• Christmastime is Here

    Christmastime is Here

    Well, Christmas is here. You have made it through the last weeks or months, and for some of you even years, and Christmas is here. But this year things are different for some of you because that special loved one is not physically present. Many people dread the oncoming Holidays, worrying about the emotions that will prevail on that day, and trying to figure out how they could just bypass that day altogether. Some walking through their grief have told us that the dread of the day is sometimes worse than the day itself; while still others tell us that the dread of the day AND the day itself were both bad. So, what is the answer? Grasping the reality that we are eventually going to have to face the fact that our loved one is not with us during Christmas the questions is always, “so what do I do?”

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  • Respect: Have we lost it

    Respect: Have we lost it

    This past Saturday I had the pleasure of doing a funeral for the matriarch of a family. The funeral was here in Covington, and then we had to drive, in procession, to Fairview Cemetery in Stockbridge. This was unique for me because usually the funerals I do are held in Covington, and more often than not, buried in Covington. During this procession, which took an hour, I saw a great deal of things that both surprised and shocked me.

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  • Grief and Politics

    Grief and Politics

    During this election season, I have taken great pains to not get political. I believe that everyone’s opinion on who they want to vote for is just that, theirs. Also, there has been way too much division during this election season for me to want to select a side and tout them from this platform, because I feel that when we are talking about grief and loss we really do not want to be reminded about what the world and our election system has come to. However, with the election now only days away, I feel that it is necessary to stay grief related and talk about the day AFTER the election.

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  • Passing Along the Legacy of Your Family

    Passing Along the Legacy of Your Family

    Throughout history, the legacy of those who walked the Earth before us has been kept through a tradition of “Oral History.”  “Oral History” is an extremely wide-ranging term because throughout different cultures the value of “Oral History” has been held differently. In some cultures there are members of the community who are designated as “culturally sanctioned tradition-bearers” while in others, history is transferred from one generation to the next through informal fireside chats as people talk about the “good ole days” with friends, family, and loved ones.

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  • Facing the Challenges of Who will Care for Mom or Dad

    Facing the Challenges of Who will Care for Mom or Dad

    Last week, I asked you to consider the scenario that mom and dad were now both dead and the “glue” that holds the family together has obviously gone with them. But this week, I wanted to back up to that period between their deaths. That period when one parent is grieving the death of their long time companion and facing major changes and alterations to their life that they had possibly never imagined. That period when you find that the role of parenting has suddenly shifted to you, the children, and then the wonder begins concerning who is going to be the one to step up and be the caretaker in these final days, months, or even years before this surviving parent joins their mate in Heaven. This is a challenging and stressful time for everyone involved.

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  • Keeping the Family together when the Glue is Gone

    Keeping the Family together when the Glue is Gone

    This is the first of what I hope to be a series of articles about maintaining family bonds after the death of a loved one. In this article we will talk about maintaining family connectivity after the “glue” is gone. In future articles I hope to speak to facing the challenges of who will take care of mom or dad, passing down the legacy, and what happens when you are now alone.

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  • 15 Years Later

    15 Years Later

    Today marks the 15th Anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on US soil. This day when everyone’s reality was rocked when two aircraft were flown into the World Trade Center towers, one while many of America was watching; one aircraft was flown into the hardened side of the Pentagon penetrating more deeply into the rings of than anyone thought was possible; and, one aircraft was aimed at the Capitol, the seat of our free government but was stopped short by a group of 40 heroes who took it upon themselves to stop these terrorist knowing that it was going to cost them their lives. This day, 15 years ago, stands as a tragic reminder that we were attacked brutally on our own soil.

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  • You Can't Take it With You

    You Can't Take it With You

    Are the deaths of popular icons causing an awareness of mortality among people and as a result they begin planning for their own deaths? That is a question that I had never really thought of in the wake of the already horrific world that we find ourselves living in from day to day. Honestly, if terrorist attacks and drive-by shootings can’t raise awareness of the mortality and unpredictability of human life, then what can. However, a recent write up from the Mirror website in the United Kingdom ( indicates that the recent deaths of Prince and David Bowie have spurred the 22-year-old Justin Bieber to begin the planning process for his elaborate funeral and the distribution of his estate. Bieber is supposedly planning for a “solar-powered headstone that plays video.”

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  • 10 Things to Know Before you Go

    10 Things to Know Before you Go

    In looking for something interesting to post for this week, I came across this article from “The Sydney Morning Herald” entitled, “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Death but Were too Afraid to Ask.” Even though this was written and published half a world away, a quote from this article brought to the forefront how universal the hesitancy to discuss death, or death related issues is: “There is a social stigma about death,” she said. “You can't talk about death in a healthy, positive way. If you are talking about death you must be weird or morbid.”

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  • Grief Over a Pet IS Real

    Grief Over a Pet IS Real

    When it comes to someone experiencing grief, it is often assumed that the grief is from the death of a loved one or close companion. Grief over other life losses, such as relationship issues, financial struggles, etc., usually gets brushed aside and not thought of as legitimate grief events. As I have stated before, all major changes in life cause a grief reaction; therefore, they should not be overlooked. But one loss that causes an enormous amount of grief and is often brushed aside, or even belittled, is the death of a beloved family pet. In reality, the death of a pet can induce a grief response that is as severe as that from the death of a loved one or close companion.

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  • Surviving Summer

    Surviving Summer

    No matter how far along you are in your grief journey, it is likely that the thought of taking a trip to a place you and your deceased loved one enjoyed visiting fills you with a wealth of emotion. There is surely sadness and longing for days gone by as you begin to ponder a trip without the physical presence of your loved one.  One thing you must remember, and gain strength from, is that although your deceased loved one may not be with you physically, they still accompany you in your heart and mind. When you visit a place that your loved one enjoyed with you in the past, the memories of those trips can fill your heart with a joy that is unique and surprisingly memorable. Additionally, visiting a place that you and your loved one never got a chance to visit together can be just as memorable if the memory of your loved one is kept alive and active during that journey.

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  • 7 Elements of a Meaningful Funeral

    7 Elements of a Meaningful Funeral

    It seems like over the last couple of years death has been on the “main stage” in America. We have seen funerals for the wealthy and well-known, and we have seen funerals for those who died too young and too early. In last week’s article we looked at the six functions of a funeral since the beginning of time (click here to read) and most, if not all, of the funerals we have seen, or in some cases attended, serve the purpose of properly executing these functions. However, with the onslaught of death within our culture, we continue to see that human life is being devalued and the way we honor our dead is the last bastion of hope for maintaining some of our humanity.

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  • The 6 Functions of a Funeral

    The 6 Functions of a Funeral

    In today’s culture we have been trained to work hard, to strive for something better, to get things done faster and cheaper, and to not waste time on stuff that culture deems as trivial or unimportant. Unfortunately, this mindset has been applied to the concept of the funeral and the final farewell we give our cherished loved ones. As families live a less centralized life, with family members often spread out through different states, the desire has become to get everything done as quickly and painlessly as possible in order to minimize the impact on family and friends who have jobs and responsibilities, or who may have to travel to attend the service. Some families are even making complete arrangements over the phone for immediate cremation with little to no ceremony involved in the process. For many of you reading this, you may now be asking yourself, “so, what is the problem?” I am glad you asked that question!

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  • Prayers for Orlando

    Prayers for Orlando

    In the wake of incidents like those in New York, Boston, and now, Orlando, there comes a time when the help is gone and the lives of those who survived the attack, or those who had people die in the attack must go on. The question is always raised, “How can you go on after something like that?”  

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  • Remembering Your Loved One

    Remembering Your Loved One

    It is not unusual for us to ache and pine over the fact that we will never see our loved one again; that we will never feel their touch or smell their smell.  Even though this is the most common way for us to act we must change to where we remember what we had with the deceased rather than mourn what we will not have (future).   

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  • Did They Die, Pass Away, or Expire

    Did They Die, Pass Away, or Expire

    Having grown up around the funeral industry I have heard almost every euphemism ever invented to describe the death of a loved one. “They passed.” “They passed away.” “They went home.” “They kicked the bucket.” Oh, and my personal favorite, “They expired.” If you do a Google search for “euphemisms about death” it returns pages of results of terminology that has been used throughout time to refer to death. Early on I was taught, and it was further emphasized in my training as a grief specialist, that the correct phrase is, “they died.” But a lot of people do not understand the meaning of the words they choose to describe this event in their lives where the physical relationship with their loved one is permanently severed. I would like to unpack the word usage we choose and explain why it affects our grieving process.

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  • Denial


    The five stages of grief according to Kuebler-Ross are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.  My first installment was about depression and can be found HERE.   I do not necessarily subscribe to Kuebler-Ross’ five stages as an ultimate guide to grieving.  There are many other features of this dynamic journey which I want to explore with you; however, her framework is a good start for anyone facing grief. So this brings us to the big question: What is Denial?

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  • Depression


    This is part 1 in a series of 3 articles that discuss different aspects of grief. Depression affects 25 million Americans each year; 50 percent of the people who die from suicide suffer from major depression and if you add alcoholics the number rises to 75 percent; as many as 8 percent of those over 18 suffer from depression in a given year; and, more Americans suffer from depression than HIV/AIDS, cancer, or coronary heart disease. Depression leads to hopelessness and hopelessness is the strongest indicator of potential suicide risk.

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