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…

Creating a Meaningful Funeral with 7 Important Elements

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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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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…

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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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…

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?

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 can be difficult to navigate if essential needs and feelings are not tended to appropriately.

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.