Writing An Obituary: Top Mistakes To Avoid

An obituary is a basic notice that seeks to announce the death of a person, giving a description of their life and a list of their family members. Obituaries are usually published in funeral programs, newspapers or online. Nonetheless, there are many pitfalls that people often run into when drafting obituaries. The obituary is often written when the surviving spouse, relative and/or friend is experiencing grief.

Therefore, it is not uncommon for the writer(s) to shift focus away from making an announcement and celebrating the life of the deceased. It is advisable to know how to avoid these pitfalls in order to write good and meaningful obituaries for your loved ones. Some of the top mistakes to avoid when writing obituaries include:

1. Writing about a loss

Many people lose focus of writing about the deceased and concentrate on the loss. This is perhaps one of the most common mistakes where individuals or families write about how they are feeling about the demise of their loved one. The phrases often used are: “With mixed emotions, I/we announce the passing away…”; “With great sadness, I/we announce…” and “With deep sorrow, I/we announce…” Writing about how you feel, instead of writing about the deceased person, is inappropriate.

It is obvious you are grieving about the demise of a loved one, but it is unnecessary to write your feeling on an obituary. Obituaries are about the deceased and not the mourners. In addition, it is important to refer to the departed in third person (i.e. use he or she) and avoid using words you used on the deceased while they were still alive, such as “Dad” or “Uncle”.

2. Information loaded obituary

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There is a world of a difference between describing a funeral and announcing a funeral. Ideally, funerals need to be announced in an obituary and not described. The announcements should seek to provide notice to every interested member to come and pay their last respect to the deceased. Give the dates, time, location and dress code or etiquette. Therefore, describing the casket, menu and flowers is not appropriate. Furthermore, providing details about cause of death is not appropriate.

Write an obituary about the deceased person and the life they lived, but do not give details about the causes of death. This is particularly the case if a loved one died of an illness. You do not have to give details of the sickness leading up to their death. Therefore, the following phrases may be appropriate, but not necessary: “Passed away suddenly…”, “Passed away peacefully…” or “Died of ….” Details of the demise are better reserved to memoirs or conversations as opposed to obituaries.

3. Using clichés

An obituary needs to be unique and just like resumes; it should not be loaded with expressions of “I” or “We”. Instead of asking for memorial donations, it is common to read obituaries that ask people to buy flowers, do a kind deed, or fill-out organ donation cards. However, clichés are often understood by some people, while others do not.

Therefore, phrases like “Gone to be with the Lord”, “In Lieu of Flowers”, or “Resting After a long battle”, may not mean anything to some people. In order to bring everyone on board, generally accepted phrases like “Died peacefully”, “Donations to be made to …” or “Succumbed to Cancer” are recommended.

4. Thanking people in obituaries

Thanking people in obituaries may sound thoughtful, but it is not appropriate unless the deceased gave the express permission. When you decide to thank people in an obituary, you are likely to leave out very important people that the deceased would wanted included in the obituary, granted the opportunity. Furthermore, thanking people involved with funeral arrangements is likely to leave out people who played a pivotal role in helping the deceased before their demise.

If you have to thank anybody, a handwritten note sent or given to the concerned people offers a more personal and effective way of recognizing people who played a significant role prior, during and after the death of a loved one. However, the excellent way to address this issue is to get information from individuals who know the departed well. You would have discovered they wanted to thank a mentor at work, a certain friend or a great teacher, and include in this precious information.

How To Deal With The Passing Of Your Spouse

It is not uncommon for a person to be married at one point, and the next year become single and grieving. Coping with demise of a spouse can be extremely difficult, whether the spouse departs in mid-age or old-age. The surviving spouse is often left with many challenges as they try to come to terms with living without a friend and partner.

Nevertheless, it is important for the surviving spouse to know how to deal with the loneliness, shock, fear, confusion, depression, a broken heart and how to make important decisions. Different people deal with loss differently, but it is unacceptable for a person to feel bad because they cannot figure a way of making themselves feel better. The best ways to deal with the passing of your spouse include:

1. Accept your feelings

Grief can produce many different feelings, with some very intense. It is advisable to accept your feelings by allowing yourself to go through the process of grieving: shock (denial), bargain, anger, depression and acceptance. However, these stages do not follow a particular order. Therefore, it is common for a person to experience a stage they figured they had conquered.

Do not hold in sadness, longing or anger because these are essential feelings which help with the process of healing, once they are expressed. The time of grieving varies among different people. Hence, do not get frustrated when it seems like your grieving has gone on for much too long.

2. Express your grief

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Grief should not be allowed to remain hidden within you. Expressing your grief is perhaps one of the best ways of working through grief. It allows you to be honest with your feelings and to start the healing process. You can cry, yell and scream if you need to. You could express your feelings using art, poetry, music or journalism. Expression of grief can performed in complete privacy or with a person you trust. Tears have a way of offering relief and providing healing. Tears contain leucine-enkephaline, the brains’ pain reliever

3. Avoid hasty decisions

Accept your grief and avoid hiding from your grief. Experience the sorrow and pain in order to get over it and advance towards healing. It is advisable to avoid paying bills that you are not sure about until you have verified their authenticity. Furthermore, pay the medical bills after they have all been provided.

During this time, avoid making hasty decisions, such as selling a house, relocating or making major decisions. Although it is essential to let go and move on, give yourself some time, by waiting for at least one year before making major decisions. Furthermore, wait until you are ready to deal with personal items, such as purses and wallets. This way, you will avoid emptying the closets and drawers too soon.

4. Dealing with others

Travelling this path alone can prove extremely challenging. Therefore, it is important to seek and/or accept support from trusted friends, family members, professional councilors or church clergy. The right people will provide you with the right advice you need to get started. If you like, you can find role models who have travelled this road of grief and discover how they coped with their loss. You will be reminded you are not alone and have some useful advice to base your healing.

Moreover, reading books about dealing with grief can serve as a useful resource that will help you work out your grief. Nevertheless, you may encounter a few people who are extremely uncomfortable with death. Therefore, they may not know what to say or do and may even have a problem looking you in your eyes, giving you a hug or mentioning your spouse’s name. The best way to deal with such people is to bear with them.

5. Be active

Getting involved in an activity you enjoy can offer an important distraction from grief and keep you focused. If that activity is meaningful to others, it will raise your spirit. Exercise regularly and get out of the home when necessary. Nevertheless, taking the time to sit and write a personal journal can help with the healing process. Answering condolence letters can also help with the healing process. Make sure to eat right and avoid taking drugs, tobacco, alcohol, sugars or caffeine to numb your feelings.

Do You Know What A Burial Urn Is?

As people look for options when it comes to planning funerals, burial urns are becoming more popular. A burial urn is a weather resistant container that can be buried in the ground or left outside. These urns have been around for centuries as people look for ways to preserve the remains of their loved ones. The burial urns come in different designs, shapes and sizes to suit any needs. In the past, the urns were decorated using the cultural art symbols and rituals and today, people still look for the best designs.

1. Choosing cremation

The cremation ritual has been around for centuries in many cultures throughout the world. This practice is a religious ritual in some places where they believe the burning or cremation process holds some religious significance. The practice has become popular in other parts of the world as people look for an alternative to burials. Some people choose to cremate their loved ones because of the cause of death or the condition of the remains. There are different reasons why people choose to cremate their loved ones and they range from convenience to financial reasons.

2. Burial expenses

Cremation has become popular in recent years as the cost of traditional funerals continues to go up. Purchasing a casket and other funeral expenses can be very costly and many people are choosing the cremation option because it is more affordable. Burial urns are a great option for people who do not have burial insurance or those who simply do not have the budget to pay for the cost of a traditional burial. While many people may still find it difficult to cremate a loved one, it is a great option and it is becoming more acceptable among different cultures around the world.

3. Using burial urns

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The burial urns are perfect for those who want to combine cremation with the burial process. Unlike regular urns that are placed at specific locations, the protective burial urns are placed in the ground during the funeral ceremony. This means that the family can still have a headstone to mark the burial ground. The urns come in different designs to suit any taste. This means that the family can choose an urn that is customized to reflect the individual.

4. Eco friendly option

As more people look for ways to make environmentally friendly decisions, urns are a great option. People are becoming green conscious and this has led to the demand for biodegradable burial urns. The urns are made from safe and organic materials that naturally decompose over time. The fact is that the burial process or ritual is the most significant part and after that how long the container lasts is insignificant. For those who know that their loved one is not really in the ashes, the choice is simple.

5. The burial ceremony

For most people, the burial ceremony is the part that matters and not so much the urn or casket. With this in mind, people do not have to plan a funeral that is beyond their financial means. The burial ceremony has been around for centuries but unfortunately, people today are finding themselves in debt planning funerals. You can avoid the high cost of a funeral by choosing a burial urn instead of a casket. Many people are making their wishes known while they are still alive and they are choosing cremation.

6. Wishes of the deceased

Many people are making their choice known about the type of burial ceremony that they would like. Most people who choose cremation are also environmentally conscious and the idea of a green burial urn is acceptable. While memorial caskets are often made of materials that are not biodegradable, urns are a great option and it is even better if it is the deceased’s choice. The choice of urns continues to grow and they are available from different sources including online stores.

When shopping for a burial urn, you can choose from different materials including wood, brass or marble. The urns are available from different funeral homes and online stores and you can get any design that you want depending on your budget. The beautiful and unique urns can make the funeral special and you can lay your loved one to rest with all the respect that they deserve.

7 Songs That Are Apt For Funerals

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Songs played at a funeral offer an effective way to memorize loved ones. The processes of choosing funeral songs can prove tough because at the time you are overwhelmed with grieve. Nevertheless, your choice of song should be one that allows mourners to reflect on the deceased, grieve over their passing and celebrate their life. Furthermore, the music should stimulate pleasant memories and provide comfort. Before using a song, it is advisable to read the lyrics.

A funeral song that reflects the deceased personality or a song that has special relevance to them makes a great option. However, a brief verbal introduction can help mourners understand its significance. If you still have a problem choosing, an instrumental funeral song can come handy. They are many funeral songs you may consider and seven of these songs include:

Religious funeral songs

If you are planning a Christian memorial or funeral service for a loved one, music being an essential part of life plays a pivotal role in death. The choice of music can go a long way in providing comfort to every person attending the service. The choice of music heard will bring back sweet memories of a loved one’s life. They are many religious funeral songs you may consider including “He’s Walking Her Home” by Mark Schultz, and “Comforter” by CeCe Winans.

MercyMe – I Can Only Imagine

“I Can Only Imagine” was inspired by the experience of Bart Millard, whom at the age of 18 lost his father to cancer. When he was informed that his dad chose heaven over returning back, the 18-year-old boy found himself repeating words “I can only imagine!” Several years after, while writing music, Bart discovered a notebook with this phrase and ended up writing the hit song.

Chris Tomlin – I Will Rise

“I Will Rise” is an amazing, caring ballad that seeks to remind the survivors the grave is flooding with the love of Christ. The piano and strings have been performed so skillfully, almost giving the haunting feeling that turns those sorrowful moments into something bearable.

Traditional funeral songs

Instrumental – Songs of Remembrance

“Songs of Remembrance” is not just a mere lyric, but also a tune that allows the surviving members to find a way of expressing how much they miss their loved one. They finally come to terms with the fact that they have to say goodbye, while praying silently for the strength to live without them.

Various artists – Amazing Grace

“Amazing Grace” first published in 1779 has words written by John Newton (1725-1807). John Newton was a clergyman and English poet who advanced the message of forgiveness and redemption regardless of the magnitude of sin committed. Different artists have sung this song through time.

Popular funeral songs

Sarah McLachlan – Angel

“Angel” is a song by Sarah McLachlan, which originally appeared on her album Surfacing (1997). The song is about Jonathan Melvoin, who died in 1996 after an overdose on Heroin. Several articles she read about musicians turning to heroin in order to escape the pressures evident in the music industry and eventually overdosing inspired McLachlan. She is honest about the subject and identifies with the same feelings that could lead a person to use heroin. Although she has never used heroine, she reveals that she has done many things to help her escape the mess and misery of not knowing who she was anymore. The song tries to advice against taking responsibility of other people’s problems.

Mariah Carey & various artists – Hero

“Hero” sung by singer-songwriter Mariah Carey was first released on October 19, 1993. She later personalized the song, giving it a pop and R&B melody. She also changed a few lyrics to fit her personality. The song has a way of inspiring any person who may be down or discouraged to come to terms with the fact that they are “heroes” if only they took the time to look inside and see their inner strength. The song describes the power that rests inside every person and helps to transform & inspire those around.

Contemporary funeral songs

Celine Dion- My Heart Will Go On

“My Heart Will Go On” is the theme song to the 1997 blockbuster movie “Titanic”. This romantic song is considered one of the most popular selling singles of all time. The song is increasingly becoming a popular song sang in funerals. It allows the surviving members to express their love in a unique way- appreciating the fact that, though distance separates them, they will still see and feel the departed.

Organizing A Funeral On A Shoestring Budget And Doing It Right

Funerals have become very costly over the last few decades and many families are finding it increasingly difficult to give their loved ones a fitting send off. With the average funeral costing as much as a used car, it is clear that many families have to look for alternatives. Fortunately, it is possible to plan a funeral without going into debt. Planning an affordable funeral is not impossible if you know where to look. The reason why many families end up spending a fortune on funerals is the time factor.

The fact is that there is no time to start doing research and looking around when someone has just died. Most people end up going with what is on offer at the funeral home and they do not even think about negotiating. There is also the misconception that trying to get a good deal is being disrespectful to the deceased. Fortunately, with some planning you can reduce funeral expenses without compromising on quality. Planning a traditional funeral service or a regular cremation service can be affordable.

Get the facts right

The reason why people find it difficult to plan an affordable funeral is because they do not know the options available. Sadly, many funeral homes will not hesitate to take advantage of this ignorance to sell costly packages to their clients. Getting the facts about funeral homes is the first place to start when planning the funeral. When you know that the homes are businesses that are out to make a profit, you can avoid paying the huge expenses.

Know what you need

Most people end up paying huge costs because they do not know the services that they need or what they cost. The fact is that most people end up buying anything that the funeral director recommends without really thinking about it. It is a good idea to establish what you really need and do some research to determine how much it costs. Most people only learn about the expensive options available because they do not take the time to find out what else is on offer.

Research the internet

Unlike in the past, you do not have to depend on the word of the funeral director to get the information that you need. Thanks to the internet, you can do your research from the comfort of your home when planning the funeral. This means that you do not have to settle for the most expensive options available. You can find reasonably priced options by searching the internet and the good news is that you can find out all the products and services that you need.

Lower priced funeral home

One thing that you will learn from your research is that while the services are basically the same, all funeral homes do not charge the same price. You can find an option that you can afford, which will make funeral planning less expensive. By choose a low-priced option; you can receive reasonably priced services and goods. You should not be afraid to negotiate and remember that the prices quoted are rarely fixed. While the businesses are out to make a profit, they know that they have competition and they are often up for negotiations.

Choosing a casket

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Planning a funeral today has been made much easier by the fact that you can purchase your own casket and you do not have to settle for the costly options. This has made funeral directors more eager to offer discount prices on their caskets in an attempt to get more business. The reduced price of the casket as well as reduced fees can make a huge difference in the total cost. Knowing the funeral homes in your area that offer the lowest prices is a good place to start.

The goods and services

You can save a lot of money by choosing goods and services that are reasonably priced. Finding out how much they cost is the first step and you might be surprised to note that many funeral homes markup the cost of goods and services by up to 500%. This can translate to thousands of dollars that you can save by doing your homework. Understanding what is on offer and carrying out comparison-shopping can be very helpful when determining what is within your budget.

Do not hesitate to negotiate even at this most stressful time. Remember that there is always room for discounts but only those that look find them.

What Types Of Flowers Should Complement Cremation Urns?

Casket flower arrangements have long been an important part of the funeral tradition. Whether the ceremony is open or closed casket, having lush flowers and beautiful foliage is considered a proper send off for a loved one. Apart from calming the spirits of those left behind, beautiful flowers also help to enhance the atmosphere while giving the guests something uplifting to talk about. The popular casket spray can be simple or elaborate depending on the needs of the family.

As more people choose to move away from traditional burials to cremation, the issue of cremation urn flowers is constantly coming up. What happens when there is no casket to adorn with the beautiful flowers? The fact is that you can still enhance the somber event by using flowers alongside the funeral urn. Just because the deceased chose to be cremated is no reason to skip the flowers as florists are coming up with beautiful floral displays to complement the funeral urns.

1. Choosing favorite flowers

One of the best ways to choose cremation flowers is by choosing personalized arrangements that help to celebrate the deceased’s life. By choosing their favorite flowers, the florist can create designs that can incorporate favorite colors, hobbies and activities. If the person was an avid golfer, gardener, or loved particular activities, different items or equipment can be used alongside the floral arrangement to represent the activities. Planning the flowers for the cremation urn is not different from casket flowers.

2. Designing flower tributes

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Handling cremation flower tributes is something that many florists are facing today. The design element is somewhat different because there is no casket to consider. The cremains are placed in urns or containers and the florist has to enhance the setting. It is important to consider the size and design of the urn when designing an arrangement. The florist attempts to create a sense of calm or rest as a way to honor the deceased. The flowers do not have to look somber just because it is a funeral.

3. Creating a beautiful setting

Designing a floral arrangement for a funeral urn is usually about creating a peaceful setting where the urn rests. Most of the designs are restful and they act as a tray with foam on top. The cremation urn or box is placed in the center of the arrangement with beautiful results. The arrangement can be as large or small as the family desires and this will also depend on the type of flowers chosen as well as the budget. When designing the arrangement, the florist has to ensure that the urn is dry and protected using plastic or foliage underneath.

4. Basing the urn with flowers

A popular technique when designing floral arrangements for the urn is sheltering or shadowing over. This is a technique where the flowers are placed at the base to create a shelter or frame for the urn. First, the container is based using foliage before creating the focal area with flowers. The flowers shelter or protect the urn and more flowers are added depending on the design needs. The urn is placed on the focal point and the flowers are arranged carefully to help in complementing the overall look.

5. The size and shape of the container

One of the most important factors to consider when designing the floral arrangement is the size and shape of the container. The type of cremation urn used will determine the best arrangement because the design is built around it. It is important for the florist to see the urn or a similar urn before creating the arrangement. The style of arrangement will differ depending on who is doing it and the type of flowers used, and whether or not you want to incorporate a wreathe as part of the memorial.

It is important to find an experienced florist in order to get the perfect floral arrangement for the funeral. Looking at different samples or photos is a great way to choose the best style of arrangement. Some people choose a design that includes a wreath with the urn placed in the center, while others prefer something more elaborate. Some designs include a garland of flowers that can be draped across a table or the surface where the urn is placed. A box-shaped container can be complemented using an L shaped floral design.