Friday, September 8, 2023

Exploring Cash Advance Items in a Prepaid Funeral Plan

 Last week's blog post featured great information and a flyer from Funeral Director's Life Insurance Company answering the question "What are cash advance items in a prepaid funeral plan?" Part of this post provided a list of the types of items that one may consider adding to your prearrangement. This week's blog is going to explore in more detail, what these items are and how costs are associated with them so that the consumer has a better understanding of how important it is to add cash advance items to prepaid funeral plans. 

Here are the types of items you may consider adding to your plan: 

 Death certificate allowance (most families end up needing 5-10 death certificates from the county).

The death certificate is the legal document signed by a physician, coroner, or medical examiner stating that you have died. This document provides valuable information to your loved ones in terms of the date and time of your passing as well as the cause and manner of your death. In many states, this document also provides vital statics information about you including your date and place of birth, address at the time of your passing, as well as your social security number. Most of the time, it will provide the name, address, and relationship of the person handling your funeral arrangements. 

The death certificate is required to be presented to any business or institution where you have an open account. Such institutions include banks, utility companies (electric, water, sewer, gas, cable, telephone, etc.), and/or insurance companies (home, auto, and life) all want copies of the death certificate. Since COVID-19, many of these businesses or institutions are willing to accept Xerox, faxed, or emailed copies which helps families from needing multiple legal copies. For those who require a legal copy, oftentimes they are willing to make their own copy of the document and release the original back to your family. 

Obituary and death notice fees. 

Most of the time the funeral home will offer to place a death notice or obituary on the funeral home's website at no charge. What will cost extra normally would be a death notice or obituary that runs in the local newspaper. Here in Northeast Ohio, the local newspaper, The Plain Dealer, the price of a death notice begins at approximately 400.00. 

Clergy honorariums. 

Clergy honorariums are funds that are paid to the church for a funeral mass or to a clergy member who performs a funeral service at the funeral home or cemetery. For Catholics who are having a funeral mass, this honorarium is normally a set fee. For those of the Protestant faith, clergy will usually take a donation of whatever the family can offer, although some may still have a set fee. 

Vocalist/musician honorariums.

Vocalists or musician honorariums are funds that are paid to those who may be performing during the funeral mass. Oftentimes, these charges are included in the clergy honorarium charges. These may not be included if you hire a harpist, vocalist, or other musicians to perform at the visitation or any other services. 


Clothing charges would be included in the event that you have the funeral home purchase special items of clothing for you to wear. Most of the time your family will provide the funeral home with clothing from your closet or dresser to be worn. 

Police Escort.

Police escorts are used when there is a funeral procession. It is their job to assist in getting the funeral procession safely from place to place. Many times this charge is not considered a cash advance by the funeral home, especially if the funeral home provides escorting services themselves and does not hire an outside company to handle this for them. 


Flowers are considered a cash advance item because many things can influence the final charges. The type of flowers used (roses tend to be more expensive than carnations or daisies) and the size of the floral pieces are the two biggest financial considerations. 

Grave opening/closing; Cemetery burial space or cremation niche; Perpetual cemetery care

These are all charges that are associated with the cost of interment or inurnment at a cemetery. These prices are set yearly by the cemetery themselves. These costs ensure that the grave, crypt, or niche is opened and that cemetery staff is available at the time of services. Charges may also include costs for the actual grave, as well as long-term care of the spaces itself. 

Monument/marker; Installation of headstone or grave marker

The charges associated with monuments and markers are paid to several people: the costs of the headstone, monument, or marker, and taxes are paid to the monument company itself. Installation fees, also known as setting fees are paid separately to the cemetery. 

Crematory costs; State or cremation permits

Like charges associated with police escorts, crematory charges may not be considered a cash advance by the funeral home, especially if the funeral home provides these services themselves. Crematory costs are the fees charged for the crematory's time, handling the cremation, and the items associated with returning the cremated remains including plastic containers, cardboard boxes, etc. 

Estimated Taxes

Many items that are considered merchandise items (caskets, urns, vaults, printing work, flowers) will have sales tax charges attached to them. The taxes are considered a cash advance because there is no telling when the sales tax levels may be raised by the state. 

Transportation expenses for death away from home.

These are cash advances that oftentimes many forget to plan for, especially if they like to travel or consider themselves a "snowbird" and move to warm weather areas during winter months.These would include the costs of having to hire an additional funeral home or transportation company in the state where the death may take place, as well as any airline fees that may be incurred. 

 Reimbursement for family members travel expenses

We encourage you to speak directly with your funeral director in terms of what they consider to be reimbursement as every funeral home would consider this differently. 

Catering for luncheon or reception; Outside facility rental

These are charges for any events that take place after the funeral services have been completed. Luncheons or receptions can be held at an event center, restaurants, or party centers. 

Cash Advance items are important to make sure they are funded ahead of time when doing a prearrangement. Even though funeral homes will not guarantee cash advance items, any money that you set aside in the prearrangement for cash advances will help to offset any differences that your family may have to pay at the time of the funeral. 

Thursday, September 7, 2023

How to Talk to Children About the Death of a Pet

  Pets are a lovable, huggable, irreplaceable part of the family. This can be especially true for children, some of whom may not even remember a time when your pet wasn’t part of the family. Because your pet has always been around and has a special place in the family, your children may take its death hard. It may even be their first exposure to grief.

While we often want to shelter our children from the tough things in life, it’s better to help them face it than to prevent them from experiencing it. After all, life is filled with difficult situations our children will have to learn to navigate. That being said, there are helpful ways to talk about the death of a pet. Let’s go over 10 tips for talking with your children about the death of a pet so you can feel prepared to answer their questions and meet their emotional needs.

1. Be honest

Rather than sugarcoating the situation, stick to the truth. Taking your child’s age and maturity level into account, gauge just how much information they need to hear. It’s preferable to use words like “death” and “dying” – it will help the child realize the permanence of the pet’s absence. Also, stay away from saying things like, “Red ran away” or “Clover went on a trip.” These won’t help your child process their sadness and may make them feel abandoned. On top of that, if they find out you glossed over the truth, they may become angry at you for not telling them the truth.

If you must euthanize your pet, talk to your child about why it’s necessary, especially if they are older. If the death is more sudden, calmly explain what happened and answer their questions.

2. Keep it simple

Keep the information as simple as possible. Small children aren’t going to ask too many questions, but if they do, calmly answer them in simple terms. They need to know that the pet isn’t coming back, but you can share that information in a gentle way. For example, “Clover was in an accident today, sweetheart. She was hurt very badly, and she died. That means she won’t be coming back to us. Are you okay? Do you have any questions?”

If your child is older, take time to address their concerns. They will be more vocal with their questions. If you are considering euthanizing your pet for health or quality-of-life reasons, discuss the decision with your children and come to a decision together.

3. Break the news in a familiar place

When you break the news, make sure your child is in a safe and comfortable place. They are about to hear news that may deeply upset their world, so it’s best to make sure they are in a place they consider safe. Use a soothing voice, hold their hand, and minimize the distractions.

If you have multiple children, consider breaking the news to them individually. Each child will respond differently to the news of the pet’s death, and you will want to be able to respond to their separate needs.

4. Tell them it’s okay to be sad

Every child will respond differently when confronted with loss. Some are more likely to cry while others may seem unfazed. No matter your child’s reaction, it’s important that they know that whatever they feel is normal. If they need to cry, tell them that’s okay, and it’s good for them to cry if they feel sad. Don’t try to prevent them from expressing their grief. Instead, allow them to feel what they feel. In the long run, it’s better to allow a grieving child time and space to grieve than to make them think their feelings aren’t acceptable or normal.

5. Share your own feelings

As parents, the tendency may be to play down your own emotions so that you can “be strong” for your children. While it may feel counterintuitive, don’t try to hide your emotions from your child. Your openness and vulnerability will help your child understand that it's okay to express their own emotions. When you model healthy grief, it helps your child learn how to process grief and understand that it’s normal to feel sad when a death occurs. Of course, make sure not to frighten your child with your own emotions. Crying is fine, but for expressive forms of grief, find a time to be alone or with an adult you trust. You want to share in your child’s sadness – not overwhelm them with your own.

6. Avoid euphemisms

Children are very literal, so you have to be careful how you explain the death of a pet. If you euthanize your pet, don’t use the terms “to sleep” or “got put to sleep.” These terms may make your child afraid to go to sleep because they fear they won’t wake up. Or, they may develop possible fears about surgery or anesthesia because we use similar terms.

Also, don’t say that “God has taken” the dog or that it “went away.” In the first case, the child may begin to resent God for taking their pet away and wonder who God might take next. In the second case, a child may wait and wait and wait for the pet to return from wherever they “went away” to. It’s best to be completely truthful and tell your child that their pet has died, and that you are there to comfort them.

7. Reassure them

For some children, loss can trigger fear. They may fear that another pet will die or that people they love will die. In particular, they may fear that something will happen to you – their parent. Calmly and patiently calm their fears. Hold them close to you. Let them cry. Reassure them with words like, “I love you. I don’t plan to leave for a very long time.” Over the coming days, weeks, and months, they may suddenly fear that you will go away. Each time the fear crops up, reassure them of your love and that you plan to stay with them until you are very old.

8. Give them a chance to say goodbye

Just like adults, children need an opportunity to say goodbye to the family pet. For younger children, this may be as simple as placing a kiss on the pet’s head or attending a small family ceremony to bury the pet. Older children may want to be present if the pet is euthanized, but that decision should be left entirely up to them. No matter the age of your child, make a point of saying goodbye to your beloved family pet so that everyone feels a sense of closure and completion. This doesn’t mean that the grief is done, just that you have had a chance to say goodbye.

9. Answer their questions

Children are inquisitive by nature. According to the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement, children between the ages of 7 and 9 will have the most questions about death. If your child does start asking questions, don’t panic. Continue to give simple yet truthful answers. There’s no need to go into great detail. Answer their specific question. And if you don’t know the answer, it’s okay to admit that you aren’t sure. Some things about death are still a mystery.

A few questions you may hear:

  • Why did my pet die?
  • Is it my fault?
  • Where does my pet’s body go?
  • Will I ever see my pet again?
  • Is my pet in heaven?
  • Can I make my pet come back?

10. Help them grieve

The final step is to help them through the grieving process. For many children, a pet can almost feel like a sibling – the bond is so close and deep. That’s why it’s important to help them grieve the loss of their dear, furry friend. You might plan a small memorial for your pet and let your child take part. Or, you could put together a scrapbook of photos and memories or create a DVD. You could place a photo of the pet in your child’s room or purchase a stuffed animal that looks similar to help bring them comfort.

Above all, encourage them to talk about what they’re feeling and look for ways to help them express those emotions. What they learn now – as children – will help them process grief as adults. Teach them now how to process grief in a healthy way, and they will carry it into their adulthood and use what they learned to cope with future grief.

How to Talk to Children About the Death of a Pet was penned for, a website designed with the funeral consumer in mind to provide them with quick and accurate information. 

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

September's Kid's Corner Activity: Family Recipe Book


 This month's Kid's Corner Activity is Creating a Family Recipe Book. 

To create your special Family Recipe Book, you will need

  • A book of some kind-whether it is a plain notebook from the store or a recipe book. You can use the Family Recipe Book template that was created by the Dougy Center for Grieving Children and Families and can be downloaded by clicking here
  • Recipes- Include meals that remind you of your loved one and the special memories you shared. 
  • Pens, Pencils, Markers, and other decorating items should you wish to decorate your recipe book.
1. Think about all the special memories created with your loved one when food was involved. This could include holiday dinners, cookouts, or baking with a mother or grandmother. 

2. Gather the recipes from the favorite dishes prepared during those special times. Be sure that you have a list of all of the ingredients and cooking instructions and write them down in your recipe book. Be sure to include the name of the dish, like "Grandma's Favorite Cookies" or "Dad's Special Chicken BBQ" so that you can find the recipe when you want to cook it. 

3. Don't be afraid to write down why this recipe is special to you and share the memories associated with the dish. As you look back and make these recipes over and over again, being able to celebrate the memories will help keep your loved one alive. You can also decorate the recipe pages with stickers, drawings, or even photos of you and your loved one making the dish together if you have them. 

4. Make the recipes. If there is a recipe in your book that Grandma used to make every Thanksgiving, don't be afraid to make it every Thanksgiving after her death. Or if you and your mom used to make cookies on the very last day of school, keep the tradition alive with your children or even siblings. Food is always a good source of comfort when celebrating memories. Often many of the strongest memories are focused around a dinner table. 


In every culture, food is one thing that can bring us close together even when far away. It's important for children and teens to be able to express themselves while grieving. Don't be afraid to help them make those special recipes and create the recipe book. The book itself will become a treasured family heirloom that can be passed down through the generations as a way to remember our past and celebrate those we miss. 

In fact, while adding recipes from those we loved and have passed away, encourage your child to have those still with them and add their own favorite recipes. One of the greatest memories I've found in my own family is when a grandmother passes a recipe from her mother down the generations. 

This month's Kid's Corner Activity is found on the U.U. Davis Health Children's Hospital-Activities for grieving Children and Families web page. The handout they provided is from the Dougy Center for Grieving Children and Families. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Grief Journaling: 10 Healing Benefits (+40 Prompts)


Grief journaling offers an elementary yet surprisingly helpful way to cope with your bereavement. 

All you need to do is grab a pen and paper and start writing.

Journaling as Grief Therapy

Just grab pen and paper and start writing...

If only it were that easy. On one level it is-you're simply picking up a pen and writing. But to get the most out of this process you will need to put in some good old fashioned effort.

Grief journaling as therapy requires dedication, motivation, end energy. It can be time-consuming and energy-draining. If you have experienced any form of therapy you know it can bring out some dormant feelings. Feeling you would rather not disturb.

Also, like any other therapy, journaling will get easier and make you feel better the more you do it. 

Read on for valuable tips that will give you all the motivation you need to start writing! We'll even close out with an assortment of grief journals and grief journaling prompts to get you going.

What is a Grief Journal?

"My bursting heart must find a vent at my pen." -Abigail Adams

A grief journal is used to write your most personal feelings. Keeping track of your emotions, thoughts, and struggles as you travel this journey that has been thrust upon you.

It can be a physical notebook or a digital document saved to the cloud. A grief journal can be more on the crafty side (like a scrapbook) or just plain writing. It can be an expensive, leather-bound and personalized heirloom journal, or a 99 cent notebook picked up in the office supply aisle at the grocery store. 

It's not the book, but what you put into it that counts. 

Grief is one of the most powerful emotions you will ever go through. Sometimes it is a challenging emotion to discuss. By journaling about grief, you don't have to worry about people "getting it." You can write in short, straight forward entries or even in a mass of jumbled up words. The most important thing is to get your feelings out. 

You are writing just for yourself, don't worry about grammar or spelling. No one is going to judge you on your writing abilities. 

10 Healing Benefits of Grief Journaling

Journaling can be a very effective way to help you work through the strong emotions of grief. Here are ten benefits.

1. Journaling can help you remember the good times.

During the grieving process, it can be hard to remember "good" things. Thinking of vacations, birthdays, and holidays is a great way to bring to mind the times you enjoyed together.

2. Journaling is safe and judgement-free.

Journaling is your own private thoughts. No one is going to see this but you. Whether your writings are sad, happy, or indifferent, it's all just for you. 

3. Journaling can improve your health. 

Getting your emotions out can be good for your mental and physical health. As you express your feelings, benefits can include reduced stress, lower blood pressure, and better rest.

When you take charge of your thoughts in this way, journaling can help you in the healing process and may nip depression in the bud.

4. There might be days where you don't feel like writing...and that is OK.

No one has made hard and fast rules when it comes to journaling. Maybe you would rather doodle, color, or create anything you like. This is your own private space. 

5. Writing things down can make you aware.

Putting your thoughts into writing can make you more aware of what you are feeling. Self-reflection is deliberately paying attention to your own thoughts. This can help you to understand better the emotions roiling inside of you. 

6. Use your journal to write about your daily accomplishments.

In the first stages of grief, you may find it difficult to get out of bed and brush your teeth. Then one day, you may find that it got a bit easier. Not only did you brush your teeth, but you got a shower in too.

Keep track of your accomplishments. Re-reading your journal every week will let you see the improvements you are making. 

7. Journaling can improve your self-discipline.

Set a time to journal. No matter how busy you are, it will help you to stick to a schedule (but see #4-it's ok to have off days). 

Research has shown that just before bed is the best time to journal. You can recap your day and get rid of all of the stress you may have encountered. It will also help you to relax and get better sleep.

8. Journaling can help you achieve your goals. 

What are your goals, and how will you achieve them? Write them down and refer to your list often.

By keeping track of your goals, it is more likely you will attain them. Grief is disrupting, and staying on track will help you combat your grief.

9. Journaling can help improve your memory.

It is usually easier to remember something after you write it down. That's why in school your teachers told you to take notes. 

According to psychologists, your brain will remember the curvature of the letters, the color of the ink, and the mistakes you made while writing. All of this coming together will help you to remember better.

And remembering our loved ones is a very good thing. 

10. Journaling can make you smarter.

Journaling will help you become more organized in your thought process. You will increase your vocabulary and your self-confidence.

Check for yourself. After journaling for a year, go back and read your entries. Chances are, you will see a big improvement in your writing skills and thought process. 

40 Grief Journal Prompts

When you are grieving, it may be hard to even know where to start. You open up your grief journal and...what do you write?

Here is a helpful list of grief journal prompts.
  1. What is a positive memory of your loved one?
  2. What are some ways you can express your grief?
  3. Today you are happy/thankful for...
  4. If you could say anything to your loved one, what would it be?
  5. Today you remembered...
  6. What are issues, if any, that are unresolved?
  7. Make a list of some ways to honor your loved one.
  8. Who is your support system?
  9. When you're overcome with grief, this is your new mantra...
  10. Here is how you can be compassionate towards yourself.
  11. Do you know anyone else that is grieving? If so, how do you show them compassion?
  12. The hardest time of the day is...
  13. What do you miss about your loved one?
  14. You feel most connected to your loved one when...
  15. A comforting memory of your loved one is...
  16. What do you find helpful in your situation?
  17. How did your loved one make you feel? 
  18. If you could be like your loved one in any way, what would it be?
  19. What you don't want to remember. Write about something you wish you could forget.
  20. What is the nicest thing your loved one ever did for you?
  21. What do you want people to know about your loved one?
  22. Is anything keeping you up at night? If so, what?
  23. What is the one thing you wish you could change?
  24. Someday you hope you will feel like...
  25. How did you think grief would feel?
  26. How does grief feel?
  27. What do you want to remember? Write about the last time you were with your loved one.
  28. Write about the day you first met.
  29. What did they always do to make you laugh?
  30. Write about something only you know about.
  31. How did your loved one die?
  32. What were your loved one's best qualities? Worst traits?
  33. Your grief triggers are...
  34. Why are you grieving?
  35. What season holds the most memories?
  36. It is hurtful when people do or say...
  37. The hardest part for you is...
  38. Do you have regrets? If so, what are they?
  39. What are your plans for the future? 
  40. What is the one thing you learned from your loved one? 

Does writing in a journal help with grief?

Research has shown that keeping a grief journal helps immensely. Writing about your feelings may trigger deep emotions, but many people report feeling better later on.

Working through your grief is crucial in your healing process.

Is writing about grief a form of therapy?

According to professionals, grief journaling is a form of therapy. Journaling may make you cry and become upset, but that is how to push through these feelings. This is a great way to let these emotions out and help you advance towards healing. 

Many psychologists, such as James W. Pennebaker, Ph.D. in his book Writing to Heal: A Guided Journal for Recovering From Trauma and Emotional Upheaval, recommend journaling. Journaling helps you gain control of your emotions and improve your mental well-being.

How do you start a grief journal?

Numbness and feelings of depression are normal after the loss of a loved one. Keeping a grief journal is a healthy way to express your feelings and emotions. 

  • Get yourself a journal, pens, colored pencils, stickers, or whatever you would like to use. It doesn't need to be anything fancy. It is your own personal space.
  • Make a schedule. It can be daily, weekly, or whenever you "need" to write.
  • Designate a writing space for yourself.
  • Find your inspiration/prompts. Be creative.
  • Re-read your journal from time to time. 
That's it! The hardest part is also the easiest: "Just" pick up that pen and paper and start writing.

Our Favorite Grief Journals

1. Personalized Memorial Journal
This faux leather Personalized Memorial Journal features laser etching of your loved one's name and dates. It included a beautiful sympathy quote and over 100 pages of lined paper. You can also use this as the funeral guest book. 

2. Angel Catcher Remembrance and Grief Journal

This popular remembrance journal has been in print for over a decade. It's filled with prompts, quotes, poems, and even provides space for photos and keepsakes in an envelope sleeve attached to the back. The goal of the journal is to really help you honor the memory of your beloved "angel." 

3. My Therapist Told Me to Journal
This quirky mental health journal isn't about grief per se, but it will guide you into healthy habits and thinking by using a more creative approach. This one includes serious and silly prompts, activities and exercises, and even some fun stickers to use throughout the journal.

4. Guided Grief Remembrance Journal

This guided grief journal is designed and produced by an independent author in Pennsylvania. Here's the inspiration:
I decided to create this journal to help guide myself and my family through happy memories of my mother and other family members who have passed. I wanted to have a way to memorialize and share the special, positive emotions and memories with those who loved my mother and those who would have if they had a chance to meet her, like my daughter. 


It's an uplifting resource for me to reference when I'm feeling sad that she has crossed to the other side. I also use it as part of my healing and gratitude practice to remind myself of how lucky I was to have such an amazing mother. 

            ~Lauren Stephan Cohen 

5. The Memory Book: A Grief Journal for Children & Families
Here is a book designed to guide young children and their families through the process of grief journaling. Joanna Rowland's The Memory Book features prompts to help young ones talk about their emotions, questions and activities that promote healthy grief and healing, and even art prompts for drawing and other forms of self-expression. 

It's based on a highly regarded children's picture book by the same author, The Memory Book: A Book About Grief. That would be an excellent companion piece, for your own family or to give as a sympathy gift. 


 Grief Journaling: 10 Healing Benefits (+40 Prompts) was penned by Karen Roldan for and can be found by clicking here for those interested in purchasing any of the journals Karen writes in about in her piece. 

Monday, September 4, 2023

Helping Your Family Heal After Miscarriage


Miscarriage is a significant loss.
Photo credit to Getty Images/iStockphoto

It is normal and natural to hurt deeply after miscarriage.

While others may imply or outright tell you that miscarriage happens too early on for you to be attached to the baby, or that miscarriage is so common it's nothing to get upset about, or that you should focus on getting pregnant again instead of being sad about what happened, you know that miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy often feel like profound losses.

Your grief is real. Your grief is justified. And the depth of your grief has less to do with the number of weeks that you were pregnant and more to do with the attachment you felt to this developing baby or the ideas of your future with a child. The more you wanted this baby, the more invested you were in your hopes and dreams for a child, the more painful your grief journey will likely be.

Love plus loss equals grief. If you wanted and loved this baby, of course, you grieve. And now you must mourn. 

Many share your pain...
As many as half of all pregnancies end in miscarriage-many before the woman has missed a period. Among women who know they are pregnant, the miscarriage rate is about 15 percent. This makes miscarriage a remarkably common form of loss-one that affects about a million couples each year in the United States alone. 

The term "miscarriage" covers a wide range of pregnancy loss experiences. Early miscarriage, by far the most common, is considered pregnancy loss before 12 weeks' gestation, and late miscarriage covers the time period from 12 weeks to 19 and 7/8 weeks' gestation. Beginning at 20 weeks, pregnancy loss is called stillbirth. Early pregnancy loss also includes molar pregnancy and ectopic pregnancy as well as blighted ovum.

The different types and stages of miscarriage can result in markedly different pregnancy-loss experiences for women. Late miscarriage, for example, may end with the mother delivering a baby in the hospital, while in early miscarriage (or ectopic pregnancy) there is often no baby to see. Still, the grief journey that follows miscarriage is shaped more by the depth of the love and attachment than it is by weeks' gestation or clinical terminology and diagnoses. 

The time betwixt and between
Early pregnancy may appear as a plus sign on a home pregnancy test, but other than that, it is often invisible. With very late miscarriage and stillbirth, a baby emerges. But with most miscarriages, there is a pregnancy and then no pregnancy. Oh yes, there is still love and attachment. But there will be no baby to hold and bury, no footprints to ink onto paper, no locks of hair to save, no photos to cherish. 

The mystery and invisibility of miscarriage makes it unique among significant losses. Your love for this baby-or, for some couples in early pregnancy, what may be more accurately described as your desire for a baby-was very real, but having nothing tangible to hold onto can make your loss seem that much more devastating. 

What's more, the words we use to describe miscarriage only contribute to the problem. The term "miscarriage" can be understood as implying fault on the part of the mother, as if she didn't carry the baby well enough. Similarly, "embryo" and "fetus" may be technically correct, but they don't capture the love and loss you feel. The word "baby" may or may not seem right to you, either. Some families who experience early miscarriage feel that what they have lost is not so much a baby as a feeling of hope and possibility for a child. 

So if you are feeling that your loss is not understood or recognized in our culture, or that you yourself feel unsure about what you have lost or how to talk about it, you are not alone. 

Acknowledge your loss
Acknowledging that your heart is broken is the beginning of your healing. As you experience the pain of your loss-gently opening, acknowledging, and allowing, the suffering it will diminish. In fact, the resistance to the pain can be more painful than the pain itself. As difficult as it is, you must, slowly and in doses over time, embrace the pain of your grief. As Helen Keller said, "The only way to the other side is through." 

Express your grief
Grief is the thoughts and feelings you have on the inside about the death of your baby. When you express those feelings outside of yourself, that is called mourning. Mourning is talking about miscarriage, crying, writing in a journal, making art, participating in a support group, or any activity that moves your grief from the inside to the outside. Mourning is how you heal your grief.

Be compassionate with youself
The word compassion literally means "with passion." So, self-compassion means caring for oneself "with passion." While we hope you have excellent outside support, this article is intended to help you be kind to yourself as you confront and eventually embrace your grief over your pregnancy loss. 

Many of us are hard on ourselves when we are grieving. We often have inappropriate expectations of how "well" we should be doing with our grief. We are told to "carry on," "keep your chin up," and "keep busy." Actually, when we are in grief we need to slow down, turn inward, embrace our feelings of loss, and seek and accept support.

Take good care of yourself as you grieve. Nurture yourself physically, cognitively, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.

Help each other heal
Miscarriage often affects many people. Everyone who knew about the pregnancy and had hopes and dreams for the baby's future will grieve. Parents, grandparents, children, extended family members, friends, and coworkers may all be touched by this loss. Open and honest communication is the key to healing. Talk to one another about the miscarriage. Support each other. Try not to judge each other's thoughts and feelings, but instead accept that each person's grief will be unique. 

Understand the idea of reconciliation
In the spiritual sense, you will not "recover" from the miscarriage. Your heart is broken and you are torn apart by this loss. You are not the same person today as you were before the miscarriage. 

But you can become reconciled to your loss. As you continue to express your grief openly and honestly, you will begin to heal. The sharp pangs of sorrow will soften, and the constant painful memories will subside. You will become more interested in and hopeful about the future. You will experience more happy than sad in your days. You will begin to set new goals and work toward them. You will experience life fully again. 


Helping Your Family Heal After Miscarriage was penned by Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D, for the Center of Loss of Life Transition blog "Center of Loss"

Friday, September 1, 2023

What are Cash Advance Items in a Prepaid Funeral Plan?


 Is everything really taken care of?

Unless you've planned a funeral before, the term "cash advance items" may not be familiar to you. But if you want to protect your loved ones from financial worries at the time of loss, you need to know what cash advance items are. Knowing what these items are can make the difference between taking care of everything for your loved ones down to the final detail or leaving loved ones with unexpected expenses at the time of loss. 

What are cash advance items?

Cash advance items are funeral-related expenses that most people expect to find in a funeral service but that aren't provided directly by a funeral home. They are called cash advance items because they require cash on hand to pay for them. While the funeral home does not directly provide these services, they do facilitate communication and coordinate with all the different vendors involved. 

Why do I need to add cash advance items to my prepaid funeral plan?

If you are planning ahead, it's important to consider adding an allowance for cash advance items or itemizing options that you know you want to provide for in your plan. If you choose not to cover cash advance items in your prepaid funeral plan, your family may be required to unexpectedly have to pay several thousand dollars out of pocket, depending on the options chosen during the arrangement meeting. 

Here are the types of items you may consider adding to your plan:

  • Death certificate allowance (most families end up needing 5-10 death certificates from the county)
  • Obituary and death notice fees
  • Clergy honorariums
  • Vocalist/musician honorariums
  • Clothing
  • Police escort
  • Flowers
  • Grave opening/closing
  • Crematory costs
  • Cemetery burial space or cremation niche
  • Installation of headstone or grave marker
  • Perpetual cemetery care
  • Estimated taxes
  • State or cremation permits
  • Monument/marker
  • Catering for luncheon or reception
  • Outside facility rental
  • Transportation expenses for death away from home
  • Reimbursement for family member's travel expenses
  • Other unforeseen expenses  
The funds you set aside today will grow along with your prepaid funeral contract in order to guard against inflation. Keep in mind, however, that funeral homes cannot guarantee cash advance items because they do not control these costs.

When you carefully consider the needs of your family and include cash advance items in your prepaid funeral plan, you can tell your loved ones with confidence, "It's all taken care of." 

If you do not choose to set aside funds for cash advance items, please make your family aware of what is and isn't covered by your prepaid funeral contract to avoid any misunderstandings at a later date. 

You can get a copy of this post by downloading or printing out the FDLIC Flyer: What are Cash Advance Items in a Prepaid Funeral Plan? located below or at any time by contacting our funeral home and speaking to our pre-arrangement director. 

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Healing Together: Helping Couples Cope with Miscarriage, Stillbirth or Early Infant Loss


For many couples, a miscarriage, stillbirth or early infant loss is the greatest loss they have ever experienced together. Yet, husbands and wives often feel alone in their grief. Certainly there are marriages that have been strengthened by a shared loss, but more common is the marriage that suffers under the weight and stress of mourning.

The Meaning of the Loss                     

A major task for the pregnant woman is to accept the fetus as part of herself. The well—being of her baby becomes intertwined with her own feeling of self-worth. If her baby dies (even very early in her pregnancy), her self-imagine and sense of competency may be shattered.

Since a father does not experience any physical changes during pregnancy, the early months of his wife’s pregnancy may not feel very real to him. As the pregnancy progresses, the reality of the baby becomes clearer to the father. Men tend not to experience an early miscarriage as an acutely personal loss, but they usually find a second trimester loss or stillbirth more painful because they have seen and felt physical evidence of their child.

Healing Together: Helping Couples Cope with Miscarriage, Stillbirth or Early Infant Loss was co-authored by Marcie K. Lister, ACSW and Sandra M. Lovell, RN, ACSW for the October 1990 issues of Bereavement              Magazine.

This article is several pages long and will not fit in this column, therefore, we broke the article into several pieces. In our next issue of New Horizons, we will share their next two headings: Grieving the Loss and Guilt.