It’s the most wonderful time of the year! That is, unless you’re grieving the loss of a loved one.
Facing your first Christmas after their death can feel lonely and painful. But there are some strategies you can implement to help you survive and even enjoy the festive season.
Plan Ahead: If waking up alone on Christmas morning is too much to bare, plan to stay with family or friends on Christmas Eve. Spending Christmas morning surrounded by loved ones can be a great source of comfort. If you’re facing Christmas alone, seek out places where you may be able to volunteer your time on or around Christmas Day – churches, aged care facilities, hospitals, community centres and pet shelters. Bringing joy to others, can bring a little bit of joy to yourself.
Traditions: If your loved one had a Christmas tradition, don’t stop it. Traditions transcend generations and connect us with our heritage and family story. They’re so important, especially at this time of year.
Christmas Lunch: Phil recalls the first Christmas following the deaths of both his Grandmother and his brother in the same year. The thought of sitting around the Christmas table without them was unbearable. But when he finally came out of his room, his mother had lit 2 candles and put them at the places where his Grandmother and brother would have sat. It was a lovely way to acknowledge their absence, and the fact that they would never be forgotten.
Be honest: If you’re struggling, don’t bottle it up. Let your family and friends know how you’re feeling and you’ll likely give them courage to admit they’re struggling too.
Be kind to yourself: Take it one step at a time and remember, Christmas is an emotional season, so listen to your emotions, journal and take time out with a good friend or counsellor to talk about it. And treat yourself to some TLC – a massage, a night out, or a second helping of Christmas Pudding might just help to lift your spirits.
We’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy and safe Christmas and all the best for a wonderful new year.
We are available 24/7, throughout the festive season.
A funeral is an opportunity to
reflect on the life of your loved one…
and to share memories together with family and friends.
Personalising a funeral is a wonderful way to help everyone remember the things they loved most about someone you all cared greatly for.
Here are some ideas to help you personalise the funeral:
- Place some photos around the room. Traditionally, families will place a framed picture on the coffin to help people remember a loved one when they were at their best. Putting a collection of photos around the room will bring back fond memories for each person who was close to your loved one during different life stages… childhood friends, college roommates, sports teammates, workmates and of course, family.
- A personalised tribute video can include a selection of photos and even videos, with a soundtrack of their favourite songs, to help tell their life’s story. It can be played during the service, and/or a powerpoint of photos can be playing as people arrive. Sovereign Funerals can create a complimentary memorial video for you.
- Create a memorial table. As people walk in, a table laid out with mementoes of your loved one can elicit fond memories over a lifetime of emotions and events; their favourite hat, medals, awards, uniform, sports team scarf, even photos can be laid out on the table.
- A board full of quotes. If your loved one was famous for their sayings, what better way to remember them than to share their best quotes. You could even leave pen and paper on the table for people to write out their favourite quotes to share.
- A smile jar. There will be a guest book at most funerals to help you remember who was in attendance. Something that’s a little more personal is providing funeral attendees with the opportunity to write down a fond memory they have of the deceased to be placed in a jar. These could be read out at the Wake and kept for those times when you’re feeling low. Opening the jar and reading happy memories about someone you love dearly can bring a smile to your face when you need it most.
Every person is unique, so every funeral is unique. If you’d like some help to plan a personalised funeral, please get in touch with us. We’d love to help you.
A Memorial Service is somewhat different to a Funeral Service
So here are some suggestions that might assist you to plan a memorial service that’s as unique as your loved one.
The Funeral Service generally takes place within a week of your loved one’s death. During that time, emotions can be very raw and making decisions can be difficult. Pre-planning your funeral will relieve some of this stress for your family. Regardless, as time goes by, you might feel more ‘ready’ to celebrate their life and honour them in a deeply personal way.
If your loved one has been cremated, you may hold a memorial service once you receive the ashes, as a mark of respect when you decide what you’ll do with them.
A memorial service can take place days, weeks, or even months after the funeral, giving you more time to consider how you’d like to honour your loved one.
1 The first decision is The Venue
You may choose a location that was significant to them – a park they loved to visit, a restaurant they frequented, sporting venue of the team they loved, a bush setting, a city scape, your own home, or even a different country they loved to visit. If you choose an outdoor venue, make sure you have a wet weather plan!
2 The Style
A memorial service can be a celebration of all the things that made your loved one unique. So choose a style that they would have liked. Get everyone to dress up in their team colours, or in black tie if they enjoyed the finer things in life. If they had a sense of humour, make sure your style captures that. If they loved classical music and books, make that your theme. It will help everyone remember them fondly and encourage story sharing. Have some photos of your loved one around the venue taken on family holidays, significant events etc to help guests remember the good times.
3 The Music
If they had a distinctive music style preference, that makes the job of choosing the soundtrack to their memorial service much easier. You could ask guests to email you in advance with the name of a song that makes them think of your loved one, to make it even more personal.
4 The Food
If you’re going to serve food at the memorial service, it can be a nice touch to serve the food they loved. You might also serve some of the foods they hated! One family fondly remembers the memorial service for their beloved grandfather. He loved curried sausages and pasties but hated pizza and ice cream. The family recognised that their grandfather’s food preferences wouldn’t be to everyone’s tastes, so they lovingly set two tables. One was called ‘food pop loved’ and one was called ‘food pop hated.’ Both tables raised fond memories for the guests.
5 Who Will Speak?
There may be some people close to your loved one who were too raw with emotion to speak at their funeral, but now feel ‘ready’ to give a speech. You may like to open the floor to anyone who’d like to say a few words about your loved one. This can be a little risky but nothing a seasoned MC can’t handle!
At the end of the day, a memorial service can be as grand or as simple as you like. What really matters is that your loved one is celebrated and most of all… will never be forgotten.
If you’d like help to plan a memorial service for your loved one, please contact us and we’d love to help you.
Funeral songs can evoke deep emotions during a difficult time. So how do you choose the right song/s for the funeral of your loved one?
We’ve put together a list of the Top 10 songs that celebrate life.
- Unforgettable by Nat King Cole/Natalie Cole
This song is a beautiful celebration of a special father-daughter bond. The fact that Natalie created this duet after her father’s death makes it even more relevant as a funeral song.
- Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler
This song was made famous when it featured in the much loved movie ‘Beaches’ which celebrates the deep friendship of two girls, cut short by cancer. Its words are a message of ‘thanks’ to a loved one who has been your cheerleader.
- I Will Remember You by Sarah McLachlan
Relationships aren’t always easy. This song is about all the things you wish you’d said to your loved one while they were still alive and a timely reminder to tell the people around you how you really feel about them while they’re still here.
- My Way by Frank Sinatra
This would have to be one of the most popular funeral songs of all time. A perfect way to celebrate the life of your loved one who danced to the beat of their own drum.
- I was Here by Beyonce
For someone who has left an indelible mark on the lives around them, this song celebrates their legacy with beauty and grace.
- Hero by Mariah Carey
A favourite for karaoke lovers, this powerful ballad celebrates the ‘overcomers,’ the ones who have been through a difficult time and shown incredible endurance and courage.
- You Raise Me Up by Westlife
This song is a beautiful way to honour a parent or mentor at their funeral. Its lyrics are everything you’ve ever wanted to say to them.
- Satisfied Mind by Jeff Buckley
This song sums up a life enjoyed and cherished. The loved one who was truly grateful for everything and everyone in their life, however simple it might have been – this one’s for them.
- Remembering You by Steven Curtis Chapman
A lovely reminder that remembering your loved one need not be a constant source of pain. Think of them each time you smell a flower or hear a bird sing and remember how their presence brought you the same joy.
- To Where You Are by Josh Groban
This is a heartfelt tribute to a great love
Do you already know what song you’d like to have played at your funeral? Make sure you tell someone, or even better, pre-plan your funeral and take the guesswork out of every detail for your family.
Cesare Pavese once said ‘We don’t remember days, we remember moments.’ How true that is.
When someone you love has passed away, writing a Tribute or Memorial can seem a daunting task. How can you capture all the experiences and memories of their life in a few words?
We have put together 8 tips to give you some inspiration:
- Start with the basics – Where they were born, parents’ names, their childhood home and school. Hopefully this information is readily available. It’s helpful to ask these questions while they’re still living and note it down. Presenting the Tribute in chronological order is ideal. We’ve created a document called My Life Story so you know what questions to ask.
- What made them unique? – No two people are alike, so focus on what made your loved one different. A hobby, a passion, loveable quirks and life events that shaped them.
- Ask family & friends – The people around you will have memories of your loved one, too. Now’s the time to share stories and write them down so they won’t be forgotten. You might be surprised at what comes out!
- Remember the good times – Laughter is the best medicine and it can help with the grieving process. Think of the things your loved one did that made you laugh; their favourite joke, funny life events and stories they loved to tell over and over. All these things help you to remember your loved one fondly, with a smile.
- Use someone else’s words – If you’re not a wordsmith, there are thousands who are. Use the words from a song, or a poem, or a quote that help to capture the feelings in your heart and that sum up the life of your loved one well.
- Write in the style that they would like to be remembered. If your loved one had a whacky sense of humour, make it a bit cheeky. If they were very conservative, choose your words to reflect that. If they were emotive and expressive, use emotive language.
- Pictures tell stories – It’s very common to show a Powerpoint of photos at a funeral as part of the Tribute, or to add photos to an online Memorial. They help you remember your loved one when they were at their best. They invoke different memories for everyone who knew them and can say some things better than a thousand words ever could. The team at Sovereign Funerals can compile a complimentary Memorial DVD for you that can be shown at the funeral service and then it’s yours to keep as a memento.
- Keep the tribute brief – No more than 5 minutes to keep everyone engaged. It’s a highlights reel of your loved one’s life, and doesn’t need to encapsulate their entire life.
A Tribute is a celebration of life, so forget about the pressure to perform and just concentrate on the things that mattered most to you and your loved one.
October 15 is International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.
It’s an opportunity for parents, grandparents, siblings, relatives and friends to honour and remember babies who have passed away due to miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, still birth or postnatal causes.
When a child loses their parents, they’re called an orphan; when a wife loses her husband, she’s called a widow. But there’s no name for parents who have lost a baby. Often grieving parents suffer in silence because you are grieving the loss of a baby you never met or didn’t get the chance to hold and the pain of losing a child is impossible to describe.
So many around you don’t understand why it’s difficult to move on. One well-meaning friend at the funeral of an infant thought she was providing comfort by saying: ‘Don’t worry, you’ll have another one.’ She could never have understood just how deeply hurtful those words were to a grieving mother.
Bek recalls seeing all the ‘first day of school’ photos her friends posted on social media on the day her little boy would have started school. He was stillborn 5 years earlier and the pain on that ‘first day of school’ was still just as raw. It was a reminder of the hopes and aspirations that died alongside her precious little boy.
You can feel isolated and even shamed into silence because many around you don’t understand your grief.
One in every 3 pregnancies ends in loss. You are not alone.
On October 15, there any many ways you can honour your baby – releasing balloons, a remembrance walk, a memorial service or host a Taboo Tea:
“Break the silence on the ‘taboo’ subject, stir the pot and raise your voices to talk to family, friends, work colleagues about pregnancy and infant loss.
To help you hold your afternoon tea, ‘Yasminah’s Gift of Hope’ has put together an afternoon tea awareness pack including an assortment of tea, coffee, a cake mix, an awareness mug and a candle to light in honour of all the babies who left too soon. They also include a list of discussion topics and the facts about pregnancy and infant loss.”
Visit https://www.facebook.com/yasminahsgiftofhope to find out more.
Wave a Light for October 15.
Everyone around the world is invited to light a candle at 7pm in ALL TIME ZONES and keep it burning for an hour. It will create a continuous wave of light over the entire world on October 15. http://www.october15th.com/
And most importantly, talk to someone. You can call 96five’s Careline anytime on 07 3177 3996.
Social Media is the highlights reel of our lives. It’s where we share photos, memories, milestones and funny memes. But have you ever wondered what happens to your social media accounts when you die?
Around 30 million Facebook accounts belong to dead people; all leaving behind a digital record of their lives, including photographs, videos and past conversations.
Getting access to social media and email accounts after the death of a loved one can be a legal nightmare. Making it very difficult to get access to important information, photos and messages, even financial documents can be stored on email, inaccessible without a password.
To make it easier for your family to access your emails and social media accounts once you’re gone, it’s important to include your ‘digital assets’ in your Will. Make sure you include a list of passwords for all your email, banking and social media accounts. That way, your executor can access important information and close the accounts permanently. Accounts belonging to the deceased can be a target for hackers because they know, most likely, no one is monitoring these accounts and noticing unusual activity.
If you don’t mention your digital assets in your Will, Australian Law is very vague as to what can be done regarding accessing email and social media accounts following your death. Providing this information can make things a little easier for your loved ones during a difficult time.
You can now add a legacy contact to your Facebook profile. This person can’t edit or delete existing content but after posting a final message, your profile is then memorialised by Facebook.
It’s a great way for family and friends to post memories, photos and videos of you and to celebrate the ‘highlights reel’ of your life for years to come.