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4 Tips for Memory Making on the 4th of July

What do you think of when you think of 4th of July? There are fireworks and parades, patriotic songs and speeches, parties and picnics, but what’s the underlying element in all of it? For most people, it’s family. Maybe your favorite Independence Day memory is that time your uncles were shooting off fireworks, and one of them was so big and loud that all the moms and little kids ran inside to hide. Or maybe you remember eating watermelon with your grandfather, seeing how far you could spit the seeds. Whether it’s making an apple pie with Grandma or watching the parade with all the cousins, for most of us the 4th of July will always bring fond memories of childhood fun with family.

Today, things are a little different than they were a generation ago. Families are more spread out and insulated, and it’s likely that your children don’t spend as much time with the extended family as you remember spending when you were a child. This deficit can be painfully driven home when the family experiences a loss. Maybe, as you start making plans for 4th of July this year, you can start to think about those connections, strengthening family bonds while there’s still time, and honoring those you’ve lost by making new memories together.

1. Reach out to family. If you have family nearby, make plans to get together. Maybe you’ll host a barbecue at your house, or a picnic in the park, or maybe you’ll all just plan to meet together for the local parade. The togetherness is the point, so it doesn’t have to be elaborate. If your family lives too far away to get together, send a card or note to commemorate the day. Maybe you can enclose an old photo to remind them of fun times together, or maybe your children can draw pictures to send along. If you’ve recently experienced a loss, that’s an even better reason to reach out to each other, because sharing each other’s sadness can make it more bearable.

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2. While talking about our nation’s history, talk to your kids about family history. Every American family has a story to tell about the heroes within it. Maybe your grandfather served in World War 2, or maybe you can trace your roots back further, maybe even to the Revolutionary War! Talk about family members who have passed away, sharing memories of times spent with them. Keep your family’s stories alive by sharing them with your children, and you’ll help them develop a connection to and pride in their family ties.

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3. On Independence Day, remember that relying on each other is important, too. In our modern culture, we’re all so independent that we sometimes forget the importance of having people on whom to depend. Teach your children the importance of family, because connections between family members are the bonds that sustain us in the darker times of life. Our nation’s independence couldn’t have been won if people didn’t work together, and families don’t thrive if they don’t nurture their connections.

4. Make something, to make memories. Get the kids to make place cards in red, white and blue. Get them into the kitchen to help layer pound cake with whipped cream and berries. Let them “help” Daddy or Grandpa set up for fireworks or grill the burgers. The best way to make memories with children is to pull them close to you and involve them in what you’re doing. If you’ve recently lost someone dear, remember that person by making their favorite dish or participating in an activity they always loved.

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We know that family is important. That’s why we offer resources to help support families, whether they’re grieving a loss or just trying to find ways to connect. Visit our website today, to learn more about how we can help your family. In the meantime, we wish you a meaningful July 4th!

Caregiver of the Month – Desiree Lurie

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Desiree Lurie is the winner of the Hospice Caregiver Award presented by Horan & McConaty. She was nominated by Felicia Kile, a volunteer from The Denver Hospice

It is my honor to nominate Desiree Lurie for The Hospice Caregiver of the Month Award. Desiree’s working title is “Social Worker” for The Denver Hospice but she is more like a “Guiding Light” full of WARMTH, HOPE and LOVE.

I am a volunteer who shares the care of a patient with her. For the last year I have not only observed, I have experienced her kindness, compassion and dedication. Desiree treats our patient and her family like they are her only priority, her only patient, while in reality Desiree continuously cares for 37+ patients along with their families at various stages of life.

Desiree began the Hospice Journey with our patient and her family approximately a year and a half ago. Our patient has dementia, is non-verbal and her family does not live in the area. Desiree is truly her “number 1” advocate, continually assessing and reassessing her situation as her needs change. Desiree gently helps with the small details as well as assists with her “Guiding Light” full of WARMTH, HOPE and LOVE through the more difficult decisions. Our patient lives with respect, dignity and grace because of Desiree. When there has been a problem Desiree’s persistence, character and heart shine like no other.

A quote from one of Desiree’s co-workers, “Desiree is the most professional social worker I work with. She doesn’t just put band aids on the problems, she talks to her patients and finds out what is needed to make their journey better.”

Desiree’s personal working responsibilities are vast but she is also an integral part of a team.

It has been my privilege to witness the team in action and to marvel at the many roles of Desiree Lurie. AKA: Social Worker AKA: Guiding Light

I have contacted Desiree many times over the last year concerning our patient. Regardless of my questions or concerns Desiree always takes prompt and appropriate action with the same level of urgency to rectify all issues.

Desiree continuously goes above and beyond for our patient making sure all of her needs are cared for while never losing sight of the larger specifics for her and her family.

Desiree exudes compassion, she is beyond kind, Desiree, is the consummate caregiver!

A Guiding Light full of WARMTH, HOPE and LOVE…

Felicia Kile

The Denver Hospice Volunteer

 

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.

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Do you know a Caregiver? Nominate them today!

If Your Father has Died, If You are a Grieving Father … The Shadow Side of Father’s Day

Many thanks to Molly Keating and our colleagues at O’Connor Mortuary in California for allowing us to re-post this to benefit our community.

Dads. They’ve got their own unique hold on each and every one of us. With Father’s Day on the horizon, I am always drawn to thinking of the people whose voices will struggle on this holiday with what to say. How do you go through the day if your father has died or if you are a father missing a child?

If you are on this shadow-side of Father’s Day this post is for you.

If your dad has died …

If Your Father has Died, If You are a Grieving Father ... The Shadow Side of Father's Day

I’m so sorry. I hear many people refer to their dads as anchors or guides in their lives, light houses that assure our position and point the way. Losing such an important person changes everything, leaves us afloat, feeling aimless and confused.

So what are ways to bring joy and forward movement into the day? How do you invite your dad to be a part of Father’s Day?

Here are a few ideas:

  • What were some of his hobbies? There’s probably something you and family members could do together in his name; play a board game, throw a football around, tell some of his best bad jokes : )
  • Share a picture of your dad on Facebook with a tribute, it doesn’t have to be long. Key words, a favorite story or a life lesson he taught you are great places to start.
  • BBQ or enjoy some of your dad’s favorite things to eat.
  • Visit your dad’s grave and leave something for him. I have seen people leave a nice cold Budweiser for their dad and I love things like that because they make me smile and hold so much meaning.
  • Consider ways you could become that light house or mentor to others. Living out a legacy is one of the most meaningful ways of honoring people who have loved us & changed us.

If you are a grieving father …

If Your Father has Died, If You are a Grieving Father ... The Shadow Side of Father's Day

I think grieving fathers are some of the most overlooked grief communities that I know of. Understandably, there is a tremendous focus on mothers grieving because of the role their bodies play in the life of the child. These are different griefs tethered to the same loss but their differences don’t elevate one above the other.

I think one of the most significant issues dad’s face in grief is the role of responsibility they feel as protector of their family. When children die, no matter how, father’s take the burden of responsibility on their shoulders. “I should’ve been there,” “I could’ve done something different,” etc. That’s what being a dad is. It’s a protector, leader and helper and that identity is damaged and can even feel dismantled entirely when a child dies.

So, how in the world do you face Father’s Day when you don’t feel like you’ve fulfilled the role? We know that men, in general, are helped by taking action when facing grief and pain. Below are a few ideas that are hopefully constructive and instrumental in helping make the day more bearable, significant, and ultimately helpful.

  • Make something for your child. This can be as simple as paper airplanes, and as complicated as your skill set takes you. Creating a bench for your yard or a picture frame for a favorite photo can be special ways of crafting something for them that you can continue to enjoy.
  • Resist the stereotypical urge to “keep it bottled up.” This doesn’t help anyone, in fact, it only further isolates the people in the most pain. Share with your spouse or a trusted friend about the pain of the day and a way they could be of support to you through it.
  • Consider the kind of day you need; do you want to be with friends & family or would solitude be more helpful? If you have a gathering of people, set aside part of your time together to name your child and acknowledge the loss. Being together with people who love you and miss your child is a wonderful reminder that you are not alone in this.
  • Look forward. Because the loss of a child is in so many ways the loss of the future we can often become absorbed or obsessed with only looking back into the time they were a part of our lives. Spend time looking back, it’s not bad or wrong, it’s part of grief. But I would encourage you to dare to look forward, even if it’s just for 5 minutes, at what this year, the next 5, the next 10 years may hold for you. There is a lot of life ahead; look for ways to carry your little one with you into the future – it’s not the way you planned it, but it’s something you can do, if you choose.

To each and every person out there facing a Father’s Day on the shadow side, I am just so sorry. I know no blog or list of actions can fix what you are going through. The above is an attempt to guide, to be that light house for those of you who do feel adrift without fathers or your child.

Tenderness in the Spring & Summer

By Jennifer McBride, MA, FT, DM

 

As I walked through the grocery store I saw all the displays set up for Mother’s Day.  While many are celebrating, we must take good and gentle care of ourselves and be mindful of others when the upcoming holidays might be times of grieving for loved ones who are no longer with us.

Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Memorial Day and many other occasions can bring both joy and sorrow. The significant times in a person’s life, times not on everyone’s calendars, can be especially difficult.

These might include:

  • Anniversary of the death
  • Wedding anniversaries
  • Birthdays
  • Birthdays of other family members
  • Major family occasions such as weddings, baptisms, graduations or other milestones

There are many ways to observe and commemorate these important occasions, such as visiting the final resting place of a family member or finding a visual, verbal or symbolic way to remind others of a special person’s continued presence in the life and history of your family.  Recently, one family shared favorite memories of their loved one.  There was laughter.  There were tears.  And there was relief brought about by sharing feelings honestly and directly.

Knowing that there is no right way or wrong way to grieve, only your way, gives you permission to do what is best for yourself and those close to you. Here are some suggestions…

  • Care for yourself – mind, body & spirit.

Do things that are helpful, nourishing and comforting for you, such as listening to music, having quiet time, enjoying a cup of tea or a bath that can be soothing.

  • Reserve the right to change your mind.

Well-meaning people may extend invitations, and even press us to attend.  Just because someone invites, doesn’t mean our attendance is required.  Care for yourself in terms of how much socializing you can tolerate.  People who truly care will understand if you tell them how you are feeling.

  • Keep some traditions… or create new ones.

Some people wish to do things in the ways they’ve always done them.  This can be the best thing for some, but others might find it helpful to create new traditions or do something completely different.  Exercise your right to grieve in your own way.

  • Acknowledge that life has changed.

Sometimes people don’t want to mention the name of the person who died, thinking that this is easier for us and what we would prefer..  Let people know through your words and actions that it’s OK to speak of the person who died.  Set a place at the table and perhaps place a candle or photograph there that shows that that person’s presence is still felt.

Please know that our care and support continues.  You can reach me at jmcbride@horancares.com or 303-577-6057.  Wishing you peace…

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