Dickens on Grief

In 1862, Charles Dickens’s younger sister, Letitia, lost her husband of twenty-five years. In a letter from early October of that year, found in The Letters of Charles Dickens, he envelops Letitia with equal parts compassionate consolation and a call to psychoemotional arms:

“I do not preach consolation because I am unwilling to preach at any time, and know my own weakness too well. But in this world there is no stay but the hope of a better, and no reliance but on the mercy and goodness of God. Through those two harbours of a shipwrecked heart, I fully believe that you will, in time, find a peaceful resting-place even on this careworn earth. Heaven speed the time, and do you try hard to help it on! It is impossible to say but that our prolonged grief for the beloved dead may grieve them in their unknown abiding-place, and give them trouble. The one influencing consideration in all you do as to your disposition of yourself (coupled, of course, with a real earnest strenuous endeavour to recover the lost tone of spirit) is, that you think and feel you can do. . . . I rather hope it is likely that through such restlessness you will come to a far quieter frame of mind. The disturbed mind and affections, like the tossed sea, seldom calm without an intervening time of confusion and trouble.

But nothing is to be attained without striving. In a determined effort to settle the thoughts, to parcel out the day, to find occupation regularly or to make it, to be up and doing something, are chiefly to be found the mere mechanical means which must come to the aid of the best mental efforts.”

Northern Indiana Funeral Care offers additional resources for coping with grief.

Let’s Talk

My name is Mona Lane. I’ve been helping families with Advance Planning for the past 18 years.

Today I’d like to share my thoughts on Communication. Ugh, I know. Who wants to hear: “We need to talk.”? No one.

I’ve experienced a couple issues regarding communication this week. Just in case I may have forgotten what the word means I looked it up (on Google).

The imparting or exchanging of information or news.

Means of connection between people or places, in particular.

In my work in Advance Planning I spend a lot of time trying to find people to impart information to. I do this in dozens of ways every week. It is probably the worst part of the work, for me any way. It is solitary. I am excited every day about what I do and how I can help. The struggle to find someone to share that with is real. For a few precious hours this week I was in the presence of people that were glad to meet with me and were hungry for the information I could share. We laughed, we had fun, they learned new funeral or cremation things, and through that they were able to decide what they wanted for themselves and their families.

I am an expert in a field that many are hesitant to discuss. I get it. Really.

“We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.” – Anon

My suggestion is for all of us to better communicate with those we love, and also to communicate your wishes for your funeral and or cremation with someone like me. I promise not to talk at you when we meet. I will always strive for an exchange of information and a connection that will make the whole process more enjoyable…for both of us.

“Death is not the opposite of life, but a part of it.” – Anon

Feel free to contact me with questions about Advance Planning. (260)466-3465.

Please visit our website at: www.northernindianafunercare.com. Take a look around, notice our A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, our local ownership, the endorsements from the American Legion Department of Indiana and the Fort Wayne Professional Firefighters Union.

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses!

My name is Mona Lane. I’ve been helping families with Advance Planning for the past 18 years.

The profession I’ve chosen, or has chosen me, has made me a collector of sorts. I collect interesting stories about interesting chararacters. My collection of excuses is pretty grand as well. I’ll share a few with you. My responses are in italics.

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I’m too busy.
Busy doing what? Usually there is no answer. Because they aren’t.

I have a doctor’s appointment next week.
There are 5 days next week. How about one of the other 4?

I’m not ready.
What does ready look like? What does ready feel like? How will you know?

I’m not sure what I want.
That’s why we need to meet. I’m a wealth of funeral information. Ask me anything!

I want to talk to my kids first.
Your kids don’t really want to talk about this. My kids didn’t. Your kids would love
to hear you say you’ve taken care of this so they don’t have to.

I can’t afford it.
You don’t know how much it is yet. Wouldn’t it be helpful to know?

Isn’t it kind of morbid to talk about my death?
We won’t be talking about your death, or the dying part. We’ll be talking about
the services your family would like and the costs of those services.

No need to meet. I told my family to put me in a garbage bag and put it at the curb.
Well, then someone has to go to jail. Are you sure that’s what you want?

And my favorite….

I’m not dead yet.
Thank goodness because I’m not a funeral director!

What’s your excuse?

Please consider Advance Planning for yourself. Feel free to contact me at (260)466-3465 or email me at monalane@outlook.com with questions. I’m here to help.  Or visit us online at NorthernIndianaFuneralCare.com.

Benefits of Exercise in Coping with Grief

It takes you outside of your head. If you look around you, at the natural setting, or the others in the gym, you see something bigger than you and your individual pain.

It can restore a sense of control. Grief is a mystery; it moves at its own pace and it can be hard to see progress. However, exercise can give you a sense of mastery and confidence.

There are physical benefits. Exercise releases endorphins which can increase your sense of well-being.

It is perfect for the “instrumental” griever. Instrumental grievers are “head-oriented” and don’t want to talk about their feelings. They are more “task-oriented” in their grief process. They want something to do.

It is perfect for the “intuitive” griever. Intuitive grievers are more “heart-oriented.” For them, exercise can provide a way to connect with others and have a sense of community.

A memorial exercise activity has additional benefits. By running or walking in memory of a loved one, you are creating a positive legacy. You are also connecting to the community, which can reduce feelings of isolation so often felt in grief.

Burial vs. Cremation

The rate of cremation has surpassed that of burial in 2015 according to a report released today by the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA). The 2016 NFDA Cremation and Burial Report: Research, Statistics and Projections features statistics and in-depth analysis of consumer attitudes toward cremation. NFDA is the world’s leading and largest association representing funeral professionals.

According to the 2015 data in the report, the rate of cremation is projected to be 48.5 percent and the rate of burial is projected to be 45.4 percent.

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“Funeral professionals have been serving families that prefer cremation for years,” said NFDA President Bob Arrington, CCO. “To us and the families we serve, cremation isn’t just a ‘trend.’ Whether a family chooses cremation or burial, funeral directors want to help families understand the many options they have to commemorate the life of their loved one. And, whether that family prefers a funeral, memorial service, a celebration of life or some other life tribute, funeral directors will be there to offer support and guidance to make their loved one’s service a meaningful and healing experience.”

He continued, “The 2016 NFDA Cremation and Burial Report will help our members understand consumer needs preferences so we can better support the families we serve.”

In addition to statistical information for the United States and countries around the world for which reliable data is available, the 2016 NFDA Cremation and Burial Report also contains data about consumer perceptions of end-of-life ceremonies and cremation.

There are many reasons why consumers choose cremation, including cost considerations, environmental concerns, fewer religious prohibitions and changing consumer preferences.

Many families who choose cremation also commemorate their loved one’s life. More than one-third (36.6 percent) associate cremation with a memorial service and 10.4 percent associate cremation with a viewing and funeral. Only 7.4 percent do not associate cremation with any kind of service at all.

New in the report this year is cremation and burial data for Canada. For 2015, the rate of cremation is 65.5 percent and that of burial is 33.2 percent. The rate of cremation is expected to grow to 89.4 percent by 2035.

http://connectingdirectors.com/articles/48504-2016-nfda-cremation-and-burial-report-released-rate-of-cremation-surpasses-that-of-burial-in-2015

Can I transfer my pre-arranged funeral plan?

As a general rule you may transfer your pre-arranged funeral plan from one funeral provider to another. However, laws of individual states govern the prepayment of funeral goods and services; various states have laws to help ensure that these advance payments are available to pay for the funeral products and services when they’re needed. But protections vary widely from state to state. We are knowledgeable about the laws in Indiana. We are happy to freely review them with you and offer you our advice, guidance and assistance. We will gladly accepts all pre-arranged funeral plan transfers from other funeral homes and we can very likely save you up to 40%.

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Simply gather all the prearranged funeral contract documents you have in your possession and meet with one of our preplanning specialists who will thoroughly review your plans with you. Upon review, we are happy to offer you our counsel on what the next steps need to be. All our services in this regard are free of charge. It is our goal to make this process as simple and hassle free as possible.

Call Northern Indiana Funeral Care today at (260) 456-0890 for information and assistance in transferring your pre-arranged funeral plan.

Burial Vaults

While no laws require burial vaults, there is a general public perception that they are required. This is because most cemeteries have a policy of using vaults. There are good reasons for using concrete and steel burial vaults. They make it easy to locate a grave so as not to disturb human remains when digging an adjacent grave. Vaults prevent grave collapse that does simplify maintenance, but more importantly, avoids a dangerous situation while digging graves with a tractor.

Outer burial containers meet the needs of cemeteries by providing protection again grave collapse but they are not lined or sealed and provide no protection from the elements.

Contact us at Northern Indiana Funeral Care with any questions you might have about burial vaults or funerals in general.  It’s our pleasure to help!  Call (260) 456-0890 and ask to speak to one of our Advance Planning specialists.

Funeral Costs

Since the 1960s, National Funeral Directors Association has calculated the median cost of a funeral with viewing and burial by totaling the costs of the following items: basic services fee, removal/transfer of remains to funeral home, embalming and other preparation of the body (casketing, cosmetology, dressing and grooming), a metal casket, use of facilities and staff for viewing and a funeral ceremony, use of a hearse, use of a service car/van, and a basic memorial printed package (e.g., memorial cards, register book, etc.).

The national median cost of a funeral with viewing and burial for calendar year 2014 was $7,181. If a vault is included, something that is typically required by a cemetery, the median cost is $8,508. The cost does not take into account cemetery, monument or marker costs or miscellaneous cash-advance charges, such as for flowers or an obituary.

Over the past decade, the median cost of an adult funeral in the United States has increased 28.6 percent. This is similar to the 2000-2009 period when the median cost of a funeral increased by 26.6 percent. The percent increase during the 1980s (1980-1989) was significantly higher (87 percent), reflecting the significantly higher inflation rates during that decade – See more at: http://www.nfda.org/news/statistics#sthash.XsOJsT22.dpuf

At Northern Indiana Funeral Care, our complete Church Funeral Plans start at just $4,495. That’s $2,686 less than the national median!  You can pre-plan and pre-fund your funeral and lock in today’s prices.  Call us at (260) 456-0890 and ask to speak to one of our pre-planning specialists.

Easing the Burden

When Margaret Jenkins’ mother died unexpectedly of a massive stroke in 2005, Jenkins was overwhelmed with grief. She drove to the funeral home with her stepfather to make arrangements. Turns out, Jenkins’ mother had pre-planned her own funeral.

“It was the greatest gift she could leave to me,” said Jenkins, a Wilmington resident. “It was remarkable that she had done that. It was such a huge relief. To have to make funeral plans during such an emotional time is just pouring salt into an open wound. Everything was taken care of.”

A conversation about pre-planning a funeral might be an uneasy discussion to have with your loved ones, but it’s probably one that will save your family much heartache in the end, according to Frank C. Mayer III, funeral director and co-owner of Spicer Mulliken funeral homes.

“Pre-planning a funeral can reduce a lot of stress and anxiety,” said Mayer. For those who don’t pre-plan, “the added stress and emotions make it more difficult to make decisions” after a loved one is gone, Mayer noted.

Pre-planning also allows the person to give their own input about their service, and has some financial benefit as well. For those on Medicaid, “it allows you to prepay and it doesn’t count against your assets when they qualify you,” said Mayer.

For Kellie DiMaio of Newark, Del., the decision to pre-plan her grandmother’s funeral was an easy one. She lost her brother in 1997, her mother in 2001, and her grandfather last June. None of those funerals were pre-planned.

“When you’re planning without notice, it’s difficult to get through it,” said DiMaio. “You don’t always make the best decisions under the gun with such high emotions.”

With pre-planning her grandmother’s funeral, “I could take my time, and think about things, and give her the type of service she would want,” said DiMaio. “It gave me peace of mind to know I’m going to be able to give her the proper goodbye for her and for our family.”

DiMaio’s grandmother said she doesn’t want to be cremated.

“I don’t want to go against her wishes, and now I know what they are. You also don’t have as much of a financial burden when you pre-plan. We set up a trust in her name strictly to pay for funeral expenses and that doesn’t affect her Medicaid,” added DiMaio.

In addition the financial benefit of pre-planning, DiMaio said that she wasn’t “distraught or grasping at straws” when she made decisions about her grandmother’s funeral. When her mother and grandfather died, she took on the burden of planning.

“It was really sad. But when things are pre-planned and set in stone, you won’t have to worry about family drama or who wants what in such an emotional time of need,” DiMaio said.

Steps to funeral planning

So, what exactly is involved in the pre-planning process?

“It can be as involved as the family wants to make it – very detailed, or just the framework of basic wishes,” said Mayer.

During the process, people can choose how many days of visitation there will be; where the service will be held (church or fire hall, for example); will be there a reception afterwards; the type of casket; the flowers; whether the person will be buried or cremated, or have a green burial option (Interment of the bodies is done in a bio-degradable casket, shroud, or a favorite blanket.) A cemetery plot can also be purchased ahead of time, guaranteeing a lower price, than if it’s not pre-paid, said Mayer.

In a 2010 survey conducted by the National Funeral Directors Association, 66 percent of adults would choose to arrange their own funeral service, but only 25 percent have already made them, according to Jessica Koth of the NFDA, based in Wisconsin.

The survey notes that people choose to make funeral arrangements ahead of time for two primary reasons: So that their survivors wouldn’t have to pay for them or worry about them; and to guarantee the individual’s final wishes are taken care of exactly how they want them.

Starting the conversation about pre-planning a funeral is not always easy.

“It’s a hard topic to bring up,” said Mayer, “so we suggest that a loved one start asking questions such as ‘Where would you want to be buried, what can kind of music would you like, or where would you want it to be held?”

Mayer says that as common as death is, ‘talking about it is still a taboo thing in society, and having to think about your own mortality is just a difficult subject for most people. But if you have the opportunity to plan things ahead of time, you’re commemorating a life that’s been lived.”

For DiMaio, the hardest part was “knowing that you’re making arrangements because this person isn’t going to be here anymore. It’s still very emotional, it’s just not as drastic as when it’s immediate and unplanned.”

For Jenkins, it was a ‘huge burdened lessened’ when her mother pre-planned her own funeral.

“Emotionally and financially, it saves you stress and money,” she said. “It’s the emotional savings that’s the greater thing.”

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2013/05/29/funeral-pre-planning/2370935/

A Gift of Love

No one wakes up in the morning and says, “I think I’ll call the local funeral home today and plan my funeral”, but planning your funeral and cemetery services in advance, called “preplanning” or “prearranging,” is a responsible and loving act that can reduce stress and potential financial burden for your loved ones. It’s easy to understand how making decisions now about your final arrangements can help assure those left behind that they are doing exactly what you wanted.

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Take responsibility for your arrangements
Most would agree that estate planning and creating a will are responsible actions. Likewise, planning your final arrangements in advance makes emotional and financial sense and protects your loved ones from the burden of planning and paying for services for you.

Eliminate guesswork for your family
When you prearrange your funeral and cemetery services, you’ll help alleviate your family’s burden of making difficult decisions at the worst time in their lives. With your wishes spelled out in detail, they won’t be left to guess what you would have wanted.

Personalize your service
Planning your funeral in advance allows you to influence all elements of your services, including songs, readings or other personal details that are important to you. It’s your funeral – it should celebrate your life, your way.

Avoid emotional overspending
By documenting exactly what merchandise and services you want, you can prevent your family from purchasing unnecessary additions to your services.

Find the value and quality you want
Researching different funeral homes and cemeteries is an important part of making final arrangements. Comparison shopping allows you to find the value and quality of service that’s right for you.

Lock in today’s prices
If you choose to fund your prearranged funeral plans, you can lock in today’s prices for products and services that likely will be more expensive in the future. It is important to work with a funeral professional to understand your options.

Whether you just want to ensure that your wishes are carried out, or you want to protect your family from making difficult decisions at a time of loss, planning your funeral in advance is an important responsibility, and one of the greatest gifts you can give your loved ones.

So don’t wait. Give your family a gift of love and start planning now. Contact Northern Indiana Funeral Care at (260) 456-0890, request a Personal Planning Guide or use our free online tool to make your selections now and share them with your loved ones.