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Making space in caregiving for “Ahhhhhhhhh”moments

Please join us as we welcome back Dr. Harold Ivan Smith, speaker, writer, teacher and story- teller extraordinaire. As a grief educator, Harold Ivan Smith is a wordsmith and storyteller, whether through his speaking, teaching, writing, or counseling. Through his word pictures and stories, listeners and readers say, “I never quite thought of it that way before.”

Harold Ivan Smith is a graduate of The Mid-America College of Funeral Service, Scarritt College (M.A.), George Peabody College of Vanderbilt University (Ed.S.), and has a doctorate from Asbury Theological Seminary. He is recognized as a Fellow in Thanatology by the Association for Death Education and Counseling. Harold Ivan also leads Grief Gatherings—innovative storytelling groups—at Saint Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, where he is a member of the teaching faculty.

*To diffuse negative strategies that prevent adequate self-care
*To explore common elements of “Ahhhhh”experiences.
*To enfranchise permission strategies for self-care.

When: Thursday, May 10, 2012. The same session will be offered in both the morning and afternoon to allow teams to take turns attending. Morning session from 9 – 11:30am. Buffet lunch from 11:30 – 1:30. Afternoon session from 1:30 – 4pm.
Where: Horan & McConaty 5303 E. County Line Rd. Centennial, CO 80112 (just west of Holly St.)
Who: Hospice and hospital staff and volunteers, victim advocate professionals and volunteers, clergy, lay ministers and others caring for our community
Cost: FREE, but you MUST register by May 7, 2012. Certificate of attendance provided.
How to register: Please Email ejohnson@horancares.com or call 720.748.9908.

Helping Loved Ones By Pre-Planning

Even though it is often a difficult topic to discuss, it’s important to talk about your wishes with your loved ones. In sharing your thoughts now, you will help in relieving the burden associated with trying to make the “right” decision on how arrangements should be made in the future. This insight will give peace of mind to those closest to you, especially in the event of an accident, illness or injury.

Upon sharing your wishes, you may decide that you would like to pre-arrange your services. By planning your own funeral in advance, you will allow for those closest to you to concentrate on the difficult process of grieving and coping with the loss without the worry of details associated with your funeral.

By fully pre-planning, it relieves you and your family from future financial responsibility. Our funeral home has options to make sure your funeral is fully funded and price protected years in advance of your need.

Pre-planning gives you the opportunity to personalize your funeral and make it a tribute to the life you lived. It’s a great way to get your loved ones involved and can make a difficult experience a more positive one.

To walk through our pre-planning guide, please visit the following link: http://www.horancares.com/_mgxroot/page_10818.php

The Power of Music

Music has the power to effect our emotions in many ways. Research shows that memory of high emotional charge stimulates the brain to record that and all the other things that were going on at that specific moment.

Our brain connects sounds, smells, and feelings to the event that has occurred and links them together. In the event of a tragedy, if there is a specific sound or musical background, those involved may find themselves experiencing the feelings associated with their tragedy every time they hear that specific sound.

This explains why certain songs create emotions and why the songs we associate with funerals can create sadness. These emotions sometimes even escalate to a physical response, such as sobbing.

Because the brain makes the connection between song and emotion, the same song will not affect everyone in the same way. The song that may create sadness for one, could give another person the strength they need to help them through the grieving process.

There is something about music that evolves over time. When we hear a song we re-live the emotional sequence that happened when we heard it previously. When you start looking at the songs you listen to, pay attention to your emotions.

You might be surprised at how songs effect your emotions. Think of the songs you heard at the most recent funeral you attended? Is there an emotional response to any of those songs?

The Etiquette on Funeral Attire

For many people, wearing black to a funeral has and still is a symbol of grief and sympathy. Although society has become more relaxed about appropriate attire at a funeral today, it is typically customary to wear clothing that is in subdued colors and more conservative.

If you are unsure of what to wear, a good rule of thumb is to dress in your “Sunday best”. Generally speaking, you do not want to dress too casually. Jeans, t-shirts, sneakers, and sweatshirts are probably not the most suitable attire. To that end, women should also avoid wearing clothing that draws attention, such as short skirts and low necklines.

In certain traditions, there may be colors and styles that are culturally inappropriate. It’s important to check into what is appropriate to wear if you are attending a service of a faith or ethnicity that you are unfamiliar with. You can find this information by asking friends or family members that are aware of the culture and traditions.

If you’re still struggling to determine what you should wear, pick an outfit, and have a friend give you their opinion. At the end of the day, it isn’t about the clothing you choose, and in most cases, no one will remember what you were wearing. What they will remember is that you were there.

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.

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.

Financial Aspects of Pre-Planning A Funeral

There are many benefits to pre-planning funeral arrangements. It provides peace of mind and can greatly reduce stress for your family, and costs of the funeral can be controlled, allowing you to make decisions based on your budget.

We are often asked about payment options when pre-planning. Payment in full guarantees the price of the funeral service and merchandise you have selected.

Pre-funding through life insurance is becoming a growing trend. Funding with insurance coverage or a trust are two ways pre-funding is handled.

Most importantly, you are protected. Funding of your pre-planned services is backed by a national industry leader in preneed insurance.

In addition, there are also tax benefits. Our plan provides life insurance benefits that are exempt from federal income tax when paid to a named beneficiary. Neither the increasing value of the coverage nor the total benefits paid at the time of death are taxable on a federal income tax level.

Do you have questions about pre-planning or the financial options available? Leave us a comment.

The Cremation Process

It’s very important to all of us at Horan & McConaty that all your questions are answered on all topics pertaining to death, funerals and cremation. Often times, we are asked about cremation, so we’d like to share some information to help you with questions you may have.

Starting with what cremation is, it is a process of reducing the human body to bone fragments using high heat and flame. The equipment used for cremation operates between 1500 and 2000 degrees Fahrenheit.

After the cremation is complete, all organic bone fragments, are collected and placed in a cooling pan. All non-consumed items, like metal are separated from the cremated remains. Remaining bone fragments are then processed to a fine size and placed either into an urn, selected by the family or a basic container, if an urn is not selected. Cremated remains have a coarse sand-like consistency and are light grey, almost white in color.

There are many ways to handle the cremated remains. They can be buried in a cemetery or cremation garden, kept at home, or scattered on private property. In more recent years, there have been more unique ways in handling remains, such as incorporating them into paintings and jewelry.

If you are considering cremation, we encourage you to carefully select a cremation service provider, as Colorado does not require licensure of its funeral homes and crematories.

At Horan & McConaty Funeral homes we have developed the most rigorous set of operating policies and procedures in order to maximize our level of quality. Positive identification of the deceased is assured throughout each stage of the cremation process. We only allow certified professionals to operate our cremation equipment.

If you would like more information on cremation, please visit our website: http://www.horancares.com/_mgxroot/page_10752.php or call (303)745-4418.

Unique Ways to Handle Cremains

As cremation becomes an increasingly popular choice for many, there is an increase in new and unique ways to handle cremains, also known as cremation remains.

Traditionally, cremains are handled by placing them in an urn. Urns are made from a wide variety of material and come in many different styles, designs, shapes and sizes, allowing families to select one that has significance to their deceased loved one.

But placing and keeping cremains in an urn is not the only choice families have; Scattering them at sea is another common way for handling the ashes. In the US, this is not allowed, so the ashes would have to be scattered over international waters.

Other less-traditional ways to handle cremains include placing them in keepsake urns, such as pendants, or incorporating them into paintings, tattoos, or beads.

An artist in Pennsylvania has dedicated his artistic abilities to incorporating cremains into his artwork. He creates custom paintings based on something that is meaningful to the family. He is among several artists across the country focusing on “memorial art” using cremains.

Embraced Jewelry in New Hampshire has also found a way to incorporate cremains into unique keepsakes. Using cremains, they create beads that can be incorporated into bracelets, necklaces and rosaries.

The choice on how you handle the cremains of your loved one is based on what you feel is best. We hope you find closure and peace in making that decision.

The Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery is the second-largest Cemetery in the United States, with over 300,00 people interred there. Among the most visited sites at Arlington National Cemetery is The Tomb of the Unknowns, which is the resting place of three unknown servicemen.

There have been four soldiers interred in the Tomb of the Unknowns, with three remaining there. The first Unknown Soldier was from World War I, the second from World War II and the third from the Korean Conflict.

The fourth Unknown Soldier was from the Vietnam Conflict, but was later identified as First Lt. Michael Blassie of the Air Force. After being identified through DNA testing, his family had his body reinterred near their home.

The Tomb of the Unknowns has been continuously guarded since April 1948. According to the Society of the Honor Guard, “The soldiers who stand guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier are hand picked and rigorously trained. They have come from every state in the union, every walk of life. There are men and women. For some this is their first unit in the Army, others are veterans of many years. Over the years there have been Regular Army and Draftees.

Each soldier must have strong military bearing, discipline, stamina and present an outstanding soldierly appearance. Each Sentinel must be able to flawlessly perform seven different types of walks, honors and ceremonies. They must retain vast amounts of knowledge concerning the Tomb, Arlington National Cemetery, the United States Army and their unit.”

The Tomb Guards must learn about over 150 different grave sites, 12 poems and detailed history of Arlington National Cemetery, the Tomb and its guards, as well as the US Army and the Regiment. Being selected to stand watch over the graves of the Unknown Soldiers is one of the highest honors a soldier in the United States Army can be granted. Selection is very rigorous, with only 20% of soldiers applying, being selected.

Have you had the opportunity to visit Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknowns? We’d love to hear your comments on your visit.


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