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A Conversation with Vicki Hook

Vicki Hook is an Advanced Planning Advisor at our Centennial location near County Line and Holly.  She has served in this role for eight years and meets with people every day to help them plan their final wishes.  Here’s what she had to say about living well and being prepared.

How do you live well?   I am a volunteer at Copper Mountain Ski Area and serve on the board of the Colorado Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).  I am also a golfer, gardener, bicyclist, and book club member.

What do you feel is the most important reason for someone to plan ahead?   Your wishes will be honored and your family doesn’t have to wonder if they made the right decisions for you.

What is the most important thing families should know about Horan & McConaty?  We are family- owned and the most preferred funeral homes and crematories in the Denver area.

Why should families choose Horan & McConaty?  Because you only have one chance for your funeral or memorial – choose wisely and select the best.

Call Vicki today to start the conversation.  She can be reached at 303-221-0030 or if you’d prefer you can email her at vhook@horancares.com.

Meet Tom Folkert

Thomas Folkert is the Vice President- Advance Planning at Horan & McConaty. He attended Hope College in Holland, Michigan and is a Certified Pre-planning Consultant. Tom has been in funeral service for 37 years.  Here’s what he had to say about living well and being prepared.

What does “Live Well” mean to you? I am active in my church and serve on the board of the St. Martin’s Chamber Choir. I enjoy exploring new sites in the Greater Denver area.

What is the most important thing families should know about you? I am passionate about the delivery of a quality funeral service. My family has been in this profession for over 100 years, and I am proud to be a part of it.

Why is it so important to preplan? Life takes many turns.  There are many things we need in life; transportation, food, lodging, the love of a family and unfortunately, someday, we will all need a funeral.  It’s important to make decisions with the one’s you love, when you have the resources to do so.  Decisions made together are more sound than decisions made after someone is gone.

What is the most important thing families should know about Horan & McConaty? I wish families could understand the dignity and respect that is shown by our care center and crematory staff in every case.  The level of professionalism here is unsurpassed.

Why should families choose Horan & McConaty? When they deal with Horan & McConaty they can be assured that they are dealing with people who have the highest ethical standards.

Call Tom today to start the conversation.  He can be reached at 303-743-8804 or if you’d prefer you can email him at tfolkert@HoranCares.com.

February 2014 Hospice Caregiver of the Month Award

Felisha Bjelde is the winner of the February Hospice Caregiver Award, presented by Horan & McConaty.  Felisha was nominated by Lori Bennett who submitted the following letter explaining why she nominated Felisha.

Felisha Bjelde works with my mom who lives in Cedars HealthCare center. She does her hair and take special care in getting her ready/showering and has a very large positive attitude. Felisha’s care of my mom has really helped my mom’s attitude in these times. (My mom has dementia and it can be especially difficult to do hair, showering, personal hygiene etc.)

 With great thanks,

Lori Bennett

Each monthly Caregiver Award winner will receive a gift card that can be used for whatever the recipient decides and an award.

At the end of twelve months the review committee will select the Caregiver of the Year to be revealed at a banquet honoring the twelve finalists. The Caregiver of the Year will win a trip for two within Colorado.

Do you know a Caregiver? Nominate them today!

Why You Should Always Attend the Funeral… Even When It’s Uncomfortable

We often hear of someone that was unsure whether or not they should attend a funeral, or whether or not they were expected to attend. Today, we are sharing a story of a young woman who believes in always attending the funeral.  “Always Go to the Funeral” is a beautiful essay by Deirdre Sullivan about how her father taught her to go to funerals. She writes:

I believe in always going to the funeral. My father taught me that.

The first time he said it directly to me, I was 16 and trying to get out of going to calling hours for Miss Emerson, my old fifth grade math teacher. I did not want to go. My father was unequivocal. “Dee,” he said, “you’re going. Always go to the funeral. Do it for the family.”

So my dad waited outside while I went in. It was worse than I thought it would be: I was the only kid there. When the condolence line deposited me in front of Miss Emerson’s shell-shocked parents, I stammered out, “Sorry about all this,” and stalked away. But, for that deeply weird expression of sympathy delivered 20 years ago, Miss Emerson’s mother still remembers my name and always says hello with tearing eyes.

That was the first time I went un-chaperoned, but my parents had been taking us kids to funerals and calling hours as a matter of course for years. By the time I was 16, I had been to five or six funerals. I remember two things from the funeral circuit: bottomless dishes of free mints and my father saying on the ride home, “You can’t come in without going out, kids. Always go to the funeral.”

Sounds simple — when someone dies, get in your car and go to calling hours or the funeral. That, I can do. But I think a personal philosophy of going to funerals means more than that.

“Always go to the funeral” means that I have to do the right thing when I really, really don’t feel like it. I have to remind myself of it when I could make some small gesture, but I don’t really have to and I definitely don’t want to. I’m talking about those things that represent only inconvenience to me, but the world to the other guy. You know, the painfully under-attended birthday party. The hospital visit during happy hour. The Shiva call for one of my ex’s uncles. In my humdrum life, the daily battle hasn’t been good versus evil. It’s hardly so epic. Most days, my real battle is doing good versus doing nothing.

In going to funerals, I’ve come to believe that while I wait to make a grand heroic gesture, I should just stick to the small inconveniences that let me share in life’s inevitable, occasional calamity.

On a cold April night three years ago, my father died a quiet death from cancer. His funeral was on a Wednesday, middle of the workweek. I had been numb for days when, for some reason, during the funeral, I turned and looked back at the folks in the church. The memory of it still takes my breath away. The most human, powerful and humbling thing I’ve ever seen was a church at 3:00 on a Wednesday full of inconvenienced people who believe in going to the funeral.

Deirdre Sullivan grew up in Syracuse, and traveled the world working odd jobs before attending law school at Northwestern University. She’s now a freelance attorney living in Brooklyn. Sullivan says her father’s greatest gift to her and her family was how he ushered them through the process of his death.

Dee has chosen to attend funerals, and has made it a part of her life, not allowing herself the option of not attending. We encourage our readers today to also consider making this part of your philosophy. For those in the depths of grief, few things mean more than being surrounded by people whose presence acknowledges the pain, gives comfort, and provides a powerfully important sense that they are not alone in all of this.

Perhaps we should all take Dee’s father’s advice, “You can’t come in without going out, kids. Always go to the funeral.”


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