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Making Eco-Friendly Choices about Your Funeral Arrangements

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Being environmentally aware all your life, you intentionally lighten your environmental footprint.  Increasingly, people are considering making eco-friendly or green choices for their departure from earth in terms of their funeral arrangements.

The three R’s of environmental responsibility can be adapted to end of life planning as well.  Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.


Not so long ago the “traditional” funeral would involve 2 even 3 days of visitation, followed by a funeral service and then burial in a cemetery.

This is changing.  Often people want to minimize the time commitment and stress on their loved ones by having one day of visiting and the funeral service or celebration of life service the next day.  There is another option of having the visiting and the funeral or celebration of life service all on the same day.

Other ways to reduce the time and distance traveled by people is:

  • on line funeral,
  • memorial,
  • tributes, or celebration of life services.

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Airport Regulations Regarding Flying With Cremated Remains

travelling with cremated remains People often ask if you are allowed to fly with cremated remains and what the airport or government regulations would be. The answer is, yes, you can fly with cremated remains. Often people want to take their loved one home and bury, scatter or entomb their cremated remains outside of Canada. Cremation containers are allowed on the plane with you providing you meet certain criteria.

In addition to accompanying documentation such as the: Cremation Certificate and Funeral Directors Proof of Death and Letter of Contents; x-ray screening of cremated remains will be taken at pre-boarding airport security checkpoints, to ensure there are not prohibited items inside the remains.

On July 26, 2013 Transport Canada (TC) released regulatory changes requiring the Canada Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) to follow these procedures regarding the X- ray screening of cremation containers in checked baggage or carry- on baggage.

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Are Catholics Allowed to be Cremated?

When completing funeral pre-planning with people of the Catholic faith, I am often asked if the church allows Catholics to be cremated.  As outlined in the liturgical leaflet “Catholics and Cremation” edited by the National Liturgy Office (1998, 2003, 2006), the simple answer is yes.

Prior to 1963, cremation was thought to be anti-Christian and prohibited for Catholics.  After 1963, cremation was recognized by the Catholic church as long as the motive for cremation was in line with the Christian teaching outlined in the Code of Canon Law 1176 § 3.

The church’s preference is that the body is present in the church for a funeral Mass and that cremation takes place after the Mass.

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Dispelling 3 Cremation Myths

bigstock-Religion-death-and-dolor--f-24592610On Sunday while at my parent’s place to celebrate Father’s Day with my dad, their neighbor started to ask me questions about cremation. And during this conversation I realized that some of the things that she thought were true – in fact are not so I thought it might be helpful to write this blog to dispel 3 myths about Cremation.

1. When a person dies and they want cremation they go directly to the Crematorium, Right?  No, this is not the case.

When a person dies and they select cremation as the form of disposition, the body is taken to the Funeral Home of choice. When a person dies, a Medical Certificate of Death is signed and once the paperwork is completed by the hospital,  the body is then said to be released.  This is when the funeral home will send a licensed funeral director to the place of death and transfer the deceased to the Funeral Home.  Once the body is at the funeral home a Coroner is called to view the deceased at the funeral home and sign a Cremation Application.  The Coroner’s Office has the highest authority in the province of Ontario and the Coroner’s signature is verifying that there is nothing suspicious about why or how the person died.  Otherwise further investigation may take place and the body would not be cremated. When the death has been registered with the province and the Cremation Application complete, then the body is taken to the Crematorium.

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Express Appreciation for Your Dad This Father’s Day

father's dayWith Father’s Day on the horizon many of us have the opportunity to share time with our dad’s to express our appreciation of their unconditional love and how their influence has shaped our lives.

My dad is not of the generation that was hands on with the family.  However he was an excellent provider. What dad is particularly proud of is that he was “Freedom 55.” As a career agent with London Life Insurance, dad retired at 55 years of age and is thrilled that he is now retired longer than he worked.  Well done Dad.  He also scheduled the first 2 weeks of August every year to take the family camping, first with a tent, and later a trailer.  Dad seemed to love driving even with two annoying kids in the back seat.  Throughout the years I have seen Canada from coast to coast, and portions of the United States.

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In Praise of Moms

Legacy Matters and Mother's DayThis is the week to praise Moms.  After all, where would we be without our mother’s?  Quite literally, not here at all!

With Mother’s Day on the horizon many of us have the opportunity to share time with our mom’s to express our appreciation of their unconditional love and how their influence has shaped our lives.

For some this is a sad day as your mom may no longer be physically with you. This can be especially painful if this is the first Mother’s Day without your mom.  I think the spirit is still around and appreciates the love and gratitude sent her way.  Reflecting on happier times may also help to ease the loss in your heart.

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The Art of Saying Good Bye to Someone You Love

iStock_000012294126XSmallThere is an art to saying goodbye to someone you love dearly and until last week I had never had to use it.  Fortunately I had the opportunity to do this in person.

My Aunt had a knee replacement and was on the road to recovery with Occupational and Physical therapy underway for 2 weeks following the surgery.  Then about 9 days ago she mentioned to my Uncle that she didn’t feel well.  He took her to the hospital and they admitted her immediately.  The issue was pneumonia and fluid on her lungs.  They started an antibiotic regime.   After 8 days of intravenous therapy the pneumonia was not subsiding.  The following day the Doctor was in to see my Aunt and Uncle saying that if the medication did not kick in soon, or Mother Nature took over, there was not much more they could do, and she had 1 – 2 days to live.

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What Would You Do if a Loved One Died Away From Home?

bigstock-A-senior-adult-couple-sitting--14032157In our increasingly mobile society, we are traveling for work, pleasure, education, medical treatment, or to visit family.  Perhaps you have heard of a tragic tale of a loved one or acquaintance dying away from home. What would you do?

Amid the emotional whirlwind, there are the vigorous legalities involved in repatriating the body.  When a person dies away from home, the international consulate is involved along with the Canadian consulate.  Additionally there are Public Health requirements and specific embalming and merchandise requirements to bring the body across an international border.  There will also be fees for the way bill to bring the deceased home.  These costs can range from $4,000.00 to more than $12,000.00, depending on the country in which the death occurred. Read more

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The Many Decisions Regarding Cremation

bigstock-For-The-One-We-Miss-5071148Many people think that deciding that they want to be cremated is the only decision they need to make.  Well that is likely the first decision. Cremation is a choice of disposition of the body just like earth burial or entombment in a crypt.  But, there are many other decisions that go with deciding this type of disposition.  Would you prefer donations in lieu of flowers and to what charity would you prefer money be sent?  Do you want a newspaper notice, with or without a photo?  What you would like your family to do with the cremated remains?

Perhaps you would prefer a Memorial Service or a Celebration of your Life.  In this scenario, the events of a Direct Disposition take place and then a few days later the family holds a service to celebrate your life at a venue of their choice.  Will there be a eulogy? If so who will do this?  Will there be visiting and a serve before or after cremation? This could be at the funeral home, a place of worship, or a place of significance to your during your lifetime such as the Golf and Country Club. Read more

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Parenting our Parents – Now What?

bigstock-Senior-woman-gets-a-kiss-from--50044583Life is a circle; there is an alpha and an omega, a beginning and an end for all of us.  Throughout our lifetime our parents have guided and directed us to the best of their abilities.  As our parents move through their life circle, many of us find we are now parenting our parents. The challenge is to do so while continuing to respect their dignity, capacity, and control.

This fragile balance can shift suddenly with a change in health, mobility, or capacity. Are you prepared?

My Dad does the driving for errands and appointments.  Recently he had a hip replacement so no more driving!  Mom is comfortable driving short distances but not outings for a myriad of doctors’ appointments or errands further away from home.  This is a game changer for the family and caused one of those ‘family discussions’.

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