Monday, October 27, 2014

Bracelets

Recently, my daughter blessed our family with a tiny blue bundle of joy.  The event has brought us great happiness and has enriched the love bonds between the four generations of living ancestral heritage.  Her pregnancy was not without great risk however, and at times, we were quite apprehensive at what might end in great tragedy for our family.

When I was a little girl, my aunt had a number of miscarriages.  There was great sadness within our family, and my aunt was extremely fragile from suffering extraordinary loss and complicated grief.  Eventually, my dear aunt was blessed with a biological child of her own.

As my daughter’s pregnancy progressed, the much-anticipated sonogram day came upon us.  We discovered that her child was a boy.  In order to commemorate this wonderful blessing into our family, I decided to purchase a bracelet for my daughter.  The bracelet was the type where you can buy beads to symbolize important events, and add to it as time progresses.  I purchased blue beads and one silver bead with red hearts, as the day she had her sonogram was Valentine’s Day.

My daughter’s bracelet became very popular and so I decided that I would give a bracelet to the women who were hosting her baby shower.  I wanted the bracelets to have sentimental value, so I decided to hand-make each one of them.  There were five women working on her shower, and so that meant five additional bracelets.

The shower was a wonderful event with over thirty friends and family in attendance.  At the end of the shower, I gave the five women the handmade bracelets.  They were very appreciative.  I explained to them that as my grandson experienced life’s milestones, they would each receive a new bead commemorating the event.  A day or two later, I began receiving questions and requests from various women who had attended the shower for additional bracelets.  It seemed the bracelets had been quite impressive. 

My daughters decided they would also like to make bracelets for a few women who had suffered significant loss.  The bracelets were easily customized to any circumstance, and so we began receiving requests for bracelets recognizing the losses of sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts, grandparents, parents, etc.  Soon we were making bracelets for numerous people.  My daughters decided to name their bracelets “Beaded Sentiments.”  They opened an Etsy store online so that as people requested bracelets, they could visit the store and order accordingly.  My girls began a foundation to subsidize funeral expenses for infantile loss and the profits from their sales go into their fund for disbursement.

My mother and her sister had attended my daughter’s baby shower and had requested bracelets for themselves.  After receiving their bracelets, my mother and her sister were called upon to travel to South Louisiana for a family funeral.  Upon their return, my mother and her sister informed me that my aunts in South Louisiana, were quite captivated with the bracelets and thought they would each like to have one. 

Soon after their return, my mother and her sister suffered another familial death.  As they prepared to travel to South Louisiana again, I decided to make my aunts each a bracelet.  As I was assembling these bracelets, I decided to put a tiny baby carriage on my aunt’s bracelet to symbolize the loss of her sweet babies so many years ago.  My mother was concerned.  She feared that the baby carriage bead would reawaken old wounds for my aunt, and thought it would be better left off the bracelet.  I decided that I would include the bead.  As a funeral director, I thought it would comfort my aunt to know that her tragedy was still remembered by her family.

My mother and her sister took the bracelets to South Louisiana.  I knew my mother was uncomfortable that the baby carriage bead was on the bracelet, but she gave it to my aunt as I had requested.

My aunt sent back words of appreciation for the bracelet and especially for the thoughtful baby carriage bead.  You see, a mother never forgets the loss of a child.  She painstakingly adjusts her life to be able to contain her heartache, hoping that one day she will see her beautiful child on the other side of life. 

Nearly 50 years later, my aunt still remembers the sting of losing her beloved babies, and she finds comfort in a bracelet that says others do too.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee.  I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer.  I write books, weekly articles and brief tips on understanding and coping with grief.  It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on. 


Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/, follow me on Twitter @PushnUpDaisies and visit my website for additional encouragement and information at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Grief Brief 66 - Lower Tolerance

During bereavement it is common to experience a lower tolerance level.  One’s patience may not be what it used to be.  Minor irritations may have the ability to overwhelm the survivor. 


As the survivor accepts, adjusts and becomes accustomed to their new life without the deceased, irritability should subside.  

My name is Tracy Renee Lee.  I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer.  I write books, weekly articles and brief tips on understanding and coping with grief.  It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on. 

Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/, follow me on Twitter @PushnUpDaisies and visit my website for additional encouragement and information at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

Grief Brief 65 - Lack of Interest

During grief, the survivor may feel a lack of interest or motivation.  What was once of great importance, may seem meaningless for quite some time.  

As the survivor passes through the different phases of mourning, the preoccupation of loss causing the lack of interest and motivation will become less prevalent.  Eventually, the survivor will return to his or her pre-loss level of interest and motivation.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee.  I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer.  I write books, weekly articles and brief tips on understanding and coping with grief.  It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on. 

Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/, follow me on Twitter @PushnUpDaisies and visit my website for additional encouragement and information at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

Grief Brief 64 - Do not Grieve and Drive

Driving is especially dangerous during the early stages of bereavement.  One’s mind will wander, and suddenly one is where he or she was going, without noticing the drive there.  

It is common for recently bereaved individuals to run traffic lights and stop signs.  Traffic reports indicate an increase in missed turns and traffic accidents during this time as well.  

Be extra careful if you must drive, but it is recommended, that you engage someone else to run your errands for a while.

As one should not drink and drive, neither should one grieve and drive.  The consequences are equally devastating.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee.  I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer.  I write books, weekly articles and brief tips on understanding and coping with grief.  It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on. 

Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/, follow me on Twitter @PushnUpDaisies and visit my website for additional encouragement and information at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

Grief Brief 63 - Lower Functionality

During the early stages of bereavement, preoccupation of your loss interferes with your ability to function at your normal capacity.  One’s mind wanders and it becomes difficult to stay focused or on task.  

My name is Tracy Renee Lee.  I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer.  I write books, weekly articles and brief tips on understanding and coping with grief.  It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on. 

Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/, follow me on Twitter @PushnUpDaisies and visit my website for additional encouragement and information at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

Grief Brief 62 - Difficulties Concentrating

During bereavement, concentrating and retaining information becomes difficult.  This is caused by a preoccupation of loss.  Reading and other tasks requiring concentration, may take longer than usual.  Mistakes and errors may also become more prevalent.  As time passes, mistakes lessen and the ability to concentrate and retain information returns. 

My name is Tracy Renee Lee.  I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer.  I write books, weekly articles and brief tips on understanding and coping with grief.  It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on. 

Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/, follow me on Twitter @PushnUpDaisies and visit my website for additional encouragement and information at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com. 

Grief Brief 61 - Tasks

Due to a disorganization of thoughts during bereavement, tasks may take longer or be more difficult to complete.  Sometimes writing down the steps necessary before beginning a task, helps one to complete it more satisfactorily.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee.  I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer.  I write books, weekly articles and brief tips on understanding and coping with grief.  It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on. 

Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/, follow me on Twitter @PushnUpDaisies and visit my website for additional encouragement and information at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Life vs. Pre-Need Insurance


As a funeral director, I am often asked if purchasing insurance is important, and if so, should one purchase life insurance or pre-need insurance? The purpose of life insurance is very different from the purpose of pre-need insurance.


Life insurance is purchased to cover “cost of living expenses.”

Young parents may need life insurance to cover the cost of a home loan, auto loans and school loans. Purchasing life insurance protects a family’s lifestyle should a parent pass away before his or her debts are paid in full. The balance of life insurance and debt is a fine line. One does not want to over purchase life insurance as it is expensive, and the need for it diminishes each month as payments lower debt.

Pre-need insurance is purchased to cover “cost of death expenses.”

Pre-paying funeral expenses allows one to make affordable payments on funeral choices in advance of death. This process leaves one’s family free from added debt and burden at time of death. It also protects against inflationary consequences by freezing funeral goods and services at today’s prices.

When one purchases life and pre-need funeral insurance, they have responsibly protected their family from overwhelming financial burden. Most families would be unable to support their financial obligations with the loss of an adult income. Without proper insurance, this loss may cause a family to adjust their lifestyle, their standard of living and their social standing.

Another important reason for purchasing pre-need funeral insurance is the potential need for long-term care. In such a scenario, if one relies upon Medicaid, one’s assets and savings are put at risk. Pre-need funeral policies are protected from Medicaid look-backs and confiscation, whereas life insurance is not. Medicaid has rights to one's assets, savings and life insurance for five years prior to enrollment.  Upon utilization of Medicaid privileges, Medicaid will exercise its right by claiming certain of your assets and funds.  As life insurance is not paid until your death, Medicaid will lay claim, and then take possession of your life insurance funds upon your death.  Your life insurance funds will be utilized to cover the expenses you incurred for long term care.

It is possible to assign a portion of one’s life insurance funds to cover funeral expenses. This effort, however, does not guard against inflationary consequences. Funeral expenses will continue to rise along with cost of living expenses. In this scenario, persons having chosen to assign life insurance funds to cover funeral expenses, continue to suffer the rising costs of those expenses.  At time of death, one's family will need to draw upon additional funds, either out of the life policy, if they exist or out of their personal funds, if they do not.  Persons choosing this avenue, often leave their family owing large sums to cover their final expenses.  In the long run, this plan of funding costs far more than the purchase of pre-need funeral insurance.

Unlike life insurance premiums, pre-need insurance premiums do not rise with age.  Moreover, once you have paid your pre-need policy in full, monthly payments cease and your funds are held in reserve, gathering interest until your death. Additionally, by virtue of accrued interest, pre-need funeral insurance freezes the rising costs of funeral goods and services.

Perhaps most importantly, in purchasing pre-need insurance, one takes upon oneself, the horrendous responsibility of putting oneself to rest.  By far, this day will be the worst day your loved ones will ever experience.  How grateful will they be, that financial burden and potential ruin does not accompany such pain and sorrow?

The statements in this article are my opinion only. They represent my experiences in the death care business. They do not represent the opinions of the publication in which they are printed. They are not intended nor meant as legal advice.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer. I write books, weekly articles and brief tips on understanding and coping with grief. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.


Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/, follow me on Twitter @PushnUpDaisies and visit my website for additional encouragement and information at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Seconds Determine Life from Death

As a little girl, I remember when color television was invented. It was amazing. Before color, black and white seemed just fine to me. Of course, color TV was not life changing, it merely enhanced ones viewing experience.
Similarly, my grandmother would tell me about the differences the advent of automobiles had made in her life. She had grown up in the country, on a sugar cane farm, and motorized vehicles changed not only her life, but also the lives of humanity.
From her childhood home, she and her family would load into their wagon, pulled by their mule, and set out on a 13-hour ride to the nearest town to purchase provisions. They would make this trip bi-annually. I now reside in that small shopping town, and I can drive my vehicle to my grandmother’s home in slightly under 20 minutes. Truly, that is life altering, in a good way.
Throughout my life, I have witnessed many inventions. Some have been enhancing like color TV; others have been life altering like motorized vehicles. Many of these inventions have enhanced funeral services, and some of them have altered the service altogether.
The most-profound invention of late is Global Positioning System (GPS). Twenty years ago, when a client would call the funeral home at the passing of a loved one, funeral directors would get out maps and chart a course to the client’s home. Depending on circumstances, this could take a good amount of time. Then Map Quest came along, and funeral directors could merely type the client's address into the computer, print the directions onto paper and be on their way.
More recently, GPS was released for the consumer's delight. Now funeral directors may enter the decedent’s address into their GPS, and almost instantly, vocal driving directions are heard. GPS has certainly made life easier and more convenient.
There is however an issue with GPS. If one is searching a location that is on a newly constructed road or an obsolete country road, it most probably will not be in the GPS software. For funeral directors, this is a constant battle. The solution however is very simple. Provide your GPS coordinates rather than your address when in need of emergency services or funeral directors.
Yesterday I received a call to accept into custody, a decedent within my working area. I immediately jumped into my hearse, entered the appropriate address into my GPS, and away I went. It was not long before I realized I had a problem. The GPS took me far out into the country and deposited me at the end of a back wood road where no house was in sight. Thankfully, the decedent's family called my cell phone, at that precise moment, to see if I had lost my way. Indeed I had. Relying on my GPS through its address system, had proved to be futile.
The decedent’s fiancĂ©, who is a friend of mine, stated that she would hop in her car and drive out to find me. Problem number two, there were now two vehicles lost on back wood country roads. Apparently I looked very lost, as eventually, a man in a white truck flagged me over to see if I needed assistance. He was able to help me find my way. Thank goodness for good Samaritans.
I write this article today for good reason. If I had been emergency services rather than a funeral director, this family would have been in dire circumstances. With the help of dispatch, a peace officer, my GPS and the decedent's fiance, her location remained elusive without the assistance of a Good Samaritan.
The solution to this issue is quite simple. Chart your longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates through your GPS, and post them on your refrigerator. If you do this simple task, you can give your coordinates to emergency services and whether or not your street is new or obsolete; your coordinates will accurately function within the GPS system. This simple task might one day save valuable seconds when seconds determine life from death.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer. I write books, weekly articles and brief tips on understanding and coping with grief. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.
Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/, follow me on Twitter @PushnUpDaisies and visit my website for additional encouragement and information at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

Secret to Recovery


I have the dearest friend. She is funny, witty, beautiful, kind, sweet, creative, giving, smart and a multitude of other things I have always wished I could be. Her humor brightens anyone’s day the moment she walks into a room. Another great quality that my friend has is that when she enters an auditorium full of students, she can single out anyone who needs her special attention. She then proceeds to change their dreary day into something wonderful. My friend is a college professor.
Interestingly, although my friend has this amazing gift to change dreary days into wonderful ones for others, she is somewhat unable to do if for herself. Her life is not necessarily void of unhappiness, loneliness and sadness. These last few years have been difficult for my friend and I have worried about her quite a lot. Her life is unique and so these difficulties are not easily fixed. She lives and works in four different states.
My contact with my friend is sporadic at best; she and I have such very busy lives. Truly, there is no excuse for my lack of consistency in keeping in contact with her. She and I both have cell phones, and so she is always just a speed dial away. I find that contact with all of my very best friends is somewhat sporadic. I have come to realize that this is my fault, and I vow year after year to improve. Fortunately, my friends love me enough to put up with it, but I know it sometimes hurts their feelings and for that, I must improve.
I spoke with my dearest friend the other day. She was travelling between states as her dad was ill and dying in one state and her aunt, suffering the same fate, was in another. During our conversation, she told me she had found the secret to changing her dreary days into wonderful ones. Her secret is so elementary that I thought I should share it.
My friend's elixir for happiness and better health is to, “Count your Blessings.” She promises that if she is ill, sad or unhappy, she can count her blessings and her pain, both physical and psychological miraculously vanish.
It is true that I have seen this work among my clients. Grief can be a horrendous burden to carry, and it can last a very long time. There comes a day, however, that if you concentrate on your blessings, you will find you have more to be grateful for than you have to despair over. That will be the day that your smile returns and your sorrow is replaced with fond memories of your dearly departed loved ones.
My friend's dad died two days after our conversation. We spoke again and she was amazingly happy. She and her children were okay with their loss. Her family came together and counted the blessings her dad had made possible in their lives.
My advice is to take my friend's advice. Count your blessings; name them one by one. If you do, you will find that one day; they will outweigh your sorrows.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer. I write books, weekly articles and brief tips on understanding and coping with grief. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.
Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/, follow me on Twitter @PushnUpDaisies and visit my website for additional encouragement and information at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.