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New Year’s Resolutions

When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, we often focus on short-term goals, and sometimes even trivial changes to our lives. This year, we suggest perhaps you think about making positive steps towards things that can have lasting impact not only for you, but also for the people you care about most.

It may seem an odd resolution by most standards, but by committing to making pre-need arrangements, you are making one that is at once self-less and bold. Life is very precious, and unfortunately, even with the best practices, at some point (hopefully in the very distant future), each must come to an end. Making the resolution to relieve your family of some of the burden in the future is perhaps the most meaningful thing you can do for yourself and your family.

So this year, why not make a New Year’s resolution that you can keep? It might just be the most important one you make.

Coping with death around the holidays

If you have lost someone close to you during this past year, you may find yourself having difficulty getting into the “holiday spirit”. We hope this will help you find peace and comfort, and helps you cope this holiday season.

More than ever, you will probably find yourself missing your loved one during this time of year. Please remember that it is okay to allow yourself the emotions you are feeling. Allow yourself to cry, but then make sure to find time to do activities that make you comfortable, such as reading a book, meditating or exercising.

Finding ways to commemorate your loved one is an excellent way to help yourself through the holidays as well. You can do this in many ways, such as visiting places you did in the past with them, or talking about wonderful memories you had with others who were close to him or her.

Please accept help from others. Your friends and family may not know what to do or say, but they may help in other ways, such as assisting you with sending cards, cleaning your home or possibly even cooking Christmas dinner. It is important that you allow them to, as the extra stress from the holidays can become overwhelming when you are already grieving a loss. Also, it will help them cope as well, as helping you through the holidays will give them a sense of involvement in your life in a time when they are at a loss when it comes to being able to make things better for you.

And lastly, remember that it is okay to celebrate, even though you are grieving. Most likely, your loved one would want you to be enjoying yourself, focusing on the good and happy times you have spent in the past and will spend in the future.

We hope to have helped you make the season a bit easier for you. We wish you warmth and comfort this holiday season.

Online & Social Media Accounts Upon Death

The internet has become the place for social interaction, purchasing and online banking. With all of these online accounts, it raises an important question, what happens to accounts when an individual dies?

Most financial accounts and bank accounts are either closed when the account is closed, or access is granted to the deceased’s executor.

Email accounts are regulated by each service provider’s own policies. For example, Yahoo! Mail does not grant access to anyone, unless it is court ordered. While Gmail and Hotmail will grant access to their email accounts upon proof that you are authorized to access the accounts of the deceased.

Social media also comes with their own regulations. Facebook, for example, does not grant access to a deceased person’s account. But instead has a memorial status for the account of a deceased person. The memorial page can be customized by close relatives upon approval by Facebook, but certain features like joining groups and posting status updates are disabled in this state. Should the family wish to have the page taken down and the account deleted, a copy of the death certificate as well as a request form is required. If you’d like to learn more about how FaceBook handles accounts for deceased individuals, please visit their page directly: http://www.facebook.com/blog.php?post=163091042130.

Twitter assists families in saving a backup of their public Tweets and then closes the deceased person’s account. Basic information such as the deceased’s username and proof of death are required by Twitter. For more on Twitter’s process, please visit their page directly: http://support.twitter.com/articles/87894-how-to-contact-twitter-about-a-deceased-user.

LinkedIn has a “Verification of Death Form” that must be completed, which requires the email address associated with the user’s account. Upon verification of death, LinkedIn will remove the account.

YouTube also has a form that can be used to grant access to a deceased user’s account. They require the account name, death certificate, and a document with power of attorney over the YouTube account. Or if you are the parent of the user, a birth certificate may be supplied in lieu of the power of attorney. It takes approximately thirty days for YouTube to process and validate the documents and grant access.

We have created this blog to help make the process of accessing or closing a deceased family member’s account smoother. If you have any questions regarding other specific online accounts, please comment and we will provide more details for you.

Message of Thanks

When asked to name something in this past year I am thankful for I cannot count the blessings that come to mind. I joined the Horan & McConaty family just over a year ago. Since then, I have had the sincere honor to work with families who have experienced a loss and those who are planning in advance. On my first day at the company I knew this was exactly where I was meant to be. I had found my passion and I felt it deep inside my heart. From that moment I knew I could never do anything else.

Being given the opportunity to help families through the most trying times in their lives is the ultimate blessing. I have been privileged to serve others at a time when they have lost someone dear to them and also be a part of helping families put their wishes on paper in advance. I am eternally grateful to the families who have opened up an important part of their lives to us- the stories and legacy of the ones they love. The loss they have endured and the strength they have shown during these difficult times is something I genuinely admire.

I am also thankful to those who have the forethought to give their families the ultimate gift of love by making their arrangement in advance. I truly respect the decision they have made to relieve what can often be a heavy burden from their loved ones.

I cannot express the appreciation I have not only for the families we have the privilege to serve, but also for the amazing people I have the pleasure to work with. I can say in all honesty that every person I have come in contact with at Horan & McConaty has had one priority- serving families to the highest standard possible. The respect and dignity shown by everyone here is unmatched and extremely unique. I have never had the pleasure to meet such a dynamic group of people until now and their mentorship and compassion are unmatched. I am so lucky to serve alongside them. Those at Horan & McConaty put a new meaning to the word family, as that is exactly what we are, and exactly who we strive to honor every day. Thank you to the families we serve and to my Horan & Mcconaty family. I am forever appreciative to have you in my life!

~Jessica Vendegnia

We’re Thankful For You

This week, in honor of Thanksgiving, our staff is sharing stories of gratitude and thanks. This post is written by Casey Coghlan, Manger/Funeral Director for Horan & McConaty Funeral Homes.

When we talk about funerals and memorializing someone’s life, we often default to describing situations about the deceased or the family of the deceased. Not too much is mentioned about the guests in attendance. I would like to take a moment to talk about the people who are kind enough to come and honor a life or support a friend who just lost a loved one.

A unique vantage point belongs to funeral directors the day of the funeral or memorial service. That sentence alone makes me very grateful. However, there are some common denominators the staff of the funeral home has with the guests who attend services. The two most important ones are honoring a life lived and making sure the needs of the family are met. Spiritually, emotionally. Whatever the “comfort zone” is, we have to find it.

Something that has always been very interesting to me is to watching a guests as they prepare to enter the funeral home. The majority of guests arrive within 10 to 15 minutes of the service. I know many of us, professionally and personally, have our time allotted from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed at night. How we fill that time is our own choice, but I don’t know many people lamenting about having “too much time”. Even with time being so very precious, I am a believer that people arrive in such close time to the service starting is because people are not comfortable in a funeral home. There are many statistics about the frequency in which people visit a funeral home in the course of their life. I can’t exactly give you those number, but I can generalize with accuracy and say they are very low.

I have worked many funerals and have witnessed probably thousands of guests as they prepare to enter the funeral home. Sometimes, you can see a couple get out of their car and head toward the building or church. Their body language changes. They get nervous. Many times, their conversation stops. Often times a couple will join hands or pull each other close as they head closer to the unknown. I have seen polished business professionals who I know would have zero problem in any social situation take a deep breath of trepidation as they enter through the doors. No one wants to walk in and be deemed inappropriate. No one wants to “make an entrance” at a funeral.

These guest enter and immediately look for instruction. Their nerves are palpable. People’s eyes are filled with the fear of saying or doing the wrong thing. It’s not an easy path for the guests at the funeral, either. Everyone is emotionally heightened and though it all comes from a very good place, it can be unnerving.

What I am thankful for is that people put all of their fears aside and DO walk through the doors. In today’s world, the options to communicate are almost too many. People can escape something difficult through an email, a text, a Facebook message, or an online condolence. People can very easily use an excuse and say they were too busy or got caught up at work. While that can be legitimate and have truth to it, but it can also be a default get out of jail free card to avoid a situation that causes discomfort.

I am proud of the friends, work associates and neighbors who choose to walk through the doors and take time out their busy day to show the family that the greatest gift they can give them is their time. And by doing that, it makes the path seem less frightening and lonely. At the end of the day, the support group around the family is facing a big fear, too. As a funeral director, there is nothing more gratifying than watching people come together, put whatever fears aside, and walk down a difficult road that would be deemed impossible if it had to be done alone.

Thank You For Touching Our Lives

We are thankful for you, all the families who we’ve served and connected with. We asked our staff members to share their words of thanks. Liz Sanchez and Kristen Van Ryswyk are sharing their gratitude today.

I am thankful that I am able to work in such a compassionate field with such kindhearted and genuine people. We get to meet so many families and hear amazing stories about their loved ones and the richness of that person’s life is truly felt. I feel like the content of my life becomes more significant every time I hear about how much someone meant to someone else. I have been able to experience how different cultures honor those they love on a very intimate level. My eyes have been opened over the last 6 months and I have gained a higher level of value and perspective. I have learned the true meaning of the word “loss” and the phrase “celebration of life” at the same time.
~Liz Sanchez

One of the families we served during 2011 interred their son and brother near the waterfall in The Cremation Gardens at Rocky Mountain Memorial Park on a lovely early summer morning. Just the three of us, Mom, Sister, and cemeterian, were present for the burial but the family made the moment very special by writing their own service, prayers, and committal prayer. As one of the Park families, they received their fall invitation to the Luminaria Service of Remembrance…

Each year, we hold a Service of Remembrance on the first and second Sundays in November at the Cremation Gardens, both at Parker Road @ Dartmouth and at County Line Road, just west of Holly St. respectively. This year, our Parker Road service was on the 6th, concluding just after sunset when families placed decorated Luminaria candle bags near the grave or memorialization of their loved one. After Jennifer McBride’s lovely thoughts and compassionate prayers, the candles were lit and families gathered to hug, mourn, and heal from their loss. As folks processed through the park back to their cars, the mother mentioned above stopped me to say ‘Thank You’. I replied, ‘No, thank you for being with us tonight.’ Her response reminds me of why working with the ‘family’ of people at Horan & McConaty means so much. She told me that working with the Cremation Gardens and the resulting interment of her son has reinforced her belief that she made the right choice for her son’s remains to be placed forever in one of the most peaceful and beautiful settings she could ever imagine. She stated that at a ‘normal’ cemetery, you are forgotten as soon as the last shovel of dirt is placed on the grave but here, at Rocky Mountain Memorial Park, she felt a sense of belonging and peace that she had never felt before. She was thankful for everyone she had met (and continues to meet) through her connection to the park… I am thankful for people like her.
~Kristen Van Ryswyk

Thank you, from the Horan & McConaty staff. You have touched our lives.

Interesting and Unique Funeral Facts

In conjunction with our FaceBook “Interesting Funeral Facts Week”, we have included some additional interesting and unusual facts about funerals in our blog.

A properly folded military flag shows 4 stars, one each to represent the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines.

Taberger’s safety coffin was developed in 1829. It included a bell to ring that would alert the graveyard workers if they were being buried alive.

Prior to the 20th century, some European families would hire professional mourners to either look sad or wail.

Elephants and chimpanzees both have been known to bury their dead, by throwing leaves and branches over the deceased members of their families.

An odd spot to have a cemetery, an apartment building’s parking lot in Hattiesburg, Mississippi has a small cemetery.

Flowers placed at the grave were originally brought to promote good will with the spirit of the deceased.

The tradition of playing loud music at an Irish wake originated with the belief that it would ward off evil spirits. The wake also presented an opportunity to watch over the deceased to see if he/she would awaken.

Approximately 6,400 burials are conducted annually at Arlington National Cemetery, which is an average of about 28 burials are performed each day.

There are many interesting funeral facts on the Internet, as well as some myths. If you have heard of a unique funeral fact, please share it with us and we’ll provide more information on it.

Appreciation for Our Veterans

Today we would like to thank all of the veterans who have served our country and especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Without these brave individuals, many of our freedoms would not exist. And for that, we are grateful.

There are many men and women who have been deployed to fight in war, and others who have served or are serving to protect our borders. They are brave, strong and honorable, doing all this to ensure the prosperity of our great country.
Veterans Day is about showing our appreciation and sharing it with those who are currently serving, those who have served in the past and to honor those that have fallen.

There are many ways to honor these brave individuals and we encourage you to show your appreciation today and beyond Veteran’s day.

We’d like to say thank you to all the veterans and soldiers who have fought for our freedoms. Happy Veteran’s Day!

All About Wills

We’ve included some basic information on wills below to assist you with gathering the information you need to properly consider creating a will.

The most common questions asked pertaining to wills include, “What is a will?” and “Do I need a lawyer to create my will?”

According to the Colorado Bar Association, a will is “the most common estate planning document and is used by both wealthy individuals and those of modest means. Like a Revocable Living Trust, a will is a set of instructions directing when, how, to whom, and by whom a decedent’s property should be disposed of and their business affairs wrapped up. In addition, the willmaker may name a guardian for their minor or disabled adult child(ren). “

Additionally, a person can make a will if they are “at least 18 years old, of sound mind, and must know what property they own, who their immediate family members are, and who they want their property to be given to. “

There are several requirements for a will to be considered legal and legitimate. The will must be either typed or handwritten, signed and dated (signature must be witnessed by two uninterested parties) and should be notarized.

We encourage you to work with an attorney when creating a will, as it requires a set of skills and knowledge. This will also help in ensuring issues do not arise when the will must be executed. With a “holographic” will (a will made without a lawyer), if there is a component missing from your will or if it is deemed defective, it can cause much delay, expense and possibly litigation.

Below find a list of quick facts to help you with your will questions:
• You can change a will (known as a “codicil”) or revoke it at any time, as long as you are mentally competent and not inappropriately influenced by another person.
• You should update your will if there is a major change in your life, such as additional property acquired, if you move, or if there is a change in the lives of your devisees.
• You should always have your will reviewed if you move to another state, as the laws may be different in that state.
• In Colorado, if you get divorced after you execute a will, your “ex” (if named in the will) is automatically eliminated as a devisee when the divorce is final. If you get married and do not update your will, your spouse is entitled to the same share that he/she would be if you did not have a will.
• According to Colorado state law, “you can give your property to whomever you wish. However, the law provides protections for surviving spouses who were left out or disinherited in the will, and children of the decedent who were born after the will was executed and no provisions were made for them. A surviving spouse may elect to receive a percentage of the decedent’s estate regardless of what the will says, unless a valid prenuptial agreement says otherwise. Similarly, unless expressly excluded, children born after a decedent’s will is executed may inherit the share they would be entitled to if the decedent died without a will.”
• If a person dies without a will, the laws of Colorado write the will for him/her through statutes that dictate who is entitled to what. This process can be complicated and may require court involvement.

If you have questions about wills, please post them below or contact our staff. We’re always here to help.

The World Grows Healthier in Expressing Grief

Following the announcement of Steve Job’s death, I was so deeply struck at the accounts of people showing up at Apple stores everywhere, putting sticky notes on the windows expressing their feelings, leaving flowers, lighting electronic candles, and connecting with others in their community. For me, as a person who has walked with grieving people for over 15 years, I felt so heartened to see that our society does this much more openly all the time.

Public deaths can help our society learn how to mourn the losses that are closer to us personally. The news stories and poignant photographs brought to mind Dr. William Worden’s Tasks of Mourning:

To confront the reality of the loss: This task involves overcoming disbelief and denial of death by acknowledging and accepting the reality of the death. It’s why people felt drawn to the Apple stores or to share the experience online connecting with others

To express the feelings: A continuation of the first task, but to have an opportunity within communities, either physical or virtual to express the impact.

To find meaning: What does this loss mean to this person at this time in his or her own life? It is said that every loss brings back all our other losses. These experiences all become part of our personal narrative.

To integrate the loss into our lives: Did you notice how many websites had a memorial to Steve Jobs on their opening page? People all over the world needed to express this and honor a person whom I heard referred to as the Thomas Edison of our time. In a news story last night, I heard Steve Wozniak interviewed along with the hundreds of people lined up for the newest version of the iPhone. People were clamoring for the last product that Steve helped to create. That is a tangible piece of continued connection as well as a chance to honor a life that has such a huge ripple effect.

For more information, please find the Griefwords Library of articles by Dr. Alan Wolfelt at www.horancares.com when you click on the Grief Resources tab.

Thank you, Steve Jobs, you’re still creating a tremendous impact in our world… You’re helping people learn to express grief in healthy ways.


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