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Life is Short – Be Grateful for the Moments

Last week I had the privilege of spending a week with my Mom in Curacao.  What a beautiful place and the weather was absolutely fantastic.  As Thanksgiving is approaching, I wanted to take the time to share my appreciation of this experience that I am very thankful to have shared with my mom.

During the week one of the many things I am grateful for is that Mom and I were able to take this trip and spend quality time together.  There was time to reminisce and share memories.  And to laugh over silly things that have happened over the years.

There was also the opportunity to ask Mom questions that only she would know the answers to. What a gift!

Many people no longer have the opportunity to sit and reminisce with their loved ones.  Seize the moments that you now have and treasure these memories.  There will come a day when I can no longer ask Mom those questions or hear her voice.  That will be a very sad day indeed.

Another thing I am immensely grateful to Mom for is that she has all her plans and personal affairs organized.  When that day does eventually come, it will literally be one phone call and everything she wants done to celebrate her life will fall into place.

Too many people do not realize what a gift this is as they have to learn about Celebration of Life options and decide what to do after their loved one has died.  If you were to witness the pain, anguish, and turmoil that families go through, I am not sure you would willingly or knowingly leave your affairs in disarray.

If you are not sure what being organized looks like, contact me – there is a solution and the time is now to get your affairs in order and leave a loving legacy for your family.

I would love to hear from you and help get the conversation started.  You can connect with me via email or telephone, leave a comment here on the site or click the contact tab at the bottom of the screen if you are reading this post on the website. Don’t forget to join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter too!

As Thanksgiving approaches, I wish you a wonderful weekend full of making memories with loved ones.

Until next time,

Kat

Katherine Downey is the #1 Funeral Preplanning Professional in Canada for the fourth time. She is a professional educator, author, licensed funeral director and insurance advisor. To set an appointment or have your questions answered, please contact Kat directly

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Celebration of Life: Online Tribute and Social Media – Part 4

Another way to celebrate the life of a deceased loved one is via main stream media or online social media tributes. This could be a standalone celebration of life or used to augment a funeral, memorial, or committal service.

Online tributes and social media memorials are gaining in popularity because of their ease of accessibility. Whether it is the celebration of life of a prominent public figure, or if people are emotionally, physically, financially, legally or logistically unable to attend in person, they can still participate virtually from anywhere in the world.  Some people also just prefer to grieve in private, while still paying their respects.

Live-Streaming a Celebration of Life: a Virtual Funeral

The celebration of life could be watched on television for thousands to view or on a smaller scale there could be live streaming of the celebration from the funeral home or church.  If the funeral home does this for the family they will often have a recorded copy to give back to the family afterwards.

With the massive increase in social media, this is a wonderful way to have family and friends participate in the celebration of life no matter their physical location.  Live streaming of the celebration of life allows multiple people to contribute from vast distances.  There is also the ability to record the celebration of life and have a permanent record to share with others or add pictures to after the service.

Online Obituaries

Newspaper death notices are becoming more obsolete, partially due to the cost and the prevalence of online media.  Many funeral homes will also have an online obituary page for the deceased.  Comments sent in from the public are moderated before they are posted online.  There is also the option to make memorial donations or purchase flowers, candles in memory of the deceased.

Facebook Remembrance Pages

The family could set up a private Facebook Remembrance Page and provide access to people who wish to contribute their memories, photos or condolences.

A lady I worked with recently elected to keep her mother’s Facebook page open.  Her rational was that her mom was very active online and knew many people from different interest groups.  She had her hiking club, church groups, family members, friends from work and her book club.  As these different groups did their activities they were able to virtually share them with their deceased friend and often commented how much they missed her and how she would have enjoyed participating.

It may seem slightly creepy to some people to see a deceased person pop up on social media, yet in this situation the daughter was very glad she made this decision and found it very comforting for the family and her mother’s associated Facebook community.

As always please be sure that your trusted representative knows your social media user names and passwords.  For more information on what happens to their social media after a loved one passes, please click here to see my previous blog.

There are many different ways to have a Celebration of Life.  To make sure that your life is celebrated the way you like, start planning now.  Let your loved ones know how you would like to be celebrated and remembered, to relieve stress on their end and to make sure you are remembered the way you like best.

I would love to hear from you and help get the conversation started.  You can connect with me via email or telephone, leave a comment here on the site or click the contact tab at the bottom of the screen if you are reading this post on the website. Don’t forget to join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter too!

Kat

Katherine Downey is the #1 Funeral Preplanning Professional in Canada for the fourth time. She is a professional educator, author, licensed funeral director and insurance advisor. To set an appointment or have your questions answered, please contact Kat directly.

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What is the difference between a funeral service and a memorial service Part 2

There are several ways to celebrate the life of a deceased loved one.

In part 1 of this blog I mentioned that a funeral service means that the body of the deceased is present at the service.  Now I will go over the details of a memorial service and the primary difference between a funeral service and a memorial service.

A memorial service means that the body of the deceased is not present at the celebration of life.  The deceased may have been buried or cremated prior to the memorial service.  Or in other more tragic circumstances, the body of the deceased may not be available to hold a funeral service and the family elects to have a memorial service instead.

Visiting is very common with a memorial service.  Visiting could be a day or two before or a few hours prior to the memorial service on the same day.  Visiting is not obligatory, yet many families value this time to have the support of their family and friends.

A family could hold a memorial service in addition to or in place of a funeral service.  For instance, the family may elect to hold a funeral service in the town where the deceased lived and died. Then hold a memorial service at a later date in the town where the person was born.

Whether you prefer a funeral or a memorial service, the important piece is to think through how you would like your life to be celebrated.

Take a quiet moment and ponder what this looks like for you.  Then take massive action.  Set up your plans and prefund them at the funeral home of your choice.  Finally, let your family know you have done this, especially your Estate Trustee.  Do not include your funeral or memorial services in your will, as the will is typically read after the celebration of life.

One family comes to mind that experienced this unfortunate issue.  When their father died they had no idea how he wanted his life celebrated.  They discussed this and elected to have him cremated and then held a memorial service.  Later when they read his will, they found out he had wanted to be buried – oops!  Unfortunately cremation is irreversible and this family had to live with their decision.

Don’t put your family is this position.  Take charge of your celebration of life and set it up the way you want now.

If you are unsure where/how to start, then I invite you to connect with me.  I work with my clients to make this process easier and to avoid any headaches during an already emotional time after the deceased has passed.  To help start the discussion, I offer a free consultation to see the available options and how to get started preplanning.

I would love to hear from you.  You can connect with me via email or telephone, leave a comment here on the site or click the contact tab at the bottom of the screen if you are reading this post on the website. Don’t forget to join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter too!

Kat

Katherine Downey is the #1 Funeral Preplanning Professional in Canada for the fourth time. She is a professional educator, author, licensed funeral director and insurance advisor. To set an appointment or have your questions answered, please contact Kat directly.

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June is Seniors Month: Time to Celebrate Our Fantastic Seniors

June is Seniors Month.  A time to honor and celebrate the lives and contributions of the generations of Canadians that took care of their families, communities and country.  Yet for many seniors it can also be a lonely time.

The incredible wealth of knowledge and experience that seniors have is a treasure to capture. Spending time with a senior near you in the month of June can be an enormously rewarding experience for all of us.

Throughout the month of June, younger generations show their appreciation and thanks for the contribution Canadian seniors have made by honoring them in many different ways.  Special events, festivals, ceremonies, dinners, and teas are held for seniors as the guests of honour.  Youth groups, choirs, and scouting/guiding organizations often organize visits to senior’s facilities. Families can get together with their older loved ones and spend special time together remembering stories, family vacations, recalling older memories and making newer ones.

What do seniors want the most?  They want your time and attention, but mostly your presence.

Here are some suggestions to show your appreciation for a senior in your life:

  1. Take them to their favorite restaurant.
  2. Take them to a movie.
  3. Make a video of the senior’s lifetime. For example you may want to ask them how they met their spouse, their favorite holiday or family memory.  Then sit back and watch the glow in their face as they remember these times.
  4. Help them organize photos, closets, cupboards, etc.
  5. Volunteer time at a nursing home or long term care facility.
  6. Mend or fix something for them.
  7. Make a hot meal, deliver it in person, and share the meal with them.
  8. Prepare several different types of home meals and freeze them in containers for them to enjoy at a later time.
  9. Take a senior on an errand or help them around their home, mow the grass, weed the garden, wash their car.
  10. Bake cookies, or smaller treats and deliver them to seniors in your neighborhood.
  11. Help a senior with their correspondence, or buy greeting cards for them and help them address them.
  12. Take a senior with you to participate in special seniors events in your community.

For the younger generation, take the time to reach out and call your grandparents or great grandparents.  They will be thrilled and talk about you for days on end!  Go ahead, just 5 minutes of your time can make a difference.  The afterglow on their face for you taking as little time to say hello will remain with them for weeks.

How do you intend to celebrate the seniors in your life?  There are so many ways we can celebrate seniors in our family and community during the month of June.  Please share your experiences with me.

I would love to hear from you.  You can connect with me via email or telephone, leave a comment here on the site or click the contact tab at the bottom of the screen if you are reading this post on the website. Don’t forget to join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter too!

Kat

Katherine Downey is the #1 Funeral Preplanning Professional in Canada for the fourth time. She is a professional educator, author, licensed funeral director and insurance advisor. To set an appointment or have your questions answered, please contact Kat directly.

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Does Your Family Have an Emergency Preparedness Plan?

What would you do if you were one of the people in Fort McMurray who were told they only have 10 minutes to pack and that you have to leave everything behind right now?

Shocking, horrific, incomprehensible, and overwhelming for the 80,000 + people who had to do exactly this this past week after forest fires destroyed their homes and everything except what they could physically carry.

What would you decide take?  Where do you even start?

Have an Emergency Bag Packed at All Times

Even without the threat of an impending emergency, having an emergency bag packed and placed in one accessible location at all times is a great idea. Family members could pack their own bag, a bag that they can easily carry themselves, such as a backpack.  Consider having a family emergency plan, detailing where your packed emergency bag(s) is/are, where you would meet and how you would communicate or rendezvous to let each other know your status.   The Canadian Red Cross and the Federal Government website both suggest that your emergency bag have enough supplies to last for 3 days.

What to include in your Emergency Bag:

  1. Important papers or photocopies of these documents:
  • SIN card
  • Health Card
  • Passport
  • Birth Certificate
  • Marriage Certificate
  • Personal Identification Card
  • Will
  • POA
  1. Cash, especially small bills, Debit and Credit cards
  2. Basic first aid kit including Band-Aids, disinfectant, small scissors, etc.
  3. Basic tools and equipment such as a shovel, bungee cords, tape, multi-function pocket knife, manual can-opener, whistle, string, etc.
  4. Battery or crank radio and flashlight
  5. Extra batteries
  6. Blanket or sleeping bag
  7. Personal items and comfortable clothing and shoes
  8. High-energy non-perishable food items such as power bars or dried foods
  9. Potable water stored in small containers; 2 liters per person per day

What Can You Do Now to Prepare for an Emergency?

  1. Prepare your emergency bag
  2. Place it in your readily accessible location
  3. Where applicable prepare a family emergency plan
  4. Have an In Case of Emergency ICE contact readily located on your phone or person (see below)
  5. The same should be done with a list of any allergies that members of your family have
  6. Update your contact list on your phone, virtually or on paper
  7. Keep your vehicle in top running condition with regular maintenance
  8. Keep your devices fully charged. You can even charge and store a “backup battery bank” to recharge your devices on the go

To help get your family emergency plan started, I invite you to contact me to receive a free In Case of Emergency ICE contact form.  Does your family have an emergency preparedness plan in place?  I would love to hear from you.  You can connect with me via email or telephone, leave a comment here on the site or click the contact tab at the bottom of the screen if you are reading this post on the website. Don’t forget to join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter too!

In the meantime our thoughts prayers and perhaps donations go out to our fellow Canadians in Alberta.

Kat

Katherine Downey is the #1 Funeral Preplanning Professional in Canada for the fourth time. She is a professional educator, author, licensed funeral director and insurance advisor. To set an appointment or have your questions answered, please contact Kat directly.

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Spring Cleaning: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle with a Warm Hand

Wow, our lives sure can get busy and complicated.  We take care of our families – shuttling children to school, activities, getting the school forms signed, accumulating stuff, then chucking that “stuff” into a temporary storage space, while thinking “I’ll get to it later”. Maybe tomorrow, maybe on the weekend, maybe next week.  Then more time passes and before you know it there is more “stuff” accumulated everywhere.

As we get older, we may find that we use less and less of our everyday items.  We may have younger family members, children or grandchildren who may benefit from them.  Why not share some of your memories with family & friends and encourage them to make new ones?  This is a simple part of estate planning that can be done at any age, at any time.  The more organized your estate is, the less stress we leave our estate trustee in organizing it with the added stress of our passing. Read more

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What Happens to One’s Social Media & Digital Footprint When They Die?

Last year a colleague died suddenly and tragically.  It was a tremendous shock to the community and people showed up in droves to pay their respects.  Last week a request to endorse this person popped up on LinkedIn and I was immediately thrown right back to last year.  This left me thinking about what is the best way to handle a deceased person’s presence on social media?  What will happen to their social media accounts and digital footprint in general? Read more

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What Needs to Be Done When Someone Dies?

I had three calls this week from colleagues asking me to guide them through the process of what has to happen when a loved one dies.  Unfortunately in each case there was no preplanning nor had the families had any conversations about what type of funeral the deceased wanted.  Imagine their total bewilderment and shock at having to make important once in a life time decisions – all while they are in a state of total emotional overwhelm.

I think we could all agree that this is not the optimal state of mind to be in to have to make funeral decisions.  Especially when there are so many steps involved that haven’t been thought about.  To give you an idea of this comprehensive list, I have prepared a short list of just a few of the many steps involved in what needs to be done when someone dies. Read more

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Disabled Beneficiaries – Would a Henson Trust Benefit your Situation?

funeral preplanner Mississauga Ontario

Many Canadians are aware of the importance of having a valid will and powers of attorney document, yet, the importance of these documents is vastly underestimated in the special needs arena. Careful estate planning is necessary if persons with disabilities are to become beneficiaries of an estate. Individuals who live in Ontario should consider taking advantage of the Henson Trust when planning for their beneficiaries, who are recipients of ODSP benefits. Read more

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What to do Next When a Loved One Dies in Hospital

funeral preplanner Mississauga Oakville

I have had this question from a few people who have attended my seminars… “If my loved one dies in the hospital – what do I do next?”  The answer is – Your first call is to the Funeral Home.

The Funeral Home will ask you some initial questions and fill out what is called a First Call Sheet. The information needed will be: Read more