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How to Select Pallbearers

Colonial Heights, VA funeral home

The carrying of the casket to the hearse that will take it to the burial location after the funeral service is done by people called pallbearers. These can be provided by the funeral home or you can choose them. For most people, choosing pallbearers allows them to give loved ones the opportunity to honor the deceased. Of course, careful consideration must be given to who will be a pallbearer. If you are starting the process of making these kinds of decisions, Colonial Heights, VA funeral home directors have suggestions that can help.  

Physical strength is definitely one of the first things you need to consider. Although there are usually six pallbearers, they each have to be able to do some of the lifting. People who are ill or who are not naturally strong are not the best option. This does not mean, however, that only men should be considered. Lots of families have all-female pallbearers. If you would still like to have a particular person who you know is not strong enough to do the job, you can make them honorary pallbearers.  

Another consideration is whether the person you are considering can make it through the ceremony in an emotional state that allows them to do the lifting. People who are going through a very rough grieving period might not be able to hold it together for long enough to help. Choose people who feel the loss but who you are certain will not break down during the service. If you have any doubts about this with anyone you choose, the best thing to do is to choose someone else. You do not want to put extra worries or stress on the person who is suffering so badly.  

You want to choose people who are reliable. The last thing you need when going through such a difficult and stressful moment is to have to worry about people not getting to the service on time. Do not choose people who are constantly late or who do not show up at all.  

The pallbearers do not necessarily have to be relatives to the deceased. Many times, friends were closer to the person than family, and it makes more sense to give them the honor. If your loved one did not leave a list of their preferred pallbearers, you will want to make a careful list of the people he or she was closest with.  

Selecting pallbearers is not something that should be done in a hurry. It is an important decision and it requires careful thought. If you still have worries or are not sure about the tasks a pallbearer will have to perform during the service, speak with an expert at a funeral home in Colonial Heights, VA. By reaching out to a company like Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service, you can get the guidance that you need. Visit them at 6500 Iron Bridge Rd Richmond, VA 23234 or schedule an appointment right now by calling (804) 275-7828. 

The Family Mess

There are two events that bring families together – weddings and funerals. Both reveal much about the dysfunctional family. Weddings can produce a temporary armistice on the battleground of an eclectic gaggle of parents, ex-spouses, in-laws and “out-laws”,aunts and uncles, as well as that cousin no one wants to talk about. Civility reigns at for least a few hours into the reception when alcohol induced inhibition kicks in.

The funeral can also reveal family dysfunction. Clergy and funeral directors often find themselves caught in the family-feud crossfire. Much like a wedding, grieving families often bring elements of tension, resentment and bitterness into the arrangement meeting. Some families express embarrassment and struggle to know just what to say about the deceased. As a pastor and celebrant, I have faced the challenge of preparing a service with some interesting dynamics. A friend of one family said that it was best to take the deceased in limited doses. On one occasion, I prepared a service for a man whose wide reputation as a bigoted bully preceded him – “the elephant in the room”. A church member once told me that her husband would have to pay people to be his pallbearers. I sat with another family to plan the service and the tension engulfed the room like a thick cloud. In each case, the challenge was to find a way to celebrate a life few people enjoyed being around; to balance truth and compassion. I learned early on that even though the deceased was as mean as a rattlesnake, the funeral service is not the place to point that out. Here are some of the things I shared as a celebrant about one particularly controversial life.

I set the tone saying that the deceased was a complex man; that he was one of a kind. Even as I uttered those “funeral correct”words, the left side of my brain was saying,“That’s a polite way of saying that just about everybody disliked this jerk.” I pointed to the truth that, like all of us, he had many sides to his personality. Some people are triangles and some are rectangles. But this guy was an octagon! And your take on him depended on which side you of the octagon you encountered. He was a “preferred dish”, as a family friend delicately put it. He could be down-right ornery and lovingly compassionate. It was his way or no way, but he tenderly sacrificed so much for his invalid wife.He saw things as black or white yet, was artistically gifted – A NASCAR guy who liked classical music – a career military officer who enjoyed interior decorating.Go figure!

Families are complex. Relationships are messy. There are moments when it’s as if a spotlight shines on just one side of our multi-sided lives. I’ve felt the heat from that spotlight when I have behaved in surprising ways that brought me embarrassment.I have felt exposed by the light when acting like an idiot. And it would be easy for someone to judge who I am by one or two illuminated sides of my rectangular life. But I am so glad that my entire life is not summed up by those regrettable side moments. The truth is, some people make it so easy to dislike them from all sides.

My dad was one of those people. His behavior was embarrassing to the family. In the end, my dad and I rebuilt the bridge to each other. And that began when I saw my older brother take the first step. It set the example for other family members as well. Other bridges were rebuilt, and relationships restored. Now, that isn’t to say that our relationship with our dad was warm and fuzzy, but it was just workable. Thirty years after his death, I can still smile when I tell people that my dad was a real “Weird-mobile”. Complex people can drive us crazy, test our limits and push the boundaries of love. But, at the end of a life, we do the right thing. We bring dignity to their lives with gestures of respect.

I concluded that uncomfortable funeral service reminding everyone that honoring the departed is a sacred act. It is sacred,because every life is sacred and has value to someone.

Families tasked with “making proper arrangements” can embrace the opportunity to build bridges, experience forgiveness and embrace reconciliation. It simply takes one person to make the first move to initiate a domino effect of something beyond mere tolerance.  

When the service ended, I was concerned that the family might have been offended by what I had shared, but quite the contrary. I was approached by several family and friends of the deceased who thanked me for “saying what needed to be said with compassion.” Lesson learned. In celebrating a life, don’t portray the person as someone they were not. That would be not only disingenuous but insulting. Honesty with compassion helps bring closure. It can bring détente to dysfunctional families and help them understand their common ground of the wearying effects of living with a complex “octagon”.The one whom they buried or cremated was the ground zero of their family mess. They can now choose to build new bridges with each other of understanding, empathy and care.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Greg Webber has served as pastor of churches in Kentucky, Michigan and Virginia. He currently serves as The Director of Aftercare, Certified Celebrant and Trained Survivor of Suicide Support Group Facilitatorfor Morrissett Funeral & Cremation Service. Contact him at greg@morrissett.com.

Memorial Service Ideas

The memorial service that you have for your loved one should be as unique as they were. People tend to think that services have to be done in one particular way but this is not the case. You can be creative and put together a memorial that will bring your loved one’s personality forward and allow guests to say their goodbyes. If you are not sure where to begin when considering ideas for a memorial service, Midlothian, VA funeral homes have some suggestions.  

Midlothian, VA funeral homes

If your loved one was someone who enjoyed music and encouraging local artists, a great way to celebrate them and to add personality to their memorial service can be to hire local musicians to play. These days, many people choose to put together playlists, or have recordings, but having live musicians can be a wonderful tribute to the person you have lost.  

A good way to make a memorial service unique is to consider where you will have it. If you want to have it at the funeral home of your choice, then you have to think of decorating in a way that brings your loved one’s personality to the forefront. For people who prefer to have it somewhere else, take the time to think of what your loved one enjoyed doing. Did they like being outdoors? Did they like the beach? This can help you choose the right location.  

Instead of a regular memorial service, you may want to host a celebration of life. For people who were always happy and always ready for a party, it can feel strange to memorialize them by having a somber event. Instead, a celebration of life can allow people to honor their life without sadness. More and more often, people are choosing this option. If you do decide on this, be sure to let all of your guests know that is the plan so that no one is taken by surprise.  

During the service and instead of having one professional portrait of the person you have lost, you can have a slideshow of images. You can even ask people to provide images they may have of your loved one so that everyone gets to participate. It can be a really moving tribute that is wholly unique.  

All of these ideas can help you put together a memorial service that is beautiful and that offers the kind of comfort that people want. It is always important to consider your loved one’s personality and what they enjoyed doing, since this can provide clues as to what kind of service can really honor them. Take the time to speak with the funeral home in Midlothian, VA that you are hiring, since they will often have excellent suggestions that can make the planning process a bit easier. Turn to a company like Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service for more information. You can reach them by visiting 6500 Iron Bridge Rd Richmond, VA 23234 or by giving them a call at (804) 275-7828 today.  

The Holidays after a Loss

The holidays can bring back a lot of memories of someone you loved who is no longer with you. This can make it a debilitating time of the year, making people relive their grief or experience what they are already feeling even more strongly. Getting through the celebrations can be difficult, but it is possible to do. Because Dale City, VA funeral home directors see this kind of issue regularly, they have some suggestions that can make a difference.  

Dale City, VA funeral home

The first thing you need to do is to acknowledge what you are feeling. Many people try to push aside the grief or pretend it is not happening, but this is detrimental and can actually make the grief worse. Accept that you will be sad and that you will grieve for the person you have lost. It is also common to feel some anger or frustration at other people, who will seem like they are celebrating without you or who you may think have forgotten about your loss. This is normal and you should also embrace the emotion.  

A very important thing to do is to also try to remove as much stress from the holidays as you can. The holidays are usually stressful because of the need for preparations and gifts, but there are ways you can reduce this. If you dislike crowds, for example, do some of your holiday shopping online. If you usually host a party or event but you do not feel up to it this year, do not force yourself to do it. Ask someone else to do it or cancel the event. Simple things like not accepting every invitation you receive for parties or other celebrations can be of great help.  

Reveling in small enjoyments can allow you to celebrate the holidays in an emotionally safe manner. Instead of trying to be happy and enthusiastic all of the time, and feeling disappointed when you cannot muster up that kind of cheer, take it slowly and celebrate the moments when you do feel happy. This can be as simple and quiet a moment as enjoying a mug of tea.  

You should also consider adding your loved one into the celebrations. Lots of people choose to purchase an ornament engraved with their name or anything else that feels meaningful. It can be a lovely way to remember your loved one while still celebrating the holidays.  

Do not expect the first holiday after a loss to be easy. All of your traditions will bring to mind your loved one and with the memories, sadness. These suggestions can help, however, so that you can get through the celebrations. If you find that you are still struggling, funeral homes in Dale City, VA always have excellent counseling contacts in the area. Reach out to Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service, which you can find at 6500 Iron Bridge Rd Richmond, VA 23234, or give them a call right now at (804) 275-7828 to hear about available assistance. 

Grief and Time

“Time heals all wounds” is a phrase that most of us have heard. It is also something that many would say is not actually true. Those who have suffered the death of a close loved one know the truth~ some wounds never heal.  We just learn how to live with them.

When death first occurs the pain can be so overwhelming that we wonder how we can face another day. Yet somehow, inexplicably, we do. Eventually we find that on some days we can think about our loved one and smile. Other days the tears still flow freely. There is no way of knowing which feelings will prevail at any given moment.  

The years pass and we learn how to manage. The pain is still there, but it doesn’t catch us off-guard as often. Then suddenly, all these years later, it can all come roaring back. It either smacks us in the face like a cold blast of icy air that takes away our breath, or it creeps up on us slowly. We feel the deep ache start to spread in our body and our soul like the start of the flu, but we know the truth of what is really wrong. Of what will never truly be right again, because the person we loved is gone.

It can come without warning, without forgiveness, without a trigger. When it happens we may realize we haven’t cried in a while. That gut-wrenching, crying until we can’t breathe and almost throw up kind of cry. It has been too long since we released all that poison from our body so it has built up inside of us. It catches us by the throat, rising up, choking. It  forces us to face our pain, even if we don’t want to.

And so we cry, but feel like we have to do it alone. Very few people will understand because “it’s been so many years now!” They think we should be further along in the grief process. Time makes it better, right? 

No, time makes it different. 

Time marches us further and further away from the point where our lives intersected with the one we loved. As we watch that point fade away in the distance it heightens our grief in a way. It reminds us of how many moments we are missing with them. Time changes us, and reminds us that they aren’t here to see the person we have become. Every new milestone, every new happy moment feels like a new little death because they aren’t here to share it with us. 

Triggers can come out of nowhere, and it might be something that hadn’t bothered us before. Ten times we might be able to listen to a song that reminds us of the person we lost, but that eleventh time it hits with gut-wrenching memories and that sinking feeling of our heart breaking all over again.

So what should we do if we find ourselves facing that all-too-familiar grief again? First of all, we shouldn’t feel like we need to hide it our apologize. Each of us grieves in our own time, and in our own way. No one else has the right to judge us for how we process those feelings. What matters is that we do process them. That we let the tears some if we need to.

So we cry it out, as long as it takes. Then we wipe the tears off our soggy chin and neck, and we begin again.

And we keep that song on our playlist, even if it makes us cry. Because we never, ever want to forget. 

Jennifer Roberts Bittner
Funeral Celebrant/ Life Tribute Specialist

Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service
6500 Iron Bridge Rd.
N. Chesterfield, VA 23234
Serving the Richmond area since 1870

How to Handle Death Anniversaries

funeral homes in Matoaca, VA

Each year when the anniversary of a death comes around, it can be tough to get through the day. Many people feel the overwhelming grief they felt when the person first died, making them dread the arrival of that day every year. There are ways, however, to make it easier on you. Many funeral homes in Matoaca, VA even offer suggestions to go about this, since they see this issue so often. Here are some of the suggestions they have.  

It is important to be prepared for the day. If you find your grief crippling, it may be impossible to do everyday things like laundry or errand runs. If this is the case, the best thing you can do is to do all of those tasks ahead of time. That way, you will not have the weight of a to-do list added to your grief. Another thing to keep in mind is that you may want to have people around you so that you do not face the day alone. Plan in advance so that you have someone with you.  

It can be a great idea to do something that your loved one would have liked. This can mean getting out of your home and doing something fun without feeling any kind of guilt, which is common. Some people try to do something completely new, while others choose a simple activity that would have meant something to the deceased.  

During the anniversary of a death, you may not feel hungry, but not nourishing your body is a mistake. To balance out your moods, your body needs fuel. Try to stick to your regular meal schedule and make sure you stay hydrated. Simple things like this can have a huge impact on how you handle the day, so do not ignore them.  

Do not be afraid to decide on your own method of getting through the day. Some people find that having their family nearby is not as beneficial as they would want, since they can remind them of the loss. Not everything works for everyone, so if you find that you are getting more upset instead of less, try to change your tactic. Everyone grieves a bit differently and you should give yourself the freedom to do as you need to do.  

All of these tips can help you prepare for a death anniversary. It is important to know that not feeling sad is also perfectly fine. Some people feel guilty if they do not experience a bit of grief, but every mind and person processes things differently and at different time schedules. Give yourself permission to deal with the day in the way that best suits you, not in the way that other people expect. If you find yourself needing some help, contact a Matoaca, VA funeral home for information on local grief counselors. Reach out to a company like Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service. You can visit them at 6500 Iron Bridge Rd Richmond, VA 23234 or call them at (804) 275-7828. 

The Elephant in the Room

The Elephant in the Room

February 19, 2019

As a Pastor and Certified Celebrant, I have encountered many families plunged into a river of grief. Sitting with them,I feel the depth of their loss and pain. My purpose for being with them is two-fold: To bring some level of comfort and reassurance; to facilitate the family’s desire to paint a verbal portrait of the deceased, preparing me to celebrate their life story during the memorial service. The goal is to honor their loved one and help the family process their grief. I am privileged to be invited into their lives.

The years I have spent with grieving families have revealed this basic truth: Dysfunction IS the new normal! Every family is normal until you get to know them and has some level of dysfunction.It is amazing the way a funeral can unearth a deeply rooted family mess,exposing the “elephant in the room”.I have encountered family meetings where people did not speak to each other.The worst meetings are those stifled by tension filled silence, where dagger glances replace spoken communication.

On one occasion, a family member became so agitated over the choice of burial site that he abruptly stood up to leave and knocked a display item off the shelf, breaking as it hit the floor. The three other family members were in mutual agreement on a burial site. I had to gently remind the man that he could not make this all about him. When he left, the family apologized for him and thanked me for saying what needed to be said. When the elephant left the room, the atmosphere cleared, and much progress was made.

I want to highlight a family I served where the strained relationships were obvious to family and friends. With the guidance and permission of a family member, I concluded that the funeral service would provide an opportunity to tactfully speak to family dynamic. In doing so, I tenderly and lovingly reminded those in attendance of the need for healing by embracing these concepts:

Complicated Relationships

The deceased was a complex man. His imposing six feet six-inch frame carried a strong-willed military bearing. Though very gifted, he was insistent that his way was the right way. This rigidity obviously negatively impacted the family. There were many sides to this man. I used the analogy that all of us have multiple sides. Some of us are triangles, some are rectangles,and some are octagons. The deceased was indeed, an octagon. And one’s opinion of this man depended upon the angle you encountered. A friend of the family described him as “an acquired taste.”

Complicated Relationships… Plus…The Messiness of Grief…

Grief magnifies complicated relationships. This man was divorced and remarried and had become estranged from his children. So, when arrangements involved expenses and logistics, the latent anger and resentment inevitably surfaced. Even the issue of who should receive the Military Honors flag was contested. I have discovered that the pain of grief will bring unhealthy relationships to the forefront. Hurts are uncovered and scabs are scraped off. And all of this happened before the memorial service, which made the tension before and during the service palpable.

Complicated Relationships Plus The Messiness of Grief Equals…The Need for Healing!

The funeral or memorial service can be the catalyst for positive change. As the Director of Aftercare, I meet with people in need of working through their grief in the context of family dysfunction.

It has become clear to me that death really can bring life. Broken relationships can be repaired. Bridges can and should be rebuilt.

The sad truth is that the passing of someone with an octagonal personality can usher in peace. Families are often held captive by those who thrive on conflict and divisiveness. Their death can release the family from a toxic environment to experience a rebirth of mutual acceptance and respect. Sadly, while the family rediscovers harmony, the “elephant in the room” will require a large casket.

Greg Webber has served as Pastor to churches in Kentucky,Michigan and Virginia. He serves as The Director of Aftercare, Certified Celebrant and Trained Survivor of Suicide Support Group Facilitator for Morrissett Funeral & Cremation Service

What a Funeral Home Should be Able to Provide

Colonial Heights, VA funeral home

After experiencing a loss, you will need to have experts on your side, helping you make the necessary arrangements. This is where a funeral home and its services come into play. To make such a difficult moment just a bit easier, there are some things that you should expect from the funeral home you choose. When you begin your search for a Colonial Heights, VA funeral home, these things are what you need to keep in mind.  

A funeral home has to be able to provide you with the exact services you need. If your loved one asked for fairly common options, like direct cremation or a traditional burial, this will not be so difficult. If, however, your loved one wanted something a bit less common, like bio cremation, you will want to take your time choosing the funeral home. Never choose one without first seeing all of the services that they can provide.  

You need to be sure that the funeral home has a great director who will be by your side throughout the entire process. A funeral home director is an essential part of arranging services, since they will be able to do a lot of the work and preparation for you. A funeral director will take care of the paperwork and will ensure that everything is ready for the day of the service. The funeral home you choose needs to be able to provide a qualified person to help you throughout the entire process.  

A funeral home should also be able to provide contact information for people in the funerary industry. If you are looking for floral arrangements, grave markers, urns, sympathy gifts, or anything else, there are always great local vendors that can provide them. A funeral home should have contacts with all of these. This is one of the reasons why it is important to choose a company that has been working in the industry for a substantial amount of time.  

One very important thing that a funeral home should offer and which not many people realize is vital, is understanding and sympathy. Going through a loss is a harrowing experience. It can leave you confused and distraught, but having people on your side who are understanding and who offer guidance can be a way to make everything a bit easier. Take your time speaking with the funeral home director and all of the employees to see if you feel that support from them.  

The funeral home you decide on needs to be able to provide all of these things. From the services you might require to the kind of emotional guidance necessary, you need to be able to count on the funeral home and its employees. When choosing a funeral home in Colonial Heights, VA, keep all of this in mind. You can turn to a company like Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service, located at 6500 Iron Bridge Rd Richmond, VA 23234 for help. Give them a call at (804) 275-7828. 

What Not to Say to Grieving Families

cremations in Ameila, VA

If you know someone who has recently lost a loved one, you may not know how to offer your condolences appropriately. It is normal for people not to know what to say and so they turn to platitudes that do not offer the kind of comfort that those grieving need. For many people, turning to a funeral home or provider of cremations in Ameila, VA can be of great help, since they can offer some guidance. Here are some of the most common things people say to those who are grieving and what you can use as a better alternative.  

“Everything Happens for a Reason” 

This is a tempting thing to say and it can be comforting for some people, especially those who are religious and believe in a higher power, but it can be the wrong thing to say for those who are in deep mourning. It can irritate those who are having trouble understanding and accepting the death. Instead, let them know that you sympathize with what they are feeling.  

“He/She is in a Better Place” 

This is a very common phrase that people use when trying to comfort those who are grieving, but it is not always suitable. If you know for certain that the family is religious and believes in an afterlife, then this can be appropriate, but if not, you can end up upsetting the family. Saying something like this can make people feel like you are not taking their grief seriously. Instead of this phrase, why not let the family know that you are there for them? 

“Let Me Know if You Need Anything” 

The intention behind this phrase is generous and well-meaning, but it is not actually helpful. Most people who hear this will not take the offer seriously, since it is too vague. They will feel as if you did not really mean it. If you want to ensure that the family understands you are truly offering your help, tell them that you are happy to do their grocery shopping for them, or run errands. The more concrete the offer, the easier it will be for those grieving to take you up on it.  

“I Know How You Feel” 

It can feel like it is a comforting thing to say, but this phrase can actually belittle what the person is experiencing. You never want to overshadow them with your own experiences. You can avoid this by letting them know that you have been through a similar grief and that they can speak with you about it if they need it.  

By keeping these things in mind, you can provide the kind of comfort and support your grieving loved ones need. You can always learn more about the grieving process by speaking to Ameila, VA cremations providers or funeral homes. They can offer guidance. Reach out to a company like Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service, which you can find at 6500 Iron Bridge Rd Richmond, VA 23234 or by calling (804) 275-7828. 

How to Write a Sympathy Card

Midlothian, VA cremations

It is always a very thoughtful gesture to send a sympathy card to someone who is going through a loss. There are lots of options to choose from in stores and many Midlothian, VA cremations providers and funeral homes have cards you can purchase at their location. It can sometimes, however, be daunting to know what to write inside. If you are starting to plan sending out a sympathy card, here are a few tips that can help you.  

The first thing you should consider is the kind of card you choose. There are so many options, that it can feel overwhelming. Keep in mind that the card should make the receiver feel better, not you, so do not necessarily choose something that you would want to receive. If the person is someone more conservative, for example, sending them a card that has a bit of comedy might not be appropriate.  

When addressing the sympathy card, keep in mind your relationship with the person. If it is someone you know well and you are close to, write as you would speak to the person. If, however, you are just acquaintances, you want to be respectful and not try to be too casual. Another issue might be that you knew the deceased but not necessarily their relatives. In this case, it can be a good idea to address the card to their closest relative, like their spouse.  

Begin the card by expressing your sympathy and offering your condolences. It is important to know that the card does not have to be long. A simple message is always the best, especially since you know the person or family will be getting a number of cards to read. Some people also choose to add a quote or a short poem that means something to them or that meant something to the deceased. It can be a lovely way to add a personal touch. If you want, you can even tell a small story or anecdote about how you met the person or what they mean to you. Learning about how their loved one impacted other people can be a very healing and comforting experience.  

Try not to add too many religious messages unless you know for certain that the family is religious. Do not take this for granted, since it can offend some people. If you do know that the family welcomes religious messages, you might want to add a small passage from their faith’s book.  

Writing a sympathy card can be much easier when you know the basics. Take your time choosing the card, and if you do not find the right one, do not hesitate to use a blank one instead. If you are not sure where to purchase a great card, turning to a funeral home or cremation provider in Midlothian, VA can be a good option. Stop by Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service at 6500 Iron Bridge Rd Richmond, VA 23234 or call them at (804) 275-7828.