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The Lost Art of Writing Thank You Notes

Published: August 1, 2019 by David Moore

One of the most difficult tasks facing family members after a loved one has died is writing thank you notes to those that have provided them with comfort, care and remembrances of their loved one.

While it may be difficult to find the energy to write a thank you note after a funeral, doing so is an important way of acknowledging the love and kindness that friends and family members have shown you during this challenging period in your life.  There is no set time that thank you notes must be done by it is best to do them within a few weeks after the services or try to accomplish the task before a months’ time has passed.  But remember everyone’s circumstances are different and if you are not able to accomplish them in the first few weeks or month you should still go ahead and write them when you can.

Simple notes that acknowledge that the recipient has done something special for you is all that is necessary but some may choose to write more personalized, individual thank you.  Your funeral home should be able to supply you with different styles, simple or more personalized to help complete the task.

Often we are asked who should receive a thank you card.

While sending thank you notes to everyone that attended the services is not necessary, but it is important to formally thank those who have provided extra assistance or services throughout this period.  For example:

Sent or brought flowers, keepsakes or other gifts,
Made a donation to a charity/memorial in honor of your loved one,
Sent a personal letter of condolence,
Provided food for luncheon or at your home,
Helped you with children, running errands or watching your home,
Acted as a Pallbearer, Provided Music at service, Anyone who read or spoke during the services, and the person who presided over the services (i.e. Minister, Celebrant, )

The best way to remember who you should be thanking is to keep track of items as they happen.  Keep a list of food items given, list of calls or notes received, lists of flowers and memorials given.  This is a great area to employ a friend or family member to help you with lists to keep the tasks more manageable.

One of the ways that Stackhouse-Moore helps are families is by providing digital photos of all the flowers/gifts given at the funeral home along with the photos of the cards that accompanied the item.  This make remembering each flower arrangement or gift much easier to remember.

It is not the length of the thank you note that is important but a short message will accomplish the task just as well.  In a society that too often does not really take the time to formally say thank you, funerals should be the one exception where we still take the time to acknowledge what others have done for us and our loved one.

Funerals and Challenging Family Relationships

Published: August 1, 2019 by David Moore

Funerals, Memorial Services, Visitations, and other services held after someone has died are all important ways to remember and celebrate the life of a loved one.  However, in some circumstances the life of the deceased may present a complex or complicated family tree. When planning a service it can be difficult for a current spouse or other family members to plan around inviting and involving ex-spouses, stepchildren, or even other children by another partner who may have been close to the deceased at some point in time.

When arranging for services it is usually best to remember to arrange for what the departed would have wanted.  While it may be difficult, proper etiquette dictates setting aside any personal emotions you may have about the other individuals who may have been close to the deceased - such as an ex-spouse.  Ideally, it is important to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to gain closure through whatever services are laid out.

In these situations, every arrangement may be made on a case-by-case basis.  In some situations the current spouse and the ex-spouse may get along and there will be little disagreement.  

Stepchildren or children who may have come from other parents can also be difficult, especially when planning on how to involve them in the services.  If the deceased played an important part in their lives it best to let them play parts in the services as well.

If family drama is not able to be set aside for the services, it is highly recommended that all the individuals pre-plan for these situations before they occur.  Whether requesting a private funeral or detailing such desires in a legal document as to who should not attend a funeral or other services.  

While we always encourage public services as a way to remember a loved one it can be difficult to prevent someone you do not want there from attending.  Funerals/Memorial Services should be times of healing and not opportunities to further inflict pain and hurt and we would always hope that everyone would respect one another and take the high road as to not use this time to make a difficult time even more difficult.

The Funeral Arrangements Conference

Published: August 1, 2019 by David Moore

When a death has occurred and you need to make plans for any services and what happens to your loved one after death, that is accomplished in what we call a funeral arrangements conference.

This conference is usually the next day after a death but can be set according to the circumstances between your funeral director and you and your family.  This is usually an in person meeting at the funeral home or sometimes at your or other family member’s home.  While there is no set amount of time that this meeting will take it is best that you plan that it will take at least several hours to work through all the details necessary. 

At this meeting it is important that you are equipped with some items and information.  Make sure that you know the deceased Social Security Number and can provide it to the funeral director.  Also bring any military discharge papers if appropriate.

Other important information would be parent’s names, including the mother’s maiden name.
Date and place of birth of deceased
Education the deceased received.
Marriage information, to whom, when and where.  If spouse is deceased date of death
Memberships to church, groups, organizations etc.
Work History, places and times
List of all immediate family, both living and preceding in death
                Spouse, Children, Grandchildren, Great Grandchildren, Great Great Grandchildren,  Parents, Brother, Sisters, others?  And City and State that each resides in if possible.

You may also want to bring in any insurance paperwork or other documents in which the deceased had laid out plans or wishes for services.  If you know that you want a particular Minister or Musicians to preform you would want to bring in their names and contact information as well.

Finally:  You should bring a photo of two of the deceased that might be used in the obituaries.

This conference can be tough-but coming to it prepared can make it go that much more smoothly.


Other items that funeral home will want to receive from you but can often be done at a later time.

Clothing (Outfit that the deceased will be dressed in including underclothes)

Jewelry and/or personal items that you want the deceased to wear or be with them.
                Remembering that these items can be removed and returned to you before final disposition

Personal cosmetics (i.e. special lipstick, fingernail polish, foundation color or other items)

Additional photos for DVD tributes and/or display.

Additional personal display items that can be used at the visitation or other services.

Cremation Terminology

Published: August 1, 2019 by David Moore

Terms you should know when choosing cremation.

 1)  CREMATION Is a form of disposition where intense heat is used to reduce human remains into small bone fragments.  These fragments are then further reduced to finer powder like substance we refer to as cremated remains, or sometimes just as cremains.  Some use the term "ashes" but this is not a correct term for what  cremains really are.

2) CREMATION RETORT is the chamber in which cremation takes place.

3) CREMAINS is a term used to refer the powder like substance that is left after the cremation process.

4) URN is a term for any vessel that holds cremated remains.

5) MEMORIAL SERVICE is the term used most often to describe a service held with no physical body present at the service.

6) CELEBRATION OF LIFE is another term used to describe a service.  Sometimes a formal, but often a more informal service held after death.

7) FINAL DISPOSITION is a term used to describe what is done with cremains after the cremation.  This is often includes burying the cremains in a cemetery or other location, it can also mean scattering the cremains in a location or multiple locations.  This could also be in a niche or columbarium.

8) COLUMBARIUM is a structure specifically designed to hold cremated remains.  They are often found in cemeteries or sometimes churches. The usually have individual compartments referred to as niches in them to place urns for final disposition.

9) DIRECT DISPOSITION is a term funeral homes use for when a family chooses to have their loved one transferred to the crematory with no funeral or memorial service to be held.

10) RENTAL CASKET is a casket that the shell or outside of the casket is reused for multiple deaths and a new inside or bedding is provided for each individual. 

11) CREMATION CASKET is a term used for caskets manufactured of wood or wood by-products with little or no metal that are suitable for using in the cremation process.

12) EMBALMING is a process to disinfect the body and temporarily preserve it for the duration of services to be held.  It is necessary when you wish to have a public viewing of the deceased as part of the services you desire.  Embalming is not necessary in cremation when no viewing is to take place.

Knowing some of the terms associated with Cremation can help you feel more confident as you seek to make decisions for your loved one or even in pre-planning services for yourself.  As always if you have questions that are not answered here please ask one of our funeral directors who will be glad to help you better understand terminology, requirements, or options you have.

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