Page 30 - McAdams
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IS IT NECESSARY TO HAVE FLOWERS?
It is not necessary but flowers create a background of warmth and beauty which softens the environment and often comforts the family, especially if Mom was a flower lover or Dad a gardener. Most services will at least have flowers from family and close friends and both arrangements and live plants are still very common expressions of sympathy and respect. Many people continue to find a colourful display of blooms a nice tribute. In instances when a family member has allergies or sensitivities you may see a polite note declining live flowers. In these circumstances you may want to discuss artificial arrangements with your preferred florist. We’ve never met anyone allergic to those.
WHEN A CHARITABLE FUND
IS SPECIFIED FOR MEMORIAL DONATIONS AM I OBLIGATED TO DONATE TO THAT ONE?
You are not obligated to donate at all. If you choose to make a donation, as a sign of respect for the deceased or the family, you are free to make a contribution to the designated fund or to one of your own choosing. It is very common to see that stated in obituaries. As in most gift giving situations it truly is the thought that counts. If you feel moved to donate money, send flowers, or prepare a casserole for the family, do what you can, from the heart. The family will be grateful for your thoughtfulness.
WHY DO WE HAVE VISITATION WITH AN OPEN CASKET?
Viewing the deceased is an old practice, more common in some cultures than others, but still a regular part of rituals often observed in our communities. There are likely many archaic institutions that can each offer its own explanation but a lot seem to fall under the loosely defined concept of ‘closure’. Some will tell you that seeing is believing – healing begins with acknowledging that the life has ended, a fact confirmed by the presence of the body. For others it is necessary to say a proper good-bye or maybe to reflect on an influential relationship that has shaped their lives. For many of us it is simply a practice we grew up with. While some are uncomfortable with it, for most it is just a question of becoming accustomed to it. Few of us entered our first open-casket visitation without some trepidation. It is important to remember that when
a family has chosen to have an open casket it is part of what they need to grieve and heal. It falls to the rest of us to be respectful of their choices – it is about them.
HOW LONG IS A FUNERAL SERVICE?
While 30 to 60 minutes would provide a reasonable bracket into which most services would fit, there is no definite answer. The ritual being observed, the officiant conducting it, the number of people attending, the music, the family, the venue, even the weather can influence the length of a service. While it may not be a practical or very helpful answer, you’ve come to honour a life; sit back and focus on why you are there and who you are there for and perhaps time won’t matter. Each of us will only ask our community to do this once.
SHOULD I BRING MY CHILDREN TO A VISITATION OR FUNERAL?
We can’t answer this one for you but we lean strongly to yes. Many of us have been taught to fear death, funerals and everything connected with them. With the death rate sticking at exactly 100%, the reality is we can’t avoid it – loss and grief are an inevitable part of life and while children may not understand it the way adults do, most seem to grasp what they need to and cope quite well. Your own belief system will guide you in explaining the death of someone they know and help you to teach them about what comes next, just try not to teach them fear.
We are asked about preparing children before coming to the funeral home and we counsel honesty and awareness. Let them know what they can expect in terms they will understand. Explain the open casket if there is to be one and, if not, be prepared to talk about what is in the casket or the urn. Tell them people will be sad and let them know that’s OK. Reassure them that you will be with them and they can leave anytime they wish to. (Most funeral homes have a toy chest tucked away somewhere to provide respite and distraction when needed.)
Most importantly, let them ask all the questions that come to mind and answer them in a straightforward manner providing the information they need to understand without overwhelming them. Trust your instincts and as in all things be attentive to their reactions and their needs.
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