4 Uplifting Ideas for Commemorating the Anniversary of a Loved One’s Passing

Creating an Occasion for Smiles

Every person, no matter where or how long they lived, has special dates associated with their lives. Wedding anniversaries, birthdays, and notable events all come to mind as we pass through the calendar year. And while many of those occasions bring smiles and fond memories back to us, the approaching dates of other events might leave us, and the ones we love, filled with dread.

The anniversary of a loved one’s passing is not traditionally thought of in Western cultures as a motivation for celebration. But the inevitability of the date arriving every year leaves us with two options. We can choose to anticipate the date with sadness and fear, leaving ourselves miserable in the process. 

We can also choose to celebrate on that date, turning it into yet another way to love and appreciate those who have in turn made our lives so special. 

Ideas to Celebrate and Remember

Here are four ideas for turning the date of a special person’s passing into an uplifting occasion of commemoration and gratitude.

  • A meal at their favorite restaurant

If your loved one grew up or lived in the same town as you, you’ve probably heard of their favorite restaurant. Maybe you ate at the restaurant with them enough times to know their “usual” order.

Schedule a dinner with friends or family to celebrate the life of your loved one, Eat, drink, and be merry with fond memories of your companion. And don’t forget to dedicate a toast in their honor.

  • A movie night with their favorite movie

This is appropriate for any age, both in terms of the person being remembered and the ones remembering, What’s more, this is an intimate occasion to relive and remember within the sanctuary of your own home. Have family and friends gather at a preselected house, turn on your loved one’s favorite movie, and give as many hugs as needed throughout. 

  • Community service in their honor 

Many of the people we love are somehow associated with a community cause, whether it be through passion or need. Coming together to serve the community in honor of a loved one that has passed is uplifting in a myriad of ways. Not only do you have the opportunity to work together with the people who loved that certain soul, but you are able to help others in the process, which is an indescribable feeling.

  • Practice their favorite hobby

Was your loved one passionate about a certain sport or hobby? Did they have an unmatched collection, or did they have a weekly habit? Together with your family and friends, participate in whatever activity it was that made your loved one unique and special. Even if you are not very good at it, you can have a laugh and appreciate how your loved one would be so cheerful if they could see you.

Commemoration through Warmth and Love

Community is an integral part of the grieving process after the loss of someone we love, but oftentimes we tend to forget that the lasting effects of grief can return, even on a yearly basis, depending on how we choose to remember and reframe the occasion of passing. By celebrating and uplifting the date instead of fearing it, we create a moment for bonding, gathering, and remembrance. 

Please feel free to contact us here at Pines Funerals for more information and other suggestions for lifting up the lives of your loved ones.

The Importance of Gathering after a Loss

The Importance of Community and Grief

There are so many occasions in life where we should seek out the comfort and community of the ones around us. Gathering is essential for the relief and comfort it provides after the loss of a friend or family member.

If there is any doubt in your mind about the importance of having a special moment for your loved one, please consider the following ideas.

Why Gathering is So Important

  • A marked occasion allows for a concrete goodbye.

The grieving process looks different for everyone, but it’s an inevitable part of life. It can be very difficult to begin working through this process without a concrete gathering to mark the passing of our loved one. without the tangible act of saying goodbye, you can allow yourself to simply pretend that the person you have lost hasn’t come around for a while.

A gathering creates a healthy path for mourning, then remembering, those who have passed on. 

  • The act of planning and holding a gathering is an important part of honoring your loved one.

It may be tempting to isolate yourself to recover from your grief. But If the person that you love has made an impact on your life and the community that they are leaving, they deserve to be remembered and honored for it.

Even though it might feel like it would be stressful to plan a gathering at this time, a high-quality funeral home and memorial service planner will do everything they can to help. 

They will take the focus off of the planning and put it back onto your friend or family member, staying focused on your family’s needs and taking into account all of the details that might have been overlooked.

  • Gathering helps with advancement through the grieving process, in a community setting

An event such as a memorial or wake allows for all of those who loved the person in question to work through their feelings in the same space. 

Together, loved ones can laugh, cry, and share stories of special moments and memories that might not have been told otherwise to everyone there. 

  • A gathering reinforces the bonds you have with those who shared your love for the person who passed.

It’s equally important to reinforce the bonds that family and friends have with each other, so that everyone can be there for one another during the process of grieving in the following months.

If you or a loved one needs somebody to talk to about missing the person who has passed, who better than someone who is most likely feeling the same way as you? There is a level of understanding and empathy between two individuals who have lost the same person that is difficult for anyone else to relate to.

Gathering, Mourning, and Celebrating Together

At PinesFunerals, we work with you to ensure that the memorial service you hold for your loved one honors both the people present and the people who have passed. We know the importance of family and community at times like these, and we also know that planning and organizing is often the last thing on your mind.

You can rely on us to guarantee that your needs are met and that you say goodbye in exactly the way that your loved one would want and appreciate.

How to Write an Obituary

Obituaries have traditionally been used by families to let the community know about their loved one’s passing. An obituary recognizes the impact that person had on their community, their ties to the community, and the family members that are left behind. It also informs anyone who might want to attend the funeral of the schedules and dates for any services being held.

While the practice might seem a little outdated for those who don’t typically read the newspaper, the rise of the online obituary has allowed families to continue honoring their family members with a much wider and more immediate reach.

Writing an obituary can be a little bewildering if you’ve never done it before, so we have compiled a few items and details that you might want to consider during the process.

Important Aspects to Remember When Writing an Obituary

Keep these questions in mind when writing your loved one’s obituary, and see how they are applicable to the person about whom you are writing. 

  • “What would make my loved one feel honored if they were reading this?”

Above all, your priority is to honor the loved one that has passed, so this idea should be constantly at the forefront of your mind as you write. 

An obituary is, in essence, a complement that is being shared publicly, after a person is gone. Try to put yourself in the shoes of the person for whom the obituary is being written, and imagine how you would feel reading the text. 

  • “What are the most beautiful things about my loved one that I’d like to share with the world?”

We are all unique and wonderful individuals, and your loved one is no exception. Don’t be afraid to share the little details that made them the person who you and the community loved. 

  • “Are there any details that they would specifically prefer to have kept private?”

Almost everyone has personal facts or anecdotes about their loved ones that would be better kept in the family than shared publicly. 

If your friend or family member would have felt uncomfortable with their story being told to a complete stranger, it is probably an item best to be left out of the obituary.

Meaningful Details to Include

Remember to include these details in the obituary, for both sentimental and logistical reasons.

  • Close Relatives

This is typically limited to nuclear families and grandchildren, depending on space and age.

  • Important Achievements

Important achievements can range from military service to community honors—anything that made your loved one particularly proud and highlighted their personalities and careers.

  • Meaningful/Characteristic Expressions

Was there anything that your loved one said regularly that impacts your decisions today, or that really describes their personality? This would be a heartwarming detail to include.

  • Any Funeral Information or Last Requests

Part of an obituary’s main goal is to inform members of the community as to when and where they can attend the memorial service of your loved one. Make sure to include this information in a clear way.

In addition, your loved one might have been associated with or passionate about a charity. They might like for mourners to send donations in lieu of flowers—this practice has become increasingly popular in recent years. Include the information that will make it as easy as possible for them to do so.

Honoring and Commemorating Through Words

Obituaries, whether in physical newspapers or in digital publications, are here to stay. They are an important part of the grieving process both on the individual and the community level. 

We here at Pines Funerals would be honored to answer any questions you might have in regards to writing obituaries, and we would be happy to give you advice from our many years of experience in order to craft the perfect, heartwarming piece for your loved one.

Fascinating End-of-Life Traditions from Around the World

Funerals and end-of-life traditions are an essential part of saying goodbye to those who have passed, creating a final moment of memory and peace that draws us together in our love for those who have gone before us.

We in the United States tend to celebrate the passing of our loved ones with memorial services that involve different traditions based on our religions, family practices, and other cultural elements, ranging from somber to joyous.

But as you can imagine, there is a world full of ceremonies and practices that look almost nothing like our own, while still being filled with love and emotion.

Let’s take a look at a few special traditions from across the globe:

HONG KONG 

Hong Kong, which lies off the eastern coast of mainland China, is so small and densely-populated that there is virtually no room for burial—in fact, the cost of burial plots begins at $380,000. For this reason the government set up a system of underwater cremation sites, so that friends and relatives could celebrate their families at sea.

There are eleven sites at which mourners can scatter cremated remains, and the government provides a free ferry service that can hold up to 300 people for funeral attendance.

GHANA 

When we Americans picture coffins, we might think of them as solemn, rectangular pieces in a variety of neutral colors. In Ghana, a beautiful seaside country on Africa’s hump, this could not be farther from the case.

Family members and friends choose extremely elaborate and brightly-colored coffins that are constructed by local artisans. Many of them feature themes that represent their owners’ lives; for example, if the person being honored was an enthusiastic traveler in life, a Ghanaian coffin maker might build a coffin in the shape of an airplane! Then they are proudly displayed during a joyful celebration of that person’s time on Earth.

SOUTH KOREA 

South Korea, while not being quite as small as Hong Kong, is also very densely-populated, meaning that burial plots and even urn niches are extremely expensive for the average family. South Koreans have come up with a both creative and beautiful solution: cremation beads.

Traditional glass blowing involves the use of wood ash, so family members and friends substitute their loved ones’ cremated remains in the glassblowing process. They are then turned into iridescent glass beads. These beads are either taken home and displayed in a dish or distributed to make bright, colorful jewelry. The beads serve as a daily token of remembrance and affection.

THE PHILIPPINES 

The United States typically considers black or other dark colors to be appropriate colors for mourning. There are many other countries and cultures, however, that would consider black to be a very strange sight at a funeral. In some cultures, white is generally accepted as the most appropriate color.

The Philippines are home to many different indigenous cultures with an even wider array of funerary customs and traditions. The Cebuano people make sure to dress their children in red for funerals, which is specifically to ensure that they won’t see any ghosts during the ceremony,

Embracing Traditions

Which one of these traditions did you find the most surprising? Have you ever heard of any of these traditions before?

No matter how we commemorate the passing of those we love, the most important thing is that our traditions both honor and remember our family, friends, and the important people who have made our lives so special. We at PinesFunerals are here to help you and your family celebrate together in a touching and personal way.

How to Talk to Your Spouse About Your Wishes

Difficult Conversations with Deep Significance

Part of truly loving someone is the hopes and dreams that we have of a life with them, always looking towards the future.

But as time marches on, one of the realities we must face is that, while we would love to live together side-by-side with our spouse forever, there will be a time that comes when we cannot.

Therefore, part of showing true love is preparing our spouses, and ourselves, for a time in which they must prepare for our funeral arrangements. Even if you opt for pre-planning, your spouse must be at least informed of where you’ve made your arrangements.

That’s why it’s important to talk to your spouse about your wishes.

Moving Forward versus Delaying the Matter

As with all uncomfortable or difficult things in life, you might be tempted to put this important conversation off for as long as possible, with the task weighing on your shoulders but being unable to take the first step.

Please, for both you and your partner, consider the alternative: What if the time comes where you or your spouse need this information, and this is a conversation that neither of you have had?

If you find yourself constantly pushing back the date, try marking a day in your planner or calendar. Resolve that you will be prepared to have a conversation with your spouse by that day, and follow through with your plans.

Ideas for Broaching the Subject

The topic of end-of-life arrangements is not one of the most animated talks that you two will ever have, but it also doesn’t have to be a “doom and gloom” situation.

Keep these ideas in mind to help you when you decide to have the conversation.

  • Consider going on a walk together to discuss your arrangements (ideally, you will have already made a written list of planned arrangements and ideas that you can later share). Moving around can help release any tension either of you might be feeling.
  • Make it a two-sided conversation involving both of your plans, so that it seems less foreboding towards one partner or the other.
  • Avoid any alcoholic beverages before beginning your conversation. Though you might presume that this would “loosen you up a bit”, you run the risk of provoking heightened reactions or emotional sensitivity is much higher.

Dealing with Emotional Reactions

Depending on your spouse’s personality or sensitivity at the time of the discussion, you could encounter pushback, denial, or defensiveness, and there is certainly a possibility of tears during this conversation.

These are all absolutely normal reactions, and it does not mean that you should continue waiting to have the conversation.

Explain to your spouse that you are having this conversation precisely because you love them and want them to be prepared, and that this has absolutely nothing to do with wanting to upset them or cause anxiety.

If you simply cannot continue having the conversation for any reason, here are two possibilities to move forward proactively:

  • Sleep on it. The next day, when your spouse is feeling a bit calmer, ask them if they could suggest a setting in which they would like to try having the conversation again. Be loving but insistent in the fact that this conversation is important to you, for no other reason but loving them.
  • If all else fails, make sure they know where you have left an envelope containing all of your requests, or the contact information of the funeral home that has your pre-planned arrangements. Consider leaving a duplicate envelope with a close friend or family member.

Showing Your Love Through Preparation

At the end of the day, your preparation is the greatest final gift that you can give to the one you love, and having these important conversations with your spouse is part of showing your love for them.

We at Pines Funerals specialize in pre-planning funeral arrangements and would be happy to help you get started in the process, or simply to assure you amidst any doubts. We know that this can be an overwhelming process, and we are here to make your planning process as straightforward and stress-free as possible.

Continuing the Grieving Process After the Funeral

Going Back to Our Lives While Grieving

It’s a common misconception that our lives go back to normal after the funeral of a friend or loved one, and that we have completed the grieving process once we leave the memorial service.

While the memorial service is an essential part of closure and community, grieving can often last for months, and sometimes years, after we have said goodbye to a person in physical form.

Though the grieving process looks and feels different for everyone, there are certain steps we can take, and points to think about, that might make the process a bit easier.

Points to Consider During This Period

  • This is a natural process and an inevitable part of life.

Grieving the loss of our loved ones is something that every person on the Earth, just like you, must go through, at least during some part of their lives.

We must all say goodbye to someone we love, which means that many people have experienced what you are feeling right now. They have already processed their grief, and they might have valuable advice for you to be able to do so as well.

  • The person you love would want you to keep moving forward.

It might be tempting to put your life on hold until you feel better, which is exactly the opposite of what helps us move forward through the grieving period. We must continue moving to process our grief in a dynamic way so that it does not pull us down into a place of permanent sadness.

If the person you have recently lost were with you today, would they feel better or worse, knowing that their absence had caused you to abandon your life and goals?

  • Not everyone will feel the same way that you do, and that’s okay.

You may find yourself getting frustrated with family members or friends that you feel are not having as difficult of a time as you in the grieving process. But just as we are different in other aspects of our lives, all of us grieve differently, too.

If you feel that you’re not receiving the support you need from your family or friends, or you simply cannot relate to the way that they are feeling, you might want to consider speaking to a licensed professional.

Ideas for Guiding Yourself Through the Grieving Process

  • Be gentle with yourself.

While it’s much better to continue your routines as normally as possible, keep in mind that there might be days during which you simply don’t feel like doing anything, or at the very least, what you would normally do.

Allow yourself to rest, and give yourself an occasional day-off from your responsibilities, if you can. As long as you’re making an honest effort to move forward, and your active days outnumber your resting days, you are making progress.

  • Keep a journal. 

Writing your feelings down is an excellent way to not only make sense of how you feel, but also to watch your progress over time.

Though today you might not feel like you are moving past your initial grief, if you have developed the habit of writing in your journal, you can go back and see that you have actually made quite a bit of progress.

You are becoming stronger, for yourself and for the ones you love.

As you move forward through the process of grieving, you are setting an example for those who might be having a more difficult time than you.

See how you can create conversations around the memory of your loved one and help those around you—you’ll see how you help yourself in the meantime.

Allowing for the Grace of Time

While it may seem at this moment that things will never feel normal again, as the famous saying goes, “time heals all wounds”. You might find that one day that, while you still miss the person to whom you said goodbye at their memorial service, you are now able to go about your normal routines.

It doesn’t mean that you have forgotten about your loved one; it simply means that you have gone on living, just as they would want you to.

So set aside a moment of remembrance to thank that special person for all of the love they brought to your life. At the same time, don’t forget to take pride in yourself for being a brave, strong, and compassionate individual who has come out the other side of a difficult period in their life.

And remember, we here at Pines Funerals are proud to lend a helping hand and a listening ear, whenever you may need it.

4 Special Keepsake Ideas to Help Children Remember Their Grandparents

Dealing with the Loss of a Grandparent as a Child 

The loss of a grandparent can be particularly hard for young children, especially ones that might be too young to really grasp what has happened.

In addition to being a difficult time of loss for you, the whole funeral process can be both overwhelming and unfamiliar to a child. They may be looking for the comfort of a beloved relative who can no longer physically provide it in those unsettling times.

Fortunately, concerned parents and caregivers have begun making a heartwarming effort to memorialize grandparents. They have adopted creative ways that help children retain their cherished memories for years to come.

Here are some ideas that we’ve found particularly touching to help your children feel and remember the love that their grandparents shared with them.

Four Encouraging Ideas to Aid a Child’s Mourning Process

  1. Create a memory box

Purchase a small wooden box at a craft store, and help your children decorate it with drawings or stickers that remind them of their grandparent. Attach a photo of the grandparent and child to the top of the box.

When the box has been decorated, fill it with tokens and mementos that remind your child of times spent together with their grandparents. Perhaps they have saved shells that the two of them collected on a trip to the beach, or maybe you’ve saved ticket stubs from an event or tourist visit that you’ve shared.

Encourage your child to place items in the box that bring back happy memories of them with their grandparent, and when they are feeling lonely, they can visit the box and touch all those things that made their time together special.

  1. Have a shirt sewn into a pillow

If you still have access to a shirt that your child’s grandparent wore often, have someone sew their shirt into a pillow. You might even include a special note or phrase that your child would hear their grandparent say, which you can have either embroidered directly onto the shirt itself or placed on a fabric square in the pocket if the shirt is collared.

Explain to your child that whenever they miss their grandparent, they can give them a hug by squeezing their pillow.

  1. Make a photo collage

There is a high probability that you have many wonderful pictures of your child with their grandparent, so use this as a way to both sort through your photos and display them proudly.

Have your child select their favorite photos of their grandparent, and assist them in gluing the photos together in a picture frame. (Don’t forget to make duplicates of these photos to also have a pristine copy for yourself.)

Encourage your child to discuss their choices and the memories associated with the photos, and talk about how they felt when the photos were being taken.

  1. Write a grandparent story journal

Depending on the age of your child, this might be more of your project than theirs. If your children are extremely young, take an opportunity to write down some of your own memories of your child with their grandparent in a blank notebook. For slightly older children, you can write down the stories as they’re dictated to you, and for children that are of writing age, you can discuss the stories and help your child write them down.

Children, Emotional Development and Family Bonding 

Above all, the most important part of helping children cope with the loss of a grandparent is keeping that grandparent’s memory alive, rather than removing the grandparent from the conversation for fear of making your little one sad.

Tell stories, share memories, and display pictures of your children with their grandparent, and be sure to address any age-appropriate questions they might have with honest and accessible answers.

They are grieving, and you are too—instead of keeping your feelings from them, use this as an opportunity to teach your children about emotions and to grow together as a family.

At Pines Funerals, we recognize that losing a grandparent is a significant event in every family member’s life, and we are here to help and support each and every one of you, no matter what the age, at this delicate time.

 

4 Ideas for Including Long-Distance Friends and Relatives in a Memorial Service

Given the events of the last two years, it has not always been possible for everyone to attend a memorial service that would have liked to. Whether for geographical, logistical, or health reasons, family members and friends haven’t always been able to be on-site to help mourn the loss of a loved one, which is certainly a vital part of everyone’s grieving process.

Luckily, with new challenges come new solutions.

With a little bit of additional effort, you can be sure to include the ones in the memorial service that would be there if they could, all while giving your loved one the commemoration they deserve.

Ideas for Including Family Members in Commemorating Your Loved One

Whether near or far, everyone can take part in honoring those who have passed with any of these ideas incorporated into the memorial program.

  • Make online streaming options available

There are many reasons why all of the people who want to honor their loved ones will not physically be present at the funeral home. Allow them to send their love and condolences through a virtual memorial service.

This can be achieved by one or multiple screens placed strategically in the funeral home, as well as a steady Internet connection, which allows for everyone to attend the memorial in the most realistic way possible.

Holding a virtual service naturally depends on the capacities of your funeral home and care providers. It should be planned with enough advance time, not only to allow the home to set up the necessary technology, but also to give family and friends the appropriate passwords and links.

  • Make a recording temporarily available

If family members are located in different time zones or have different home or work schedules, it would be a good idea to allow everyone access to a recording of the memorial service, at least for a short period of time. That way, everyone has a chance to say goodbye, no matter what their situation may be.

  • Hold a virtual wake 

Many of us have now become experts at video conferencing for work and family connection, and there’s no better time to use this technology than for coming together and celebrating a beloved family member.

Schedule a time that works for the largest number of people, and tell stories, laugh, cry, and appreciate the person who you are honoring, in a way that you might have never imagined possible a number of years ago.

  • Create a shareable presentation to send to family and friends

Someone among your family and friends might be talented with creating videos, so ask them to help you create a slideshow with any pictures, videos, or other mementos that you might have. This memorial presentation can be shared with the family during any part of the long-distance memorial service, and you can send a copy to them by email to keep after the commemorations have ended.

Moving Forward Together in Memory

Our loved ones are both near and far, and some might say that traditions are changing as a result of recent world events. We here at Pines Funerals believe that this has simply allowed us to be even more inclusive. We can now more naturally and professionally help everyone share in the gathering and commemoration of the ones you love.

 

We are more than happy to accommodate you in any way that we can when it comes to long-distance commemoration and memorial services.

Points to Consider While Pre-Planning your Funeral Arrangements

Keeping a Proactive Mindset

Funeral pre-planning is a beautiful gift of preparation and anticipation, both for yourself and for your friends and family. It means that one of the most difficult aspects of saying goodbye has already been taken care of.

One of the keys to successful and impactful funeral planning is to keep a proactive mindset, even if it isn’t necessarily a positive one. At the end of the day, you are pre-planning your funeral arrangements for the benefit of those who you love. You are answering the questions now so that they don’t have to be answered by your loved one later, which is both a noble and meaningful gesture.

Let’s explore some important points to consider when pre-planning your arrangements.

Questions to Ask Yourself

  • How would I like to be honored and remembered?

Though you may have already considered what kind of memorial service or preservation option you’d prefer, you may not have given much thought to the small but important details that represent you as an individual. Perhaps you are an avid traveler, or maybe you’ve always been passionate about a particular place in your state. Think about how these could be meaningful incorporated into commemorating you.

  • “Have I made a checklist of my priorities?”

One of the beautiful aspects of funeral planning is a chance to make sure that your wishes are known and taken care of in advance. If there are priorities, such as quotations or Bible verses, music or flowers that you would like to include, these are all things to annotate at the time of pre-planning.

  • “Am I keeping my family’s interests and needs in mind?”

While choosing the arrangements and options that best suit your needs, budget, and personality, you might want to consider your family’s needs as well. It would be in their best interests, for example, to choose a cemetery location that is convenient for the largest part of your family if you haven’t already established a family estate at this time.

Important People to Consult

  • Your Partner or Closest Loved One

Certain members of your family might have difficulty discussing the topic of pre-planning, but it is important to let them know, especially in the case of a partner, where you’ve pre-planned your arrangements, and more or less what they involve. Remind them that this is not a declaration of any bad news, nor is it something to dwell on. You have taken care of pre-planning for precisely the opposite reasons—it is now a potential issue that is simply resolved.

  • Your Trusted Planning Consultant or Care Provider

You might have gone ahead and written or thought about your plans, and now it’s time to organize them with a trusted specialist. They will be able to help set everything into motion and point out any details that you might have overlooked.

Things to Remember During the Pre-Planning Process

While pre-planning funeral arrangements is not necessarily a task that everyone anticipates with excitement, the thought of such a selfless and beautiful act, caring for yourself and your loved ones, should serve as motivation to take matters into your own hands.

We here at Pines Funerals are committed to creating a pre-planning process for you that is both hassle-free and compassionate, ensuring that you and your family are prepared for anything and everything with a warm heart and an empathetic shoulder.