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Talking About Death With Aging Parents

Talking about death with aging parents is likely to be emotionally heavy. The topic brings forth an acknowledgement that life is not forever and the feelings of grief that come along with losing a loved one.

Before bringing up the discussion, be sure to understand your parents and their fears. Realize that they may be dealing with the deaths of peers, friends, siblings, and others in their age-range around them, so they may be particularly sensitive to the topic.

Share with your parents how hard the conversation is for you, because of how much he or she means to you and how you can’t imagine being without them. Also share how much you want to treasure the time you have together and how you’d like to help ensure their needs are met, both in life and upon death.

Ask your parents to discuss death with you and be sure to go at their pace. They may need to take their time in talking about death and also regarding how they want different aspects to be handled.

You should determine what your parents feelings and wishes are not only in death, but also their preferences in the event that they become sick or hospitalized.

At minimum, you should find out if your parents have the following already in place: a will, living will, an estate plan, and what your parents’ wishes are for burial, cremation and/or other funeral arrangements. The burden will be removed off of you and other loved ones if a will, living will, estate plan, and pre-planned funeral are in place.

All-in-all it’s important to connect with your parents in this emotional conversation to ensure that you can confidently execute their wishes. Although it’s a difficult conversation to have, you will feel relieved to have a better understanding of their needs and wants.

Remembering Mom on Mother’s Day

Mother’s day is a time to show your mother how much you appreciate and love her. But for those who have lost their mother, it can be a difficult, sad time. If you are someone who has lost your mother, our condolences are with you. We hope these suggestions will help you find peace and comfort on Mother’s day as you honor her.

* Light a candle in memory of your mother.
* Have a mother’s day dinner in honor of your mom.
* Reminisce about the wonderful times with your mother. Look through photos. Talk to your siblings and share stories and memories together.
* Plant flowers or make a memorial garden in loving memory of your mom.
* Make or purchase a special piece of jewelry or other commemorative that reminds you of your mother.
* Make a donation to a charitable cause in honor and memory of your mom.
* Visit her place of rest.
* Write her a note, and attach it to a mother’s day balloon, releasing it into the sky. (This is a very special way to involve children in honoring their mother)

These suggestions are offered to help you cope. Although the sadness is still with you, we hope that you will find peace on Mother’s day, holding the memories of your mom close to your heart.

If there is something you do to honor or remember your mother on Mother’s day, we would love to hear about it. Please feel comfortable in posting it below and helping others cope as well.

The Power of a Candle in the Darkness

We’ve just had the first two “Time of Remembrance” candlelighting memorial services at our Federal Boulevard and Colorado Boulevard locations. It might sound strange to tell you that these are some of my favorite things I get to do each year. In a time that can seem like the rest of the world is celebrating, as grieving people we can feel like we don’t fit in. Our candlelighting services are a place where everyone understands and are there because their hearts feel similarly.

These very simple services are gentle and tender and seem to bring comfort to those who attend. As people enter, we ask them to write the name of the person or persons they are remembering this evening. Each person receives a candle before they are seated. I share some thoughts and suggestions about ways to care for yourself during the holiday season. People have given me so many gifts over the 12 years we have held these gatherings through the personal stories they relate. We then read the names of people we are remembering that evening. We then light five symbolic candles and the light is shared with all who are present.

As the candles are lit, we play a beautiful song by a talented man named Paul Alexander. His song, “I Will Light a Candle for You” is just right for the focus of this ritual. We share in a responsive prayer that is inclusive to all faiths. People are invited to sit in the peace and quiet of that time and space for as long as they wish before joining with us for some refreshments. Last evening I was so struck by the lingering warmth of the entire group that sat in reflection for ten minutes after the program concluded. It felt like we were on holy ground, indeed.

There are five more Time of Remembrance services that we invite you to attend. The schedule is as follows:
Thursday, December 9- 5303 E. County Line Rd.
Monday, December 13- 9998 Grant St.
Tuesday, December 14- 3101 S. Wadsworth Blvd.
Thursday, December 16- 3201 S. Parker Rd.
Monday, December 20- 7577 W. 80th Ave.

All begin at 7 pm and last about one hour. Please RSVP to 303-745-1771 x342 or jmcbride@horancares.com. If you have questions, please feel free to call me on my cell # 720-284-2652.

Peace to you,
Jennifer McBride
Director of Grief Support & Community Education

Coping With Holidays and Other Special Days

Coping with Holidays and Other Special Days
By Jennifer McBride, M.A.
Director of Grief Support & Community Education

While holiday times bring a certain kind of sorrow to those who are grieving, it can be the significant times in a person’s life, times not on everyone’s calendars, that 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 their family. Recently, one family shared favorite holiday memories of their loved one. There was laughter. There were tears. And there was relief brought about by releasing feelings honestly and directly.

As we are grieving it may be helpful to acknowledge that holiday times can be difficult and even marginalize those who aren’t feeling like “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.” 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 at holidays and anniversaries.

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.

WE LOOK FORWARD TO MEETING YOU

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