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Death Doulas & Caring for the Dying

Have you heard of “Death Doulas”? They, of course, prefer the term end-of-life doula, but the catchier term is the one that sticks in the mind and is what most people search for when first diving into this broad topic of death, dying well, and end-of-life care. Continue reading Death Doulas & Caring for the Dying

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The Aron: Jewish Burial Caskets & Where to Find Them

Where to find Jewish Burial Caskets

Jewish burial practices are very similar to the contemporary eco-friendly trend, the “green burial” movement. As people begin to realize just how harmful some of the modern “traditional” funeral practices are, a movement back to the old ways it beginning to take place.

For the Jewish community, the reality is that they have been doing it right for many years and the rest of the Western world is waking up to the wisdom of a simple, natural burial. Continue reading The Aron: Jewish Burial Caskets & Where to Find Them

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Mailbag: Questions about Scattering & Scattering Urns

Questions about scattering, urns, and TSA compliance

In today’s reader mailbag, we have a series of questions about the use of scattering urns for holding the ashes, airline travel, scattering, and eventual display as a memorial. Continue reading Mailbag: Questions about Scattering & Scattering Urns

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What is a death doula or end-of-life doula?

Applying the doula approach to end-of-life care

Death is coming. It’s easier to not think about it at all, but when the dreaded diagnosis or the irreversible decline from age comes it’s hard to avoid.

Still, we can keep busy in a number of ways bypass thinking deeply about death. There are always surgeries, procedures, medications, and other medical interventions that offer hope. Sometimes these help, or at least delay death. But ultimately it is a false hope. Death inevitably comes. When we spend all our time and effort looking for the perfect cure, death seems to hit even harder.

We can also get sidetracked by an agenda or list of tasks. Plan the funeral, finalize the will, keep the lawn mowed, donate stuff, get the medical bills paid, check off items on a whirlwind bucket list. Adding more and more tasks is a good way to avoid thinking about the fact that you and your loved ones are going to die.

But maybe that isn’t you. Perhaps you realize that death is coming, and you want to address it and face it head on, with clear eyes and full hearts. You recognize that death is a natural part of life, and you want to die well. You want to take care of your family, leave behind a meaningful legacy, and have your own or your loved one’s final wishes fulfilled in an honorable way.

Maybe you want all those things, but you just don’t know how to make it happen. Continue reading What is a death doula or end-of-life doula?

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Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory (Book Review)

Book Review: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory is an entertaining and at times thoughtful book about one of the most tucked-away but necessary jobs in the funeral industry: The Crematory Operator.

Written by Caitlin Doughty, who worked as a crematory operator and is now an “alternative” funeral director, author, and YouTube personality, the theme of the book is not really cremation or funerals or gory details, though it definitely includes that. The main theme is death itself. Specifically, how our culture interacts with death (or tries to avoid it), and what things might be like if we looked death – in all of its messiness – straight in the face.

In large part a memoir of Ms. Doughty’s first six years working in the funeral industry, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes functions in turns as an exposé of the funeral industry, a defense of a healthy interest in death, and an inside look at interesting funeral and memorial observances of various individuals, families, and cultures, as seen through the eyes of a crematory worker.

These things are all tied together by a question: Does the contemporary funeral industry help us die well?

Continue reading Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory (Book Review)

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21 Beautifully Christ-Centered Funeral Hymns

Beautiful Christian Funeral Hymns

There are few things more powerful, encouraging, and comforting than singing a beloved and Christ-exalting hymn in the midst of a difficult time.

When a Christian dies, they have the solid hope of being together with the Lord, free from sin and pain and the troubles of the world. Yes, it is a grievously sad day, but it is not a sadness without hope. Those of us who remain, including the believer’s family and loved ones, can draw much comfort while expressing our hope and grief through a well-chosen hymn sung in faith. Continue reading 21 Beautifully Christ-Centered Funeral Hymns

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19 Tealight Cremation Urns to Light a Candle in Memory

Light a candle in memory of a loved one

Tealight cremation urns provide a way to subtly display your loved one’s remains in a way that truly honors their memory. Each time you light the candle, you can visualize the way they brought so much beautiful light into your life. Continue reading 19 Tealight Cremation Urns to Light a Candle in Memory

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DIY Pet Funeral Guide: How to plan a pet funeral service

The loss of a pet is deeply affecting. Pets hold a special place in our lives and hearts, and their death creates a gaping hole that causes real, true grief. On top of this, pet owners are responsible for properly and legally disposing of the pet’s body.

So you want to know how to bury or cremate a pet while also allowing you and your family the time and opportunity to grieve the loss of your furry friend. This is where a DIY pet funeral can be helpful.

In many areas there are pet cemeteries or even pet funeral homes that can help you with this, for a fee. If that is not an option in your location or if the full-service option is out of your price range, you will be best served by a DIY pet funeral. Continue reading DIY Pet Funeral Guide: How to plan a pet funeral service

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5 Steps To Make Sure Your Funeral Plans Are Followed

Do these five things to make sure your final wishes get carried out

How do you ensure that your funeral plans are followed? This can include big decisions like whether to be buried or cremated, which funeral home to use, an eco-friendly natural burial or a big bold marble sarcophagus, services led by a pastor or a close family member.

Your wishes for your funeral can include smaller touches as well. Perhaps it is important to you that those who attend the service receive a “funeral favor” such as an engraved coin, a packet of forget-me-not seeds, or a bag of your favorite tea. Maybe you have a favorite hymn you would like sung, or a favorite poem you would like read.

These choices are important to you, and you can rest easier knowing that they are going to be respected. Here are five ways to make sure that your funeral arrangements are honored and carried out. Continue reading 5 Steps To Make Sure Your Funeral Plans Are Followed