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First Annual Party of Thanksgiving

  Fall is often the season for Thanksgiving, for many it is a time to give thanks for life’s blessings, friends, family and the little things we often take for granted. For us, the season is a perfect opportunity to express our appreciation and gratitude for the community serving patients and families. On November 11th we hosted Departing Decisions First Annual Party of Thanksgiving – to thank providers helping families with end of life planning and during the difficult moments when illness, death and grief take hold. It also happened to be Veteran’s Day so our candle lighting ceremony included a moment of gratitude and honor towards those who serve and have served our country.   Our vision was to create a warm, relaxing, and rejuvenating evening – for those who provide support and care for others to take a moment to care for themselves. Music from Sacred Flight and Threshold Choir, delicious food and drinks along with a ceremony presented by a great supporter and Departing Decisions community member, Holly Pruett – Life Cycle Celebrant. A tree of gratitude, an interactive art display was shared to give guests an opportunity write on a leaf what they were thankful for and then attach it to the tree. By the end of the evening every branch was full! What made the night even more special was the women from Threshold Choir stayed after the ceremony to invite guests to partake in a song bath— a chance for individuals to sit back, relax, and receive songs of care, chosen just for them. The beauty of the evening continued even after everyone left – we... read more

Find a Final Resting Vessel That ‘Speaks’ To You

By Irina Jordan, Founder and Owner of Artisurn – online marketplace of handcrafted cremation urns, jewelry and keepsakes. Final resting vessels have personalities, just like people. Cremation urns can be serious, playful, elegant, exuberant and much more. Your choices are not limited to urns. You can have the ashes fused with glass to create unique glass jewelry and keepsakes. You can pour a tiny amount of ashes into an urn pendant or brooch and keep it close. Pick memorial pieces that ‘speak’ to you and you and your family will treasure them forever as family heirlooms. The urns can be made from a variety of materials: biodegradable paper and clay, bronze, copper, glass, clay (ceramic and Raku) and wood (including segmented urns). Cremation urns are measured in cubic inches. The general rule of thumb is for every pound of the person’s total weight you will need one cubic inch of space. So if a person weighed 150 pounds, you will need an urn that is 150 cubic inches or larger. Based on their capacity, urns can be divided into the following categories: Companion Cremation Urns can accommodate the cremated remains of two people, such as a husband and wife. They range in size from 300 to 500 cubic inches. Individual Size Cremation Urns hold the ashes of one person. The Cremation Association of North America (CANA) created an industry standard of 200 cubic inches, which equals about 6.8 pints. Individual urns vary from 110 to 300 cubic inches. Sharing Cremation Urns are smaller, and are intended for sharing ashes among several different family members. Sharing urns come in a... read more

Suicide Takes Hold of Anyone – Including Robin Williams

It is hard to fathom that someone who has brought so much joy and laughter to millions could be taken from us by suicide. But sadly, today it was announced that famous comedian Robin Williams died a victim of suicide at age 63. He was most famously known for his starring roles in classic comedies like Mrs. Doubtfire and Jumanji. He won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Dr. Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting and rose to fame in the show Mork and Mindy, a Happy Days spinoff. William’s wife Susan Schneider released the following statement this morning to The New York Times: “This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one if its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings. I am utterly heartbroken. On behalf of Robin’s family, we are asking for privacy during our time of profound grief. As he is remembered, it is our hope that the focus will not be on Robin’s death but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions.” You will be missed Robin Williams, you will be missed. Although, we can never fully understand how powerful suicide can be, we hope that your legacy can live on through your movies and through bringing such a heartbreaking topic to the forefront!  ... read more

What In The World Is A Death Cafe?

The name caught your attention didn’t it? That is the point! Death Cafe’s are a worldwide movement to talk about DEATH. Why would people do such a thing you ask? Well, despite death being a taboo topic in American culture, Death Cafe’s are popping up all over the US after launching in the UK in September 2011. As of today there have been almost 900 death cafe’s worldwide. What happens at Death Cafe’s? There is no agenda, objectives or theme but rather a group directed discussion of death but not necessarily a grief support or counseling session. Death Cafe’s thrive on the following principles, which makes them a unique event that individuals find to be a safe and warm environment to have discussions about the very few certainties in life. Death Cafe’s are offered on a not for profit basis, Iin an accessible, respectful and confidential space, with no intention of leading people to any conclusion, product or course of action, alongside refreshing drinks and nourishing food – and cake! Death Cafe’s in The News Death Cafe’s Breathe Life Into the Conversation about Dying via NPR Death Cafe’s Grow As Places To Discuss & Learn About End of Life via The Huffington Post Death Cafe’s – Talk About an Important Subject via Psychology Today Death Be Not Decaffeinated: Over Cup, Groups Face Taboo – via New York Times Video about Death Cafe’s from Portlander Kate Brassington BBC Interview with Jon Underwood, Death Cafe... read more

The Meaning of Memorial Day

On this 3 day weekend many of us will partake in traditional Memorial Day BBQ’s, concerts, parades, or road trips. But how many of us really know the reason for the holiday? Originally called Decoration Day, it was started three years after the Civil War ended on May 5, 1868. The day was set aside for the nation to decorate the graves of those who died servicing during the Civil War.  By the early 20th century, Memorial Day was an occasion to honor all Americans who had died serving the United States through any of our wars and traditionally held the last Monday in May…historians suggest the later date in May to be chosen because flowers would be in bloom throughout the nation – giving more options to decorate the graves at the cemeteries. What will you do to celebrate Memorial Day and the people who died serving our... read more

Funeral Planning: Terms You Should Know

Description: There are a number of glossary terms that are associated with funeral services which are important to have an understanding of, should the need for the services of the funeral services homes in the US arise. The following is a list of some of the most commonly used glossary terms when planning for funeral services. An administrator is one appointed by the court to take care of the estate of the deceased who hadn’t written a will. An arrangement room refers to the room in the funeral home where bereaved family meets with the staff to make plans for the funeral services. The attorney in fact refers simply to the person who is given power of attorney (the ability to make financial decisions for the deceased or incapacitated). A beneficiary is one who receives the proceeds from the deceased’s will and/or insurance policy. A gift of property designated in a will is called a bequest. Bereaved refers to the members of the deceased’s immediate family. Burial permits are documents required by certain states before being allowed to bury or cremate the deceased’s remains. A casket is a large container designed to carry the deceased’s body or remains. The cemetery is the burial ground used to conduct final funeral rites or services. Cremation means burning human remains using highly intense heat, while a crematory is the building which has a furnace set aside for cremation purposes. Death certificate refers to a legally binding document issued and signed by either medical professional or coroner allowed by the law to perform such a task. A display room is where you can... read more

Funeral Etiquette

When you are thinking of attending a funeral, it is often a good idea to keep the tips below in mind to ensure that you are as respectful as possible to the bereaved. Keep time Always make sure to arrive early, more than a few minutes before the service starts. Most of the delayed funeral services out there are normally attributed to the attendants coming late. By making sure that you are on time, you can ensure that the service starts in a timely fashion and it shows your respect. Sign the registry in an appropriate manner Always sign the document with your first and last name, and also include your relationship to the deceased. Avoid seeking out the family before the service When you find that the family members are greeting other people during the service, try and keep your interaction with them minimal, so that you can give them time to greet all the guests in attendance. Be respectful Avoid things such as eating during the service. Keep your phone on silent mode, and quietly exit the service if you think you are going to be overly emotional to avoid disrupting the service. If asked to say something, try keeping it brief and respectful. Also, avoid taking photos as much as possible; this can be misconstrued as a violation of privacy in a funeral situation. Be respectful towards urns If an urn is displayed at a service, do not touch the urn as it could be considered disrespectful to the deceased or the family. Distractions Avoid going to the service with children if you think they are... read more

Before Death Checklist

  Update Your Will Determine who will get your assets when you pass This should be kept with your Power of Attorney (see below) and Advanced Directive (see below) People who should have a copy: Lawyer, You, Power of Attorney (whoever you decide) Designate Power of Attorney (when necessary) Gives someone the power to make financial decisions for you, when you are not able to make those decisions for yourself Ex. If you are in an accident and are left with no ability to think for yourself People who should have a copy: Lawyer, You, Power of Attorney Fill out Advanced Directive Designates your medical wishes People who should have a copy: Doctor, You, Power of Attorney Prepare a Contact List People who should be immediately notified of the death (immediate family, power of attorney, etc.) People who should be notified and invited to the funeral/memorial People who you DO NOT want notified and who are NOT to attend the funeral/memorial Plan and Write Out Wishes What type of service you would like Where you want the service Burial/Cremation/Donation to Science Where you are to be buried/cremated Write an obituary (optional) Allows you to decide what is written Make a list of important account information All accounts so they can be closed after your death Bank Utilities Cable Cell Phone Where your accounts are (bank, phone, etc.) Which bank? Which cable company? Make a list of death benefits & insurance policies Auto insurance Home insurance Life insurance Veteran services Social security Make a list of assets Titles... read more

Flowers for Funerals: The Best Way to Show Sympathy

Death isn’t something that is new to all of us. In fact, we hear people dying every now and then. But very few of us know the best way to extend our sympathy to the family of the departed. We go to funeral and we don’t know how to react around family members and we’re clueless on what to say to somehow help ease their pain. This is where flowers are extremely useful. When you wish to send your condolences or share your sympathy, sending flowers is one very popular option. It’s a very meaningful gesture and people from across the globe appreciate it. But did you know that different type of flowers express different messages? Below are the common flowers given during funeral and the type of message they send. Lillies- If there’s one flower that is deeply associated with funeral services, it would be lily. This flower represents the restored soul of the person who died and is a symbol of innocence. White lilies symbolize purity and majesty while white stargazer lilies express deep sympathy. Carnations– Do you ever wonder why carnations are common fixtures to most funerals? This is because carnations, depending on their colors, represent innocence, pure love, remembrance, and admiration. Chrysanthemums- This type of flower is very famous in Japan, Korea, and some European countries. They represent grief and lamentation. However, in United States, Chrysanthemums are often associated with truth. Roses- Just like carnations, Roses are common fixtures on funeral because they’re one of the most recognizable flowers. Flower arrangements usually contain roses with different colors as they symbolize different meanings. A white rose... read more

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