Monday, February 22, 2016

Cremation Memorial - Natural Stone Garden Urn

Natural Stone Cremation Memorial
Losing a loved one hurts and can be difficult to heal from. However, many find that caring for a tangible symbol helps to heal one's grief. Many studies find that doing things on behalf of the deceased is helpful. By caring for a plant or a tree as part of a living memorial to your loved one, this gives you something special to do for them and another way to remember them as part of your daily life.
If you have cremated remains at your home, you have the option to commemorate a loved one with the creation of a sacred space at home. Although some families may choose to scatter the ashes, bury them, inter them at a cemetery, or keep them in an urn or other special memento, we hope you will consider creating a memorial planting. 

We know that planting is therapeutic, and out of loss can come a positive gathering of family which brings everyone together in supportive care for the bereaved.

Honor someone special, express your grief, beautify your home and bring your family together to remember.

Memorial Garden Urn Garden Urn
This urn sells for $175.00 and includes shipping. Because each stone is natural, the shapes and exact sizes will vary. Generally your memorial stone size is just under: 12 inches x 12 inches by 5.5 inches high. Your memorial is made to order and will be shipped within 2 weeks.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Horticulture Therapy and Memorial Plantings

"From my rotting body, flowers shall grow and I am in them and that is eternity." - Edvard Munch

A Living Tribute in Your Own Backyard

Make your yard into a natural tribute to your beloved. Any yard or patio can become a sanctuary that welcomes wildlife with just a few simple modifications:
~Make Your Patio Permeable -  A porous surface allows water through to the soil, where it is able to soak up rain and inhibit run off.

~Consider designing patios and pathways with pores in order to prevent run off. This also keeps local streams clean.

~Add Water to Your Yard or Patio - A concave rock collects and holds drinking water for insects such as: ladybugs, dragonflies, and more. Birdbaths provide water for birds that is the best depth of water for play, bath time and hydration.

~Widen a Fence - By removing a few panels or widening space between fence panels, small flying wildlife such as small birds or butterflies, can pass through more easily to your garden. Oftentimes, it makes for a nicer view as well.

Memorial Plantings

Memorial horticulture is a simple, fulfilling and beautiful way to honor a loved one. Memorial plantings provide an opportunity to care for the memory of a loved one. 

Your backyard garden or patio can easily be transformed into the ultimate memorial destination that gives you and your family not only the opportunity to honor a loved one at home, but the convenience and privacy of memorializing in your own home.

Memorial Planting Tips for Your Backyard Tribute

Choose a Special Location for a Memorial Planting
Choose a special location for a memorial planting or a spot in present garden that you would like to recreate or add a memorial to. For families with patios, decide which plant pot or pots you will be using and where you would like to place them.

Include trees, ground-covers and shrubs. This helps to provide shelter and food for helpful bugs. By including both broad-leaf and conifer evergreens, this helps provide additional shelter for wildlife during winter.

Planting flowers like tulips, lilies or daffodils can adorn the garden in a beautiful way.

Add flowering plants with pollen to attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. Add plants that offer caterpillars leaves to eat.

 Plant a tree decorate it with lights on their birthday each year.

Plant a variety of plants that produces both berries and seeds throughout the year. This helps to feed the birds. (See some ideas in the next section below.)

Hang wind chimes nearby and consider adding pinwheels (as shown in the video below) to catch the wind and make lively patterns.


All-Season Plants for Your Memorial Plantings

Try adding plants that will attract wildlife during each season of the year. In Oregon there are several plants to consider.

Oregon Grape
Oregon Grape Flowers attract mason bees and butterflies. Blue-blackberries are eaten by birds. Beautiful bronze new growth occurs on evergreen leaves. 

 Kinnikinnik Berries are a favorite of birds. Flowers are visited by butterflies and bees. Leaves help feed the butterfly caterpillars. Glossy evergreen leaves are a beautiful addition to any garden or yard.

Red Flowering Currant
Red Flowering Currant Flower nectar feeds hummingbirds. Berries are eaten by birds. Leaves help feed the butterfly caterpillars. Bright pink flowers add vibrant color to any yard or garden.

Western Columbine
Western Columbine - Hummingbirds enjoy the flowers. Seeds are eaten by the birds. Glowing red and yellow flowers brighten up the garden.

Oregon Vine Maple
Vine Maple Seeds are eaten by birds. Leaves help feed the butterfly caterpillars. Nectar from the flowers is collected by bees. The orange and red fall leaves ornament any yard during autumn.

What plantings do you have in your home garden or on your patio? Have you ever designed a memorial that lives in your home garden or patio? If so, what advice can you share with others?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Funerals and Personal Hopes

Art of the Funeral

A funeral is a collaborative work of performance and art. The funeral is a time for family and friends to support one another, and share intimate memories. A misconception is that a funeral is solely for those who are religious. It is as much a moment of reflection as it is a series of events providing tasks and activities to undertake as an expression of feelings.

Weeping for Ourselves

It is important to note that as much as we grieve for our dead, attending a funeral is just as much about weeping for ourselves. Roussell, describing anticipatory grief writes, “some people have feelings of guilt and anxiety over having too little time to settle issues and put things in order for their loved ones.”1 For others, attending a funeral establishes emotional stability and security through the unspoken promise of reciprocation. 

What do you hope people will remember about you after you die

Supporting One Another


Funerals offered communities the chance to support to one another. For example, in a scene from the French motion picture “Amelie,” the lead character daydreams about her own funeral. She watches the procession on television and weeps at the sight of people mourning her death. We can identify with this girl. We are at center of our own universe and therefore secretly wish for others to mourn our own deaths. The funeral rite gives us the opportunity to act for others as we would wish them to act for us. When we grieve for others, we subconsciously grieve for ourselves. 

We want our presence to be missed, our deaths to be mourned, and for a death to have meaning. It explains why we host lavish funerals and grand memorials. We yearn to be remembered. Our lives must have had held some meaning. Attending a funeral reminds us that we will someday merit the same honor, respect, and display of affection. To not hold a funeral is not to observe this sacred pact. 

What do you hope people will remember about you after you die
Do you have special plans or hopes for your own funeral? 

¹ Roussell, J.O. (1999). Dealing with Grief: Theirs & Ours. Staten Island, NY: Alba House.


Monday, February 15, 2016

Funeral Directors Help Facilitate Grief

When a person dies, the world seems to continue right along as though nothing has happened, and to the bereaved this experience can be isolating. A funeral director helps the family by making sure that their beloved is cared for and honored while facilitating the organizational and legal aspects of the arrangements. According to Worden, “often the immediate family members are in a dazed or numb condition and the service does not have the positive psychological impact that it might have.”2 While this can be an issue, these families still benefit from just being with those support them through their loss. They want to be comforted. They want to be with those who understand their loss. The funeral is a supportive place to show respect for the dead, and surviving family and friends.

Do you think Americans need to be more open to public displays of grief? 

The funeral home and or cemetery are the socially acceptable places for mourning. This leaves Americans with few places where it is acceptable for grief to be displayed openly. In American culture, we are taught to hold back public display of pain so we do not make others uncomfortable. We are encouraged to shed tears privately, out of sight. This can create disenfranchised grief. Worden recommends, “some type of ongoing contact with these families might be considered for the purpose of grief counseling.”2 The funeral meets a family’s spiritual, psychological, and social needs as they share the pain of losing someone loved. The funeral rite gives us a universally understood social tradition to observe for coming together. Thus, the funeral is one of the few events where people are not judged as harshly for showing emotion. This makes the funeral director's job of creating conducive atmosphere for healing all the more important. By offering the bereaved a place to address these feelings, funeral directors help to facilitate grief and allow survivors to find meaning through the funeral rite. 

How have funeral directors helped you or a loved one
Do you think Americans need to be more open to public displays of grief? 

² Worden, J.W. (2009). Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy. A Handbook for the Mental Health


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Visit a Cemetery this Valentine's Day

It's Valentine's Day, and for most people it signifies a time for romance, sweet gifts, and happy couples enjoying a day that focuses on love. But what about a surviving spouse, family member, friend or partner of one who has already died? 

Holidays provide a perfect opportunity to reflect on the memories that keep a loved one alive in spirit. While some like to visit friends or family to reminisce, others enjoy looking through old photos or reading old letters. Visiting a favorite and memorable place, special to your loved one, can also be a thoughtful way to spend the day. Visiting the cemetery to remember a loved one by cleaning the grave, dropping off flowers, or just spending time, is another meaningful choice.

Whatever you decide to do this Valentine's Day, remember your loved ones, living and past, and have a Happy Valentine's Day.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

VM Book Reviews: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Paul Kalanithi's book, "When Breath Becomes Air" takes a deep look at what it's like to have a terminal illness and to explore one's own mortality. "Severe illness wasn't life-altering, it was life-shattering."

Paul's perspective on mortality is colored by his years as a talented Neurosurgeon, having to often face the terminal diagnosis and life-or-death choices his own patients have faced. "Like my own patients, I had to face my mortality and try to understand what made my life worth living."

He shares with us a glimpse of life in medical school, and notes how it "sharpened my understanding of the relationship between meaning, life and death." And he poses important questions like, in the face of terminal illness, "What makes life meaningful enough to go on living?" 

As a neurosurgeon, Paul's decisions must be made cautiously and with compassion. "Life and death decisions and struggles...surely a kind of transcendence." He shares the challenges of helping families make important decisions, such as, considering what the patient might want after a traumatic brain injury, "an easy death or to struggle between bags of fluids going in, others coming out, to persist despite being unable to struggle." 

Paul describes his role not as "as death's enemy, but as its ambassador." "The call to protect life -- and not merely life but another's identity; it is perhaps not too much to say another's soul -- was obvious in its sacredness."

This book read quickly and Paul's part was most eloquently written. We learn a lot from Paul, his compassionate care, and his journey through acceptance of his own mortality. 

Have you helped a friend or loved one face a terminal diagnosis? What was the most important lesson you learned?