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How to choose a funeral home.

How to choose a funeral home

It isn’t really a topic we want to talk about or deal with: our passing, or the passing of a loved one. And yet, it is one of the inevitable parts of the human existence. At some point, we will find ourselves needing to plan a funeral, and with that comes the question of how to choose a funeral home.

The Role of a Funeral Home

A funeral home coordinates funeral arrangements. This can include planning what the memorial service will look like, preparing the deceased for the funeral service, and assisting with products and services needed for the arrangements.

With over 20,000 funeral homes in the US alone, choosing one can seem daunting. However, just like with any service provider, there are things to look at to help you make the best choice for you and your family.

Questions to ask about the funeral home

Funeral Home Facilities

Are the facilities well kept and welcoming?

How do they handle transportation?

How is the deceased handled through the process? Do they handle refrigeration, embalming, cremation? How many people move and handle the deceased?

Are their facilities the right size for the funeral you are planning?

Is the facility easy to access as far as location for the people who plan to be there?

Funeral Home Services Offered

Do you feel pressured to buy only from the funeral home and not outside vendors?

Does the funeral home offer the types of services and products you are interested in at a fair price?

Do they offer refrigeration, embalming, cosmetics, restoration or other desired services?

How much is their Basic Services Fee? Is this comparable to other funeral homes you are considering? (They must disclose this fee and more according to the Federal Trade Commission Funeral Rule.)

Are they able to work with your budget?

Do they have relationships with vendors for things you would like such as flowers and music?

Style of the Funeral Home Services

Is the funeral director willing and able to provide the type of service you are requesting?

Do they understand your religious beliefs and are able to hold a service to honor that?

Do they understand your interests and family dynamics in a way to support the type of funeral you want?

Are they flexible with how the service is performed to meet the personalization you are wanting?

Fairmount has been serving Denver families since 1890 and can support you through the entire process including: pre-planning, funeral or memorial services, burial services, funeral reception and bereavement needs. Our Family Care Providers will meet with you in your home or in our private offices that look and feel like a living room. We want you to feel comfortable and cared for. Give us a call today to get your questions answered or schedule time to meet with us.

Understanding the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule

The Federal Trade Commission put the Funeral Rule into place in 1984 and revised in 1994 to prevent unscrupulous funeral practices that favored the funeral homes and were considered predatory by some consumers. These protective measures help you make better informed choices, especially at a particularly difficult and vulnerable time.

One way to help ease the process of planning a funeral, is to put your own desires in writing and going through the pre-planning process. This can help your family with the decisions by communicating your end of life wishes and, in some cases, pre-paying for some of the expenses.

The Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule

The Funeral Rule requires funeral providers to provide accurate and itemized price information, as well as provide disclosures about funeral products to consumers or face hefty fines (up to $16,000 per violation).

It was designed to prevent misrepresentation of legal requirements or process requirements involving cremation, embalming and cemetery needs.

Everyone who is a funeral provider is subject to the rule, and the FTC defines a funeral provider as those services used to:

Care for and prepare bodies for burial, cremation or other final disposition; and those used to arrange, supervise, or conduct the funeral ceremony or final disposition of human remains. SOURCE: FTC Funeral Rule Compliance

The Funeral Rule Components

The Funeral Rule has several components, but we will simplify it and look at what you need to know as a consumer.

The General Price List

This list is available to you to take with you. You can request it or it must be offered once you begin discussing pricing options. The General Price List must have the contact information for the funeral provider, be titled “General Price List” and display an effective date. It will have 6 disclosures that provide you with additional information and your rights as a consumer.

  1. Right of Selection Disclosure

This disclosure says that you have the right to buy only what you want to buy, with the exception of the non-declinable services which are included in the Basic Services Fee.

  1. Embalming Disclosure

This disclosure lets you know that the law doesn’t require embalming in all cases, as well as when it is required.

  1. Alternative Container Disclosure

This disclosure tells you about the right you have to use an alternative container in a cremation. The funeral provider should list the specific alternative containers available. If the provider doesn’t offer direct cremation service, this disclosure may not be included.

  1. Basic Services Fee Disclosure

This is an important disclosure because it states what the professional fee for services is. This fee must be disclosed by all funeral providers and will allow you to compare services between funeral providers. This fee includes basic services and overhead and cannot  be declined.

This fee will typically include the charge for performing services, planning the service, coordinating vendors, cemetery or cremation, and preparing and securing permits and notices. It will also include overhead expenses. They don’t have to break down each item, but they should tell you what is included in the price.

  1. Casket Price List Disclosure

In this disclosure, you will be notified that a Casket Price list is available for you to review that lists all available caskets. This disclosure was created so consumers understood that the models shown may not be the only ones available. Consider your budget and review the Casket Price list to find the casket best suited for your needs and objectives.

  1. Outer Burial Container Price List Disclosure

This final disclosure, like the casket price list disclosure, simply informs you that an Outer Burial Container Price List is available to you. A complete price list should be made available to you in order to match your budget needs and desires. Some areas of the country require these containers and others do not. The funeral provider can give you guidance on the local laws as well as the chosen cemetery requirements. The Outer Burial Containers include grave liners and burial vaults.

General Price List Itemization

In addition to the Disclosures, the General Price List requires itemization of several services and products including the price of: Forwarding, transferring or receiving remains between funeral homes; cremation; burial; basic services; embalming; body preparation; use of space; use of equipment; use of staff; transportation; casket pricing, and outer burial container pricing.

Alternative Price Lists

Alternative Price Lists can be used for special situations such as:

Children and Infant Services

Government Benefits (such as military services)

Special Groups (such as membership based groups)

Even though alternative price lists can be used, you can also see the General Price List for groups other than these and you can choose from the other items available. Alternative Price Lists must still comply with all the disclosures and the Funeral Rule overall.

Other Information

Special Rules apply to Cash Advances and notifications prior to embalming. For more information, visit the FTC Funeral Rule website or contact one of our Family Care Providers who are knowledgeable and helpful in every step of the funeral process.

Fairmount has been serving Denver families since 1890 and can support you through the entire process including: pre-planning, funeral or memorial services, burial services, funeral reception and bereavement needs. Our Family Care Providers will meet with you in your home or in our private offices that look and feel like a living room. We want you to feel comfortable and cared for. Give us a call today to get your questions answered or schedule time to meet with us.

Your “Just in Case” Checklist, Part 2

Emergency preparedness can be scary, which is why many of us chose to ignore doing it or even thinking about it. However, a proactive approach is empowering, and if we never use it, is still worth the peace of mind in knowing it is done. We challenge you to not just think about it, but follow an action plan to get things together ‘just in case’ you have an emergency that may result in death.

We don’t like to think about our mortality, so instead we ask you to think about your family and friends who will be handling any arrangements in order for them to manage them the way you would want without additional distress. We broke the checklist into smaller components to be addressed in a clear state of mind. If you need help with this checklist or pre-planning in general, contact us to schedule a free appointment with our Family Care Providers.

The information contained within this article is for educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. Consult your lawyer, pre-planning specialist or financial advisor for your next steps.

We have broken the process down into a 8 week action plan which includes:

Creating an Emergency Contact List

Preparing your most important Emergency Documents

Documents for your loved ones

Your Annual Review Documents

Electronic Devices

Online Passwords

Inventory

End of Life Wishes

Let’s pick up with month two of the Checklist, but if you missed month one, check out “Your ‘Just in Case’ Checklist, Part 1”.

Week 5 – Preparing your ‘Just in Case’ Checklist: Electronic Devices Passwords

Create a master document with all your passwords. It is suggested to have it digitally as well as tangible, in the case of destruction of one or the other. Include on the list any passwords for locked devices such as:

Cell Phone

Laptop

Tablet

Computer

Wi-Fi

Home Security System

GPS

Electronic Safe

Remember any of these items at your place of work as well

Any new technology not listed above

Week 6 – Preparing your ‘Just in Case’ Checklist: Online Passwords

We live in a digital world where passwords are required for nearly everything online. These passwords are important for access to the sites, but also to allow online sites and services to be changed or closed to prevent cyber attacks. Create a document or use a password manager and give that information to a trusted person in case of an emergency. Include login information for both home and work applications of:

Email

Cloud Storage

Voice Mail

Online Banking

Online Gaming

Online Music

Online Shopping

Social Media Accounts

Website Hosting

Online Services

Online Medical Sites used

Online Memberships

Any other site that may require a password to be altered or closed.

Week 7 – Preparing your ‘Just in Case’ Checklist: Inventory

Emergency preparedness includes many plans that include taking inventory. This can be an ongoing process. Do what you feel is most important for your situation, but some inventory recommendations include keeping a list of:

What’s in your safe-deposit box

Special Collections (ie. Coin collection, Antiques, Guns)

Furniture

Items to be given to others in your Will

Hobby items

Keep your inventory lists apart from the items they include. These can be important for insurance reasons in case of an emergency.

Week 8 – Preparing your ‘Just in Case’ Checklist: End of Life Wishes

Prepare items that will communicate your end of life wishes including your desires regarding:

Burial and Cremation

Organ Donation

Funeral Preferences

Obituary information

Fairmount has been serving Denver families with their end of live needs since 1890. You have nothing to lose when meeting with our Family Care Providers to begin your pre-planning process wherever you are in your life. Our Family Care Providers will meet with you in your home or in our private offices that look and feel like a living room. We want you to feel comfortable and cared for. Give us a call today at 303-399-0692.

Funeral Reception: A Spontaneous Family Reunion

Why Hold a Funeral Reception?

Funerals and weddings bring families together, sometimes even more than a family reunion will. There is something unique as well about a funeral in that it seems to put life into perspective. Funeral receptions, therefore, have become a spontaneous family reunion. And although it is not under the happiest of situations, the truth is they become a time to reconnect with friends and loved ones. It can easily be extended to really honor the loved one by having a celebration of everyone coming together.

At one time, receptions that didn’t carry a somber feeling were practically taboo. The modern funeral reception is now growing in popularity, and also practicality, because everyone is together. Today’s culture is much more open than past ones, and they are taking the idea of community outside the boxes of conventionality.

Some funeral receptions will offer food, cocktails and even music and dancing. This reception helps people reconnect with loved ones, celebrate the life of the deceased and bring laughter, support and connection to an otherwise melancholy event. Just like any other celebration, thought should be given to how the event feels, looks and flows. Consider ways that you can personalize the funeral reception so it truly is honoring.

Funeral Reception Ideas

Personalize it. Decor and mementos that were meaningful in the life of the person being honored, are always a good idea. Offer favors such as wildflower seeds or ask guests to bring something memorable as a way to celebrate the things the deceased loved. Place them on a memorial table for people to see.

Offer Refreshments. It is fairly traditional for the reception to be potluck style. However, as people are in mourning, and we are faced with more food allergy restrictions, asking for food to be brought can pose a challenge. Instead, consider some light catering options such as appetizers, trays or platters of food and a variety of beverages.

Allow expression. Show a video or slideshow of the family and friends of the departed. Ask people to share stories, poems or songs. If music and dancing seems right for the venue and the celebration, don’t be afraid to incorporate it. Don’t force people to be happy and don’t be upset if people cry. Everyone processes death differently, so allow that. Offer notebooks for people to write memories and stories, or offer a video booth for them to create a story visually.

Take off the pressure. Likely, the funeral reception is rather last minute, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself to make everything perfect. Use an event planner, especially one associated with the venue, to pull together a fast and easy reception. What you lack in experience, they have done hundreds of times and already have relationships with multiple vendors. They also will likely be more clear headed, so let them do the work. Ask for help when and where you need it.

 

Fairmount has been serving Denver families since 1890 and can support you through the entire process including: pre-planning, funeral or memorial services, burial services, funeral reception and bereavement needs. Our Family Care Providers will meet with you in your home or in our private offices that look and feel like a living room. We want you to feel comfortable and cared for. Give us a call today to get your questions answered or schedule time to meet with us.

How to assign a legal guardian to your child in case of an emergency

No parent wants to think about being involved in an emergency situation where their child would require the care of someone else, however it is a critical question to ask.

“Who will take care of my child if I am unable to?”

A legal guardian is simply a person assigned responsibility of a child when the parent isn’t able to care for them or make decisions for them. A legal guardian will be legally responsible for the child in the case of a parent becoming unable to care for him or her due to death, illness, injury or even separation (abandonment).

A common misconception is that a family member will be able to take on this role, but that’s just not the case. If there isn’t someone specifically identified in writing, such as in a Will, the court system will decide who cares for your minor children, and that can include a next of kin, or a court appointed agent. This makes assigning a guardian of your minor children critical in your emergency pre-planning documents.

If you need help with any pre-planning arrangements, Fairmount would like to meet with you in a free session to help you get your documents in order, because it is vitally important to have your wishes documented.

How to assign a legal guardian

First: Choose the right person

The guardian you choose will become the parent in your place, potentially making decisions about your child’s health, school, religious beliefs, safety and more. When considering a guardian, keep in mind that each child can have a different guardian assigned, if that is in their best interest. Start with a list of who you would consider, or go through the questions and think of the person or people who would best fill that role.

Questions to determine a legal guardian in case of an emergency

Does this person love your child? How do they show that love? Will they consider the child’s best interest above their own?

Does this person have the financial means to care for your child? How will the handle the funds you leave to your child?

Is this person emotionally responsible enough to raise a child? Are they of age? Are they able to make mature decisions?

Does this person have the physical means to care for the child? Do they have a health concern or physical restrictions that would prevent them from providing quality care?

What is their living situation? Is their home able to accommodate children? Do they expect to move or do they live somewhere else and if so, how will that impact the children?

Do they already have children and will that help or hinder their care? How is their relationship with their partner? Are these relationships safe and stable?

How will this person treat relationships with my child’s friends and family members? Does my child already have a relationship with this person or would it be new to them?

Do we share the same beliefs on the things that are of highest importance to me? Do we have the same or similar parenting style and values?

Second: Ask questions of the potential guardian

Once you have narrowed down your list, contact the person or people you are considering and talk to them about it. Ask the potential guardian if they are able and willing to care for your child. Ask them about anything you are unclear on, such as their plans for children, relocation and beliefs. Ask them if they have a timeframe where they would not be willing or able to care for your children, such as their own age restrictions or the age of the children, or they may be willing to provide temporary care, but not long term care.

They may tell you no for many reasons, so don’t take it personal. They may already be overwhelmed parents, have potential guardianship responsibilities from others, or don’t feel they could do the ‘job’ for other reasons. Ask them if they would consider being an alternate.

Third: Assign the guardian(s)

You want to assign a guardian and an alternate for each child individually. There may be a time to assign two guardians per child, as in the case of a married couple where you want equal guardianship, however, most the time it is best to assign one. Co-guardianship situations can become complicated, especially if they don’t agree on what’s in the best interest of the child, or where financial matters are concerned.

Sometimes it makes sense to assign different guardians to your children, such as when they are part of different families as in the case of divorce. Or, the children may be closer to certain family members and not others. Sometimes it may make sense to have different family members care for your children if the guardian isn’t able to care for all the children and you know they will be cooperative with the guardians of the other children and/or it’s in the child(ren)’s best interest.

List the guardian and alternates in your Will and consult with a lawyer to make sure your wishes will be carried out. Certain laws may govern the assignment and eligibility of guardians, so you will want to be sure your chosen guardians are qualified. If you are married or co-parent, make sure you both list the same guardians to avoid confusion. If there are different guardians appointed and both parents die, the court will decide who gets custody based on their beliefs about what is best for the child(ren).

Fourth: Write a letter of explanation to accompany your choice of guardianship

This letter basically justifies why you chose the guardian. It likely will address the questions that prompted you to assign them in the first place. This can be important for the courts to understand what is important to you, in the case an alternate guardian needs to be assigned or if the guardianship is challenged by another person or family member. This is important especially in the case that the child is not to live with the surviving parent, or a blood relative.

The courts will take into consideration the child’s relationship to and the financial, emotional and physical stability of the person, as well as the child’s preference, when assigning a guardian when it is unclear who is assigned.

Finally, consider the finances

Think about whether or not the best provider for your child is also the best person to manage the finances. If not, consider assigning a trustee or custodian of your child’s inheritance.

“Many parents don’t leave money directly to their children. Instead, they leave everything to each other, with the understanding that the survivor will care for the children. They name their children as alternate beneficiaries. Many single parents, however, leave property directly to their children. Either way, you should arrange for someone to manage whatever property they may inherit, in case they receive it while they’re still too young to manage it themselves.” SOURCE: Leaving an Inheritance for Children

Pre-planning and protecting the things most important to you is critical, and yet can be an overwhelming process. Fairmount would like to meet you and begin your pre-planning process wherever you are in your life. Our Family Care Providers will meet with you in your home or in our private offices that look and feel like a living room. We want you to feel comfortable and cared for, just as thousands of Denver families have since 1890 at Fairmount. Give us a call today at 303-399-0692.

Your “Just in Case” Checklist, Part 1

Pre-planning can sound overwhelming and frankly, a bit morbid. We don’t want to think about our mortality or end of life. It brings up a lot of sadness and fear for us. However, if we can have some things in place “just in case”, we can help our family members, who aren’t likely thinking clearly, to get things in order. If we can take time to do this checklist once, and then review it every 6 months, updating it if needed, we can take that pressure off them, and make conscious choices when our mind is clear. Sometimes, emergency preparedness can be overwhelming, so take it in smaller bites, which is how we have it laid out for you. If you need help with this checklist or pre-planning in general, contact us to schedule a free appointment with our Family Care Providers.

The information contained within this article is for educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. Consult your lawyer, pre-planning specialist or financial advisor for your next steps.

We have broken it down into a 8 week action plan which includes:

Creating an Emergency Contact List
Preparing your most important Emergency Documents
Documents for your loved ones
Your Annual Review Documents
Electronic Devices
Online Passwords
Inventory
End of Life Wishes

Week 1 – Preparing your ‘Just in Case’ Checklist: Emergency Contacts
This is good to have ready for any time you leave for vacation, hire a pet or baby sitter and more. It is also good to have it documented somewhere outside your cell phone for your own needs in case you lose or destroy it.

A list of important contacts to call in case of an emergency. This can include:

Spouse/Partner
Family Members
Doctors
Financial Advisor

If appropriate, put notes about who to contact or where to find additional information such as Medical Directives. If you have pets or children, leave specific notes for who should provide temporary care for them (and/or who shouldn’t, if applicable), and any information relevant to their care such as medical concerns.

In the case of lost or stolen wallet, you may also want a copy of your Driver’s License and information on your Credit Card and Bank Accounts. Login information information including username, password, security question answers, account numbers and lost/stolen contact phone numbers are recommended.

Week 2 – Preparing your ‘Just in Case’ Checklist: Emergency Documents These documents should be kept in a safe place and someone should be aware of how to access them. This can be a financial advisor, a trusted family member or a lawyer. In your ‘ICE’ envelope, you can leave information about where to find these documents as well, such as leaving the address for a safe-deposit box or home safe.

Keep in mind that safe-deposit boxes are only able to be accessed during regular banking hours, so only documents that don’t need to be accessed in an emergency should be kept there. Additionally, if you are the sole owner of the box, it could be weeks or months before it is able to be opened, so assign a second person or more to have access.

Compile these documents and have them in a safe but accessible place. If they aren’t complete or accurate, take time to do that this week.

Documents needed in case of an emergency:

Health Care Proxy

Living Will

Financial Power of Attorney

Week 3 – Preparing your ‘Just in Case’ Checklist: Emergency Documents For Your Loved Ones

>If your emergency results in a fatality, you will need to have additional documents available. Take some time to put these items together in a safe place and notify a designated person where to gain access to them.

Documents needed in case of your passing

Funeral Pre-planning Documents (including pre-payment arrangements)
Will
Trusts
Vehicle Titles
Land/Property Deeds
Insurance Paperwork
Mortgage Paperwork
Loan Paperwork
Investment Information
Bank Account Information
Birth Certificates
Adoption Records
Social Security Card
Marriage Certificates/ Divorce Decree
Documentation of Citizenship
Passport/ ID
Military Service ID
Safe Deposit Box and/or Storage Unit Access Information

Week 4 – Preparing your ‘Just in Case’ Checklist: Annual Review Documents

Put a reminder in your calendar to review these items, or review them on a significant date such as a holiday or birthday. Review them annually or more often if needed.

Insurance, including Life, Health, Auto, Home, Disability, Long Term Care, Umbrella and any others.

Benefits including employee sponsored insurance policies and investments.
Your other paperwork such as your Will, Power of Attorney and Living Will

To continue reading about the next 4 weeks of planning, check out “Your ‘Just in Case’ Checklist Part 2”.

Fairmount has been serving Denver families with their end of live needs since 1890. You have nothing to lose when meeting with our Family Care Providers to begin your pre-planning process wherever you are in your life. Our Family Care Providers will meet with you in your home or in our private offices that look and feel like a living room. We want you to feel comfortable and cared for. Give us a call today at 303-399-0692.

The Need for Pre-Planning at ANY Age

Do you have a living will?
Do you have an emergency phone call list?
Do you have anything in writing about your end of life wishes?

Pre-planning is a free service at Fairmount. We think it is critically important for everyone age 18 and up. Yes, age 18 and up.

We tend to not think about preparing anything before we “have a scare” or get hit with reality when a friend passes away (usually far too young). The problem with this thinking is that we don’t know when our time is up. And although that may be a morbid thought, it is a reality that everything living must die. And we aren’t promised a long life.

Who do you know who has passed “prematurely”?

In the US right now, we have a life expectancy of 78.8 years. So prematurely means under the age of 79… And, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention some of our top killers are:

Heart Disease
Cancer
Accidents
Strokes

Heart Disease: Average Age of Onset: 65

“In the U.S., the average age for a first heart attack in men is 65…But as many as 4% to 10% of all heart attacks occur before age 45, and most of these strike men.” SOURCE: Harvard Medical School 

Cancer: Average Age of Onset: varies, but 60-70 is the highest risk

“The most common type of cancer…is breast cancer, with more than 249,000 new cases expected in the United States in 2016. The next most common cancers are lung cancer and prostate cancer.” SOURCE: Cancer.gov 

Accidents: Average Age of Onset: 1-24 year olds are at the highest risk for accidents including death from an auto accident. SOURCE: US Census

Stroke: Average Age of Onset: 45 and up 

“Although a vast majority of strokes occur in people over age 65 (the risk is 30 to 50 per 1,000 in this age group), 10 percent to 15 percent affect people age 45 and younger (a risk of 1 in 1,000).” SOURCE: Too Young to Have a Stroke? Think Again. New York Times.

Why are we bringing all this up? To stress the importance of pre-planning. We never, ever know. And when we are the one who lives a long and healthy life, we still need to have communication about our end of life wishes. We recently read an article that really made this clear, but it’s emotional, so reader beware. The overwhelming concept was that we really don’t want to die the way we are now dying: 

“Nearly 50 percent of the elderly US population now die in nursing homes or hospitals. When they do finally pass, they are often surrounded by teams of us doctors and nurses, medical students, respiratory therapists and countless other health care providers pounding on their chests…” SOURCE: How we used to die; How we die now

If this is not how you want your last day to look, come in and build a pre-plan with us. You have nothing to lose when meeting with our Family Care Providers to begin your pre-planning process wherever you are in your life. Our Family Care Providers will meet with you in your home or in our private offices that look and feel like a living room. We want you to feel comfortable and cared for. Give us a call today at 303-399-0692. 

Resources for Childhood Grief

Carey met Steven when his family moved in next door to hers.

He was an only child and Carey was the youngest, with two older brothers who didn’t want a little sister hanging around. Steven became an instant playmate since he was the same age. In fact, Carey and Steven were in school together, both in the same 3rd-grade class. Carey knew Steven was sick, but she didn’t understand what it meant when Steven said he was born with a hole in his heart. She just knew he couldn’t run around and play soccer with her outside. So, on weekends, Carey would cross the street to see Steven and knock on the door. His mom would let her in and in his room, they would read and play with army men and make forts.

One day, Steven stopped coming to school. When Carey went to his house and knocked on the door, his mom didn’t answer. Carey was confused. She knew they still lived there but hadn’t seen her friend. One day, Steven’s mom answered the door. She said Steven was sick and was in the hospital. Carey’s mom didn’t want to take her to the hospital, or later, the funeral. Carey’s teachers didn’t talk about Steven’s absence or even acknowledge it. Carey felt sad.

Seventy percent of children under 18 are likely to experience the death of a friend or family memberIt is important that children have an opportunity to express the feelings they have about death and dying. Part of the difficulty in this is that the adults in the child’s life either don’t understand grief and haven’t processed in a healthy way themselves or are also experiencing their grief on the matter. It, therefore, becomes critical for adults to have resources that support children through the grief process.

Children need to know the truth about the loss, however, how much that is shared will depend on the age and/or maturity of the child. Honesty builds trust and reduces anxiety for the child and allows them some closure.

Children know more than we think they do and by not telling the truth, we risk leaving children to process complicated information on their own, rather than with the loving adults in their lives.” Source: National Alliance for Grieving Children

There are things children need to understand to come to a place where they can process death. New York Life put together a booklet that details this more, but overall they are:

1.Death is irreversible
2.Living and functions of life end at death
3.Everything alive eventually dies
4.Physical reasons are tied to the reason for death

For younger children, there is a Sesame Street booklet that is designed to help parents and caregivers with talking to kids about death. The language is simple and clear, and a great resource.

Many organizations also exist to offer support and include:

dougy.org offers several resources including how to talk to a child about tragic events.

childgrief.org offers resources for parents, counselors, and teachers and includes suicide prevention information.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network offers an overview of, symptoms of, and resources for, children who have experienced trauma.

Griefspeaks.com offers support for teens experiencing grief and offers suicide hotlines and resources.

The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry has grief resources for families available in additional languages such as Spanish and Chinese.

Fairmount offers the support of Family Care Providers who help you with the entire process of preparing for and conducting a life honoring service for your loved one. We offer bereavement services for the families we serve and can meet with you in your home or in our private offices that look and feel like a living room. We want you to feel comfortable and cared for like we have been doing for Denver families since 1890. Give us a call today to meet with one of our Providers or ask any questions you have at 303-399-0692.

Helping yourself heal after the death of a loved one

Grief can be a confusing process. When we experience grief after the death of a loved one, we can find some people to be less than helpful, which makes us want to withdraw and be alone.

Sometimes, we can find others with whom we relate, and that helps us move forward. Overall, however, it is our responsibility to find the support we need to heal after our loved one has passed.

Understanding Grief

The main thing to understand is that grief is natural, normal, and that people grieve in different ways, and none of those ways are ‘right’ or ‘wrong,’ just as there is no time frame one should grieve. Grievers may experience emotional or physical symptoms while others experience an emotion or range of emotions. Some people may not experience any of it, and that’s ok too. If grief inhibits your ability to perform day to day functions, it is recommended you seek the support of a mental health professional, spiritual leader, doctor or good friend.

Your initial reaction to the loss of your loved one will fade from an emotional state to one of grief, in most cases. The point of this process is to get you to a place of acceptance of the loss. A healthy acceptance doesn’t mean you have forgotten about the person or are glad, but rather that you have come to believe and understand the loss is an unchangeable reality. Don’t push yourself to ‘heal’. Be gentle and kind to yourself and others who are in the process as well.

Your relationship has changed

Your loved one is gone, and yet you can continue to relate to him or her in a new way. This different relationship may include having traditions look differently. For example, one woman buys a cupcake on her mom’s birthday that was her favorite flavor. In this way, she is remembering her mother and acknowledging she is no longer physically there to celebrate with her.

You have changed

The process of losing someone close to you changed you. You may have learned new things such as medical or legal processes leading up to or following the loss. You may have learned new things about your loved one through shared stories. You may have a new empathy that you didn’t have before. Your life will never be the same, and there is a part of grief that asks you to accept your new self.

Your routine has changed

Depending on how close the relationship was, you may need to change your routine. Sometimes these changes are hard, such as no longer having a daily phone call or weekly lunch with the person. Finding ways to adjust your schedule to support healthy behaviors is part of the process of healing. Connect with new people, objects or pursuits to put the emotional investment that you once placed in your relationship with the deceased, into a new venture.

The bottom line of this active work of grief and mourning is to help you recognize that your loved one is gone. Then you must make the necessary internal, psychological changes, as well as the necessary external, social changes to accommodate this reality.

Additional tips for healing include:

Seek out supportive, non-judgmental people.
Find a safe environment for support, such as a support group.
Take care of yourself physically with rest, exercise and eating.
Contact a doctor or mental health profession if needed.

If you would like additional grief support, please call us, Fairmount provides bereavement services for the families we serve. Our Family Care Providers will meet with you in your home or in our private offices that look and feel like a living room. We want you to feel comfortable and cared for like we have been doing for Denver families since 1890. Give us a call today to meet with one of our Providers or ask any questions you have at 303-399-0692.

6 Tips for Working Through Grief

When someone you love has passed away, physical and emotional adjustments are needed for you to move through the grieving process in a healthy way and get to a place where you can function day to day in your new reality without them.

You must be able to give yourself permission to mourn. However, that looks for you. Navigating this, while also possibly taking care of details that require resolution, such as closing accounts, notifying people and arranging their final requests, can be a handful. It may be difficult to remember that you are still here and that you need to be taken care of as well.

Find time to feel your feelings, and think your thoughts about the death of your loved one. Give yourself time and space to mourn as it is a critical part of the healing process. The journey of grieving is often frightening, overwhelming and sometimes lonely and painful. Be patient with yourself, but don’t deny yourself the process. Here are six tips to help you take care of yourself during this time:

Understand Your Grief is Unique

No one will grieve in the same way as you. In fact, your experience will be influenced by a variety of factors such as: the support system you have in place including your spiritual and cultural connections, your coping strategies, your relationship to the deceased, and the circumstances surrounding the death.

Never compare your grief experience to others nor make assumptions about when your grief will begin, end or look. Grieve at your pace and take it “one-day-at-a-time”.

Talk about how you feel

Talking about grief and how you are feeling will often help you feel better. Sadly, many people think ignoring the topic will make it go away, and it doesn’t. Instead, speak from your heart, not just your head. It may feel at times that you are ‘losing control’ by becoming emotional, but this is normal.

Finding friends and relatives who listen without judgment will help you express your emotions freely. Stay away from critical people who discount your experience. Even things that may sound helpful like, “Keep your chin up!” or “Be happy!”, Although likely well intended, can put pressure on you to behave a certain way. Express your grief in the way you see fit.

Don’t Judge Yourself

Grief can be complicated, and a major loss can affect your spirit, mind, and heart. A variety of emotions, therefore, may come up including relief, confusion, fear, disorganization, guilt, and anger. These emotions can surface at any time, sometimes explosively. It’s important to know this, not just for yourself, but for others who may also be going through grief. Although you may believe you are having emotions surface at strange times, or even that the emotions themselves don’t make sense, they are healthy and normal.

“It’s so curious: one can resist tears and ‘behave’ very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer… and everything collapses.” Sidonie Gabrielle Colette

Give Yourself Time

Feeling numb or even dazed when a loved one dies is part of the first stages of grief. It is an important part, however, because it allows your emotions to ‘catch up’ with the reality of the situation. It can create a buffer until you can better cope with the changes. By being patient with your limits, you will be able to move through them more completely. Numbness sometimes gives way to tiredness, so also give yourself that time as well.

You may feel ‘cloudy’ or unable to concentrate or think clearly. Take good care of yourself by keeping a routine that includes exercise, eating right and getting enough sleep.

Get support

It is important not to isolate yourself. Reaching out to others may be the last thing you want to do, and yet it is important, especially if you are feeling extremely down or self-injurious. Finding support is taking care of yourself and it will help you feel better. By talking to others who have been through the experience and who can relate to your feelings in a non-judgemental way is priceless.

Talk to them about ways they have found healing, as well as things you would like to do to honor and remember your loved one. Small rituals can help support the transition of no longer having the person in your life by creating a new way of relating to them.

Create Healing Rituals

The first ritual is typically the memorial service or funeral. That is important, but smaller personal rituals are as well. These healing rituals can include things like writing a letter, lighting a candle in remembrance of them, visiting their final resting place or a place you had been together. Be creative and express your feelings to honor someone who was, and always will be, loved.

If you would like additional grief support, please call us, Fairmount provides bereavement services for the families we serve. Our Family Care Providers will meet with you in your home or in our private offices that look and feel like a living room. We want you to feel comfortable and cared for like we have been doing for Denver families since 1890. Give us a call today to meet with one of our Providers or ask any questions you have at 303-399-0692.