How To Give A Eulogy For Someone You Didn’t Know Well

Although eulogies are typically given by someone who was close to the deceased, every now and then it is impossible for friends and family members to request a eulogy from someone who was close to the person who has passed away. If you are asked to give a eulogy at the funeral for someone you didn’t know that well, be sure to tactfully explain to the family that you were not close to the deceased person. If they still want you to do the eulogy, it’s possible to perform this task in a way that is comforting to the bereaved and empowering to you as a speaker. Most importantly, you will be able to pay tribute to the person you’re eulogizing.

Speak to Those Who Were Close to the Deceased

Ask to speak to people who were close to the deceased. If those who were in the person’s inner circle are too deep in their grief to discuss the person openly with you, ask them to recommend someone you can talk to about the person. You really can’t properly eulogize someone until you know their unique individual qualities. When you do get the chance to talk to someone, ask the following types of questions:

  • What’s your strongest memory of the person?
  • Can you tell me about a funny moment that the two of you shared?
  • Do you remember anything about the person’s likes or dislikes?
  • Did the person ever talk about how they wanted to be remembered?
  • What do you think the person held nearest and dearest to their heart?
  • What would you say to the person if you could talk to them again?
  • What do you think they would want said about them?
  • Do you remember anything you particularly loved about the person?

Use Words of Comfort for Those Left Behind

No matter what your own relationship was to the deceased person, the people who are listening to your eulogy may be steeped in their own grief and experiencing a deep need for comfort. The words that you speak in a eulogy should be ones that can comfort these people. Say such things as:

  • In talking to friends far and wide this week, I have learned how loved and loving this person was.
  • What an incredible life was lived and what a remarkable legacy is left behind.
  • I have learned a lot about love in hearing people speak about this person this week.

Keep the Focus on the Person

When writing a eulogy for someone you didn’t know well, it can be tempting to simply string together stories that you hear others tell about the deceased. However, resist the temptation to do that. Be sure the heart of the eulogy is about who the person was, not what they did. You may use stories and examples to showcase who the person was, but always bring it back around to the focus on the person.

Finally, keep in mind that there are no hard and fast etiquette rules for this potentially sensitive situation. Do the best you can with the resources that are available to you. Your eulogy may make all the difference for a family who is seeking comfort after the loss of a loved one.

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3 Tips For Pre-Paying Your Funeral Expenses

It is often recommended that people make a will or trust, establish a power of attorney, and make sure that all of their files are in order, but many people overlook pre-planning and funding their funeral. While it may not necessarily be pleasant to think about, pre-planning and funding your funeral is a wonderful gift for you family. After your passing, they will be free to mourn and grieve their loss without having to stress over funeral plans or try to figure out how to pay for it. There are several ways you can fund your funeral in advance, such as:  


One of the easiest ways to fund your funeral in advance is through an insurance policy. You may opt to purchase a funeral insurance policy that pays out upon your death, and the funds can be used to pay for your funeral expenses. Make sure that you name a beneficiary who is willing to take on the responsibility of dealing with the insurance company and working with the funeral home. It is also possible to purchase a life insurance policy and leave instructions for your family to use the money to pay for your funeral.

Savings Account

If you have cash on hand, you can establish a savings account with funds to cover funeral expenses. It is a good idea to name your beneficiary as a joint account holder so he or she can easily access the account when needed without having to wait for your estate to be settled. Doing this will make it much easier to pay for your funeral expenses in a timely manner.

Pay the Funeral Home Directly

If you know which funeral home you would like to handle your final arrangements, you can work with them directly to pay for your funeral expenses while you are still alive. One way to do this is by paying in cash, so when you pass away your family will just have to call the funeral home to make arrangements. You can also opt to establish a trust which names the funeral home as the beneficiary– upon your death, the assets of the trust will be transferred to the funeral home.

When you work directly with a funeral home (such as Foran Funeral Home) to pre-pay for your final expenses, you may also want to work with the funeral director to make your wishes known about what type of funeral service you would like. Your wishes will be noted, which can make the funeral planning process much easier for your loved ones.   

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Design A Meaningful Headstone Without Religious Iconography

Headstones are often decorated with religious symbols like angels and crosses or include an inspirational Biblical phrase. This is a sign of respect to the departed as well as a source of comfort for those who visit the grave. However, not everyone is a believer and some who do believe in an afterlife or a greater power prefer not to have religion in their lives. Designing a basic stone is possible, but many families want more for their loved one than a headstone that includes only a name and dates. Here are some ideas for creating a non-religious, meaningful marker that expresses who the person really was in life. 

Consider a Photo

Photographs of the individual are a lovely way to personalize any headstone. The photo is created in a couple of ways. With one, a laser etching inlay engraves their likeness directly onto the stone. Dark and smooth stones provide a better surface for this type of work. Another option is to have a photo printed on a porcelain ceramic tile and applied to the headstone. This makes it possible to have the exact image in full color or black and white and have it inlaid permanently into the stone. It is even possible for family members to purchase the tiles after the headstone is in place and attach them to the stone by themselves. 

Add a Quote

Meaningful words are not always borrowed from the Bible, but can come from a number of sources. You can include a few lines from their favorite song, a passage from a poem the person appreciated or any quote that meant something to the person or reflects who they were in life. Consider a little Shakespeare,”All the world’s a stage and the men and women merely players.” Or, maybe some Irving Berlin, “The song is ended but the melody lingers on.” Many family members will appreciate seeing the actual words of the person they have lost. Using a common saying or phrase they personally were known for is a great way to keep their memory alive.  

Include Their Interests

Not everyone appreciates having their likeness or that of their loved one on a stone in a cemetery. In order to embellish stones with more than words, consider adding etched images that represent their hobbies and interests. Use a nature theme for an avid hunter or fisherman or a palette and paintbrushes for an artist. Add the logos or the insignia of organizations they were members of or military emblems and an American flag if they were in the service. 

Designing a headstone after the loss of a loved one can seem overwhelming with the options that are available. However, the numerous options are what makes it possible to custom-design something wonderful. With just a little thought, it is easy to remember who they were, what they loved and what had meaning for them. With that knowledge and a talented layout designer and stone etcher or engraver everyone can have the memorial that honors them completely. Contact a company like to get started today.

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Clear And Accurate: The Perfect Online Obituary

Traditionally, obituaries have been placed within newspapers. However, as newspapers enter into further decline and because the placement of an obituary in a newspaper isn’t free, it may be a better idea to submit an obituary online for free. The power of the obituary has nothing to do with where it is submitted, but instead with the type of obituary. And rather than write with flowery language, it is often more effective to be simple and clearly communicate accurate information about the life of the deceased.

Keeping The Purpose In Mind

The goal of an obituary is to tell what you know about the deceased in the most accurate way possible. Make sure that someone else who knows the deceased can check the obituary to verify that it is accurate and to also add their own details. Proofread the obituary to remove excessive words. Have a trusted family member also proofread the obituary both to check for misspellings.

Avoid First Person

Only use third person. In other words, do not say “I am writing about the death of my aunt.”Also, do not write “the Smith family sadly announces the death of.” These two approaches will make the obituary unnecessarily wordy and will draw attention away from the deceased.

Making It Readable

Break the obituary up into several lines to make it easier to read. Many of the paragraphs will only consist of one or two lines. Given that many Internet users suffer from eye strain, be considerate and make the obituary readable.

Know What To Include

Think about the details that will help others understand the life of the deceased, while ignoring unnecessary details. For instance, it may not even be necessary to state how the deceased passed away. An obituary can be very powerful if it focuses on the loved one’s passions and hallmarks.

Do not forget to include the date of birth and the date of death. Accurately list the family members and whom are survivors. Make sure that a family member is a grandson and not a great-grandson. Do not forget important details such as whether an individual has lived for a century.

In addition to providing the full name of the deceased, include whether he or she had a nickname. Other important details include:

  • The town of residence
  • The place of death
  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Close friends
  • Level of education

With this framework in mind, it is easy to create an obituary that will let the word know more about your loved one who has passed on. For more information, contact companies like Near Frontier LLC.

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3 Tips For Paying For A Funeral

Dealing with the loss of someone you love one can be a very emotional time. If there weren’t any arrangements for their funeral made prior to them passing away, such as a small life insurance policy or money set aside, someone will need to pay the bills related to the funeral. With the typical funeral costing as low as $7,000, you may not have the money on hand to pay for it. These tips can help you understand how to finance a funeral or lower the costs.  

Look Into Funeral Aid Programs

It’s possible that your state has financial aid programs that are designed to help people with low-incomes pay for a loved one’s funeral costs. A few examples include:

  • Colorado – Offers $1,500 for people on Medicaid
  • Washington DC – Offers $800 for a burial, $450 for cremation
  • Indiana – Offers $600 for funeral costs, $400 for cemetery costs
  • Vermont – Offers $1,100

Each state and county may have their own aid programs that have restrictions. For instance, to receive aid you may have limits on how expensive a funeral is or how much money a family contributes to the total costs.

Ask About a Payment Plan

A funeral home may allow you to have a payment plan to help cover all of the costs related to a funeral. Keep in mind that it still may require a deposit to cover a portion of the bill up front. A funeral home also may not allow a payment plan at all. Make sure you discuss this at the beginning of the inquiry process if you need to have a payment plan to help finance it.

Reduce Funeral Related Costs When Possible

You should never go into debt when paying for a funeral cost, so try to keep costs low whenever possible. Remember that you are honoring the life of somebody that passed away, and you do not need to make a funeral expensive or overly elaborate to do so.

One way to save money is to not have an open casket funeral. This will help you save on the costs involved with preparing the body. Having a closed casket funeral may be beneficial in some ways, because you will not have to worry about someone you love looking a different than expected at the viewing.

Consider having a short visitation time as well. While it is common to have a viewing be all day at a funeral home, you may find that a shorter viewing time is beneficial. It will help ensure that everyone shows up at the same time, so everyone will be sure to see each other.

For more tips on saving money on a funeral, speak with a funeral home director (such as Fletcher Funeral Home PA).

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Creative Alternatives To Flowers For Cremation Services

Cremation services are like funerals and memorial services in many ways. You also have a lot more freedom with them, though. They can be performed right after a loved one has passed away or months or even years after someone’s passing. Whatever you decide to do regarding the cremation services for your loved one, flowers may not be the best way to honor the deceased person. If you don’t want people to bring or send flowers to a loved one’s cremation services, consider requesting these creative alternatives.

Gift to Honor the Loved One’s Collection

If the deceased person had a collection that they loved building, you may request that mourners bring along something to go with that collection that your loved one would have enjoyed. For example, if someone enjoyed collecting trading cards, you may request others to put with the existing collection. If the person loved clocks, having everyone bring along a unique clock may be a fun way to add a bit of their passion and personality to the service.

Funding a Project

If your lost loved one was passionate about volunteering for a particular charity project, you may request that mourners make a donation to the completion of a specific project. This will likely feel more personal to those who attend the cremation services than merely asking for donations to charity. When you try to get a specific project funded, you are able to report on the results to those who gave, and you may even be able to name the project after the deceased. It can be healing for those who are grieving to know that good works continue to be done in memory of the one they’ve lost.

Glee Gift

If the deceased person did not leave behind great debts or a family who is in need, one of the best ways to remember their life may be to ask mourners to do something that makes them happy in honor of the lost loved one. Whether it’s dancing or giving hugs or volunteering, ask each person who attends the cremation service to do something that makes them happy, then write a one-paragraph note about what they did to read at the services. Then everyone can read their stories at the service, revealing a tapestry of joy that has been created in memory of the one who has passed away.

Finally, keep in mind that the people who are closest to a deceased person should ultimately make the call regarding whether flowers are appropriate for the cremation service. If you don’t want them at your loved one’s service, you are not obligated to have them. Simply spread the word about your preferred alternative to flowers in social media posts, obituaries, and notices on your loved one’s death.

For more ideas and information, it may be a good idea to talk with a funeral home, such as McComb & Wagner Crematory.

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How To Arrange An Inexpensive Memorial For An Environmentally Conscious Individual

An unexpected death can cause a lot of anxiety for those who don’t have the money for a funeral. The average cost of a funeral in 2016 is around $8,000 – $10,000 dollars. Having to cover the costs of a funeral can be devastating for a large portion of our population when you consider nearly a quarter of Americans do not have enough savings to cover an emergency expenditure of $100 or less. Fortunately, there are ways to lower the costs of a funeral significantly if you are willing to forego the traditional setup of a wake, church service, and burial. Here is how you can arrange an inexpensive memorial that honors the memory of an environmentally conscious loved one.

Choose Cremation

The average cost of a cremation in the United States starts at $600 and, if you know that the deceased wouldn’t object to their remains being cremated, it is a viable option you can use to save money on the cost of the funeral without appearing like you are scrimping to save a few dollars – even if you are. The remains can be given to you after cremation in many communities in a plastic bag lined cardboard box instead of an expensive urn.

Memorial Tree Urn

The use of memorial tree urns is growing in the United States as environmentally-conscious people look for alternative ways to dispose of their remains with having an adverse effect on the environment. A traditional burial usually includes a body that has been embalmed with a toxic combination of formaldehyde, methanol, and other types of solvents. The chemicals are used to preserve the body during the wake and funeral service, but the chemicals are also environmentally dangerous. The use of immediate cremation and a memorial tree urn avoids putting embalming chemicals in the body of your loved one.

The ashes can be planted in a memorial tree urn and planted in a public park. A memorial tree urn helps the nutrients from the ashes of your loved one to get absorbed into a tree as it grows. You should contact your local parks department to find out about costs. Some parks department let you do it for the cost of the tree and planting, and others may not charge anything at all. In places that charge for planting a memorial tree, you should expect to pay upward of a few hundred dollars.

Memorial Plaque

Instead of a grave marker, you can put a memorial plaque right by the tree to help people remember your loved one and pay their respects. A memorial plaque usually can cost a couple hundred dollars or more, but it is still less expensive than a large gravestone. 

Honoring a loved one in death who was environmentally conscious can be done is a meaningful way on a limited budget. Contact local funeral services for more help.

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Pay Your Respects: Clever Ways To Memorialize Loved Ones At Their Resting Place

If you want to do something special to pay tribute to someone who has passed, flowers may not be the most appropriate memorial. Think of something that has an underlying significance and meaning for the deceased person, and that will last longer than cut flowers. There are some intriguing alternatives that might be better ways to commemorate a loved one’s life.

Some ways to pay tribute at someone’s gravesite include:

Build a cairn.

In Scottish culture, people create towers from stones called cairns to point out something important, give directions, or memorialize something lost. These typically are made with smooth river stones or beach rocks and are wider at the base than at the top to help with stabilization. Create your own cairn on the gravesite of someone dear to you, and see how long it lasts without toppling over due to wind or weather.

Leave some coins.

If you ever walk through a cemetery, you may notice that some headstones have coins left on them. This has varying significance, including historical beliefs that the coins pay the fee for the spirit to move on and be freed from roaming the earth. Another reason relates to military graves; different coins symbolize different relationships between the person leaving the coin and the deceased:

A penny represents that the person leaving it behind on the headstone was familiar with the person buried there.

A nickel signifies that the person trained or was in military boot camp with the deceased soldier.

Members of the same company, squadron, or troupe may leave a dime on the grave.

Leaving a quarter behind indicates that the person placing the coin was with the deceased soldier when they passed.

Plant something significant.

Take time to plant something special at the grave of your loved one. There are many plants and flowers that have underlying meanings which bring some significance to your memorial for the deceased. Plant a pot of the following flora to fondly commemorate the person that has passed:

Jasmine represents heaven and the afterlife.

Daffodils symbolize beauty.

Red carnations signify eternal love and never-ending beauty.

Daisies symbolize youth.

Grapes represent Christianity and a belief in Christ.

Do something different to memorialize the life of a loved one. Try one of these ideas to not only commemorate the life lived, but also to show some respect and significance for the deceased. Be sure that you are aware of the guidelines and regulations of the cemetery before planting or leaving items behind on any site.

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Three Ways To Help Your Family With Costs After You Die

If you’re trying to create a funeral plan so that your family will know what to do after you die, don’t forget to take costs into account. Many people plan for their funerals and give their families instructions, but that still leave the family on the hook for the costs of the funeral, death certificates, and more — not to mention house payments and other costs that you are handling now. That can make your funeral plans moot if you asked for more than your family can afford to pay at the time you die. Here are three ways in which you can make sure your family doesn’t suffer financially while dealing with your death.

Pre-Pay Your Funeral Expenses

When you meet with mortuary and funeral home directors, you’ll not only be able to choose your service type and so on, but you’ll be able to pay for a lot of it right then. Believe it or not, not everyone takes advantage of this, and that can have two very depressing effects. One is that your family might have to wait to bury you if they can’t come up with the money at the time you die. Even if your family is quite well-off now, their situation could change over time for the worse, leaving them unable to pay when they need to.

The other effect is that costs can go up. If you pre-pay now, your family will not have to deal with the increased costs later on. Some costs are known to go up, like religious-officiator fees, and those you might not be able to pre-pay. But you will be able to pre-pay most of it, leaving your family with a very low bill.

Get Life Insurance

Life insurance policies aren’t going to pay out immediately once you die; your family will have to send in your death certificate and other company paperwork. But once they do that, the money is released, and that can help your family with costs related to your home, or even to your funeral if you neglected to pre-pay most expenses.

You don’t need a huge life insurance policy that requires a giant medical exam. If you belong to an auto association-type club, you may be able to get a special policy through them, or your bank or credit union may offer something.

Make Your Accounts Payable Upon Death

This is a subtle change that not everyone knows about. Specifically designate your bank accounts as payable upon death. This means that if the person named as the beneficiary on your account comes in with your death certificate, the bank can pay out the amount of money in the account right then. Normally, banks want a beneficiary listed anyway, but specifically making the account payable upon death eliminates possible delays. Each bank is different, but many times, creating a payable-upon-death account is as simple as signing a form.

If you want other advice on ensuring your family doesn’t end up dealing with financial pain after your death, talk to the funeral director who is helping you plan your funeral, along with an estate attorney. The more you do now, the easier things will be in the future. To learn more, speak with someone like Danks-Hinski Funeral Home.

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How To Find The Right Funeral Home For Your Pre-Planning Needs

You’ve decided that it’s time to create a funeral pre-plan so your family won’t have to deal with difficult decisions after you’ve passed away. One key element of your plan is which funeral home to use. You want a facility that you know will take good care of your family when you’re gone. Here are a few considerations when researching the funeral homes in your community.

Get to Know the Staff and Management

Talk with the funeral directors in each facility that you are interested in. Ask about their management style and approach to customer service. You want to get a sense that they will be there when your family needs help with your final arrangements.

Speak with some of the staff as well. Look for a funeral home where the staff enjoy their work and have a good attitude about working with grieving people. Staff that can come up with creative solutions to problems your family may have are more helpful than those who can only recommend other products or services for purchase.

Access to Grief Counseling

Every funeral home will offer some form of grief counseling. Ask about all of their services and how your family may access them if needed. Some of the approaches funeral homes may take regarding grief counseling include:

  • They may have trained grief counselors on their staff. These people will hold grief support groups and offer individual counseling sessions. Some facilities may have counselors trained to work in special areas, such as with children.
  • Some facilities contract out the grief counseling to local specialists. Find out where your family would have to go to see these contract counselors to determine if it would be an inconvenience for your family.
  • Other funeral homes may refer your family to local resources, such as community support groups, non-profit groups and religious organizations.

Cemetery Use

Some funeral homes maintain a cemetery to which you may have access. Ask about the regulations under which the facility is run to determine if they will be too restrictive for your needs and for your family to work with. These regulations cover such items as:

  • the allowable materials, size and shape for head stones
  • who must prepare the grave site and install the head stone
  • what type of maintenance of the grave site is done by the facility
  • what responsibilities your family has in maintaining the site

Administrative Assistance

Some funeral homes offer clerical support for putting together and submitting claims for insurance and military benefits. These can be complicated, so you want to make sure your family submits the right materials the first time. Getting help from the funeral home to do these tasks will take some stress off of your family.

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For my mother's funeral, my sister and I spent a lot of time thinking about flowers for her funeral. We wanted beautiful, colorful flowers that reflected upon her energetic spirit and her love of bright, bold color. However, when we began to plan out her funeral with the funeral director, we were surprised to learn that different types of flowers had different meanings. Based on their meanings, some were appropriate for a funeral, and others were not. We had no idea about this, but I instantly became fascinated with the topic. I created this website to help educate others about the meanings of flowers and which are appropriate for funerals.


July 2016
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