Expressing Your Condolences

July 14th, 2016

Funerals are hard.  Finding the right thing to say to the grieving family is an intimidating task.  Religious and cultural differences can add to this difficulty.  Here are a few ways to appropriately express your condolences at a funeral.  

“I’m sorry for your loss.” –  This is the classic thing to say when you don’t have the words to express your sympathy.  It allows the person to know you are thinking of them and grieving with them.

Share a memory- Sharing your most fond memory of the deceased person can be a great way to express your condolences.  It also allows the grieving person to have a positive moment during a tough time.

“I’m thinking of you and your family.”- This lets them know that they are at the forefront of your thoughts.  

Some people will feel differently about how you express your condolences than others, so remember to always be respectful of the deceased and the family.  Sometimes a hug or handshake is the best way to express how you feel, because there aren’t always words.  Depending on your relation to the deceased, you may feel the loss as strongly as the immediate family.  
For someone you did not know very well or never met, express your condolences by letting the family know how much you knew that person meant to them.  You can tell them that you know their lost loved one had a large role in shaping them into the person they are. Let them know that you are there to support them in anyway they may need.  “My heart goes out to you and your family at this time,” is a great phrase to use in this type of situation.

Losing a loved one is never an easy thing.  Just your presence at the deceased’s service will mean more to the family than you could imagine.  Being supportive of the family and offering a few kind words will go a long way.         

Personalizing A Loved One’s Funeral

November 8th, 2011

Planning a funeral for a loved one is a difficult time for anyone. A lot of work, time and effort goes into the planning process. Also, you want to make sure that it’s a special time of remembrance for your loved one. Have you thought about ways that you can personalize your loved one’s funeral?

Consider Their Unique Personality Traits

Funeral Wagon - Personalized Funeral TransportationWhen planning to personalize your loved ones funeral, think back to the fond memories you shared with them. Think about their stand-out qualities, and what other people saw in them. Also, consider their likes, hobbies, dislikes, achievements and passions.

Personalizing The Funeral Ceremony

Once you have thought about what that person meant to others and took into consideration their passions and likes, get together with other family members and come up with a creative way to incorporate these elements into the ceremony.

Personalize the visitation, eulogy, music, readings, procession, committal service, the gathering or reception. Each can be personalized in different and many ways. For the visitation, display photos, memorabilia, collections of their work or their achievements for a personalized effect. Choose music that is meaningful to that person, poetry and readings that describe that person’s life,
or even have the procession vehicle catered towards their hobbies or interest.

Ask people that were closest to that person to give readings, play music or be a pallbearer; however they feel they can contribute. A great way especially to personalize the ceremony is during the speech. This is the time that they can talk about all of their great qualities and passions.

More Tips For Personalizing A Loved One’s Funeral

Hispanic Funeral Traditions

July 20th, 2011

The funeral traditions of the Spanish-speaking cultures are similar, but have many differences and variations from each other. For the purpose of this article, we are generalizing the similarities of customs rooted in Hispanic cultures to give you a brief description of what to expect at a Hispanic Funeral.

Hispanic Funeral Traditions Are Primarily Catholic

Because of the how deeply-rooted Catholicism is in Hispanic heritages, even non-Catholics include Catholic traditions in their funerals.

The Hispanic culture accepts death as part of life. It is the end of the life in the flesh, and a beginning of the life in spirit. Catholic Hispanics celebrate one’s death, because the soul is going “home” once the body has died. The funeral process doesn’t begin after death, but before one passes.

  • Whenever the situation allows, the funeral process begins on the death-bed. A priest will give the dying person their Last Rites, which consist of confession (if possible), communion and pastoral blessing.
  • A family member will stay with the body of the deceased until the preparations begin for the funeral services.
  • A traditional Hispanic Funeral will consist of 3-4 days of services and vigils to honor and pray for the departed soul.
  • A Catholic Priest will lead the services for the funeral. Starting with the wake.

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What To Expect At A Funeral

July 10th, 2011

Funerals are always a difficult and emotional occasion. Many people get nervous or anxious when attending a funeral. There are some basic principles when it comes to one’s behavior and etiquette throughout the funeral process.

Condolence Visits

If you are a close friend or family member of the deceased, it is proper to pay a visit to the home of the family members before the funeral, to offer your help and share fond memories.

Before a Wake

A wake is a time when family and close friends come together before a funeral to spend time in remembrance of the deceased. Many people will offer to bring food, watch children, clean house or help with any of the planning.

Expressing Your Sympathy

Sending flowers to the church, funeral home or the family’s home is a well-known way of expressing your sympathy. When words can’t say it, flowers will show it.

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Funeral Music and Why It Is Important

July 4th, 2011

Funeral Music has a natural way of reaching deep into our unconscious and provide the rich opportunity for healing, while accessing unspoken words, thoughts and feelings. It has a way of soothing and comforting someone in grief, stimulating pleasant memories of time shared with the departed person.

Funeral MusicThere are no rules for funeral music.

Different cultures and religions call for different types and styles of music. However, the music needs to reflect the departed character. Beautiful hymns, classical music, Celtic Aires, country classics or lullabies are the most popular styles. If you are having trouble choosing the right music, here is a list of some of the most used songs for funeral and memorial services. Funeral music works as a gathering and closing in the funeral or memorial service. It sets the time and structure for the ceremony.

Popular Funeral Music

Amazing Grace – Elvis Presley
The Prayer – Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli
Candle in The Wind – Elton John
Con Te Partiro/Time to Say Goodbye – Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman
Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley
I Am Your Child – Barry Manilow
Remember When – Alan Jackson
Over The Rainbow – Eva Cassidy
What  A Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
Wind Beneath My Wings – Bette Middler

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Funeral Etiquette – Knowing What to Say

June 9th, 2011

Worrying about what to say and how to act at a funeral only adds more stress to an already emotional time. When it comes to expressing your sympathy and condolences at a funeral keep it sincere, heartfelt and simple.

Words of Sympathy

Words of sympathy are expressions of love and empathy for the grieving. When attending a funeral, it is best to address the family member of the deceased with a few kind words of sympathy.

The nature of your relationship with the family will dictate how much, or little you should say. If you are not familiar with the family, offer a small, heartfelt  sentiment such as:

  • I am so sorry for your loss
  • You are in my thoughts and prayers
  • I am just a phone call away
  • I have no words to express my sympathy, just know that I care
  • I am here for you

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Visitation: Healing For Everyone

December 28th, 2010

Memories Of A Dear Friend!

My friend, Patty Chaffin, died a few years ago after a long battle with cancer. Let me tell you a little bit about Patty. Patty and I met at a Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Camp (RYLA). Patty was this beautiful redhead with a loud voice and even louder laugh. She was vibrant and full of energy. Everyone who met Patty instantly liked her and most of the time she instantly liked them.

We were both counselors and eventually after a couple of years, Patty became the head counselor. She was fabulous and the teenagers loved her. Patty discovered during this time she had cancer. She came back the next year as head counselor with wigs of every color in the rainbow.

At the end of camp, we have what is called RYLA’s Own. This is where the kids in teams or individually do cheers, songs, skits or whatever to describe their experience at camp. It is amazing to see what these kids come up with and most are outright hilarious. Justin, one of our youth who happened to work part-time at a pharmacy, came up to the microphone. I thought, here we go, this will be funny. It wasn’t. Justin spoke from the heart. He told the group that if they didn’t realize it Patty didn’t feel great. As a matter of fact, her health outlook was pretty grim. This sixteen year old boy with tears running down his cheeks thanked Patty for her positive outlook and energetic passion. There was not a dry eye at RYLA.

Visitation: Honoring The True Spirit.

Okay, that was a great story. What is the point and what does this have to do with visitation? Well, Patty eventually died. However, Patty had one of the most magnificent visitations I have ever seen. Patty wanted a party and that is what she had!

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