Grieving the “Firsts” After a Loss

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The first year without your loved one can be very difficult, especially as milestones approach. First Valentine’s Day. First birthday. Christmas. The anniversary of your loved one’s passing. Each of…

What is the Average Cost of a Funeral?

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Similar to a wedding, a funeral is a very significant event, commemorated by a gathering of family and friends and a ceremony, followed by a reception. The funeral fulfills a…

Quick Start Resource Guide: Planning a Funeral

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First of all, if you have recently lost a loved one, you have our sincerest sympathies. If your loved one completed funeral prearrangement plans, contact the funeral home they partnered…

Getting Your Affairs in Order

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Getting your documents organized can seem like a daunting task. Maybe you’ve considered organizing all the necessary documents and making all the right calls, but you just aren’t quite sure…

12 Tips for Loving the Grieving During the Christmas Season

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It’s Christmas time. Twinkling lights are going up, parties are being planned, and cookies and treats galore are baking in ovens across the nation. But even as happy tidings are…

A Christmas Playlist for the Grieving Heart

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The Christmas season can be especially difficult for those who are grieving. Many Christmas songs are lighthearted, happy, and discuss themes of romantic love, family, or joyfulness. But maybe you…

How Family Interviews Can Make Your Thanksgiving Memorable

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Thanksgiving is about reflection, remembrance, gratitude, and time spent with loved ones. Too often, we take our time on earth for granted, and before we are ready, a loved one…

Foreground: American flag backlit by the sun. Background: a grouping of American flags.

Does the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Pay for a Veteran’s Funeral?

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How much do you really know about Veterans’ Burial Benefits? Do you know how much the VA will pay toward a veteran’s funeral? Do you know which benefits you or…

Group of five men and women sitting at a table, making plans

5 Unique Venues for a Celebration of Life Service

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“People who take the time and make the effort to create meaningful funeral arrangements when someone loved dies…emerge changed, more authentic and purposeful. The best funerals remind us how we…

Young woman, breathing deeply, face toward the sun

Wildfires and Floods: 5 Keys to Resilience After Loss

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Wildfires rage in California. Floods have devastated cities. As disasters seem to strike at every turn, men, women, and children have no choice but to leave behind life the way…

5 Ways to Spread Awareness and Hope in the Fight Against Breast Cancer

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. If you are currently battling breast cancer, if you know someone who is battling breast cancer, if you know and love a breast cancer…

Mourning as a Community in the Face of Tragedy

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Senseless. Horrifying. Heartbreaking. No word can capture the depth of emotion sweeping across the nation after Sunday’s church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas. This comes much too soon after the…

How to Write a Great Epitaph for a Gravestone

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An epitaph is an inscription on a tomb or a gravestone that honors the memory of a deceased person. The use of epitaphs can be traced to the ancient Egyptians. Epitaphs…

6 Things You Should Never Say to a Grieving Person

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6 Things You Should Never Say to a Grieving Person Words are powerful. They have the power to hurt or heal. But sometimes we say things that we think offer…

Natural Disasters and Hurricane Maria: How Grief Can Help Us to Help Others

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What does it mean to grieve during a natural disaster? What opportunities does grief provide for helping others in need? In the wake of recent natural disasters that have caused…

Grief and Loss in the Wake of Hurricanes

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Natural disasters like recent hurricanes in our coastal areas and fires in the Northwest are devastating to all who are in the path of destruction. Loss of life from flood…

How to Write a Great Obituary

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After the loss of a loved one, family members are often overwhelmed by all of the decisions that have to be made in the midst of their grief. One of…

9/11: Grief and Remembrance

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It’s been 16 years since the devastating terrorist attacks of 9/11. On September 11, 2001, two planes hit the World Trade Center in New York City and one plane crashed…

The Value of Ceremony: Caring for the Living and the Dead

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“Show me the manner in which a nation or a community cares for its dead. I will measure exactly the sympathies of its people, their respect for the laws of…

Grief at Work: Helping an Employee or Coworker After a Loss

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When we think of grief, we often think in terms of how it will affect us, our family members, or our closest friends. But grief hits everyone, and it undoubtedly…

Top 10 Poems for a Funeral Ceremony

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Readings are a great way to enrich a funeral ceremony. As Dr. Wolfelt tells us, readings are an important element of the service because they speak to “word people,” help…

Dealing with Grief in the Aftermath of Suicide

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The 21st century has seen a significant rise in suicide rates. Nearly 45,000 American lives are lost to suicide every year, making it the 10th leading cause of death in…

7 Popular Sympathy Flowers and Their Meanings

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Sympathy flowers are a great way to show support to a family that is grieving the loss of a loved one. As Dr. Alan Wolfelt tells us, symbols such as…

Top 10 Hymns for a Funeral Ceremony

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Music is an important element of a funeral ceremony because it helps us to process feelings that are difficult to put into words. As Dr. Alan Wolfelt tells us, music…

What is a Gathering?

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Also known as a post-funeral reception, the gathering is a final opportunity to experience community with others and to offer support before returning home. The gathering allows friends to strengthen…

“A Clear Midnight”

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“A Clear Midnight”   by Walt Whitman This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless, Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson…

“Death, Be Not Proud”

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“Death, Be Not Proud” by John Donne Death, be not proud, though some have called thee Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so; For those whom thou think’st thou…

“The Road Not Taken”

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“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked…

“Requiem”

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“Requiem” by Robert Louis Stevenson Under the wide and starry sky Dig the grave and let me lie: Glad did I live and gladly die, And I laid me down…

“If I Can Stop One Heart from Breaking”

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“If I Can Stop One Heart from Breaking” by Emily Dickinson If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain; If I can ease one…

“Success”

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“Success” By Bessie Anderson Smith* He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much; who has enjoyed the trust of pure women, the respect of intelligent…

Psalm 23

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Psalm 23 David, The Book of Psalms (KJV) The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside…

Honoring our Veterans on Independence Day

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This fourth of July, many will gather for swim parties, burger grilling, and firework displays. We do these things because we want to reflect the American spirit on the day…

Grief and Professional Help: When to Consider Therapy

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Grief is normal. It hurts to lose someone dear to you, and it makes sense to acknowledge this pain. Everybody must go through a grieving process when losing a loved…

Technology and Your Grief Journey

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The technological developments of the 21st century have touched every aspect of lives, and the ways in which we deal with loss and cope with grief are transforming. The rise…

Building a Legacy

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Making a Difference We all want to leave our fingerprints on the world. When we reflect on our mortality, we inevitably find ourselves wondering how we want to be remembered…

Living Better: Positive Psychology and Health

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Positive Thinking Want to feel younger and healthier? Being happy may help. Studies suggest that positive thinking can significantly improve physical and mental health. It’s not always easy to view…

What Two Funerals for One Elderly Woman Can Teach Funeral Directors

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By Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D. Dr. Alan Wolfelt has long talked about the “whys” of funeral rituals, why they are important to families. His latest book addresses the “hows,” how…

How to Select a Casket

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Casket Selection If you decide on a traditional burial for you or your loved one, the next important decision that you will need to make is determining the type of…

Dealing With Grief on Father’s Day

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Father’s Day is almost here, and if you have recently lost a father or child, Father’s Day can be a particularly painful time of year. Fathers fill an irreplaceable role…

Top 10 Songs for a Funeral Ceremony

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Music and Ceremony Music can be a powerful component of the funeral ceremony because it allows us to process our feelings in a very special way. Grief counselor and educator…

The Paradoxes of Mourning Part 3 of 3: Backtracking on the Route to Healing

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By Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt Paradox 3: Mourners must go backward before they can go forward. A paradox is a seemingly self-contradictory statement or situation that is in fact often…

Honoring our Fallen Soldiers on Memorial Day

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Memorial Day Memorial Day is just around the corner. You might use the holiday as an opportunity to grab a hot dog, plop down in a lawn chair, and settle…

Grief and Loss in the Digital Age

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Is There Room for Technology in the Funeral Profession? People often associate funeral homes with tradition, order, and family values. When they think of technology, they think innovation, variety, and…

Selecting and Installing a Grave Marker

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We all have a need to memorialize those who have gone before us. For thousands of years, humans have used memorials to commemorate important people and events. By choosing a…

Managing Your Digital Estate

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Digital Assets The Information Age has complicated the process of end-of-life planning. Not only do we need to focus on planning the funeral and dividing up our estate among our…

The Paradoxes of Mourning Part 2 of 3: The Dark Night of the Soul

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By Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D. Paradox 2: Mourners must make friends with the darkness before they can enter the light. A paradox is a seemingly self-contradictory statement or situation that…

The Paradoxes of Mourning Part 1 of 3: Creating Hello Opportunities

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By Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt Paradox 1: Families must say hello before they can say goodbye A paradox is a seemingly self-contradictory statement or situation that is in fact often…

Sorting Through a Loved One’s Possessions

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If you have lost a loved one, you may find yourself dreading the day when you have to dispose of your loved one’s favorite shirt or the books on the…

Crafting a Eulogy

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What is a Eulogy? A eulogy is a speech given at a funeral that celebrates the life of a loved one. It comes from the Greek word eulogia, which means…

Developing Your Advance Care Directive

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What is an Advance Care Directive? An advance care directive (ACD), also known as an advance healthcare directive (AHD), ensures that your medical wishes will be followed when you are…

Celebrating World Poetry Day: How Poetry Can Help You on Your Grief Journey

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World Poetry Day While you may not know it, today is World Poetry Day, which provides us with a great opportunity to talk about the important role that poetry can…

Finding Meaning in St. Patrick’s Day

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The Rituals You know the drill. On March 17th, you’ll put on our greenest attire in honor of St. Patty’s Day, maybe catch a parade, and celebrate the luck of…

Mourning at the Movies: Manchester by the Sea and the Academy Awards

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It’s Oscar time again. On Sunday, February 26, all of the glitter and glamour and pomp and splendor will be on full display. This year, one of the leading films…

Funeral Etiquette Infographic

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This infographic shares basic funeral etiquette guidelines for attending a funeral and supporting a friend after a loss.

Why Plan Ahead Infographic

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This infographic shares important information and statistics on planning ahead for funeral wishes.

What is a Memorial Service?

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A memorial service is similar to a funeral service in many ways. The main difference is that at a funeral, the body is present as a focal point for the…

Writing Your Will: How to Avoid Common Pitfalls

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This story is all too common. A parent dies without a legal will, and the adult children must face not only their grief, but the headache of moving the estate…

What Is Embalming?

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Embalming is the process of temporarily preserving a body for public viewing or transportation. The main function of embalming is to provide an opportunity for the bereaved family and friends…

Coping with Grief on Valentine’s Day

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Valentine’s Day can be a beautiful opportunity to celebrate your relationships, whether your loved ones are here with you or whether they have been gone for some time. For those…

How Do Actions Help us Heal?

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In this video, Dr. Wolfelt examines some of the actions that help make a ceremony more special and meaningful. Elements of action bring meaning to the people involved in the…

The Importance of Symbols

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In this video, Dr. Wolfelt talks about the value of symbols during a time of loss. Symbols Convey Love When words are inadequate, we often use symbols that express our…

How do Readings Enhance the Funeral Experience?

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In this video, Dr. Wolfelt discusses the purpose of readings in a funeral setting. Group readings contribute to the service in meaningful ways: Speak to “Word People” A good funeral…

What is the Hierarchy of Needs After Losing a Loved One?

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Dr. Wolfelt has spent decades studying across cultures and age groups to discover the universal purposes that funerals serve. He has concluded that the funeral serves six functions, and that…

What is the Difference Between Grief and Mourning?

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In this video, Dr. Wolfelt discusses the difference between grief and mourning, two terms that are often conflated. Grief is Internal  While they are often used interchangeably, the words grief…

The 6 Needs of Mourning

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In this video, Dr. Wolfelt explains the six “yield signs,” or needs that a person has when a loved one dies. Funerals are rites of initiation that help people to…

The Paradoxes of Mourning

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In this video, Dr. Wolfelt provides three different lenses through which we can view the process of grief and the movement from pain to acceptance. Hello Before Goodbye Throughout history,…

Why Should the Body Be Present?

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In this video, Dr. Wolfelt discusses the importance of the body and shows how having the “guest of honor” present contributes to a healthy and healing funeral service. Acknowledging the…

Why Include Special Music in a Funeral Ceremony?

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In this video, Dr. Wolfelt talks about the role that music plays in allowing you to process your feelings about a loved one’s passing. The Inadequacy of Words Music is…

What Is a Eulogy?

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In this video, Dr. Wolfelt discusses how the eulogy allow us to process grief in a healthy and meaningful way: Recalls the Life The eulogy is a period of remembrance….

What is the Difference Between a Celebration of Life and a Party?

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In this video, Dr. Wolfelt discusses the important role that grief plays in the funeral ceremony. Celebrating a Life Our culture encourages us to avoid sad or painful feelings. This…

Will a Funeral Bring Closure?

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In this video, Dr. Wolfelt dispels the popular notion that a funeral is an opportunity for closure. A Rite of Initiation In recent years, there has been a tendency to…

What is the Purpose of a Funeral Procession?

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In this video, Dr. Wolfelt discusses the important function of the funeral procession and the impact that it has on the family and the broader community. Honoring the Loved One…

What Are the Elements of a Meaningful Funeral?

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In this video, Dr. Wolfelt discusses the heart graphic that he has created as a tool that outlines the elements of the funeral. The Hierarchy To convey the value of…

Why Have a Visitation?

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Having a visitation or viewing prior to the funeral ceremony can be of great value to a bereaved family. In this video, Dr. Wolfelt shows the history of visitations and…

Grieving During the Holiday Season

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The absence of a loved one during the holidays can bring extremely painful feelings to the surface. Just as you’ve found your groove in a “new normal,” the holidays come…

Why Do We Have Funerals?

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Dr. Wolfelt explains why we have had funerals since the beginning of time and the role that the funeral plays in a grieving person’s healing journey. Dr. Wolfelt shares the 6 needs that a meaningful funeral can help to meet for a family.

Funeral Etiquette

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A funeral is an emotional time for a lost loved one’s family and friends. If you have been invited to attend a funeral, it is helpful to know proper funeral etiquette. Keep in mind that as culture has evolved, so have funerals and funeral etiquette. Traditional services are at times being replaced by more informal celebrations of life. So when no two services are identical, how do you know what etiquette is expected?

What Are My Burial Options?

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Burial traditions across many cultures have one thing in common—that a permanent resting place is essential for honoring and remembering loved ones. When considering burial options for yourself or a…

Rituals and Traditions that Help Us Heal

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Traditions and rituals help us to express our deepest thoughts and about life’s most significant events. Special ceremonies like graduations, weddings, and baby dedications involve traditions and rituals that help…

Grieving Well During the Halloween Season

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As the seasons change, you may begin to see Halloween décor pop up all around your neighborhood. Spider webs and tombstones, skeletons and caution tape, and all manner of ghouls…

What Is Green Burial?

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Green burials have become increasingly popular in recent years. Founded on the belief that death care practices shouldn’t be harmful to the environment, green, or natural, burials aim to leave…

What Should I Know When Considering Cremation?

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How Cremation Works Cremation is the process of using high temperatures and evaporation to reduce a body to its most basic elements. With cremation, the body is placed in a…

What You Need to Know about Anatomical Donation

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What Does it Mean to Be an Organ Donor and a Whole Body Donor? Anatomical donation typically refers to the donation of the whole body to medical or scientific research….

Medicaid Qualification Rules and How to Spend Down With a Burial Plan

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If you need to qualify for Medicaid coverage for long term care, you may be trying to think of smart ways to spend down your assets. Burial plans can be set up as exempt assets so that they are not counted when applying for Medicaid coverage. This way, you are able to preserve some assets that your family will need one day.

What You Need to Know About Veterans’ Burial Benefits

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Many veterans and their families are uninformed about the burial benefits they can expect to receive at the time of death. Some veterans assume that Veterans Affairs (VA) will pay…

What Are My Burial Benefits as a Veteran?

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When a veteran dies, the surviving spouse may receive a Veterans Administration allowance as partial reimbursement for an eligible veteran’s burial/cremation and funeral costs. The benefit is higher if the…

Veterans’ Burial Benefits Checklist

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As a veteran, you can ensure that you and your family receive the burial benefits you are entitled to with a little advance planning. Below is a checklist to assist…

Veterans’ Burial Benefits FAQ

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What are my burial benefits as a veteran? The VA offers burial benefits for eligible veterans, their spouses, and their dependent children. The VA offers eligible veterans a burial space…

Funeral Planning Checklist

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If you want to plan ahead for your funeral wishes or plan a funeral for a loved one, the checklist below will help you in making important decisions:

Social Security Benefits

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When a loved one dies, there are certain things you need to know about survivor’s benefits. You should immediately contact the local Social Security Office and apply for survivor’s benefits…

Help Your Family Heal After Loss

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One of the hardest experiences of one’s life is losing a loved one. Families can experience devastation, confusion, guilt, and regret after a loved one passes. The road to healing can be difficult to navigate if essential needs and feelings are not tended to appropriately.

Should I Have a Funeral?

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A meaningful funeral can be beneficial in helping surviving family members process their emotions about a loss. According to an article in Psychology Today by Russell Friedman, grief expert, author,…

What Makes a Funeral Meaningful?

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If you are wondering how to plan a final celebration that is meaningful and that expresses the individuality of the person who died, then here are a few ideas to create an especially healing funeral tribute.

How to Make a Funeral More Personal

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Each person deserves a final ceremony that is as unique as their individual life. These ceremonies should reflect the person’s unique personality and honor the memories they made during their lifetime. Here are a few ways you can create a personalized final farewell celebration.

Why Plan Ahead for Funeral Wishes?

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You plan for everything in life — birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, vacations, homes, retirement, and much more. Why shouldn’t you also plan for final wishes? While no one likes to think about their own demise, the fact remains that one day, your family will need to make dozens of hard decisions to arrange for your final life

How to Get Started With Planning

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Planning ahead for your final wishes is simple and only takes about an hour to complete. There are three basic steps to creating a healing and meaningful funeral plan that will help your family cope with your loss on one of the hardest days of their lives.

How to Save Money with Funeral Planning

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According to the latest national statistics from the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), the average cost of a funeral has increased by 29% in a ten-year period, from $6,580 in…

Protecting Your Funeral Funds

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There are many ways to take care of the financial aspect of a funeral in advance. However, not all payment methods are created equal. Each method has its own risks and benefits, so it is up to you to decide which payment method is right for you.

Dealing with Grief on Mother’s Day

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Mother’s Day is a special day to honor the mothers who have done so much for us. But Mother’s Day is often a very difficult time for two sets of…