dave’s death or Iris’s loss. Instead they watched television while Iris, my mum, and I visited.
And so, life goes on, with Dave’s memory in our hearts.
Sometimes referred to as our “fur-babies,” “grand-dogs,” or “4 legged children,” pets can have a very special and meaningful place in our lives. Some pets seem to instinctually know when we’re having a bad day, or when we need someone to comfort us, they come to our aid. Pets can brighten our days just by being present – for example, the warm welcome you receive when you come home to your dog or cat and he or she is happy to see you, even if you’ve only been gone a short while.
When a pet becomes ill and no longer has a good quality of life, sometimes the decision to euthanize the animal becomes imminent. Other times, our pets may pass due to a tragic incident or accident without warning. Regardless of how our pets may come to pass, the loss we experience following the death of our pet often goes understated. The death of a pet is a significant loss and needs to be acknowledged as such. Just as the loss of a beloved family member may impact our daily functioning, so too can the loss of a beloved pet.
Support networks are essential throughout any time of grief or loss, and the loss of a pet is no different. The problem is that society as a whole does not place much significance on the loss of a pet and may not provide the amount of support that an individual may need. Recently I had someone say they felt embarrassed for being so upset following their pet’s passing because “It was just a dog.” But its not just a dog – its your friend, your confidant, your exercise partner, your alarm clock, and your welcoming committee. Having experienced the loss of two pets this year, I can appreciate the encompassing grief following a pet’s untimely passing. All-in-all, your companion animals play an integral part in your day to day life and as such has become part of your family.
Regardless of the type of pet we lose, they leave a void in our hearts that cannot be filled by replacing our pet with another. Although others may not share in the depth of our feelings of loss, these feelings are still valid and need to be acknowledged. Sharing stories with loved ones about the memories you shared with your companion animal can have you reflect on the positive impact your pet had in your lives. In memory of your pet, you may want to have a memento made.
If you or someone you know has recently experienced the loss of a pet, you may find it helpful to reach out to others you know who have also experienced the loss of a pet. As difficult as it may be, taking care of yourself and maintaining your routine as best as possible may help to alleviate some of the strain you may be experiencing. You may want to reach out to your local veterinary clinic for potential support resources, and if your feelings of grief worsen or continue for a long period of time, talk to your family doctor or reach out to a counsellor for help.
Potential resources following the loss of a pet:
Pet Loss Support Group on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Petloss
Pet Loss website: http://www.pet-loss.net/resources/Canada.shtml
Ok, let’s talk about the one thing that everyone needs to know about…. Funeral Etiquette.
This one is a touchy subject, I feel that my wedding planning experiences can help aid in this topic of conversation. For the next few minutes I am going to try my best to help anyone who will be attending a funeral. Let’s face it, we will all have to attend one, one day.
Rule #1 Timing…. the most important…if the funeral has a start time of let’s say, 1:00pm. It is going to start at 1:00pm. Most pastors, priests and officiants start when the service is supposed to start. My advice, do NOT show up at 12:58 that is taken as a sign of disrespect and is poor funeral etiquette. The rule is always arrive at least 20-30 minutes early. Now I know that might sound extreme however, funerals are not like most social events or weddings. The families do not know how many people will be attending. These services are planned in less than a week. You do not RSVP for this event. So, coming late might make it difficult for you to find a seat, you might disrupt the family who might be processing into the church/hall with a casket or urn. Sometimes families have way more people attend then they had thought would. So, showing up early will save you the hassle of having to stand for the entire service.
Rule # 2, This is about honouring the deceased and the deceased family, this is not the time to approach the family, as they are getting ready for the service to start. That isn’t the most appropriate time to ambush them with stories and your feelings. Wait till the reception. That is the correct time to speak with the family, share stories, memories and celebrate the life of their loved one.
Rule # 3, You do not have to wear black at a funeral service, however when choosing an outfit make sure it is conservative and respectful. Stay away from distracting patterns and loud colours.
Rule #4 This is one that gets me, the first few rows are usually reserved for close family members (immediate family) If you are the 8th cousin and haven’t spoke to the family in years you can almost guarantee you will not be sitting there, if you are the best friend of the 3rd cousin of someone who has passed…. You will need to find another seat. They are reserved for family.
Rule #5 Children at funerals. It is ok to bring your children to the funeral. However, if they are misbehaving, crying or being a bother…… please exit the service until they regain composure. There is nothing more distracting then a crying baby or a kid throwing a temper tantrum.
Rule #6 and probably the MOST IMPORTANT…..Put you phone on silent before you even enter the building!! There is no need for any more of an explanation on this rule. If you miss a call or text, people will understand you are at a Funeral Service.
Please keep in mind, these are my personal beliefs. Common sense, maybe… but still my beliefs.
I hope you enjoyed. Please feel free to leave a comment about any experiences or advice you would like to share.
Written by Brittany Tucker.
Pictured above is one of the owners of Celebrate Life Funeral Services Ltd, Brittany Tucker.
How and why i transitioned from a wedding planner to a funeral home owner.
Hi, My name is Brittany, I am not usually the one who writes our blogs but I felt compelled to write this. I had come across an article on the Funeral One Blog titled:
What Funeral Directors Can (And Should) Learn From Wedding Planners
I felt that I could relate to it completely. Having owned my own wedding and event company for over 8 years, I feel that weddings and funerals are very similar in many ways.
Lets start from the beginning.... I had a beautiful little girl in 2008, I decided to stay home with her and not return to my job in the oilfield. After about 8 months I started looking into what jobs I could do that wouldn't take me away from my daughter and something that would be flexible for me and my families schedule.
I literally googled "Side jobs for stay at home moms". Two jobs popped up right away, Personal shopper and wedding planner. As much as I love shopping, I only like to shop for myself so the answer was obvious. Wedding planner, ironically a friend of mine was getting married around that time so I decided to give her a hand to "feel it out". Turns out I LOVED it and was actually very good. I have been known to be very organized and bossy, so I thought...I am going to be a perfect wedding planner.
We had this spare room in our home, it was lime green. I hated that room, but decided to make it into my new "Wedding planning office". I looked up different wedding planning websites, blogs and books and got started. I needed to come up with a name for my business, I googled wedding planners business names and couldn't find anything that I liked. One day I came up with "I Do" Wedding Planning, I thought I was so clever... Get it "I Do". Anyways, I went with it. "I Do" Wedding Planning. Done deal, I was going to be a wedding planner.
Moving forward I remember telling friends about my new business venture, I was so excited and looking forward to doing it. I heard from many people "who would pay someone to do their wedding, that is a stupid idea" I remember feeling slightly discouraged, but if you ask me what my motivation is? Spite and fear. So I went ahead and busted my tail and spent everyday trying to prove them wrong.
Fast forward 8 years, I was a full wedding planning, event planning and rental company. It had blown up. But I was ready for a change. I sold my company in early 2016 and decided to take time for myself and family. Being the person I am, I lasted not even 6 months and was back at it coming up with something I could do. My husband and I were talking about what I was going to do now, I joked and said I should be a Funeral Director. It is very similar to a wedding planner. With the sale of my business it stated I was no longer able to be a wedding planner in our community for competition purposes.
We were thinking of things our community needed, and a crematorium is something our community does not have. SO we did some research and seen the staggering statistics when it came to cremation and how it is on the rise. We knew it, that was it. We were opening a Funeral Home.
Fast forward again 2 years and here we are, We are now the proud owners of Celebrate Life Funeral Services Ltd. This year I will be starting my schooling to become a Licensed Funeral Director. :)
Since we have opened I have been working alongside our licensed staff and have learned so much about the funeral industry. As much as I respect the traditional funeral industry, I do see a need for some changes to be made. I have realized I alone CAN change the way people think and feel about our industry. How you ask??? Well, at our business we have an open door policy (but not all doors ;) we encourage people to stop by and see our facility. We have people that pop in for coffee after we have helped them with their loved one who has passed. I ask a client once..."Does coming back here remind you of that horrible time"? She replied "no, this place brings me comfort, I feel at peace when I come here" Boom! Mission accomplished. I know so many people who have gone through the process before we opened and they tell me they dread going back there. I remembered that when we opened up, and I vowed to myself I would change the way people feel here. It is like what Maya Angelou said... "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel."
Like weddings, I focused on the "Special Touches" for peoples services. I think it is so important to celebrate ones life. I have always been a sentimental person who thinks of great ways to remember someone so I have used that gift to incorporate into our business. I think that being a wedding planner for so long taught me to remain calm, be organized and gave me the ability to incorporate those talents into helping to organize some amazing celebrations of life.
I really could go on and on about our business and how I feel about everything, but statistics show most people who started reading this have already stopped because I went on a little longer then I should have.
I apologize in advance for my horrible grammar and punctuation, the spelling should be good as spell check is my best friend. I just decide to write this last minute as I read the article about Funeral Directors and Wedding Planners and it really did inspire me.
Here is the link the the article:
Hope you all enjoyed! Leave a question or comment :)
Wills - or the lack thereof - are many times the bone of contention for families when a loved one dies.
Who is responsible for taking care of the Funeral planning? Simply stated there is a legal order of priority.
I have a will.
I have a Will and have designated a Power of Attorney and Executor. Who will call the shots?
A Power of Attorney can make pre-need arrangements for you but cannot make at-need (after death) arrangements. The reason for this is that the Power of Attorney document becomes null and void at the time of your death.
Your Executor has responsibilities such as arranging the funeral, paying bills and settling the estate. After you die, your Executor is responsible for carrying out the wishes set out in your Will.
I'm married but my executor is not my spouse.
If you have a Will and have designated someone other than your spouse as your Executor, the Executor legally is entitled to decide (or carry out your wishes) for your funeral arrangements.
The only time the spouse is legally entitled to make these decisions is if you do not have a Will - the order of priority states next-of-kin will make these decisions if a Will and designated Executor is not made. Your spouse or interdependent partner are first on the list when it comes to order of priority after your Executor.
I am not married.
Whether it be that you were never married, you and your spouse are divorced or your spouse has passed on before you - order of priority states that any adult children that you have will become your next-of-kin. If you have multiple children, then your oldest child becomes the decision maker for your funeral arrangements. Any child who is to make funeral arrangements for you must be an adult.
I do not have a spouse or adult children.
If you never married (or you are divorced or your spouse has passed before you) and you did not have any children or your children are still too young - who would take care of your funeral arrangements?
Simply stated one of your parents. They can choose to make these decisions together or have only one of them make the decisions.
Who is next on the order of priority?
There are several other people listed on the order of priority if you do not have Will with an Executor, a spouse or partner, children or living parents.
Things get a little trickier if you do not have anyone left from the lists above.
make a will and pre-plan your funeral.
On the planning side, making a Will and designating an Executor should be first on your plan. Pre-paid funeral arrangements will decrease the amount of family disputes and eliminate the financial strain on all involved.
As an Executor or family member taking care of a loved one's funeral arrangements, keep in mind how much they would have wanted to spend on their arrangements and do your best to stick to their wishes.
You have experienced the loss of a loved one and are inundated with a wide variety of feelings and emotions.
You will need a support system to help you travel through your journey with grief. Family and friends will be there to support you along the way, but unless they have experienced a close personal loss they just won't "get it". That is where a grief counselor or support group become amazing resources.
What is a Bereavement counsellor or mentor?
When we lose something that we love, due to various reasons such as death, divorce, job loss, we lose a part of ourselves, of our identity. These losses can completely crumble our vision of the world and our place in it.
A Grief Mentor helps you navigate through these losses and find meaning again. Sometimes it can be difficult to work on your own "stuff" and having someone who's been there and understands the full process can really help you make sense of your new world.
A Grief counsellor or mentor works with you on a one-on-one basis which allows you to be fully open with your thoughts and feelings. Grief mentors help facilitate ways to learn how to cope with the stressors associated with the loss and manage symptoms with different tools and techniques.
What is a bereavement support group?
It is a group that meets regularly that consists of other people who have experienced the loss of a loved one. Bereavement support groups offer companionship and understanding from others who have gone through similar experiences.
In a culture that often discourages us from talking about our feelings, these support groups offer an opportunity to do so openly and guilt-free.
You will also hear other peoples stories, experiences and journeys through grief. Learning from others as to what worked for them for coping and hearing about different stages of their grief journey.
local support groups.
The Zenful Goddess saw a need for a Bereavement Support Group in the area and decided she would be the person to facilitate it. Kirsten - the Zenful Goddess - approached all local Funeral Homes about the group and it was well received as something that was very much needed in the area.
Kirsten wanted to provide a safe space where people could come together in their grief. A place where there is no such thing as age, gender, race, sexuality, or specific faith. A place where all those attending can feel connected to others through experiences and where everyone knows they are not alone in the journey through grief. These meetings are a place that surrounds all those who attend with love, compassion and empathy. These meetings are meant to be a place of hope.
The meetings will have different topics in each session, but remain flexible in case someone attending is really struggling and looking for guidance. The group will consist of people who are wanting or NEEDing to express the hurt in their hearts. By helping others through their grief, they will also begin to heal.
Everyone is free to attend one meeting or all of them. Each person will intuitively know what they need. This is why Kirsten did not want to make this a "program" - the group will be focused on talking, sharing and exploring different tools and strategies to help all involved move forward in life.
Ultimately Kirsten would like the Bereavement Support Group to be a beacon of light in the otherwise dark world of grief and mourning.
These groups will take place weekly on Thursday evenings starting at 7pm and will be hosted at the Celebrate Life Funeral Services office. You can contact us or Kirsten with any questions.
Check out the Zenful Goddess Facebook Page or Website for more information.
The most important thing is taking care of yourself. Whether you chose to seek the help of a support group or an individual one-on-one counsellor or mentor. Grief is a life long journey. Remember to continue to take the necessary steps to live a healthy, happy life.
What is grief in relation to love?
Quite often when people think of love they think of hearts, warmth and good things, but love is far more complicated than just that.
When you open yourself up to love, you also open yourself up to a wide range of emotions. One of those is grief. Grief can only exist where loved lived first.
You must have loved someone deeply to grieve their loss so intensely. When someone we love dies, grief takes over but the love for them continues on.
When we lose someone we love we must learn not to live without them, but to live with the love they left behind.
Grief is really just love. It's all the love you want to give but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.
Underneath the stress, frustration, anger, disappointment, despair, loneliness, guilt and sorrow - there is love. It may take a while to find it, but it is there.
You thought that things were progressing well for you, in dealing with your own personal grief, until a friend experiences a loss. Then, suddenly, you find yourself once again deeply reminded of your own emotional pain.
Sights, sounds and smells are also high on the trigger list. It's almost as if our senses are out there doing the searching for us.
The trick is to let these triggers become opportunities for you to continue to do your grief work, without making you miserable.
don't let someone else's grief become your own - and vise versa.
It’s very common that you hear someone else at a funeral sharing their own similar experience with a new griever, when, ideally, they should be focused on their friend’s need to share their story and feelings. Do not launch into your own grief story unless you sense that told gently and sensitively, it will offer something worth hearing. You may have to wait months or years for it to be useful to your friend. Remember, this is about your friend's needs and story, not yours.
Be there to help your friend, but remember to be a good caretaker you must also take care of yourself. Allow yourself to be happy and do not feel guilty for taking time away from your friends grief. Allow yourself time to deal with your own grief - whether it be for the same person your friend lost or grief that is coming back up due to the loss of someone else in your past.
how to deal with "triggers".
Do not run from your triggers. Instead learn to use them as a tool to work through your grief. Triggers will help you stay focused on your grief and will carry you into a deeper place of your grief journey than you could have ever done on your own. This is a good thing.
Use these triggers to remember your loved one and not the loss of them. Seeing a photograph or old piece of clothing can remind you that they are no longer here but can also bring you to a memory of good times together. Hearing their favorite song can remind you they are no longer able to enjoy the melody but can remind you to stop and enjoy the little things. Having someone walk by wearing their signature scent can bring tears to your eyes but those can be happy tears when you remember that they also used to wear WAY too much of it.
Learning to use your triggers to bring positivity to your journey through grief will no doubt put you on the right path.
grief has no end and is simply a path you must walk on.
You decide what that path will look like. Will you choose to pave the path with good memories or will you go down the dark path of grief that only leads you back to the past.
Hang in there. You are not alone in this journey through grief. You will not always feel this way. The overall message is that grief does not need to be a crippling destructive force in our lives - you will learn to use the triggers for good.
IT IS THE CAPACITY TO FEEL CONSUMING GRIEF AND PAIN AND DESPAIR, THAT ALSO ALLOWS ME TO EMBRACE LOVE AND JOY AND BEAUTY WITH MY WHOLE HEART. I MUST LET IT ALL IN.
the heroine author talks about her battle with grief
For those of you who may not know Cheryl Hunter - she is a super talented lady from Bonnyville. Cheryl is an Author and Motivational Speaker who has most recently published her first book "Heroine".
Here is her Bio:
We've been continuing on our journey through grief and hoped she would have something to contribute.
Here is her story:
Feeling is Dealing
Slow punishing rhythms of sorrow
Please someone's fertility can I borrow
One moment I'm brave and strong
The next I swear life is all wrong
So grateful and yet so torn
I need to allow myself to mourn
How does that look
Waves of emotion cutting me like a jagged hook
I am exposed. Open for the world to see
Please God allow my pain to set me free
Send a wave of love and constant peace to rescue me
We often talk about how to deal with grief. Follow these set steps to find your way through the dark…
Grief is universal. It affects everyone – Every age, race, gender, and group. It doesn't discriminate. We all at some point face it and either we surrender to it or it will it swallow us like a continuous wave.
How to deal with grief? That question is so complex. Though grief is universal, everyone deals with it in their own unique way.
So, is there a right way to grieve and move on? Instead of providing a few steps on how one could cope and deal to move past their grief, I am going to offer a different perspective - How to feel grief.
I'm a person who was always taught to move on. To have a cry and then rise above. Look to the bright side. See the glass half full and don't focus on the pain. I do think that's good at a certain point in the process, but we are missing the key part of the whole healing journey if we don't teach people how to feel.
As a teenager, I lost my home to a fire. My dad faked his death in my twenties and later I survived three horrific miscarriages. I know grief intimately. It's been my biggest nemesis and my greatest teacher.
I spent years "trying" to deal with my grief. And to no avail I was still drowning in the waves of agony. I had to come to the realization that in order to truly heal, I had to feel the deep-rooted despair.
I'm learning to sense the pain and let it consume me. Let it take hold and honour whatever emotion arises to the surface. It's ok to feel it. It's safe to fully grieve. It’s what your mind, body, and soul need to heal from that pain.
From my own experience, if you keep pushing those emotions down deeper and deeper - You become your own prison. The worst prisons are the ones you don't even know you are in. That is grief. It's a silent killer and it will rot you from the inside out if you don't allow yourself to feel it and heal from it.
Cry. Yell. Scream. Be still-Feel it. Let it out so it doesn't take root.
I never truly felt the misery and the loss from watching my home burn to the ground. My home was no longer safe. After that, I was face to face with depression in my family and the sadness that slowly strangled my household pushed me deeper into grief. I thought I was dealing with my pain by simply moving forward each day but in fact I just pushed it further down. Then miscarriage after miscarriage happened and I couldn’t shove it any further. It started to overflow. Grief seeped out of my pores. I spent 20 years in that prison and I was shackled to the sorrow. I needed to break free. One day I had an epiphany. “I need to feel it to truly heal and to let it go.”
My story isn’t to tell you how to grieve and how to move on but rather how to touch it and let it devour you. Let yourself feel it with all your being and all your senses. Let it flow through you. Let the sorrow be introduced to your soul. It’s so needed for the healing process. Yet we try to deny that step. Is it torture? Yes. But I promise you it’s freedom. On the other side of the pain is healing. It’s from that pain you progress. You just need to feel it for a moment in time and then allow yourself to move through it. By feeling and dealing you will arise through the ashes and emerge stronger because you allowed the pain to increase your depth and grit.
Because once you realize if you stop fighting the waves, you will float to the top and breathe again.
You have led a prison break.