ObitTree Blog

planning a funeral

Things People Forget When Planning A Funeral

While no two funerals are ever the same, the funeral planning checklist most people follow is almost always identical. The steps on these checklists include things like selecting a casket, choosing a plot, and purchasing flowers for the service. For many of us,  these steps are straightforward and seem like a no brainer. However, there are also many things that people often forget when planning a funeral.

Whether you a pre-planning your funeral or one for a relative who has passed away, it’s important to remember that a funeral is for the living, not the deceased. A funeral is about providing a family with closure and saying a final goodbye to a loved one. Too often when planning a funeral, the family makes choices off what they think the deceased would have liked. But this is the problem. The deceased isn’t here to enjoy it, and almost all of the guests aren’t going to remember these details either.

1. Have A Budget and Stick to It

It is important to have a budget and stick to it. A conversation about the funeral budget is one that every family should have. Make sure you know if your loved ones have already set money aside to cover funeral expenses when they pass away and how it can be accessed. You should also talk about how much of the estate should be spent on the funeral if there is no dedicated account. If you ask most people, they would rather their loved ones use the money for themselves than spend a large sum of it on the funeral expenses.

Ask yourself, at the last funeral you went to, do you remember what the casket looked like? Some families feel like the more expensive options should be purchased because it means you love and miss the deceased that much more. Ultimately it’s up to the family to decide what items they buy. With that in mind, try to decide if you feel like an individual item is necessary. If it is, then purchase it, but don’t put yourself over budget because of it. Having a dedicated budget will help make sure you give your loved one a dignified goodbye without putting any financial stress on your surviving family members.

2. Understand A Person’s Wishes

While a loved one’s will may specify their preferences, make sure the family also knows what they are. If you are unable to locate a will or if it doesn’t specify, your family may argue when deciding between burial or cremation. Some people want to embalmed so their family can have a viewing, others do not. These are all important decisions to make and talk about when planning a funeral. By having a talk with your family about how to care for your remains, you can make sure that they will follow your wishes and can have closure knowing that this is the option you wanted.

3. Make Sure Your Family Knows Where Your Important Papers Are Located 

An often overlooked aspect of funeral planning is making sure your family knows where they can find important paperwork when the time comes. This includes things like your will, bank account information, and life insurance policies. Whoever the executor of your estate is should know where all of these important pieces of paperwork are kept so that they can be easily obtained when legal paperwork is being filed, and funeral arrangements are being confirmed.

Final Thoughts

Planning a funeral involves so much more than just the actual arrangements for the service. What many people often forget is to make sure their family understands their wishes. This can be accomplished by having a talk about finances, caring for remains, and where to find important documents. Without this information, the process of planning a funeral can become very stressful for your family. Rather than comforting one another and preparing to say goodbye, their attention is on arranging the service.


Originally published by Colonial Funeral Home blog.


Stephen Hawking (1942-2018)

Stephen Hawking
January 8, 1942 – March 14, 2018


Stephen Hawking, one of the world’s most renowned scientists has passed away at the age of 76 according to multiple reports. Hawking was best known for his book “A Brief History Of Time”.

Hawking was one of the most recognizable faces in the science community. At the age of 21, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis also commonly referred to as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The disease would paralyze him and force him to speak through synthetic voice machine. Despite his illness, Hawking continued to make great strides in scientific research, specifically theoretical physics.

Hawking was born in Oxford, England to scholars who both attended the University of Oxford. As a student, Hawking described himself as an average student noting that he had messy handwriting and struggled with reading early on. During his early years, he had a fascination with machines and enjoyed learning about the intricacies of their parts and how everything worked together. During high school, he built a computer from parts he took from clocks and an old telephone switchboard.

Upon completing high school, Hawking enrolled in his parents’ alma mater, the University of Oxford. Mathematics had always been something he enjoyed, despite his father persisting that he should study medicine. Hawking would eventually settle on physics and chemistry. As a student, Hawking was a scholar and found his assignments to be too easy. He estimated that at most, he spent an hour a day on school work. Despite his minimal effort, Hawking excelled achieving top marks and admission into graduate school at the University of Cambridge.

During his final year at Oxford, Hawking would begin to show early signs of ALS. After his family began to notice his slurring words and clumsiness, they consulted several doctors. He was given the diagnosis in 1963 and told he had two years to live.

Despite his health issues, Hawking continued his studies at Cambridge pursuing a doctorate in cosmology and general relativity. Hawking was determined to complete his studies before the disease worsened. In 1966, he received his doctorate in cosmology, three years after his initial diagnosis.

By the early 1970’s, Hawking was bound to a wheelchair in order to get around. Despite this, he continued to make headway with his research. In 1974, he proved that black holes emit radiation and thus are not entirely black. The concept has since been referred to as “Hawking Radiation”.

After his first major discovery, Hawking received job offers from several prestigious employers. Hawking would become one of the youngest scientists to join the Royal Society, and eventually began teaching at the California Institute of Technology. After his time at Cal Tech, Hawking would return to be a professor at Cambridge.

By this time, his disease had worsened and Hawking was forced to speak through a synthesized voice machine. Even though his condition made it harder to work, Hawking continued to press forward. In 1988, he released his best seller, “A Brief History Of Time”. The popular book would bring science to the mainstream for the general public and inspire a generation of future scientists. Hawking would go on to write several other books including a series of children’s books he would co-write with his daughter.

Hawking’s work was not all science and research. He would go on to become a figure in pop culture and appeared on several television programs including “The Simpsons” and “The Big Bang Theory”. In 2014, his life was projected onto the big screen with the release of the Oscar-nominated film, “The Theory of Everything”.

Hawking was married twice in his lifetime. His first wife was Jane Wilde, whom he met during his time at Cambridge. Together the couple would have three children: Robert, Lucy and Timothy. Hawking and Wilde separated in 1990 and finally divorced in 1995. Shortly after his divorce, Hawking would marry one of his nurses, Elaine Mason. The couple divorced as well in 2006.

Hawking is survived by his two ex-wives, three children and three grandchildren.

Following the news of his death, many celebrities and members of the scientific community expressed their condolences on social media.

couple on couch

Remembering Your Grandparent’s On Grandparent’s Day

Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Parent’s Day are all important dates to set aside time to thank our parents for everything they’ve done for us. Some of the most important people in our life that are often overlooked however are our grandparents. Grandparents play a vital role in the upbringing of a child by being there to offer love and support.

For most people, your grandparents were most likely the people your mom and dad would turn to when they needed help with you and your siblings. A grandparent is often the first call for a babysitter, emergency contact, or just to give your parents a break. Thinking back to my childhood, some of my favorite memories come from spending time with my nana and grandpa. To this day, I still haven’t found a better cook than my Nana. Likewise, I’ve yet to find someone who can offer better wisdom than my Grandpa.

Each year on the first Sunday after Labor Day, we celebrate Grandparents Day.

This is a day dedicated to saying thanks to your grandparents for everything they’ve done to help you over the years. If your grandparents are no longer here though, celebrating the day can be a stressful time for some people. Today we’ll look at different ways to celebrate Grandparents’ Day and pay tribute to them.

Ways To Celebrate Grandparents Day

Play A Memorial Tribute Game

Try to think about funny stories, things your grandparents often said or did, and other unique or quirky things about them. From there, turn these stories into questions and play a trivia game with your family. It will give everyone a chance to reflect over memories they may have forgotten and serve as a way to share stories.

Make Your Grandma’s Signature Dish

It’s an undeniable fact that grandma’s make some of the best meals. Growing up, your grandma probably taught you how to cook some of these amazing dishes. Most families like to past down recipes from generation to generation. Celebrate your grandma on this day by cooking one of the meals she taught you. It probably won’t taste as good as she made it, but you’ll feel connected to her all the same.

Look Through Old Scrapbooks

Before the days of social media, people used scrapbooks to organize photographs and precious memories. Take some time to look through old photo albums and reflect on their life. You’ll probably come across photos of you and grandparents from when you were little that you don’t remember. Who knows, you may even get to see pictures of them before they were grandma and grandpa when they were young and adventurous. Remember those crazy stories about your grandparents you never believed? Those memories are probably captured somewhere in a scrap book.

Spend A Day Doing What They Loved

What was the one thing your grandma or grandpa loved doing more than anything else? One of the best ways to pay tribute to them is by spending the day doing an activity they loved. Maybe they loved to have barbeques, spend the afternoon golfing, or go to the ballgame. Consider doing that activity with members of your family. You’ll enjoy spending the time together and will feel connected to them, even though they’re gone.

Final Thoughts

Experiencing grief and missing your grandparents on Grandparent’s Day is a common experience. Celebrating you’re their lives may just be the thing you need to feel connected to them on the day. Experts agree, listen to your heart and only do as much as you are able. You may not want to do anything at all, that’s okay too.


What are your favorite memories of your grandparents? Let us know in the comment section!



yellow ribbon on hand

World Suicide Prevention Day 2017

One of the most beautiful parts of life is that everyone is unique. No two people share the same story and that is something that should be celebrated. Unfortunately, every year a countless number of individuals question how valuable their life is. It is estimated that 800,000 people worldwide commit suicide each year and up to 20 million make an attempt on their life.

Mental health is something that needs to be taken very seriously as these numbers are quite staggering. What is even more unsettling is that each of these individuals is surrounded by a community yet they still feel vulnerable and alone.

September 10, 2017, is World Suicide Prevention Day.

This is a day dedicated to raising awareness about suicide and mental health. The theme for this cause is “Take a minute, change a life”. Everyone is encouraged to reach out and offer support to those in your life who may be struggling. As a member of your community, you share a responsibility to offer help to those that are suffering and encourage them to share their story. Sometimes just a few kinds words and an offer to listen can make a world of difference. The smallest actions can help bring about the greatest achievements.

To learn more about suicide prevention day, check out this by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP).



What We Can Learn From Survivors

There is so much that can be learned from those who have lived through a suicide attempt. The most important lesson being how it could have been prevented. When you speak with a survivor about their story, they often discuss reaching a point where they saw no alternative but to take their own life. This is something we need to address and learn how to stop others from reaching this point.

For many, they admit that dying was not their goal, instead, they wanted someone to intervene. Attempting suicide was their way of letting others know that something was wrong and they needed help. Some survivors even admit that before the attempt, they made a pact to tell someone everything and have them intervene if they simply asked how they were doing. Sadly, many of us fail to do so, and the consequences reflect our community’s lack of action.

To hear a survivor, talk about their story is nothing short of inspirational. Many will talk about what led them to this point and how it could have been avoided. After receiving help, many survivors also begin to become advocates for prevention with almost all saying that the outcome could have been different if someone intervened.


Warning Signs To Look For

In order to prevent suicide attempts, it is important that everyone recognize the signs that someone may be considering ending their life. A tool developed by the American Association of Suicidology is called:


I – Ideation (suicidal thoughts)

S – Substance Abuse

P – Purposelessness

A – Anxiety

T – Trapped

H – Hopelessness/Helplessness

W – Withdrawal

A – Anger

R – Recklessness

M – Mood changes

If someone you know is experiencing some of these symptoms, it is important to intervene and just be there to offer support. One conversation could be all it takes to make all the difference in someone’s life.


Resources To Check Out

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, there are plenty of helpful resources available. Check out the following organizations to learn more about suicide prevention and important information to know.

International Association of Suicide Prevention

Your Life Counts

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention


Become A Part Of World Suicide Prevention Day

The World Health Organization is encouraging everyone to get involved with World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, 2017. This year marks the 15 anniversary of the initiative as millions around the world recognize mental health and offer support to those in need.

It’s important to remember that even though September 10, is a day dedicated to suicide prevention, it is something that should be worked towards every day of the year. Show your support by raising awareness in your community and take part in any events that are scheduled. If there is nothing planned in your area, initiate an event yourself.

Lastly, remember that mental health can affect anyone. If you are concerned about someone you know, take a moment to ask how they’re doing. It could change everything.

girls sitting

Gone But Not Forgotten, 5 Inexpensive Ways To Celebrate Friendship Day

Friendship Day is a time to celebrate your relationship with some of the most important people in your life. Your true friends are always there for you in times of struggle to lend a hand. For some, the bond you form becomes so tight that you consider them a part of your family.

The sudden death of a friend is never easy. Many people envision themselves being able to grow old alongside their friends and celebrate all of life’s milestones together. If you have lost a close friend, celebrating Friendship Day may seem difficult and have you thinking of skipping the celebration altogether. Even though your friend is no longer here, you have to remember that there are still others around who have been equally affected by this loss. Friendship Day marks the perfect time for your group of friends to come together to celebrate a fallen friend.

The following activities are great ways to celebrate Friendship Day and feel a connection to those you have lost. Whether you choose to do them as a group or individually is entirely up to you. In either case, these will help you reminisce about the good times and celebrate your friend’s legacy.

Visit Your Alma Mater


If your friend was someone you went to school with, gather your group of friends and make the trip back to your old stomping grounds to reminisce over the memories of your time there. Whether it’s the high school or the college you all went to, a trip to your school will allow you to reflect on all the good times you had there with your friend. Share a drink at the local bar, sit on the bleachers you watched so many football games from, or just walk through the place you use to call home. The time you spent there was an important part of your friendship and revisiting it will allow the chance to feel connected to your friend even now that they’re gone.


Write Them A Letter


Writing a letter is a great way to express everything that you’re feeling. By crafting a letter to your friend, you will be able to update them on what’s going on in your life, express how you miss them, or just talk about anything. Once the letter is written, you can leave on the grave or somewhere else that was a special place to them. If you’re worried about others reading it, just keep it for yourself, the exercise of writing will help you work through any emotions you may be feeling and allow you to cope with the grief you’re experiencing.


Eat At Their Favorite Restaurant


For many people, there is a certain restaurant they love to go to. Whether it’s the food, the service, or the location itself, everyone has a restaurant they always look forward to eating at. Visiting your friend’s favorite restaurant is a great way to reminisce about all the meals and laughs you shared their over the years. Perhaps there was a certain dish on the menu they always had to order. Order yourself a plate of that and enjoy the meal they would have like to have. To make the experience even more memorable, invite your group of friends to join you for the meal. Meals have long been a tool to gather people together and share or celebrate an experience. Use this meal as a way to celebrate your friend’s legacy and what they meant to you.


Get A Tattoo


Everyone has memories of special occasions or experiences they shared with a close friend. A memorial tattoo is a great way to honor this memory you shared with them. Not only is a tattoo a powerful way to permanently preserve a memory; it ensures that even though a friend may be gone, the mark they left on you will never be forgotten. The tattoo can be whatever you want it to be, you will know the special meaning behind it and that’s all that matters. Popular choices for many people include dates, names, favorite flower or animal, sports team logos, and military dog tags. Whatever you choose will be a personal reminder of your bond with that person. Just make sure you are completely sure you want a tattoo, the cost to have them removed can be both expensive and painful so don’t make the decision on a whim.


Visit Their Favorite Spot


Was there a particular place they love to spend their free time? Whether it’s their favorite place to go fishing or the park they love to run in, spending time there can help you feel closer to them. If it was a spot the two you frequently visited together, revisiting it will allow you the chance to do the activity they enjoyed and feel like a part of them is there with you. Even just a simple stroll will help bring back old memories and have you reflecting on the time the two of you spent together.


Final Thoughts

Experiencing grief and missing your friend on Friendship Day is a common experience. Celebrating their life may just be the thing you need to feel connected to them on the day. Experts agree, listen to your heart and only do as much as you are able. You may not want to do anything at all, that’s okay too. Try as many of our suggestions as you want when celebrating Friendship Day. Whether you choose to involve friends and family is entirely up to you, the point is to just feel a connection with someone you have lost and celebrate the positive memories you made with them.


Do you have unique or fun ways that you remember your friend on Friendship Day? Let us know how you plan to celebrate the day in the comment section below!