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Facing Thanksgiving When Someone You Love Has Died

Thanksgiving is traditionally a family holiday when loved ones gather from far and near to count their blessings and spend quality time together.  For someone who has suffered a loss, though, this holiday can feel very different. When you’re grieving, it can be hard to get into the holiday spirit, and even worse if you worry about living up to others’ expectations for your behavior. If you’ve suffered a loss, make it easy on yourself, by being proactive about your Thanksgiving.

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  • Keep it simple. This may not be the year for a Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving, and that’s fine. We all have an image of the “perfect” Thanksgiving celebration, but when you’re grieving, perfection should not be the goal. A simple meal, shared with people you love, may be the perfect salve for your tender spirit.
  • Allow yourself to honor the memory of your loved one. Sometimes, we try not to think about the person we’ve lost, but that can make the ache even worse. Don’t resist the memory of the person you love, but honor it by talking about favorite memories you shared. Especially if you’re celebrating Thanksgiving with others who loved that person, this can be a wonderful way to lessen your shared grief. You might remember your loved one in a prayer before a meal, light a candle in his honor, or set an extra place at the table. Whatever feels comfortable for you, that’s a good way to honor the memory of the person who has died.
  • Create new traditions. Maybe you’ve always entertained a huge crowd at Thanksgiving each year, and now that feels uncomfortable and wrong. Maybe there are traditions that you’re dreading because they’ll be too painful after your loss. This is the perfect time to create new traditions. It’s important to remember that life always changes and that you can allow yourself some fluidity in the way you celebrate important dates.
  • Know your limitations. Don’t push yourself to do more than you’re able to handle. If you’re normally the one who hosts, this may be the year to let someone else do it. Even if you’re not hosting, have an escape plan in mind, so that you can leave if it all becomes too much. It’s ok to cancel or abbreviate your Thanksgiving celebrations if that’s what you need to do to take care of yourself.

dinnerIf you’ve suffered a loss, we want to help you find your path to peace. At our funeral home, we have a compassionate and caring staff, well-equipped to help you as you learn to cope with your loss. Whether you need suggestions for reading material that may help, or you’d like to know about community events and classes that deal with grief, we can point you in the right direction to get the help you need. Visit our website, call or stop by, to learn more about all we have to offer. And from all of us, we want to wish you a blessed Thanksgiving.

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Make this Veterans Day Meaningful by Respecting and Honoring Veterans

On Veterans Day, we honor our heroes. We celebrate the brave men and women who have given so much to ensure our freedom and protect our way of life. Unlike Memorial Day, which was created to memorialize those who died in service, Veterans Day honors the living veterans, those who have served and those who continue to serve. For many veterans, though, Veterans Day is a time of great sadness. While we’re celebrating their triumphs, we must also recognize the tragedy of war, and the impact it can have on the lives of service members and their families.

militaryfamilySome veterans return from their time in service with physical issues that are difficult to overcome. Aside from physical pain, some feel emotional pain, perhaps conflicted about their role in combat. Others feel deep grief over friends who died “over there”. No matter the reason for the pain, it should be respected. You may have a soldier in your life, or you may just feel a sense of appreciation for all the troops have done for our country. Whatever your motivation, there are some things you can do this year to make Veterans Day better for a veteran.

  • Listen to their stories. If you have veterans in your life, ask questions about time spent in service, including specifics about jobs and stations. Don’t push, because some veterans aren’t comfortable sharing, but make yourself available to hear anything that needs to be said.
  • Volunteer to help a veteran. Maybe you don’t know any veterans, but you’d like to find a way to express your gratitude through an act of kindness. There are many programs available to facilitate this, whether you want to volunteer in a VA hospital, drive disabled vets to doctor’s appointments, or visit homebound vets. Check with your local VA for information about opportunities to help.
  • Write a letter to a serviceperson. There are men and women in the service who risk their lives every day, to protect our freedoms. Operation Gratitude provides opportunities to reach out to these heroes, by sending a care package or letter.

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  • Don’t forget the families. The men and women who serve in our armed forces make many sacrifices for the greater good of our country, but so do their families. If you know a military family, reach out. Sometimes, just inviting them over for dinner is an act of kindness they’ll remember forever. If you don’t know where to start, Operation Gratitude is once again a good resource. The organization donates stuffed animals to children with deployed parents, provides care packages to caregivers of wounded veterans, and offers support in many other ways as well. You can also help families by donating your frequent flier miles, to help them travel to be with a wounded loved one.
  • Do something meaningful for Veterans Day. Instead of just having a day off, or celebrating with your family and friends, go to a parade, or another event held to honor veterans. At home, talk about why Veterans Day is important, and teach your children to respect veterans. Get your child to draw a picture or write a letter, thanking a veteran for his or her service.
  • Do something meaningful when it isn’t Veterans Day. Veterans are among us every day, not just on Veterans Day. When you reach out on an ordinary day, you can make a real impact on a veteran’s life, and enriching your own life in the process.

 

We are pleased to be able to help the families of veterans, working to ensure that their loved ones receive the full honors to which they are entitled. If your loved one was a veteran, we can help you through the entire process, from filling out important paperwork to planning a memorial that honors not just a life, but also the service of an American hero.

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Volunteer Honor Guards Serve When the Military Is Unable

Denver, CO – November 1, 2017 – From November 6th through November 11th, Horan & McConaty will host an Operation Honor Guard fundraiser, to benefit veteran honor guards who serve the greater metro area. The public is invited to make monetary donations, which will be used to support the needs of veteran honor guards and their members.

When a veteran is not eligible or the military is not available, honor guard members are volunteers who supplement the military and provide honors at the family’s request.  In the Denver Metro Area, there are only 2 volunteer honor guards, the All Veterans Honor Guard and Longmont American Legion Post #32 Honor Guard.

Dick Kounovsky, of the American Legion Honor Guard in Longmont, says that their group of 25 volunteers stays busy. “We provide military honors for deceased veterans, and we do that about 110-120 times each year. We also go to schools and retirement homes to do flag talks, and on Veteran’s Day we lead the parade.”

Maury Smith is the coordinator of the All Veterans Honor Guard, which is composed of five teams in the area.  He’s also Commander of the Aurora Honor Guard.  “There aren’t enough of us to go around,” he says.  “It’s truly a noble cause. We’re all volunteers, and the thanks we get is the appreciation of the families we serve.”

According to the Department of Defense, there are ten thousand Honor Guards in the United States, averaging 12 members each. These men and women donate their time and bear the costs of their uniforms, transportation, and equipment. Operation Honor Guard seeks to assist these volunteers by providing funds to conduct military funerals for veterans and service members, to raise awareness of the role of volunteer veteran honor guards, and to encourage more veterans to become involved and support this important mission.

In addition, there is the Honor Bell, providing a stirring tribute to a veteran’s service. Commissioned in 2016, the Honor Bell is a 1000 pound bronze forged instrument, created by veterans, and funded by donations. It’s rung by the Bell Honor Guard, and its mission, says Executive Director/Founder Louis Olivera, is to honor deceased veterans.

“No veteran should ever be buried without honor,” says Olivera. “Whether they served for 3 years, or retired after 30, they deserve honor.” He’s very proud of the selflessness of the Honor Guard volunteers, adding, “These individuals stand for hours in all weather conditions, many of them elderly, some even in their 90s, and demonstrate to their fellow citizens that America is the land of the free, and the home of the brave.”

Horan & McConaty is dedicated to helping veterans in any way they can. Says Horan, “I’ve seen these men and women, all volunteers, provide stirring tributes to veterans on the hottest and coldest days of the year.  They seem honored to serve and do a great job.  Survivors of the veterans are deeply moved by the rifle salute, playing of taps, and the folding and presentation of the flag.  These honor guards need our financial support and they need more members. We are delighted to raise funds and increase awareness to support this important mission.”

HELP VETERANS TODAY

About Horan & McConaty

For over 120 years, Horan & McConaty has served families in the greater Denver area, working to ease the journey of those coping with the end of a life with unsurpassed levels of compassion and professionalism. We facilitate services that provide comfort and meaning, and honor life.

About Operation Honor Guard

Operation Honor Guard, founded in 2013, is now a 501(c)(3) organization which has benefitted over eighty Honor Guards across the nation.

About the Honor Bell Foundation

Honor Bell Foundation, Inc. is a Colorado nonprofit, 501(c)(3) corporation based in Denver. The foundation not only provides a ceremonial bell for veterans’ funerals, but also veteran outreach and community education.

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