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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.

Coping with Holidays and Other Special Days


Coping with Holidays and Other Special Days
By Jennifer McBride, M.A.
Horan & McConaty Funeral Service

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.



The Honor Bell

 “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”     - John Donne, Poet and Cleric

The tolling of a bell at a funeral has long signified honor, reverence, and remembrance. It’s a sacred symbol, used not only to mark the end of a life, but also to highlight the connection between all people. In generations past, bells rang to indicate that a person had passed from this life, and to ask the community for prayer to make that passage a smooth one. Today, the ringing of a bell is a respectful, dignified way to further honor those who have served our nation in the armed services.  That’s why Horan & McConaty is pleased to partner with the Honor Bell foundation, in order to make the pealing of the Honor Bell an option for veterans and their families.

New to our state, the Honor Bell is a 1000 pound bronze forged instrument, created and managed by veterans, and funded by donations. While it was being cast, artifacts from those who have served were escorted to the foundry by state chapters of the Patriot Guard Riders, and added to the molten bronze, as a way to represent past, present, and future veterans. Once it is rung at a ceremony, it is silenced until the next Honors.

The Honor Bell is now available for veteran funeral services, and can be rung at the cemetery, or even at a church or chapel. As it is guarded and tolled by the Bell Honor Guard, its rich, somber tone impacts hearers with a visceral resonance, reaching a place that embraces and honors grief, while also offering comfort, and honoring those who have served our country.  The tolling of the bell offers us a solemn moment, which will be remembered long after the funeral service is over, providing those who were there with the comforting knowledge that they paid this final honor to one who lived life well.

Horan & McConaty is privileged to support the Honor Bell and we look forward to making this available to veterans and their families. This is only one of the offerings we provide to help create a unique ceremony that truly celebrates the life of your loved one. For veterans, we offer a wide range of options which, depending on eligibility, can include a memorial U.S. flag, a Presidential Memorial Certificate, a Veterans Administration headstone or marker, a military flag folder and presenter, and burial at Ft. Logan National Cemetery. We also offer full military honors for those who retired from the military, were disabled as a result of military service or died while serving on active duty. Contact Horan & McConaty today, to learn more about what we can offer you to celebrate a life well lived.

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Meet Dan Farley: A Hero in Our Community


One of the unsung heroes in our community, Dan Farley is a committed husband, a loving father and grandfather, and a devoted public servant.  For many years I have had the privilege to know Dan and observe his commitment to helping firefighters and their families.  With a history of public service, specifically in public safety, Dan tirelessly steps forward and leads with a smile, and an attitude of gratitude for the opportunities to contribute to the betterment of our community.  We asked Dan several questions about his life and career.

• When did you join and retire from the Denver Fire Department? I decided to leave Wheat Ridge Police Department and join the Denver Fire Department in 1977.  I retired in 2008 with the rank of Engineer, about 3 months short of 32 years with the Denver Fire Department.
• How many years have you been involved with the Denver Firefighters Museum? I was initially involved in 1992 doing construction work. I was the Executive Director from 1998 to 2001. I have been the unofficial caretaker of the “museum rig” E-04 since 1999.
• May we share a link for people to donate to the museum? Please do! We have two ways to donate: the E-04 account and the general fund, and it goes without saying we’re tax deductible for any donations. That can be services also, we’re always looking for construction vendors that are in the tax implication periods and can’t necessarily donate cash but can donate services. This is considered an “in kind” donation and is tax deductible.
• Why do you donate so much of your time to supporting firefighters? I’ve experienced three brotherhoods: the ‘foxhole’ brotherhood from my all expenses paid trip of the world sponsored by Uncle Sam as a grunt in the Army, the ‘Blue Badge’ of courage as a cop, and the ‘Red Badge’ of courage as a fireman. Of the three there is a very distinct bond with the Red Badge members and it’s easily one that I can identify with most. The times have changed some and recently I’ve felt some angst with our young ones but I know when the chips are really down they’re there and it’s heartfelt with a different commitment mind set.
• What makes the E-04 Memorial program special to you? It’s one I helped get off the ground, and have been closely attached to since our first funeral in August of 1998. My best friend, father and uncle have all been firemen and without question it’s so gratifying to see the faces on the family members when they see E-04 there just for their loved one. It’s at their disposal for the day and we’ll do whatever we can to make that saddest of all days somewhat easier if we can. If you could see the sparkle of those eyes just once knowing it’s about E-04 and the Memorial Program it’s riveting and addictive.
• How many times per year do you run E-04 for funerals? We average about 12 to 15 DFD member funerals a year. Some years have been less and some more and without question the ultimate sacrifice of our brothers that have died in the line of duty is the hardest. So to be carrying the casket of one of our own in that rig, E-04 is so special because it’s a program like no other in the United States that we know of. I know I’m contacted often from other departments wanting this history and guidance for setting up similar programs for them.

Dan Farley is the kind of man who should be celebrated, and at Horan & McConaty we’re proud to call him a friend. Committed to serving the Denver community for more than a century, Horan & McConaty believes in honoring everyday heroes, and the deep connections they create and foster. We’re also proud to help celebrate the people in your life, through signature services that honor a life well lived. For more information on how we can help you and your loved ones, visit our website or give us a call at (303)743-8804.horan-withsig


Denver Metro’s Only Selected Independent Funeral Homes Member

Nationwide, fewer than 7% of firms meet the requirements to become a Selected Independent Funeral Homes member. We’re honored to be a Selected member since 1917.

This nationwide association requires firms to maintain the highest levels of care and to adhere to a Code of Good Practice.

Watch this video to learn more.

Learn more at : Selected Independent Funeral Homes.

Meet Our Caregiver of the Month

NovCaregiver2015Sherry Duran is the winner of the Hospice Caregiver Award, presented by Horan & McConaty. Sherry was nominated by a patient’s family member, Pedro Mondragon.

We want to thank Sherry Duran for always being there for us.  This woman is amazing.  All of her duties & responsibilities that she does endure.  She still has empathy and cares so much about our family.  She is smart and very aware of all concerns we have about our dad.  Her advice is so comforting and her help with everything is done ASAP. We all love her and her team has been so remarkable. She is a wonderful leader and a great person. We can count on her and she will problem solve and be there for us. We are grateful for having her for our dad.

We love her for everything and we are glad to have her.

Added note on back: This woman is so remarkable and is dedicated with integrity and honor and respect for us

Pedro Mondragon

Family Member

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.

Do you know a Caregiver? Nominate them today!

4 Tips for Coping with Stress

H&M FB 2.20 2016

The month of February calls for awareness about heart health and heart disease. Managing stress in your life is good for your heart and for your emotional well-being. The American Heart Association notes that “stress may affect behaviors and factors that increase heart disease risk.” Here are 4 tips that can be a good start to coping with and reducing your stress.

1) Take care of yourself. This is easy to overlook, our lives are busy and we don’t always take the time to slow down and get the rest we need. Try eating healthy, well balanced meals and try exercising on a regular basis.
2) Take a break. This could be as simple as sitting quietly for 5 or 10 minutes. Turn off the news, step away from electronics and take some time to slow down and relax. Try listening to some quiet classical music which can be an effective stress management tool.
3) Do one thing each day that you enjoy. This could be as simple as taking 15 minutes to find enjoyment in a hobby, art project or reading a book. Call a friend or make plans to meet for lunch.
4) Talk to someone about your stress. Let it out, this can help put your stress into perspective and is a way to receive feedback and advice from loved ones in your life.


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