How to Personalize a Funeral When an Infant Dies

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“Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.” – A.A. Milne Losing an infant or a small child is one of the most difficult situations to…

Creating Memorial Keepsakes with Funeral Flowers

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One way that extended family, friends, and co-workers show their love and support in times of loss is by sending flowers and condolences to the grieving family. By offering a…

The 6 Purposes of a Funeral

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No matter how far back you look in history, you will find evidence of funeral rituals. Within us, we have an innate need to honor, respect, and remember those who…

Exploring Your Release Ceremony Options

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Losing a loved one creates a painful hole in our hearts that we often don't know how to fill. However, through the process of grief and mourning, we can come…

Life Lessons Children Can Learn at Funerals

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Death and funerals are an inescapable part of life. It’s hard to know what to do when our children encounter death for the first time. As much as we would…

Do Funerals Still Matter?

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We have had funerals since the beginning of time. No matter which culture you research, you will find evidence of funeral rites and traditions. Though the specific customs may have…

The Importance of a Memorial Tribute Video

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“The death of someone loved changes our lives forever. And the movement from the ‘before’ to the ‘after’ is almost always a long, painful journey. From my own experiences with loss…

Should a Funeral Be Efficient or Effective?

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At some point in life, we’ve all attended a funeral or memorial service that seems to leave us feeling empty or numb. Why? Usually, it has to do with whether…

5 Meaningful Actions to Personalize a Funeral

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Throughout history, many things have changed, but one thing that has endured is the funeral ceremony. At some level deep down, we all know that a funeral is important. It’s…

Cremation and the Importance of Ceremony

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Cremation is a rapidly growing trend in the United States, with just over 50% of those who died in 2016 selecting cremation for their final disposition. However, many families who…

6 Ways to Personalize a Funeral

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A funeral, though a time of mourning, can still be filled with celebration and remembrance. It’s a time to honor the one who has died but also an opportunity to…

What To Do When Dad Dies

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First of all, you have our sincerest sympathies on the loss for your father. Dads are special people - irreplaceable and worth remembering. If your dad completed funeral prearrangement plans,…

What To Do When Mom Dies

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First of all, you have our sincerest sympathies on the loss for your mother. Moms are special people - irreplaceable and worth remembering. If your mom completed funeral prearrangement plans,…

The Healing Power of Ritual

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Throughout our lives, we participate in rituals. In some cases, we may not even know that we are taking part in a ritual. At weddings, we toss the bouquet. And…

7 Elements of a Healing and Meaningful Funeral

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The Elements of a Meaningful Funeral Service “People who take the time and make the effort to create meaningful funeral arrangements when someone loved dies often end up making new…

Top 12 Country Songs for a Celebration of Life Service

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“A good country music song takes a page out of somebody’s life and puts music to it.” – Conway Twitty According to well-known grief expert, counselor, and author Dr. Alan…
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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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

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While you may not know it, March 21st is World Poetry Day, which provides us with a great opportunity to talk about the important role that poetry can play in…

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.

How Do Actions Help Us Heal?

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https://youtu.be/ipTOzgAzmXI 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 Importance of Symbols

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https://youtu.be/sDlrNU6rKW4 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…

How do Readings Enhance the Funeral Experience?

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https://youtu.be/du6v2Y3wSkM 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…

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

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https://youtu.be/efv8QYwNGiY 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…

What is the Difference Between Grief and Mourning?

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https://youtu.be/1V8i2ErSfZk In this video, Dr. Wolfelt discusses the difference between grief and mourning, two terms often conflated. Grief is Internal While they are often used interchangeably, the words grief and…

The 6 Needs of Mourning

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https://youtu.be/RLM9-v80kpA 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…

The Paradoxes of Mourning

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https://youtu.be/6vzKpccesg8 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…

Why Should the Body Be Present?

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https://youtu.be/tHQPj-bl5AY 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…

Why Include Special Music in a Funeral Ceremony?

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https://youtu.be/mtnumSLYzo0 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…

What is a Eulogy?

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https://www.youtube.com/embed/iXAL_5hOTTw 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…

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

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https://youtu.be/3G8f5lX9MFE 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.…

Will a Funeral Bring Closure?

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https://youtu.be/6Xj1aV7jJJY 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…

What is the Purpose of a Funeral Procession?

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https://youtu.be/KhTSBN2Apv8?rel=0 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…

What Are the Elements of a Meaningful Funeral?

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https://youtu.be/eQxJlLdld3E In this video, Dr. Wolfelt discusses the heart graphic that he created as a tool to outline the elements of the funeral. The Hierarchy To convey the value of…

Why Have a Visitation?

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https://youtu.be/H51f2bBLsnM 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…

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…

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…

Rituals and Traditions that Help Us Heal

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

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…

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…

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…