Memorialization

For Fans of Final Resting Places

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Who doesn’t love a good cemetery? Cemeteries offer nature, sculpture, and history rolled into one. Realizing that every person resting in a cemetery has a one-of-a-kind life story is an awe-inspiring thought. I always want to know more about how people lived their lives.

An entertaining way to learn about who’s behind some of those markers is to watch a series of YouTube vlogs entitled “Hollywood Graveyard.”  Its host, Arthur Dark, does an admirable job of noting the beauty of cemeteries as he presents facts about their notable inhabitants. Most of the graves he visits are those of famous people many adults will recognize: Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Rivers, and so on. Others are celebrities from years gone by whose fame faded long ago. Ironically, it’s the people I’ve never heard of who often have the most interesting stories.

For instance, I’d never heard the name Ub Iwerks even though I was quite familiar with his contributions to the entertainment industry.  Mr. Iwerks was Walt Disney’s right-hand man for many years. In addition to contributing to the creation of dozens of beloved animated characters, he is also credited with illustrating Mickey Mouse as we know and love him today.

Then there’s the even lesser-known Tamara De Treaux, an actress who stood 2’7” tall. Her diminutive stature kept her from being a leading lady but it didn’t stop her from becoming part of movie history. She was the person inside the costume of “E.T.”

Even familiar people can have unfamiliar backgrounds. Baby Boomers may remember Julie London and Bobby Troup as the married couple who starred in the 1970s television series “Emergency.”  Prior to their stint as television stars, Julie recorded over 20 albums of pop and jazz standards which are now mainstays on online music sites and top radio stations. Her husband had a no less impressive career as a jazz composer and musician, writing the standards “(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66” and “Girl Talk.”  

While cemeteries are historically the most common site for final resting places, today we have other options. Online tribute sites can tell a detailed story about a person’s life through photographs, videos, stories, and mementos. QR codes linked to memorial websites can be attached to urns. Social media platforms offer conversion of people’s profiles into memorial sites.

Still, a physical location, whether it be an earth burial, urn or scattering garden, suggests a permanent connection. There’s something sad about having nowhere to go to pay tribute to people like former Beatle George Harrison, actor Christopher Reeves and John F. Kennedy, Jr. whose cremated remains were scattered in places unknown or inaccessible.

We don’t have to be famous to have input about how—and where–we’ll be remembered. Many helpful tools are available through the Have the Talk of a Lifetime program that make it easy and even fun to give this information to others. After all, sharing stories with young people, passing along cherished recipes or noting accomplishments that made us proud may be the most enduring way to keep memories of us alive.


By Mark Allen, CEO & Executive Director
This post was originally written for the Have the Talk of a Lifetime blog.

Attitudes about Funeral Service: The Public Vs. Funeral Directors, Part I – Funerals and Visitations

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May, 2018 Posts - FD Vs. Public, Part 1

When talking about funeral service, one sometimes wonders if the public and members of the funeral profession are from the same planet. Never before have opinions varied so much regarding what families want from memorialization and what funeral professionals think they should experience. To demonstrate the often-wide gap between these two groups’ perspectives, we constructed imaginary conversations between a fictional Johnny Q. Public and an equally fictional Mr. Funeral Director based on articles, research studies, interviews and personal experiences. The first of three blogs examines attitudes about funerals and visitations. Read the rest of this entry »

Funeral Directors Give Thanks

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Gobble! Gobble! It’s that time of year again… a time to get together with family and friends to reflect on the blessings we have and eat way too much turkey and dressing.

We all have many reasons to be thankful this Thanksgiving holiday. Here at OGR, we are thankful for all of our Golden Rule funeral home members who help make this association strong. We are grateful for the trust you put in us to provide you with the best resources an association can offer, and we thank you for your many years of loyalty and friendship.

We asked some of our funeral home members to share what they are most thankful for. You can see their responses below.

Read the rest of this entry »

DIY Funerals: How Funeral Directors Can Help

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lights-light-bulb-ideaLike the electrician who corrected the problems I caused with my home’s wiring, funeral professionals have opportunities to help families avoid problems with whatever options they take upon themselves to memorialize loved ones. Not everyone will be comfortable with these options, but consider how you might offer your expertise (for a fee) to DIY-minded funeral families.  Read the rest of this entry »

DIY Funerals: The Rewiring of Our Memorialization Mindset

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pexels-photo-41113A few years ago I thought it would be nice to have the lights in my home automatically turn on whenever someone entered each room. I’m a fairly capable do-it-yourself home owner; how hard could it be to replace a few switches? Everything went smoothly when I replaced the first one, but after replacing the second switch, I discovered that the kitchen range had lost power. Then I noticed that several electrical outlets in an upstairs bathroom no longer worked and that the dining room chandelier shone only in a pale imitation of its former self.

After much gnashing of teeth, the licensed electrician I forced myself to call gave me his gentle and much-rehearsed recitation about the many home owners who think they have adequate knowledge about house wiring when, in fact, they don’t have enough knowledge to know what they don’t know.

DIY Trends in Funerals and Memorialization

Funeral directors haven’t explained it takes years of experience and many hours of hard work to make implementing funerals look easy.

I’m seeing a similar trend in funeral service. Over the years, funeral professionals have shielded families from the hundreds of details they perform on their behalf. They never stopped to explain that it takes years of experience and many hours of hard work to make arranging and implementing funerals look easy. It’s no surprise, therefore, that many families believe they can perform these services themselves. Other families may not perceive that funeral directors can provide unique and meaningful experiences that honor loved ones and begin the healing process.
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Funeral Etiquette: Taking Photographs at Funerals

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should-you-take-photographs-at-a-funeral-add-headingEarlier this year, we wrote about families hiring a professional photographer to take photos at their loved one’s funeral and the ways it might benefit families in mourning. Families have control over a professional’s work and distribution of the images; however, they often lack that control when non-professionals, even those with good intentions, take photos at funerals. Sharing funeral photos can cause distress for the deceased’s loved ones, particularly when they post images on sites such as Facebook and Instagram. The news is frequently filled with people coming under fire for taking casket selfies. Just last week, the daughter of rap music star Shawty Lo publicly criticized fans for posting images of her father in his casket on social media sites after they were asked not to take photos.

The issue of photography at funerals isn’t likely to fade away. How is your funeral home responding? Does your funeral home have a policy on photography?  Are you steering the families you serve in the right direction and communicating best practices?  Read the rest of this entry »

Remembering the Work of Funeral Directors on 15th Anniversary of 9/11

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Close to fifteen years ago, millions of people watched the horror unfold on their television screens on the morning of September 11, 2001 when four airplanes were hijacked by 19 al-Qaeda terrorists and subsequently crashed in DC, New York, and Pennsylvania. We were overcome with shock and dismay for the victims, the people in those areas, the families and loved ones of those who would perish that day, and for our country.

The events of that tragic day serve as a reminder of the dangers of the world but also highlight the goodness of hundreds of ordinary citizens who, along with first responders, took heroic actions to save innocent lives. All of them deserve to be remembered and admired for their work.

Funeral directors played an important role during this difficult time. Read the rest of this entry »